Rising rock and roll band Hollis Brown stopped recently for a concert at the Southern Café & Music Hall in Charlottesville, VA. The ambitious rock quintet is promoting their latest album, 3 Shots, boasting a variety of tunes with a mix of rock and country influences. Standout tracks include the titular track of “3 Shots,” “Cathedral,” and even the eulogistic “John Wayne.”
Cementing its current line-up in 2014, Hollis Brown consists of vocalist/guitarist Mike Montali, guitarist Jonathan Bonilla, bass player/vocalist Dillon DeVito, drummer Andrew Zehnal, and pianist/vocalist Adam Bock. It’s noteworthy that these gentlemen hail from different parts of the United States (New York, Ohio, and Missouri), yet they succeed in exuding a confidence and swagger that is usually characteristic of veteran bands. That positive energy is further bolstered by the seamless merging of vocals and strong guitar work when they perform onstage.
For most of the tour, Hollis Brown has been opening for the legendary Counting Crows, a challenge that the band sees with optimism rather than as a daunting ordeal. The learning experience has been vital to helping them hone their performance skills. “The tour has been a big jump for us,” Montali reflected, “playing these big amphitheaters and seeing all the production … how everything goes into a huge tour like that where there’s five to ten thousand people a night.”
Though this enterprising group developed its edgy rock sound from the works of Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground, Hollis Brown shakes off any attempts critics might make in locking them into a particular musical genre. That aspect probably contributes to a lot of the appeal they’ve encountered with fans around the world.
“[We] wanted to take everyone through a journey of different rock styles,” Bonilla noted proudly with respect to their creative process, which lasted a mere two weeks for 3 Shots. Incorporating “everything from folk to pop to rock and blues” seems to ensure that everyone can find something to enjoy about the new album, whether it’s a merging of the Old West and rock (“John Wayne”) or a jaunty slice-of-life captured in the weekly routine of waiting for a friend to arrive (“Sweet Tooth”).
Be sure to watch my full interview to learn more about Hollis Brown and to hear snippets of a few of the latest tracks from 3 Shots.
This post was originally published on Blogcritics.org as “Music Feature/Interview: Hollis Brown Reflects on New Album ‘3 Shots’ and a New Tour.”
Special thanks to the students at the University of Virginia Digital Media Lab for their assistance and good cheer.