NWOBHM legend Bryan Holland sat down to speak about his new band, Reverence. You don’t have to look far to see that they’ve been received with an overwhelmingly positive response. Providing a raft of originality in a sea of copy cat sharks. A raft which contains a lot of talent; Reverence are a refreshing, Heavy and utterly addictive band. A band which is now on my playlist and should certainly be in yours.
When Darkness Calls has received brilliant reviews–but did it exceed the expectations of the band or was Reverence to be revered? “We’ve been very fortunate, we could never have expected the amazing response we’ve gotten from the fans and press so far,” explained Holland. “Even though most the band members are from other known acts, Reverence is a new entity so there’s no way to know how we would be accepted. We knew we’d be compared to some of our past bands to a degree but I think we’ve managed to stand on our own and carve out our own sound with this album without leaning too much on past successes.” With all the different backgrounds coming together, the track Devil in Disguise is very reminiscent of Deal with the Devil by Judas Priest so one might ask, how big of an influence have they and others such as Dio and Maiden been on Holland as an individual and as a band? “Even being compared to Judas Priest is a great compliment, thank you,” said Holland. “I’m not familiar with that song so any similarities are pure coincidence but for sure classic era Judas Priest was a part of the blueprint I wanted for the foundational sounds of Reverence, in particular the twin guitar attacks that those guys have. When Todd and I got together I really outlined what I thought would be a perfect sound for us which was a mix of classic era Judas Priest, Queensrÿche, Dio and Savatage.”
Holland himself comes from a background with the band, Tokyo Blade, but did his time with them have any affect in his playing with Reverence?
“Absolutely, I learned a lot from being in that band, both things to do and not to do,” explained Holland. “From writing, recording and touring we had some up and downs like any band does but experience is the best teacher and to me it was a stepping stone to Reverence. When you’re in a band that’s to a level where you’re writing, recording and touring professionally it forces you to become a better player, performer and business person. So without a doubt its aided all of us with our previous bands experiences to avoid a lot of the pitfalls new bands may fall into.” With everyone coming together from different bands, sometimes chemistry isn’t always there and as they say, chemistry is everything. “I left Tokyo Blade after our last tour in the fall of 2009,” stated Holland. “I took the holidays off to decide what direction I wanted to go and started looking for a great singer/writer and found Todd Hall’s Myspace page on New Years Eve 2010. Todd had some demos that showed his writing and vocal skills and felt very strongly that he was the guy I wanted. I contacted him a few days later, we met up and found a common direction we wanted to take and decided to join forces and started writing immediately. After we had a few songs demoed, I sent them to my old friend of nearly 20 years, Steve ‘Dr. Killdrums’ Wacholz from Savatage and he joined on immediately. Doc suggested a shredding guitar player named Pete Rossi who fit the bill perfectly. Todd called up Ned Meloni, his bassist in Burning Starr and he quickly signed on. Everyone’s experienced enough to know whats needed to make the band strong. This band and lineup are a dream come true, I never for a second regret leaving Tokyo Blade.”
With the resurgence of early/late 80’s rock and metal music, It’s nice to hear such a traditional metal sound so what does Holland listen to when he has down time?
“Yeah, there’s definitely a bit of a resurgence of that early 80’s classic metal sound,” said Holland. “There’s been several younger bands on the rise lately and the one I think has the most potential is a band called Holy Grail. I think these guys are the real deal, very genuine and live for the music they play. For ourselves we weren’t looking at jumping on any band wagons, we just did our own thing, writing the style of music we loved and felt was missing in metal these days. I think our stuff just happened to fall into that new wave of classic metal that are coming out right now.”
Creatively, all members of Reverence have the opportunity to put in their two cents worth when it comes to the videos they’ve made and the process that goes into such an event can be stressful but also very exciting. “Yeah, I’m very happy with all the videos we made, we had a great time making them,” Holland said. “Todd really took the lead in the concepts involving all three of the videos we shot. He story-boarded the Too Late video, scouted the locations, he’s very involved in the editing, etc. But that’s fine with us, he was really passionate about what he wanted the final product to look like and I think they’ve turned out great. We have a third video coming out by the end of November called ‘After The Leaves Have Fallen’ and we also did one for the song ‘Bleed For Me’ which is a live performance style video so that one was pretty easy and straight forward, overall we had a blast shooting all three of them and am looking forward to doing more for the next album too.” The artwork for the cover is always interesting as it conveys the initial message to the beholder, of whether this is something cool they could get behind or not. “When I first saw the first draft, I was blown away!” Exclaimed Holland. “Our artist is Jobert Mello from Sledgehammer Graphix, he does all of our artwork, from the album art/packaging and logo to our website and print adverts, he’s an amazing artist! For the album cover, we gave him a very simple black and white version of our ‘Dead Priest’ idea and just asked him to bring him to life and make an environment around him and what you see is basically what he came up with on the first draft, we added a few things on the table and book in front of him and below the windows on each side. We actually had the artwork before the songs were completed done or a title for the album picked. The song, When Darkness Calls was the last song written for the album, the intro on that song just screamed out to be the opener of the album, together with the cover art the title for the album was very clear and fit perfectly.”
Though Holland, just like all of us, doesn’t just listen to rock; he’s influenced by many other genres so what would be the most peculiar music he listens to? “I’m a music lover in general, I love a great song, it doesn’t have to be just metal,” enthused Holland. “I grew up in the 70’s-80’s so I love groups like ELO, America and Hall & Oats, great songs are great songs no mater who the artist is, some may be surprised to hear this coming from a metal guy but these are the essential musical building block of my youth and influenced me a lot. I’m also a big fan of classical guitarist like Andrés Segovia and Christopher Parkening, these guys wipe the floor with any metal guitarist out there. I vividly recall attending a live performance of Parkenings’ with my mother when I was in my teens. He was beyond amazing and left me speechless, his playing was a great influence on me and how I view the guitar.”
Reverence is gearing up for their live shows and a tour is expected next year with a visit to the USA. ‘We actually postponed our fall European tour until next year, so we’ll be using this time for writing a new album,” explained Holland. “But we do have shows coming up for next year in both Europe and the USA and in fact we just confirmed being added to the Rock Harvest Festival in Baltimore, Maryland next year with Lizzy Borden and many others so I’m really looking forward to that. Having played all over Europe with Tokyo Blade, I’d really like to get back to Greece, the metal fans there are unreal. I’m really pleased with how things have progressed and with all of the positive press and fan reaction for When Darkness Calls’ I couldn’t have asked for much more. Of course you’d always like things to just happen at the snap of the fingers but that’s not reality. It took a little bit of time to get things rolling in the beginning and to get the feel for writing with Todd but to do things with quality it takes time and I think that quality shows in everything we’ve done so far. Obviously touring and more recording are the next goals. Pete and I just got together this past weekend for our first official writing session for the next album, we came up with some very cool, heavy and dark riffs that to me have our trademark Reverence sound, very much a continuation of the first album. We’re actually considered putting out an EP next just to get some new music out early next year in time for the summer touring season.”