Q & A with Rob Holliday - April 2003
The Mission live guitarist September 2001 - August 2004
By Tanja Godisch & Petra Sümnicht
Q: First I would like to thank you for this interview.
You've been very busy lately. Sulpher just finished the tour with The Sisters of Mercy. Tell us a bit about the tour.
How was the reaction of the hardcore Sisters fans towards Sulpher etc.?
A: The fan reaction was really good actually - before the tour we were sceptical as to whether the hardcore Sisters fans would be kind to us at all - even though we are a lot heavier and aggressive compared to the Sisters, I think we gained a lot of new fans and the Sisters audience for the most part are really cool people.
Q: Since autumn 2001 you are well known to The Mission fans as the new live guitarist. When did you become a professional musician? Do you have another occupation?
A: I began playing guitar at the age of 11 and was playing bars and clubs by the age of 15, its been a long hard road, I don't have any interest in another occupation.
Q: How many different instruments do you play?
A: I play guitar- bass guitar - some keyboards - and will have a go at making some sort of noise on most things you could hand to me.
Q: Did you take lessons to learn them?
A: I took a few guitar lessons when I was young - but then just learned by ear from records I was into at the time.
Q: You played with bands like Creatures and Curve and in which bands did you play before?
A: Many many bands- most of which no one would have heard of.
Q: Who offered you the job to play with The Mission?
A: Wayne called me up after someone had passed on my number; they recommended me as they thought I would fit in quite well... I guess I did.
Q: Did you know anything about them?
A: A little bit - I new a few songs - I knew they were a great band from a few years ago and had a loyal following - all the members were really easy going and down to earth - we hit it off and got along really well from the first meeting - its important not to have any egomaniacs in a band to work well and comfortable together.
Q: How did you learn the songs? By notes, listening to the CDs or ...?
A: Yeah I just listened to the cd's and learnt what I could pick out - then Craig and Wayne sat down and got into the more intricate stuff that isnt always that clear when just listening to a complete song- some really great guitar parts Wayne has written - really nice stuff to play.
Q: Do you have a favourite Mission song - and why do you like it?
A: I really like Severina and Beyond The Pale - also Deliverance, yeah Deliverance is my favourite although I love Sacrilege, I would always try to talk Wayne into playing that one - if I poured enough jaggermeister down his neck I always got my way and Sacrilege was put into the set, hahaha.
Q: Any song you hate to play or sing?
A: Hmmmm - not really no, I do like the heavier songs, I must admit.
Q: Was it easy to find your place in the band?
A: It was strange, the first day we all got together to run through some songs - it was like we had all known each other and been friends before, its not often you get a connection with a group of people like that - I`ve only had that a couple of times.
Q: How was the reaction of the Mission fans towards you? Did you feel accepted right from the beginning?
A: Yeah I think I did - I wasn't sure whether the fans would have a problem with me coming in - Simon Hinkler was the original 2nd guitarist at the side of Wayne and I think the hardcore Mission fans would probably love to see him playing the songs again - but yeah - everyone seemed really great and made it a pleasure to be playing with the band.
Q: Do you have the chance to bring your personal way of playing into the Mission songs? Or do you try to play the songs the way Mark did?
A: My playing is nothing at all like Marks, I`ve never actually seen him play the guitar, I heard a couple of live tapes, that was all - and the list of songs that the Mission were doing when I joined consisted of mostly pre-Mark music - almost all the guitar parts were written by Wayne, so the Mission guitar parts/sound is Wayne Hussey - I tend to try to compliment the voice and melody with my playing rather than trying to get in as many notes as possible - I just learned from the original recordings.
Q: How was the tour life with The Mission anyway? Any personal highlights?
A: Too much jaggermeister - not enough sleep.
Q: What's the good thing about touring in general?
A: The actual time onstage performing - the rest is just a lot of travelling and waiting around - I cant sleep to well on a tour bus - once it stops then I can finally get to sleep properly, so I don't usually rise from the bus bed till around 3/4 in the afternoon.
Q: Is it easy to calm down after a tour and get back in a sort of normal life?
A: Not really - normal life seems kind of boring after doing tour after tour - I end up still living out of my suitcase for a few weeks once im home - it`s quite strange, its like trying to deny that the tour is over - although when I'm on tour I just wanna be home, then when I'm home I wish I was playing - it's a vicious circle - it can drive you slowly insane.
Q: Your most embarrassing moment on stage (with Sulpher, Mission or another band)?
A: One with the Creatures, we were doing a festival in lake Geneva I think, and Budgie was doing some drum thing - so there was a big drape across the back of the stage - it was pouring with rain and very muddy outside - I decided to go for a quick breather at the back behind the drums, so sitting down and leaning back against the curtain which I had obviously mistaken for a steady wall - I just slipped backwards completely off the stage and it was quite high up, maybe 12 feet, i landed in a pile of mud , at least I didn't impale myself on anything.
The other was in Amsterdam on the Mission tour last year - I came on in the first song and the fog machine had leaked fluid all over my side of the stage, and if you were there you will already know that both my legs went up in the air, and I landed flat on my back , highly embarrassing -quite painful too - I had to have the cartilage in my knee operated on soon after - ouch … the best part was- Dickie, our monitor engineer ( he is a huge guy, about 7 feet tall) he ran on and sort of picked me up like a little rag doll - while I continued to play - it was very spinal tap indeed - with Sulpher im constantly falling over something, banging into whatever is in the way and injuring myself - it's a war zone.
Q: What makes a good The Mission concert for you?
The sound, the reaction of the audience, your own personal mood or…?
A: A bit of everything - im critical of my playing - some nights are better than others - sometimes the onstage sound canbe terrible, especially at a festival when you don't get a soundcheck - so that always puts you in a bad mood even if it sounded amazing out front for the audience.
Q: Do you know a feeling like stage fright?
A : No, I actually don't get stage fright - I do however get worried that things wont be working correctly, that is the only thing that really bothers me before going on.
Q: How important is the contact with the fans for you. As far as I know you are in personal e-mail contact with a lot of fans.
A: We have a lot of fans emailing the Sulpher website asking various questions, we all try to answer as much as possible - it does become hard as its very time consuming.
Q: Any experience with a stalker?
A: Not really a stalker as such - you do get some strange people asking strange things sometimes - and constantly emailing the website or at every show - autographs and photos with fans is cool - , its nice for the fans to be able to chat with bands they like - I try to keep a low profile really, I don't feel comfortable with being seen as some sort of rock band guy.
Q: Probably In October there will be a new The Mission tour resp. some special gigs. Is there any chance to see you playing with Wayne again?
A: We shall see…
Q: In some of the German articles about Sulpher the band is introduced as "The Mission guitarist Rob Holliday has got his own band.." Does this annoy you?
A: It doesn't annoy me, it just doesn't make any sense - I am only a live member who tours with the Mission, so Sulpher is my own thing, it`s completely separate - Monti and myself had been working together on Sulpher for a few years, and had a record out before I played with the Mission
Q: Does the fact that you used to play with Mission open up doors for Sulpher?
At the Sulpher gigs there are always a few Mission fans I noticed.
A: I don't think it opens up any doors - it's a totally different style of music - obviously some of the Mission fans who like hard music have been turned onto us cos I was playing with the Mission which is cool.
Q: I know that Mark Thwaite went to see one of the Sulpher gigs last year. Do you know him personally?
A: I know him to say hello to.
Q: You produced and remixed some songs for Gary Numan together with Monti.
Would you like to work as a producer or remixer in the near future for other artists as well?
A: Definitely - we are constantly asked to work on peoples stuff - we are really picky on what kind of thing we want to do.
Q: Do you have a studio at home ?
A: Monti and myself work at his studio in London.
Q: Would you like to write a song for The Mission?
A: Wayne has asked me to get him some ideas together to work on, but honestly I havent had the time, were always recording and trying to get new Sulpher stuff together - I really should do some work with Wayne huh.
Q: Are you in contact with Scott or Craig? Or anybody from the old crew?
A: Yeah everyone - I was in L.A. a couple of months ago doing some work with a band over there - Scott and I hung out together all week - Craig and I have a drink occasionally - Jay (old lighting man) is working with Sulpher at the moment - the whole crew and band are all very cool people. I love them...kiss kiss.
Q: Anything left you would like to say to the Mission/Sulpher fans ?
A: Thanks to everyone for their constant support and hope to see everyone really soon on stage again
And now the “gossip” part of the interview:
Last CD you bought?
AC/DC "back in black" re-issue digi pack
Your favourite band at the moment?
The last concert you went to and paid for the ticket?
Oh god …. Hmmmmm - it was a long time ago that I had to pay
Your favourite computer game?
Playstation, NHL Ice Hockey
Your favourite movie?
“Scarface” - “Good Fellas” - “Seven” - “The Shining” , oh and “DEBBIE DOES DALLAS”
How would you describe the year 2002 for you?
Where would you like to see Sulpher in the year 2005?
Another 2 albums to be out - touring worldwide-playing and meeting a lot of cool people
How important is the internet for you?
The internet is such an amazing way of being in touch with the whole world right from your home - it's a necessity - its an addiction.
Did your mum ever saw a Sulpher show and is “spray” really her favourite song?
haha - my mother is scared to see a sulpher show, but she does like spray, and she always wears her “harder than a prison fuck” Sulpher t-shirt when she goes shopping.
What's a typical day of Rob Holliday when he is not on tour?
It`s much too sordid to tell.
What would you like to see happen until the end of 2003?
Sulpher to have completed the 2nd album - the world to sort all it`s fucked up shit out!!!
Jegliche Wiederverwendung, auch ausschnittweise oder in übersetzter Form, nur mit schriftlicher Genehmigung der Verfasser.
No part of this interview may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher