By Esther Sanchez
For only having been a band for about a year now, Hollace has already experienced quite a few accolades and triumphant moments. Within the first few months of their existence they took the coveted, top-spot in the annual Coachella Valley Band Showcase at The Hood and last May they were awarded the honor of “Best New Band” at the Coachella Valley Music Awards. Overflowing with validation, it seems as though the boys from Hollace have hit the ground running and have nowhere to go but up. Currently on schedule to perform this Friday night at the first ever, Comic Con Palm Springs, Hollace is primed to rock the eager attendees at the much anticipated event.
I have had the privilege of being acquainted with most of these guys for a few years now through previous projects they have been involved with and have always known them to be top-notch musicians with ambition and a strong work ethic. Three of the five band members are roommates who have been friends since their adolescent years growing up in the high-desert. Josh Ballard (drums), Stretch Fisher (bass) and James Eaton (rhythm guitar) have been making music together since their High School years growing up in Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree.
Eaton: “We know each other from way back and I had moved to Reno for 7 years. About three years ago I learned from Josh and Stretch that they were putting together a new band I and wanted to try out. I’ve been here since.” That particular group is no longer in existence, but with the addition of lead-vocalist and lyricist, Alex Antonio…the transition became a successful transformation.
Front-man, Alex Antonio (formerly of Deadend Paradox), has brought into the mix a youthful energy accompanied by solid vocals and songwriting skills (not to mention a dreamy set of dimples). However, he insists that his bandmates make it easy to write songs with everyone having input. Antonio: “Much of what I come up with just comes to me when the guys are jamming and the lyrics just flow.”
Those inspirational jam-sessions take place at the Cathedral City home of Ballard, Fisher and Eaton, which doubles as a rehearsal-space/recording studio and, as I have witnessed first-hand…it’s not exactly a mickey-moused, garage situation. On the contrary, they have built quite an impressive setup of professional-quality equipment to meet just about any of the technical needs a band could have. Most of which is due to drummer and multi-instrumentalist, Josh Ballard. Anyone who knows Ballard knows he is a music-production whiz who would be a valuable asset to any band.
Russell the Bear, a band that is a side-project that also includes Fisher and Eaton is currently working on, “A Tribute to Naughty Boy,” which is an idea from Ballard’s heart. Ballard: “On Sept. 1st, Russell the Bear will be opening at The Palm Canyon Roadhouse for Hollace and 5th Town. I am really looking forward to it because we will be performing songs that were written by a good friend of mine who had passed away some years back and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his life.”
If Ballard is the sound and production guru, the guy who they all agree is the metaphoric, “backbone” of the band would be lead-guitarist/backup vocalist, Frank Michel. Michel is one of those musicians that is fun to watch play because his obvious passion for performing radiates from within. Having previously played in bands in the Inland Empire before moving to the desert 7 years ago, he became eager to play music again and soon joined his first local band; a Muse cover-band that consisted of several guys who are currently relevant participants of the local music scene. As far as being the unofficial leader behind Hollace, Michel admits that is true, but takes it in stride. Michel: “It comes natural through my personality and my work ethic to kind of lead and keep things moving in a way but in all actuality, with this group there is a lot of mutual respect for everyone’s opinion and although we disagree from time to time, we are always able to come to an agreement that suits us all. We all pretty much have the same goals and vision for the band’s future.”
For Hollace, under the guidance and management of Mystic Avalanche Entertainment, the future does indeed appear bright. But, having such a whirlwind of success in the first year of existence, they can’t help but to look back on it with pride. Bassist, Stretch Fisher and I chatted about the biggest highlights of their journey as a group thus far. Fisher: “Well, in the beginning winning the battle of the bands at The Hood was awesome because we really had only been at it all together for a few months. Winning a CVMA for Best New Band was a huge honor for us as well.” Another big highlight for Hollace in the past year was their recent gig at House of Blues in San Diego. Antonio: “That was so great because I had been to so many shows there over the years, to actually be on that stage was pretty incredible.’’
With multiple gigs lined up in the coming months and a new album set to release before the year’s end, Hollace is just getting warmed up. If you have yet to jump on board their proverbial “wagon,” I suggest you climb aboard because it looks as though it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
You can also check them out on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.
Aug 26th – Comic Con Palm Springs/Sept 1st- Palm Canyon Roadhouse /Sep. 11th- Tin Roof in San Diego