‘For Fans Of’ culture is pretty cooked, actually. It’s quite possible for a start-up band to exist in their own right without having to pledge fealty to those who may have come before them. But we get it -humans are an easily startled species and when something takes us by surprise, say for instance the rapid rise of UNFD signees, Grand Rapids outfit Hollow Front, we tend to reach for the warm, fuzzy comfort of labels.
You see, without any live shows to support their 2020 debut album Loose Threads – a global pandemic will do that – much of what we know of Hollow Front is folklore and references. But as Blunt Magazine would learn speaking with frontman Tyler Tate, being spoken of in the same sentence as many of his favourite bands is fine by him. “It’s crazy though, because we hear a lot of Wage War. What’s some other ones that we get? Fit for a King, we get compared to them a lot, which is really cool.”
The Fit For A King comparison seems apt given that Hollow Front are managed by vocalist Ryan Kirby. Tate lit up at the mention of connective tissue with Aussie exports Polaris. “[They’re] one of my favourite bands. I just saw them at the end of 2019 on the Wage War tour.”
“Polaris was hands down the best band on the show; just the hype of Polaris being in America, the room was electrified. It made me want to be on that level.”
Of course, these references merely provide a light stencil of Hollow Front. We can look to their debut record, and their three previous EPs, to add more depth and colour. Carefully spoken and quite modest, Tate lets the hype wash over him, rather than letting it sink in. “We’re a fairly basic metalcore band. We’re not reinventing the wheel. I just want to be a spoke on the wheel for a while, and make music that I enjoy making.”
We have to disagree with Tate there. And indeed, it would appear as though a legion of fans would too. With Loose Threads, Hollow Front have presented themselves as anything other than ‘basic’.
The album addresses topics of love, loss and the inability to cope but in honing in on the deeply personal, Loose Threads has tapped into some greater immutable truths of growing up. It’s toiling within these places that scare us the most that Hollow Front have found their footing. “We want to be as authentic as we can,” Tate explains.
“From the get-go I was like, I’m going to write basically like it’s my journal. I’m not going to be afraid to show the darkest parts of myself. We made it a point to be as personal as possible in our new music, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
For instance, title track ‘Loose Threads’ explores the pain and confusion felt by guitarist Dakota Alvarez after a friend’ contemplated suicide. ‘Afflicted’, as the name would suggest, performs the psychological floor routine of living with depression and facing your own demons. Then, there’s ‘PANIC’, an acronym for Pain, Anxiety, Neglect, Insecurity, Conflict: “That was all I was feeling at the time,” Tate recalls.
“That was where we set the bar,” he says of their lyrical content, “But we try to make it so that it’s not all ‘me, me, me’. It’s very interpretive. People can get whatever they want out of the song. It’s not ‘this is exactly how it is, you have to think about it this way’. We just want people to be able to get whatever they want from the lyrics to help them.”
The newest addition to Hollow Front’s swag is ‘Wearing Thin’, a single released to coincide with the announcement of their signing to UNFD. The track shows the band sticking to what works – deeply personal but highly relatable stories – after all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “It’s a song about unrequited love,” Tate surmises.
While their quick ascension remains equally as surprising for the band, there’s no point questioning the physics; it’s time for all of us – the band included – to strap in and enjoy the ride, which doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon. “Tomorrow we go into the studio for a week of pre-production,” Tate says, confirming that album #2 is already in the works.
“I feel like we’ve had a lot of internet success,” he ponders in reference to the band’s next move. “I really, really want that physical presence, which we started to see at the beginning of this year. Our only tour this year was a pretty small tour in America, but it was crazy. We didn’t expect it. I just want that on a bigger scale.”