“Breaking the Ceiling” is the second album from German based rockers Horsefly Rocket. It was reviewed by us a couple of weeks ago, and our reviewer, Lorraine, felt it was a confident album with some great Southern boogie and some touches of grunge. It is guitar driven rock with a clear blues influence.
With all being well, we settled down with vocalist Kevin Holloway to talk all things Horsefly Rocket!
Horsefly Rocket are:
Vocals: Kevin Holloway
Guitar: Michael Fassl
Bass: Mario Brodeser
Keys: Tim Budavari
The first album put out by Horsefly Rocket was the self-named piece that came out in 2018. The single “Never Again” was a popular radio number on German rock radio and the album came out on the band’s own label, Bug Valley Records (based in Mannheim). The label has expanded in recent years to include acts like Autumn Tree and Red County Jail, but we wondered what caused the five year gap between albums.
Kevin- I think we have always had other songs sitting around.. I know it is a large gap, but the pandemic didn’t help, that was the catalyst that took us back to songwriting, to writing the tunes and sending them around to see how others felt. We all have day jobs, I was a music student and I also teach music, so we are all kind of in the music industry with our jobs, and we have to balance that with the preparation and practice and so on. Especially with composing, you need us all together in a room, and we are not all in our early twenties now, so it was a balancing act of life and music. But we got together, rehearsed the songs, and then we had to record with the right producer and people to do it on a limited budget. We had them recorded for a while, but we never wanted to just get it out quickly; it had to be right, so we worked on the video for “The Great Forsaker,” and things take time to do it right. We were there and ready for a while, but it took just a bit longer to be ready for release.
Kevin is an American, and we read in the blurb somewhere that he had been a military contractor and became connected with the band through friends. This was inaccurate! In early 2012, at a large rehearsal complex, Kevin Holloway—then the singer of a band composed mainly of US military contractors stationed in Mannheim—was recommended to a group next door. The contracts were about to expire, and the majority of his band was preparing to return home. This left the 20-year-old singer looking for something new to do. His skills as a vocalist and his uncompromising “Rock n’ Roll“ lifestyle impressed the band one door down, so he moved in. This led him to Horsefly Rocket!
Kevin- I am the only non-German in the band, correct. But I wasn’t a contractor; I am what they call in the States an “army brat.” My folks were military, and there were a bunch of bases here in Germany, and I was on the bases back and forth. As with any life, it has its pros and cons. Some people stay in one place all their lives; some like to travel. I want to make a nest now, I guess, but I saw different parts of the world as a kid so it has positives too.
Horsefly Rocket, as previously mentioned, have their own label, and in a world where selling records for a living has become increasingly difficult, we were impressed with the Bug Valley Records setup.
Kevin- That is down to our guitarist, Michael Fassi; that is his passion project for this record label. It makes things easier, but it has always been a hustle, and the music industry has now seen a paradigm shift. We do so much ourselves, from booking to promotion to dealing with record labels, and Michael is proactive about that. He makes his own record label and does it himself. I’m not the business type, but he has the salesman skills, and he has other bands under his umbrella, such as Raventador, which creates a community. We can get gigs lined up with bands on the label, born of necessity, and it shows how people take back the responsibility.
As the artists with whom we speak begin to proactively look at getting music back into their hands, we have seen so much creativity from a range of acts. We are impressed with how bands are working so hard to make a living in the business, basically.
Kevin- Merchandise is one way to still make a living, if people want to support you in that way. But there is a mutual understanding between the artist and the consumer, the audience for your music, that things are changing. YouTube is a perfect example, as are the Patreon pages, support for extra content, and so on. I’m less happy with donating. You can put it out there for free, and Spotify is basically free, but the audience is coming to appreciate that it is not fair. Artists work hard and should be compensated for their efforts, so buy their work instead of just listening to it for free all the time. I would much prefer to sell albums rather than merchandise, but I understand why. As for donating, we don’t do that, but I accept others do, and this expectation of music for nothing is changing; people understand it more, I believe.
Turning to the album, our reviewer loved a song called “Hold On.” She described it as “great fun” and with a swagger, and we wondered how Kevin felt about that track. We feel it would be a great live track.
Kevin- That one comes over so well live. “Hold On” was written a while before the album, and it has a different feel in consequence. It is me telling someone close to me that I see myself in them; I’m saying not to make the same mistakes and hold on to your dreams. Don’t take a fatalistic view on life; be positive!
We also felt that although they are not a grunge band, there were distinctive grunge influences in the guitar sound.
Kevin- I love grunge. For me, Soundgarden, I love that stuff. I was born in 1992, so I have that feeling in me. “Feels Like Teen Spirit” just rocked the world. Suddenly, hair metal was out, and in came grunge!
The whole German sound seems to be very healthy at the moment. There are a few great bands—April Art, for example, on which we did a piece recently—and the German scene appears to be thriving.
Kevin- Sure. Everyone is hustling because German hip-hop has completely taken over and rock has been pushed to the margins. But there are a lot of bands now breaking through. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s healthy, but it is alive. And the metal scene is also showing signs of doing better; we are not a metal band, though. Metal is a guilty pleasure of mine, but we are not a metal band, even if we can go pretty hard.
The band is currently busy promoting the new album and may be looking at some shows by late autumn or early winter, but currently it is all about “Breaking the Ceiling.” There has been quite a bit of interest over here in the UK, so we hope the guys might make their way over here in the not-so-distant future.
By Benny (the ball) Benson
Mark C. Chambers
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