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Aaron Holt: Quarantine Story

by Metal Jacket

In Corona Corner, we are asking musicians how the outbreak has effected them, how did they adapt to the situation, what did they learn. On December 18th,  Aaron Holt released the  first single from “In The Palace” from the upcoming third album “Set Free Your Sorrow”. Read what he and his bandmates have to say.

Hi! How are you doing during corona outbreak?
Even after a major pay cut at one of my jobs I’m still able to work full-time which I’m nothing but super thankful for. I really just wish everyone would take things more seriously here in the US so we could get things back on track. It seems like everyone is just trying to live with it, not without it. So I feel a little bit like I can’t even live the life I really want sometimes, especially lately and that’s made for an extremely depressing time period for me. I’m sure many other people feel the same way.

TJ: I’ve actually been doing REALLY WELL, all things considered.

Sujit: It’s been terrible. As a complete extrovert and a regular touring musician, life had come to a complete halt. Somehow, 3 months in, I decided to stop moping and do something. Ended up writing, recording, and releasing a lot more music than in the previous years.

What have you cancelled/postponed due coronavirus?
Since I moved in the middle of this, I had to leave one job for another, and I haven’t seen my old coworkers since March and it absolutely sucks! That’s an event that I wish could be scheduled that keeps getting pushed further down the road. As a band, I really think we would have pulled together a couple of our first shows in the summer of 2020, but that got completely derailed.  

TJ: I was supposed to tour in LA/California this Summer, starting end of March before everything got shut down. Things were just lining up with booking agents for this music group I had been working with the past year when everything got shut down.

I was also recording percussion for a gospel CD that was supposed to come out in Easter, we had been back and forth for months on getting together for this project (near Baltimore), and then when the shut-down happened, I had gotten a couple of songs down for them, but I basically said, ok, I’m just going to stay put and let them do what they can.

Easter Timpani gig – there’s this really well-paying gig I’ve had that I play with really close family friends every year, that for the first time in like 8 years I haven’t played this year.

Lots of local bar and winery gigs – another artist I play with a lot around Virginia, we were finally recording an album, and he was asking me all these dates to play for April and May after we hadn’t played much together, so it was looking like a very busy Spring, and then everything stopped.

Sujit: A ton of regular local shows and 2 international tours have been cancelled in 2020 including a tour that was scheduled for Feb-Mar in 2021.

How the global coronavirus pandemic is directly impacting bands?
I think it’s the start of a long and dark road for a lot of bands, as well as the end for some. I can’t imagine anyone has managed to successfully maintain or grow anything in this environment. The main moneymaker for a lot of people was touring, and with so many people put off that would’ve been on crews, it’s just hitting everyone so hard.

TJ: There is no touring, because that spreads the virus with people traveling, and mass crowds gathering, and puts singers at high risk of wrecking their lungs/voices. And then because of the social distancing, it has been really hard on a lot of musicians, because a lot of people don’t have a digital outlet, and then for most people, it’s also all about connecting with people, so even if they did have a digital outlet, now there is a wall blocking people from what really got them into music in the first place.

Sujit: For most bands, the biggest income comes from ticket and Merch sales at Live shows. With all Live music cancelled, it has pretty much spelled death for quite a few bands. There have been more than a few established bands as well, who have decided to hang up their boots during this period.

How are you keeping your fans during this chaotic period?
Obviously we’ve decided to go ahead and push forward with releasing our single and following album which will still see a great digital audience. But there’s a lot of work I wanted to do and still want to do by simply performing that I know we’re not going to be able to get out and do.

TJ: I am recording from home, and just spending time with people where I can. I’ve kind of not really worried about that, as much as taken the time to focus on bettering my playing so that the music is that much better when things do open up.

Sujit: Keeping something going in some way or the other. In this case, releasing a single this month, followed by a full-length album in the coming months. We might put out a lyric video to follow the single as well, mainly just to keep fans engaged or garner new ones.

What will metal look like when we re-emerge from isolation?
I think locally it might look much worse than it already does, unfortunately. I think one thing that brings metalheads together is just getting out there and enjoying time with each other at shows both big and small. We’re missing that a ton, and I think a lot of people are going to wait on releasing new music for some time still.

TJ: Bigger, harder, and more powerful, both energy-wise and more emotionally than ever before.

Sujit: That is a really tough one to answer. There were already very few venues that supported Metal for independent bands. We are already seeing so many shut down. The biggest question is, will there be any venues left to play by the time this whole thing is over and done with? Maybe, we all start from the bottom again with DIY House shows, parking lot shows, etc.

Who will suffer the most after all: musicians, organizers promoters…
Aaron: The biggest group of people suffering in music are all the behind the scenes crew like tech people, sound engineers. All the people that work hard organizing tours day in and day out suddenly have nothing to do, the artists can make some adjustments to sell their music or merch online but there’s no way to make up for finances when your show doesn’t happen.

TJ: The people really suffering the most are the tech people. The Musicians can still record at home, live-stream, release music, play locally, but the people that do all the behind- the-scenes work, that make their living serving others – they can’t work right now, and that’s really sad.

Sujit: Everyone !!

What is your isolation soundtrack?
Ellie Goulding’s new album “Brightest Blue”. From beginning to end there’s this whole thing about tearing down who you used to be to build yourself back up. What does it mean to Redefine, and coming from a pop singer that’s a lot to say.

TJ: Dream Theater, “Live From London”.

Sujit: It’s been different every week. Actually, this has been a great time to be introduced to so much new independent music that I had not heard before. From Metal to Prog and Punk to even some Country, there are so many awesome independent artists out there that have been on regular rotation during this isolation.

Besides gigs, what/whom do you miss the most?
Aaron: I miss my brother up in Canada, I haven’t seen him since 2018, and it eats my heart that they’ve had a baby who’s already turning 1 and I haven’t even met him!

TJ: Traveling, and my friends in NY.

Sujit: Rehearsals and Recording, and then just hanging out with band members. Bands are like families and there is so much time we spend with each other apart from the stage. Not being able to physically hang out or go to the studio and rehearse is something I miss greatly.

Do you have any rehearsals during quarantine? If yes, how do they look like?
I’ve managed to go to TJ’s home studio a few times to work out a few demos for new material, but those are very few and far between. Mainly just because I was spending more time occupied finishing up everything with the new album. Instead of going to jam for a whole Saturday I had to spend my time focusing on finalizing mixes or working through the mastering stage.

TJ: Yes, just with a select few people that we’ve decided we’re going to get together during this time to do some small things.

They’re pretty laid back, and sparse.

Sujit: None.

Thank you so much for your time. Stay safe!

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