They were the mid-noughties Saints and Sinners of Holloway Road, London. Their most notable song ‘Generator’ reached the UK Top 20 and was later used in an Ad for Butlins. They toured with the best – The Kooks, Pogues, Babyshambles and the Noisettes – but after their storming success, Record Label mishaps and the death of band member Rob Skipper, The Holloways were no more.
Now former band member Alfie Jackson opens up to Musicvein about life after the band, coming to terms with being a solo artist and new material being released very soon!
MV: Alfie! It’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything from you officially. For those who don’t know briefly tell us about your time with The Holloways and what happened
AJ: “2006/7 was an amazing year for us, we were getting rave reviews to the album ‘So This Is Great Britain’, we were playing at Glastonbury and all over Radio 1, it was an exhilarating time for us all. Then we went down to Sawmills Recording Studio where Oasis, Supergrass and Muse all recorded debut albums, just as we were half way through recording we got a call to say that our label TVT had gone bankrupt. In short, we were on the same label as the US rapper Pitbull, there was a lawsuit with his former label and ours, TVT won the suit, spent the money, there was an appeal and the company had to go into administration. All acts on the label were frozen as assets, we were owed money, couldn’t release anything and that went on for pretty much the whole of 2008. We tried funding things ourselves while trying to get out of the deal but the fight was so great we just lost all of our momentum. Then to top it all off there was a fire at the Nambucca Pub on Holloway Road where we were based. We had a lot of equipment in there, no insurance and so it was just a shit time we were going through. Rob (Skipper) and Dave (Danger) decided that enough was enough and they left.
Me and the Base player Bryn (Fowler) tried to keep The Holloways going but after we finally released our 2nd album ‘No Smoke, No Mirrors’ we just again lost momentum. The music scene had changed, we just couldn’t recover what we had really, it was a real shame.
MV: It really was a shame, just as things were looking so promising for you guys – I don’t know how anyone could come back after all of that to be honest. So Alfie, I’ve had a sneak peek of your new material and quite excited by what I hear it’s different to the Holloway sound I’m used to but I’m sure your fans will appreciate it all the same. Tell me though, how does it feel to go from having chart success with the band to now being solo and almost having to start again?
AJ: “It’s been quite a long process to be honest. I never intended on doing the solo thing really, I always loved being part of a band, collaborating creatively, finding sounds and shapes of songs with other people on your wavelength and really just enjoying that experience together. I remember the first solo gig I did last year and I hated it at first – there was no one keeping time with me and if I wanted to play a bit of lead guitar as I normally do, there was no one behind me to back it up, no one to bounce off – in a sense I had to re-learn how to perform on stage, it was a different kettle of fish and one I wasn’t prepared for.
After a couple of gigs though I got into the swing of things and began to realize the perks of being a soloist, there’s much more creative freedom. I can ad lib, be a little playful and engage with the audience in a totally different way that I couldn’t do with the band. The great thing for me now is I get to perform the songs that I feel connected with and not have to worry about whether or not they fit with the ethos of The Holloways or individual tastes of everyone in the band. I can be more honest and personal with what I write and just have much more creative freedom as well as taking more opportunities.
Being in The Holloways could at times be frustrating, especially with trying to manage the calendars of a bunch of musicians who are generally a nuisance! I’ve always been very committed and was quite obsessive about people trying the prioritize the band rather than themselves, otherwise we wouldn’t get any work done. Now that’s a thing of the past.
I have a clearer vision now, everything I’m writing at the moment is based on stuff that I’ve had a genuine experience with or reaction to. Things that are happening in the real world and in the news. There’s also quite personal songs regarding past relationships I’ve had or that of my friends – you know the cliched relationships and what happens when it all comes to a stuttering halt.
The first song to be released will be ‘I Guess That’s Love These Days’, which literally describes a scene I had with a friend of mine who was in a pub post relationship, lost in a forest of trying to make himself feel better with other girls but it was having the complete opposite effect. Then there’s ‘The Screams of Kitty Genovese’ – based on a news story from the 60’s. Kitty was murdered in New York, her neighbours heard her screams but no one called the police because they all thought somebody else would. That story left me in a profound state cause it still happens in the world today, there’s this sheep mentality and people keep assuming someone else is taking care of business, I just think as humans we could do better.
So my new material will be a mixture of acoustic ballards and some real full on punk. The hardest song to perform though will be one written for Rob Skipper. I’ll never forget the day he passed away, two years on and it’s still raw and all that emotion is deep within the song and music, it’s angry, it’s anguished.
I’ve only ever played Rob’s song once on stage, it was terrifying but afterwards someone came up to me from the crowd and said that they had lost a friend in similar circumstances – that was kind of therapy in itself, knowing that others can empathize.
Alfie will start by releasing one song a month with the intention of finally releasing his solo debut in 2017.
To hear more about Alfie Jackson and his material coming soon, stay tuned to Musicvein. You can also follow Alfie on:
Facebook: Alfie Jackson