Hollow Leg: "Florida Is Home. It Is the Swamp. It Is the Abyss."
Garrett Elkins Photography
Bred in Massachusetts and tempered in Florida's sun, Hollow Leg started off as a duo with original members Brent and Tim. When reviewing their first full-length effort, Instinct, I once wrote: "There is nothing imaginary about where these two dudes store their energy. Nah, the hollow leg here refers to the actual hadron collider of doom sludge and booze these guys bring forth." The addition of Junior Bruce's Tom and Scott multiplied the heaviness of this band by a hundred.
Operating somewhere between Jacksonville and Deland, Hollow Leg is a great friend of South Florida and its metal scene. With the recent release of the formal four-piece's Abysmal, we had a chance to catch up with Brent on what it means to add members to their act, South Florida bands they love, and the passing of Junior Bruce's Brett Tanner.
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Young the Giant: Home of the Strange Tour
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David Cook with special guest Kathryn Dean
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New Times: Let's start off with a little bit of background on you and how you came to form the original duo.
Brent: We've known each other since we were teenagers back in Massachusetts and have been playing in bands together since '97. About six years ago, I moved down to North Florida where Tim was already living, and we just started jamming. The duo really just came about because the music we were making together sounded good to us, and we were comfortable with that format. We didn't set out to be a duo; we dig the "classic" band set up, but it just wasn't necessary in the beginning of Hollow Leg to include more musicians. Plus we didn't have any particular people in mind for the gig anyway. It was just about jamming music and hanging out.
I've been enjoying your music since the Hive Demos and the Instinct LP. Let's talk first about those and what went into their creation.
Thank you. We were making a bunch of demos we wrote back in the early days of the band, mostly with a friend in Jacksonville, but since meeting and playing gigs with the Junior Bruce guys, they had asked us to come to Deland to record with them, so we did. The result was the Hive Demos. Those demos were the first recording we were really happy with, enough to make it into a release.
We then went back to record Instinct with them. Recording that first record was the beginning of our musical collaborations with Scott, Tom, and Jeff McAlear (producer and engineer). As far as the songs on Instinct are concerned, that was Tim and I busting out the thickest/heaviest sound we could as only a two-man band, and we still enjoy that record for what it is, and a few of those songs will always be ones we incorporate into the live set. We're proud of those recordings, but for us there's also a certain limitation to playing and writing as a duo. We did our best with what we had, and all in all, we dig the result.
Before we tackle the inclusion of Scott and Tom into the band to flesh out the four-piece, what can you tell us, on a personal level about Brett Tanner and what his passing has meant to Florida's music?
Brett was/is such an inspiration to those who had the privilege to know him. Just an all-around, awesome human being as well as musical presence. His music and his influence and attitude will forever be a huge part of both Hollow Leg and Junior Bruce and any other band he played in or with. He was one of the best dudes you could ever be lucky enough to know. We miss him intensely.
What prompted the decision to form the four-piece with Scott and Tom, and where does Junior Bruce stand today?
There were a few factors that played into it. First, with the two recordings we made with them, Scott and Tom were a huge part of giving those songs their shape as they are today. So without forcing it, they became a part of the song production process, as well as the overall sound. The sound then naturally turned into something bigger that the two of us wanted, so we absorbed them into the band to fill up the sound. They're both so good at what they do, and we're a better band for having them be a part it. Plus, our friendship with them was still growing. We were on tours that they weren't a part of, especially with Junior Bruce in a hibernation state. So Scott and Tom were not actively playing in a band, so with just one phone call, which actually happened on a trip to New Orleans with Shroud Eater, they were in.
As far as Junior Bruce goes, they are more active now than they have been in quite some time now with Jeff McAlear behind the drums and are planning to tour this October up the East Coast. They also have a new EP they released in digital format themselves last month.
While it is easy to see the Black Sabbath influence, as is clear in this genre, I agree with the Orange Goblin and Eyehategod nods, but I also see some Buzzoven, Neurosis, and some tinges of the '90s power-violence/thrash thrown in for good measure. What bands new and old have you been digging lately?
Well the bands you mentioned are some of our biggest influences in Hollow Leg. Also, Goatsnake, Kyuss, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Clutch, Bongzilla, Bad Brains, Pentagram, Monster Magnet, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Free, Sleep, Melvins, and tons of blues. In the van we love reggae, '90s hip-hop, and a ton of '60s and '70s rock and hard rock. The majority of new music we're into are bands we've had the opportunity to jam with like Junior Bruce, Shroud Eater, Demonaut, Clamfight, Kings Destroy, Elder, Orbweaver, Holly Hunt, and Porter.
I see Abysmal as a natural growth for you guys musically. Tell us about its creation and the involvement of the "new guys" in it, because while there are similarities between Hollow Leg and Junior Bruce, each band has its own sound; this record is blissfully symbiotic in that sense!
Yes, definitely. We all were involved in the writing and production process with the Abysmal jams. Tom and Scott made a huge contribution in the overall sound and that's something we're still working to improve on, but they added a lot of weight. Scott and Tom (as well as Jeff) were very focused on keeping Hollow Leg sounding like Hollow Leg. Adding the thickness and intensity of Tom's bass and Scott's vocal style and abilities are far beyond what we had been able to pull out as a duo. It's a progression for us.
Will the four-piece be the norm from here on out, and as such, any areas of instrumentation you guys will be experimenting with?
This is the format we're working with for now. Abysmal is the beginning. We're just getting started making music as a four-piece.
What plans exist for the promotion of the album?
We're hoping to get the word around about the record and the band on a greater scale than ever before, we want to tour of course, as much as we're able to, and to new places both within and outside the US. Right now, our plans are light, we have another recording project in the works, and a few shows outside of Florida this November, but larger tour plans will probably come in the new year for sure. We do what we can, when we can.
Some people say I'm a malcontent and that I'm never satisfied; I'd like to think that I'm just hungry for more... So in that vein, what recording plans lie in the future for Hollow Leg?
All I can tell you is that the next album is laid out in concept and that we have already started demos.
On a final note, do you miss Massachusetts, or will Florida suffice?
Florida is home. It is the swamp. It is the abyss. It is where we have made our best friends and created our best music.
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