Q & A with Rob Holliday - December 2003
The Mission live guitarist September 2001 - August 2004
By Petra Sümnicht & Tanja Godisch
First of all how is life at the moment? Like the other guys you were quite sick in Spain. How are you doing?
Im fine thanks , I finally got over the mystery sickness that Rich brought to our normally healthy bus! It took 10 days and antibiotics to get rid of - nice
How is the recording process of the new Sulpher album at the moment? Give us a sneak preview. Will it be a collection of songs or is the album going to be a statement in its whole?
Its well underway - but quite slow going, were just thrashing things out - there is no statement as a whole currently - just a number of songs and various ideas that were going through, it will start to take shape soon im sure, its always quite a painstaking process with our stuff - things are sounding good and were pretty happy with the way things are going - its really good to get back to work on it as myself and Monti were both quite busy this year doing various other things.
The design of the official Sulpher website changed a couple of times over the last few months. What can we expect in future?
As with Sulphers music, we are never happy, we are constantly changing things, and even when were finished - were still never completely happy - and it's the same with the website - weve always got tons of ideas, different looks - were pretty happy with the way the site looks now, we will be adding more sections in the coming months, but we want to kind of keep it simple and minimalist and not too difficult for people to navigate around...
Let's get over to The Mission. The Pilgrimage tour is over since one month and you had to deal with a lot of problems. Especially the first leg of the tour in Germany seemed to be very exhausting. A slow van, long trips to the several cities, seven gigs in a row. How was it for you?
Tiring - very tiring, especially the first part - there was quite a tense atmosphere , due to late nights, early mornings and long drives - then straight into soundcheck, hardly anytime for proper food, then show then same again - and I think it showed onstage - it wasn't relaxed - it was a completely different crew and new drummer - he had a lot of songs to remember with very limited amount of time and rehearsal - but after a few shows, it seemed to come together and in Bochum it seemed to get a lot more relaxed - we were playing really well together - and the audiences were feeling this too.
Unfortunately you had some sound problems in the beginning of the tour, but obviously it went better and better and we saw some great shows, so how would you sum the tour up?
I personally think Wayne was really wondering about the future of the band at one point early on, but as I said, around halfway through, and the reaction in Bochum and a few of the later German dates it seemed to get back on track and then the London show and the Spanish shows! Think the band was on better form than ever.
You always seem to have problems with your microphone and your guitar. What happened?
I don't always have problems, but when I do you usually know about it - I had a few guitar problems - when things are supposed to have been checked prior to us coming onstage, then they don't work, this I find extremely annoying - the problems that I usual have are monitor problems, not hearing whats needed - onstage it sometimes sounds terrible - not hearing Waynes vocals, or other important things that are necessary, so I generally get pissed off quite quickly and whatever is closest to hand gets thrown, usually the mic or micstand - I suggest you keep your distance if im having a bad night!
Like Rich you did some backing vocals on several songs. While playing the Mission songs, do you 'sing along' Wayne's lyrics in your head, or do you listen to the music?
I listen to everything as a whole - I prefer not to sing backing vocals actually - I feel I don't have a great "singing" voice - im more of a shouter, and shouting isnt what the Mission are about - its very melodic - I hate hearing myself "singing" on desk tapes of the shows.
Is it possible for you to make the songs of someone else a sort of your own songs?
Yeah I think so, obviously I try to play the songs within the boundaries of how Wayne wants them - and how they were originally recorded - Wayne is quite relaxed on how each band members interperetation of the parts are played - we do get to add our own flavour, whilst remaining true to the actual Mission style.
What did you do in the van / bus while driving through the countries for hours?
Complain - sleep - complain!!!
Any special tour highlights or funny stories?
Shopping for Rich's pin striped trousers in numerous sex shops in Hamburg - at one point I had to talk him out of a leopard print pvc g-string and rubber stockings, it was more of a Sigue Sigue Sputnik look than Mission - he does look good in 8 inch high heels though. Yeah right :-)
In a previous interview you said you prefer the electric sets. In Bochum and London you played a short acoustic set. Did you like it? And was it more difficult than the electric sets?
I do quite enjoy the acoustic set - I like to hear and play stripped down versions of the songs - although I must admit I prefer the band as a whole - I like energy live - I guess its cool for the audiences to see both.
Any remembrance of your support bands Votiva Lux and Cold?
Cold were pretty gothic as far as I remember - Votiva Lux were very interesting - lots of cool sort of soundscapes.
Do you think that your way of performing with The Mission has changed since 2001?
Im not sure it has changed - I just do what I do.
Is there a song that should be covered by the Mission?
Ace of spades - Motörhead
Is it important for you to stay in contact with family and friends while touring? I guess you always have a high mobile phone bill?
Yeah - my phone bill is fucking astronomical - touring is total insanity really - its hard to describe, it's a love hate relationship for me - and its difficult not seeing family and friends, its really hard if you have a wife and kids at home, I am fortunate in that aspect, if I was married with kids, im not sure I could do it anymore.
You toured with The Mission and Sulpher in Germany for a couple of times. What do you like or dislike about Germany and do you speak any German by now?
My German vocabulary is still very limited - I see learning any language as being very difficult - I seem to pick up on the bad language quite quickly funnily enough - I love the German attitude towards music in general - the audiences are a lot more open minded and when they go to see a live band they are there to have a good time, I am however very very bored of eating ham and cheese on a daily basis. Ham & cheese??? Sounds not "very German" :-)
There a lot of private recordings going around from The Mission and Sulpher. Do you ever listen to them? And what's your opinion about bootlegs in general?
Ive heard a few yeah - some sound great and some sound terrible - I don't mind bootlegs - its cool if fans of the music swap and exchange bootlegs - but I really don't agree with the selling of bootlegs.
As far as I know you see yourself as the live guitarist of The Mission. So there are no plans that you are involved in the new Mission album?
Ive got a few ideas and Wayne has always asked us to put forth any ideas any of us have for future Mission material - its hard to find the time to do everything. Wayne is currently peicing together the next Mission record in Brazil - I think were all possibly going to go and invade his place and lay down some stuff early in the new year.
This year you played guitar and bass for a couple of bands. What's closer to your heart, playing bass or guitar?
I don't really have a preference to tell you the truth - I do like playing bass - I like the aspect of laying back or driving the song forward with the drummer.
What made you pick up a guitar in the first place?
My parents bought me my first guitar when I was 10 yrs old - its their fault.
How would you describe your style of playing guitar?
It differs with the band or style of music - ive never really looked at any guitarists as a sort of single entity, I usually see a band as a whole - musically and rhythmically - the band together and the sound they make is what does it for me - I hate guitarists who overplay and wanna just sit there wanking off and showing off how fast they can play, they don't take into account anything else that's going on around them musically - to me it just sounds ridiculous - I personally would rather see someone smash a guitar than listen to a guitar solo.
If you had to pick up a favourite guitar which one would it be?
Gibson les pauls are my choice.
Looking back how do you see your own development as a guitarist concerning style etc?
Theres always room for improvement.
And now for the cliché bit of the interview: Name three songs from other bands that you wished you've written.
Love like blood - Killing Joke
New Years Day - U2
Back in black - AC/DC
Did you see any good bands lately? And no, not this quite interesting bunch of nervous guys in London @ the Forum...
Yeah - I saw "Kings Of Leon" last night - I quite like them. id really like to see Muse but missed them a week ago - I missed A Perfect Circle a while back but spoke to Billy and they'll be in Birmingham Feb 2nd so im gonna go down and hook up for a few drinks with them.
That´s it! Many thanks for your time - Anything else you would like to say?
Happy holidays ! c u in the new year xxx
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