Holding Absence: “COVID underlines the fragility of everything”

Holding Absence frontman Lucas Woodland reflects on his personal trauma ahead of the band’s K! Pit stream.

Holding Absence: “COVID underlines the fragility of everything”
Phil Alexander

COVID has affected us all in different ways. In the case of Lucas Woodland, the singer with melodic Welsh post-hardcore crew Holding Absence, he has felt its impact on both a professional and on a deeply personal level.

“If I’m completely honest, the whole experience has been really bad,” he says candidly. “For me the fact that live music has stopped has been a really negative experience. Who I am day-to-day and who I am in Holding Absence are different people, or at least different sides of me, and having the Holding Absence side of me stripped away has felt weird and horrible. But you have to do what you have to do to get through this, and we have to wait for life to resume. At my age, that’s just hard to do because you want to be out there grabbing life.”

As well as fronting the band, the 25 year-old works at Fuel, the famed Cardiff rock club – itself forced to adapt to the spread of coronavirus and the lockdown limitations imposed by the Welsh government.

“I’ve worked at Fuel for a while, but when the pandemic hit we obviously couldn’t put any shows or nights on anymore so everything got cancelled. Then, when lockdown hit, we couldn’t serve alcohol anymore, so we ended up working as if it was a café. I spent quite a bit of time serving lemonade and playing Iron Maiden!” he laughs. “But I’m really grateful to the owners for keeping me on and for trying to work things out. They’ve been really great in that respect.”

Lucas' circumstances worsened when he found himself diagnosed with COVID in early summer. Understandably, he found the experience hugely sobering.

“Obviously, I had to isolate. I was super-safe and I took it really seriously. When I had it, I found myself thinking: ‘The thought of anyone I love having this is actually almost too much to bear’. The fear of slipping away without having finished what I wanted to say or do also felt real. I knew that I wasn’t dying, but COVID just underlines the fragility of everything. In a lot of respects it’s made me realise that I don’t want to look back at my life and have any regrets.”

With his health, his band and his day job threatened by events, Lucas found new ways in which he could keep both himself and other people entertained.

“I ended up setting up a Patreon account and I did livestreams every week, playing to about 30 people or so; me, a guitar, a piano and requests. Lots of requests!” he smiles. “A lot of people said that watching those little performances helped them mentally, and being able to perform for people – even in those very different circumstances – has been a real thing for me that’s helped me through this too. Fans say ‘thank you’ in such kind ways and it’s been a communal way of getting through the year.”

As well as continuing to play to a select few, Lucas worked with his bandmates – from a distance at times – on completing work on their second album, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life, which was recorded prior to lockdown. The album’s bigger, bolder direction is mirrored by its artwork and the band’s visuals.

“Holding Absence has always been a very black and white band in the way we present ourselves aesthetically and with our artwork. We felt that we could be viewed as a band who weren’t restricted by a time period or a type of music, because there’s something quite timeless about that whole black and white approach, but in the end it became quite restricting,” explains Lucas. “This time we wanted to add a regal, rich colour scheme to what we were doing and a sense of being alive.”

The first sign of life from the album emerged in November with the release of the epic first single Beyond Belief – a tune that Lucas describes as “sonically completely different from anything we’ve done before.”

Put simply, Beyond Belief is a big rock tune. So too is its thunderous successor, Afterlife, released last week – the video for which marks the final appearance of founder member/bass player James Joseph, who announced his departure from the band on Saturday via the band’s Facebook page.

His exit is entirely amicable and based on Joseph’s decision to focus on his new band, the more garage-orientated James And The Cold Gun. His replacement for touring purposes is Ben Elliot – a former bandmate of Lucas and guitarist Scott Carey, whose association with them goes back a decade.

Fans will get the chance to check out Elliot’s first major performance with Holding Absence tonight when their set at Blondies, our favourite London dive bar, is streamed as part of our well-loved K! Pit series in association with Nordic Spirit.

In many respects, playing The K! Pit has provided Holding Absence – whose line-up is completed by hard-hitting drummer Ashley Green – with food for thought about what it means to be a band and how different the live experience may be when things return.

“Idealistically speaking, I’d like to think that people will value live shows a whole lot more when things get back to normal. I used to go to about four shows a week and I probably took them for granted,” says Lucas. “I also realise that I have wasted time too. One of the last songs on the album, Mourning Song, is about someone who doesn’t have a choice in life. I feel fortunate that I do, and I have the choice to live on after all this is over. That said, for the first time in my life I was faced with no choice. I had to isolate and stop living my normal life because of COVID. I came out the other side realising that it’s not a case of doing things, it’s a case of doing everything!”

Watch the show now:

We also have a mega-comp for you where you get the chance to win one of 20 exclusive signed Holding Absence posters. But that’s not all! Thanks to Nordic Spirit – the UK’s No 1 Nicotine Pouch* - you get the opportunity to win a hoodie and a rucksack full of swag which contains a beanie hat, a mug, a wireless phone charger and headphones.

Nordic Spirit are also partnering with Download festival. That means that during the course of the next few weeks, one person will get the chance to win a ‘golden ticket’ to attend Download 2021 in June where Holding Absence will also be on the bill. That ‘golden ticket’ will allow you and three friends to enjoy VIP access to the festival – camping included!

To enter the competition, you need to answer the following question:
In what year did Holding Absence first play Download?

Know the answer? Then fill in the form below! If you can’t see the form, head over here to enter the competition.

Nordic Spirit is a 100% tobacco-free nicotine pouch perfect for when smoking or vaping is not possible. You must be over 18 to enter this competition. Nordic Spirit products contain nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance.

Existing adult nicotine users can visit the Nordic Spirit site to claim a free sample.

*IRi Market Place, volume Share, Nicotine Pouch Category, Total UK, YTD to w/e 04/10/2020 - For more information or to verify contact

Terms & Conditions

1. The Nordic Spirit X K! Pit Prize Draw (the “Prize Draw”) is open to people:

a. aged 18 and over
b. residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man

2. The Prize Draw is not open to employees of the Company and their families, the Company’s agencies or their employees and families or anyone else professionally associated with the Prize Draw.

3. To enter the Prize Draw, entrants must answer the question posed on this page.

4. The Prize Draw is open from January 19. The winners will be chosen at random and will be contacted by email by January 26.

5. By entering this promotion, entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions and by the decisions of the Company, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into. The Company or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize. The Company reserves the right to refuse entry or refuse to award the prize to anyone in breach of these terms and conditions.

6. The Company or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of the Company or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.

7. There will be 20 winners selected, who will each win the following prize: A signed poster and K! Pit rucksack containing a hoody, beanie, wireless phone charger, product giftbox (for those qualified), rucksack, mug, headphones.

8. One additional ‘golden ticket’ prize will be offered at random across all K! Pit competitions which will run until January 26. This will consist of VIP access to the Download festival for one competition winner + three friends, and will include camping.

9. The winner of the golden ticket will be chosen at random and will be notified in written form when the posters and rucksacks are mailed out.

10. In the event of the festival being cancelled, no alternative prize will be offered.

11. Only one entry per competition per person. Entries must not be sent through agencies or third parties.

12. Lost or stolen Prizes cannot be refunded or exchanged.

13. The Prizes are as stated and subject to availability. There are no other prize alternatives available, except the Company reserves the right to substitute the Prize with a similar prize of equal or greater value if circumstances beyond the Company's control makes it necessary to do so. The Prize is non-transferable and will only be issued in the name of the winning participant(s).

14. The prizes will be posted by Kerrang! to the winners at the address supplied by them on the entry form within a reasonable time following the announcement of the winners.

15. By entering the Prize Draw, participants acknowledge that the Company, and any agencies acting on its behalf, will process the personal data submitted by the participants (such as name, address, email address and telephone numbers) for the purpose of running this promotion; including displaying their name on scoreboards, administering the prizes and publicising the winner’s name. Except as described, any personal data provided will not be disclosed to any third parties or transferred outside the EU.

16. Under no circumstances will the Company (or its parent subsidiaries or affiliated companies) be liable (unless such liability cannot be lawfully excluded) for any losses, damages, costs or expenses arising from or in any way connected with the promotion or any prize connected with the promotion.

17. The Company reserves the right to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process.

18. The Company reserves the right to cancel, amend, terminate, temporarily suspend or withdraw this Prize Draw promotion in the event of unforeseen circumstances outside its reasonable control at any time. In such circumstances the Company shall have no liability to any participant.

19. The Company cannot accept any responsibility for prize warranties and guarantees. The winner must refer directly to the manufacturer in the case of any faulty goods.

20. The decision of the Company is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

21. Company: Gallaher Limited, Members Hill, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 OQU.

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