Interview: The Darren Holland Project
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was born to sing, play and write music. I could hear a song in the tones of an old pot or medicine bottle. I could sit for hours on my grandmother's piano and find the melody. I could stand in front of the mirror and find original rhyme even when I was too young to write it down. So, nothing got me into music. No one in my family was musical. Even my grandmother's piano was just a knick-knack until I showed up.
As for the second part of your question, I can only say that I could never live without music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I will start with, and I try never to stop! But, some days, my wife hates me because I play along with her favorite TV shows and all commercials. Or, if I start to write a new song, I do not stop until it is complete, and if that completion is in the wee hours of the morning, so be it. But I go out with my wife to stores like most people and watch people, with the expression on their faces, the clothes they wear, the way they carry themselves, the pieces of life they drop as they walk by. Everyone has a million stories to tell just by breathing.
How long has your band been around?
Ah, a trick question. It is all how you look at it. Although the band has changed names, faces, and personalities, I have always been in the band. The others were always more or fewer pawns that helped me progress and become the animal I am now. I have always been looking down the same path in trying to create a sound and image that could only be looked at as The Darren Holland Project. My music now is the multi-level soundscape that is my life and vision.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I live in a suburb of Kansas City at mile marker twenty-three, so that is the base, but I have lived all over the world by my own choice and never know where the base will be when I wake up in the morning. My base has never influenced my sound. My sound takes on a vast open wilderness of thought and will give some hope while tearing the life out of others. My base is everyone's story that they can twist to their own standard. My base is a world of dreams.
How did you produce the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Well, I was born with it. But in all honesty, Cheryl, my wife produced it as she always says sarcastically that I am a real project.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I have played so many venues throughout my life that if I were to look at all to find one that stands above the rest, I would have to say it was the very first time I played CBGB's in the mid 90's. Do not get me wrong, I have had many great shows, with many great band mates, in front of bigger audiences, but this it was a Tuesday night gig, more or less a trial, was unique to say the least. We walked into a punk club, which we were not punk, to be greeted by a big guy at the door and his pit bull. Both of which had tattoos. Yes, the dog had been fully tattooed along with the guy having his entire scalp tatted, along with any visible skin. But to be on the same stage as bands like the Ramones was a thrill.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I stopped during Covid, and honestly at this time I have no urge to play a live venue again. Not saying I will not, but to me, my music is about the writing, arrangement, and production. Because of those thoughts, I find the music platforms to be my new home. I love to make music. So, unless SNL is setting the date, I am not with it.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Me and my wife with top-of-the-line studio musicians who would play note for note exactly my songs. Yes, I do have some control issues to say the least. Oh, and once again I will say that it would be on SNL because, well, politically, I have the same basic ideologies. Colin Jost and Michael Che rock!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
This is actually a heated question and one with more than one answer depending on the vision they have for themselves. Logically 99% of people think it is cool to play in high school, college, or just in general throughout their life as a hobby, and for those people, the only answer is enjoying every minute. Now the difference falls upon those who want to make it a life choice. And that is, in your blood. And my advice to those gluttons for punishment is never listen to anyone but yourself, just keep pushing. As for what advice I would give younger me; To start, sex. drugs and alcohol should never make you think you are a great musician and nor should they be the music you are. They held me back along with other mental issues that I can now write about but always wonder what if? When I was younger? Could I have been.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I am sure question #9 has already answered this one. But I will give you one little shot with this, I sure hope Dr. Emmett Brown can fix my DeLorean.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
For most people who have heard my last few albums, they would think that I would gravitate to the song "Superhero" from the "Kiss Me Like You Mean It" release as I wrote it about my father, 3 days after his passing. I would have to say it is "Space Monkey" and really the entire release of Vibe Mutha Vibe that connects with me. But in only connecting with one, Space Monkey tells my story of waking up one too many times in rehab until I finally realized that if this continues, life as I know it will end, I am the only one who can change the outcome. I need to "bury it up under the road, show me the world I used to know, bring in the love, take the controls, show me the world I used to know. All I thought was needing, is all that left me bleeding, bury it up under the road, Space Monkey. I am sure that others will take a different meaning from that song as with most of my lyrics. They are relatable to different people in so many ways. But it is art, and everyone sees a different angle.
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
I love to play all my original songs just because they are a piece of me that I can share with the world. And as for the request part of this question, just look at Spotify and that will tell you what mood the fans are in. And right now, they are giving the love to Space Monkey, but I guess that will change. Honestly, I am happy with whatever song they want to give lovin'.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I am my drama. I am my chaos. I wake up in the morning and it amazes me that I did. There is no creative, wonderful supernova that makes me say I think I will write a song. I could be walking to my car and feel the rhythm of another vehicle drive by with a loose lug nut and it draws me into the picture of sound that comes to life in my head. A song is born. Real-life is music and I know how to manipulate this strange reality into verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus 2x's with a sweet lead somewhere in the center of it all that makes the story in sound become mesmerizing. It all becomes, my story, your story, our story, and you get to twist it, turn it, and make it be part of your soul from pieces of mine.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Okay, so, I could tell you all about the songs and this message is what I meant when I wrote that song, but no one should ever care what my message was, only what they find it to be when it collides with their universe. My songs are all about finding you, finding us, finding the who the what the why. So now listen to lyrics mixed with the sound and you will understand you.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Although I have thought about and honestly feel that some others are part of the band, they are not, there is only one who is and that is Cheryl. Cheryl also happens to be my wife and although we seldom disagree about music, we are married so therefore, we have other things to squabble over but always fix before we fall asleep at night. She is cute and sexy and knows I am seldom right.
What are your plans, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Well, as for the future, it is like it was said so eloquently in a tune from the 80's. The future's so bright I've gotta wear shades. Just keep watching the climb of our music as we have something that gives everyone a familiarity while at the same time is so different from what is out there. Keep on looking up at the sky, you never know what you might see.
Thanks, Darren of the DHP.