How USW helped band get their first record deal

Holding Absence, made up of four USW current and former students and another graduate, have signed a record deal with a US label just six months after forming. Neil Gibson, Feb 2017

Holding Absence have signed a record deal with a US label just six months after forming

Just six months after forming, a band made up mostly of University of South Wales (USW) graduates have signed to an American record label.

Holding Absence, who play music which fits loosely into the ‘post hardcore’ genre, have agreed a deal with Sharptone Records to record their first album.

The agreement came about soon after the band members got together last summer and recorded a song called Permanent, and played it 10 days in a row while touring.

The performances were spotted online by officials at Sharptone, which itself was only formed last summer. Conversations on Facebook and Skype soon followed, and the band agreed a deal to put together their album under Sharptone’s name.

USW Popular Music graduate Lucas Woodland, 22, who’s originally from Pontypridd but now lives in Cardiff, is the band’s lead singer; USW Primary Studies graduate James Joseph, 22, from Pontyclun, is bassist; Feisal El-Khazragi, 22, from Cardiff, who did a degree in Popular MusicTechnology at USW; and current USW Popular Music student Giorgio Cantarutti, 23, from Bridgend, are guitarists. Ashley Green, 24, a graduate of Nottingham Trent University, is the band’s drummer.

Lucas explained how they came to make such an immediate impact and secure their record deal.

“We’d all been playing in different bands before, but last summer we decided to get together and start doing some tours and putting out some songs,” he said.

“We were touring – we’ve done 33 gigs in the six months up to February and plan another 23 in the next two months – and played Permanent for 10 days on the trot.

“The next thing, we were spotted online, got the message from America, and it has all developed from there.”

With influences from the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Holding Absence have built up a devoted following and are playing in a wide variety of venues, supporting the farewell tour of rock band We Are The Ocean – including for a sold-out gig at London’s Tuffnell Park Done on March 24.

The audiences have ranged in size from from dozens, up to many hundreds. No matter how large the crowd, however, Lucas is very grateful for any support that’s offered.

“I really respect anyone who comes to see us, and I like to be able to thank them all personally, so whatever the size of audience, I’m really glad to see them there,” he said.

As for the future, the band are still considering their next steps.

“The good thing about signing a one-album deal is that it gives us the chance to put all our effort into it, and not think about what’s going to happen next – it’s a do or die album for us,” Lucas said.

“We haven’t even thought about where we’re going to record it. If we need to go to the US to do it, we will, or if we can use the money to produce a better album here, we’ll do that.

“The big thing is that we won’t say no to anything that will make us better. We want to be as big as possible, and we want to make the most of it, so will give it our all, work hard, accept our luck, and go from there.”

Lucas saved his last word for the University of South Wales.

“Going to uni was a huge help for us. It really helped us find our feet,” he said.

“USW was so, so important, and really gave us the knowledge that we needed to make it this far, and hopefully to go much further.”

#primary teaching #music #popular music