Voices From Underground

Interview: Chris Thomas and Bryan Stacks of HOLD ME HOSTAGE

Antihero Magazine recently had a chance to talk to Chris Thomas and Bryan Stacks of Hold Me Hostage about their new album Metaphors for Captivity, finding the balance in recording, and how there’s only one shot at life so don’t let it slip away.

Hold Me Hostage is a fairly new band but you’re already getting some traction.  Do you think that it’s solely based on the solidness of your new album Metaphors for Captivity or are their other creative factors in play?

(BRYAN STACKS) It certainly doesn’t hurt to release a debut that we’re proud of but really it’s only one of several factors. Despite this being a debut release from a “new” band, we’ve all  been writing, performing and producing music for a while now. So whether we’re in the studio, preparing a live set or promoting a release, we bring a certain level of experience to each process. The ace up our sleeve from a creativity standpoint largely comes from operating as an independent artist. It’s creatively liberating when you’re only answering to your own vision.

For people who haven’t heard your music before can you describe the songs of Metaphors for Captivity.

(BRYAN STACKS) We have sort of a descriptive catch phrase “optimism cloaked in anger” which is a good summation. There’s lyrical references to living through various nightmares but ultimately coming out of the other side with a renewed lust for life as it should be lived. Musically we go for hard hitting without ever sacrificing melody or dynamics. The songs are catchy but not predictable. The album boasts an intricate production showcasing CT’s versatile vocals, unexpected arrangements and on-point execution from the band.

Metaphors for Captivity seems like a fairly personal album why did you go that route and what are some of the stories?

(CHRIS THOMAS) Shouldn’t it ALWAYS be personal? We certainly made an effort to include pronouns like “WE”  and “YOU” (“We’re a world full of fools” and “If You’re not willing to fight than you’re already dead”); we want our listeners to identify with the subject matter, but yeah, as artists we put our hearts into the lyrics and mood, and YES, we want that to be as personal as possible.

Is there a balance when recording of being too rushed versus being given too much time and what is that balance?

(BYRYAN STACKS) We have a pretty comfortable working method for recording, as a lot of bands do these days. Most of the basic and vocal tracking we do “in house” at our own studio(s). Then for certain tasks such as drum tracking, mixing and mastering we’ve been working with our longtime friend/engineer Tyler Duffus at his DenverGrown studios. So ultimately I would say there’s never a feeling of pressure or being rushed with recording. “Metaphors” took a few years to come into shape but I guess that was the right amount of time that it needed to become a solid album.

When writing, do you first have a rhythmic or melodic idea? Please give an example of a specific song’s first spark of an idea and how it was developed into an entire song from there.

(BRYAN STACKS) The majority of these ideas all start with CT’s phone. As he’s walking somewhere doing whatever an idea will pop into his brain and he’ll through down a quick little recorded sketch of it and it will blossom from there. When time and opportunity allow we’ll collaborate on writing. An example from this album is “Time Bomb”. Basically he came over to my home studio and we intentionally set out to come up with a somewhat silly hook that would make us giggle over a reggae sounding beat. As weird as that sounds it was a blast and we have a bit of a quirky and lighter-hearted moment on the album as a result. Moving forward we’re also starting to collectively hash out song ideas with every band member in the room. I’m very excited to see where this process will take the band.

Do you have any particular song off the album that you enjoy playing live the most?

(BRYAN STACKS) At the moment I would have to go with “That Was Then”. The tune is pure visceral energy. That always seems to translate well to the stage. We’ve recently added second guitarist Skyler Harris to the lineup and he’s filling out the live sound very nicely. We’re getting ever closer to sharing our live set with fans and we’re very excited to do so.

Have any members of Hold Me Hostage had professional musical training or are you all self-taught? If you’re self-taught how did you keep yourself disciplined through the years to elevate your skill level?

(CHRIS THOMAS) Some of us have some classical training and a few of us have had some experience playing on the road, and a couple of us are self-taught, yes. We’re all far enough along to know our individual strengths and we’re doing our best to capitalize on that collectively. As a singer, I know how I need to sound. It’s a natural sound, but drilling my voice keeps me on point and I get the results I want when I’m singing a lot. We all love making music and we’re competitive when it comes to being great. We’re all objective and we are using this discipline to continually grow as musicians.

So how does your own music influence you as a person and does it help you through your day-to-day life?

(BRYAN STACKS) Music in general has always been a go-to for me when facing hardships or the occasional mountain to climb. I could, for example, make a playlist of songs that have helped me to deal with addiction and to become sober. Most of these songs would be on that playlist. These songs encapsulate some lifetime mantras for me and I hope for others: Letting go of regrets, not living in the past, the realization that we’ve got one shot at life so don’t let it pass you by, the world owes you nothing, it’s OK to cut ties with people that drag you down, and that I’m not afraid of run-on sentences.

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