Interview by Sean Gardner
Photos by Laurel Renee Valdez
After a period of critical self evaluation, spurred by a vanity search on google, the Multi Faceted Singer-Songwriter Greg Holden is back with an an reflective and newly independent release. World War Me marks the first record in Greg’s Discography to be written, recorded and produced with a more DIY production style, in which he took on, not only the music itself, but also, the photography, design and promotional aspects of the record, on his own. Amidst his very busy touring schedule, Greg took the time to talk to us about his the new album, his recording process, and writing charity songs.
World War Me is an album made, with the exception of one song, entirely by yourself. Can you discuss a little bit about how that process was different than other albums you may have done? If at all, how has this process shifted your approach to writing and producing an album overall?
“The main difference was the timeline. Usually, I’ll spend a year or two writing an album, pick the best 10, head into the studio for a month and then bam, album is done. This time around though, I recorded as I wrote. So the whole “recording process” was stretched out over a year or so, which is unusual for me. Not only that, but each time I recorded a song I learned something new, and so would sometimes backtrack, re-record things, or scrap them entirely. It wasn’t an organized process, and I must say, I prefer the old way. But the biggest lesson I took from it all was that I should record everything at the same time to save myself from a mental breakdown.”
A lot of the album was made during times of existential crisis, as you have mentioned, What are some ways you overcame the feelings of doubt and found motivation to create again?
I still haven’t.
But, having deadlines helped. Knowing that I couldn’t tour until I’d finished helped. Knowing that each moment of procrastination was another day that fans weren’t hearing new music helped. Needing to finish for my own sanity helped.
You mentioned that the song, The Lost Boy, “accidentally” raised 80,000 dollars for red cross, can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
Well to keep a long story short, the day I wrote it, I sent it to a Radio DJ in The Netherlands who I knew was an ambassador for the Red Cross. I thought he’d like the song because I’d written it about The Lost Boys of South Sudan, something I know he cared about. The universe was shining down on me because the day I sent it, he happened to be searching for a song to use in an annual Red Cross fundraising campaign in Holland, in association with his radio station. The song went to #1 on Christmas Day and was a large part of the campaign. I was informed it had raised roughly that amount. The song was a week old when this happened. Mind-blowing, really.
When you write a song that ends up being used for a charity, or for another singer, do you know this going into the process for the song, or is it decided after the song is written?
Honestly, I wish I had a more interesting answer. It’s always different. Some songs I’ve written for causes, some I haven’t and they’ve just ended up there. Some songs I’ve written for other artists, and I’ve ended up using them. Some, I’ve done for me and then end up coming out of the mouth of someone else. Nowadays I just try and write good songs, send them to my publisher and hope for the best. I don’t like to try and make something for something, it distracts me.
Who are some of your biggest influences as a singer and songwriter?
Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Brandon Flowers, Bob Dylan, guys who say something. I’m super into Phoebe Bridgers right now too, the honesty and vulnerability in her lyrics is intoxicating.
In addition to writing and producing World War Me by yourself, you also wrote your own bio, took some of your own press shots and created the artwork for the album. To what extent have you have you explored these other creative outlets such as photography and writing (outside of songwriting)? Can we expect to see more of this type of work in the future?
Well, before I decided to really commit to becoming a musician, I was a full-time photographer, and one of my dreams was to become a photojournalist. But music seemed safer. I have a good friend who’s a photojournalist and he’s had friends killed, been kidnapped himself and is constantly tormented by the things he’s seen. The worst thing that happened to me on tour was nearly breaking my arm doing drunken cartwheels on a beach in Florida… so I’ll stick with music for now, much higher survival rate unless it’s drunkenly self-inflicted. In terms of writing, I love long-form writing because it allows me to say more. I’m not restricted to a couple of verses, a chorus and a bridge. I can go further, deeper, use more of my vocabulary. I hadn’t really given writing much thought until recently, when a few people told me how much they enjoyed reading my blog (bobonomo.com). Now it’s something I’m thinking about more and more, so who knows.
The beautifully and honestly written World War Me is a great listen for Indie pop fans, and is available on streaming platforms everywhere. Additionally, his aforementioned blog has some pretty good reads that I would definitely recommend.