Holding Absence preview their Download Festival set: “You should never underestimate how profound performing at Donington can be”

The release of The Greatest Mistake Of My Life cemented Holding Absence’s status as one of the UK’s finest young rock bands. As they prepare for the biggest show of their career at Download, Lucas Woodland talks about the magical qualities of Castle Donington, and recalls the life-changing impact of last year’s Pilot…

Holding Absence preview their Download Festival set: “You should never underestimate how profound performing at Donington can be”
Jake Richardson
Bethan Miller

Twelve months ago, Holding Absence stepped out at Download Pilot to celebrate both the return of live music, and the release of their incredible second album, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life. An event which will forever be etched in the memories of those who were present, what followed was a year in which the UK’s live music scene came roaring back to life, while for Holding Absence their continued success saw them conquer the U.S. and Australia, and stretch the streams of their titanic emo-rock songs into the tens of millions.

They’re one of the must-see bands at Download this weekend, and here vocalist Lucas Woodland tells us what we can expect from their set, and reflects on a year that has seen Holding Absence become an unstoppable force in British rock…

You’ve been in America and Australia recently, both for the first time. How did that go?
Lucas Woodland (vocals):
“It’s been insane. We haven’t been home since March, so it’s been quite overwhelming! But both places have been incredible and have surpassed expectations in terms of everything from T-shirt sales and crowd sing-alongs to seeing people with Holding Absence tattoos. It’s been mind-blowing, and it’s really given us a second wind – I’d liken it to unlocking a new map in a video game. It felt like we had unfinished business in both of those regions because our initial touring plans were cancelled, so to get there and finish the tours was wicked. Now, we’re excited to go back and do it all again!”

It’s been over a year since The Greatest Mistake Of My Life came out. How do you reflect on that record and its impact?
“It’s been the best period of this band’s existence – I almost feel detached from what the bands was before The Greatest Mistake… came out. It feels like this album has always been a part of Holding Absence. When it came out, the hope was just that we’d get to play the songs for people, because things were still uncertain with COVID, but now that we’ve been able to tour and hear people singing along, it’s really inspired us to do more. That said, I’m kind of scared to write album three because of how well The Greatest Mistake Of My Life has done!”

Speaking of your next album, how are plans for a third record shaping up?
“We’ve always been a band that wants to be writing songs, and we’ve released material every year since 2016, so the next album is definitely something we’re working towards. I don’t want to move on from The Greatest Mistake… too soon, because I’m so proud of it, but that said, the next step is something we’ve been thinking a lot about and working very hard on.”

Your set at Download is the next big milestone for Holding Absence. How are you feeling ahead of your performance?
“Really, really excited! Download was the first big thing the band did back in 2017 – prior to that, we just self-booked shows in small venues – and it felt like everyone who saw us play to 10 people in every small city around the country converged on that tent. It was a really emotional thing for the band. Download is always insane, and this year is the biggest slot we’ve ever had and has the potential to be the biggest show of Holding Absence’s career. Download has a magical, mythical feeling to it – you should never underestimate how profound performing there can be – so we can’t wait to play.”

Which song of yours do you think will go down best at Donington?
“The Greatest Mistake Of My Life as a whole has done really well for us, but I can’t wrap my head around how well Afterlife in particular has done – I think it’s on something like 12,000,000 streams on Spotify. I hate the numbers game – I’m well aware that, at the end of the day, Spotify is a stupid app on your phone – but it’s still crazy how that song has more streams than some of my favourites of all time. I’ve often noticed how the room lights up for Afterlife, and I’m excited at the prospect of how of many people we can get jumping and singing along to it. Playing a big tent, we can’t expect everyone to sing along to every song, so the main focus will just be on smashing out a great Holding Absence set.”

You played Download Pilot last year. How was that experience?
“The Pilot will, for a long time, remain the most important show of my life. It was the biggest show we’ve ever played, the first show for The Greatest Mistake… and our first post-pandemic show – it almost didn’t feel real. Looking back now, the whole thing was so euphoric, and we were immensely honoured to be a part of it. The line-up was incredible – Boston Manor, Neck Deep, Sleep Token, Enter Shikari – and it was such a magical thing to be a part of. I’ll always have the fondest memories of Download Pilot – I don’t think any event will ever recapture the essence of what that all was, given the context.”

Finally, who are your must-see bands for Download punters this year?
“I’ve got two. On a personal level, I’m so excited for Deftones and I’m really pleased they’re playing the same day as us, because that hopefully means I’ll get to see them. I saw them at Reading & Leeds in 2015 and they were insane, so I can’t wait for that. Them aside, I would absolutely tell anybody that they have to go and see Static Dress right now. There’s a lot of hype around them, and it’s fully deserved because their new album [Rouge Carpet Disaster] is incredible. It’ll be their first time at a big festival, and I’ve just got this feeling it’ll be a really inspiring set to watch.”

Catch Holding Absence at Download Festival this summer. Get your tickets here.

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