The Mariana Hollow Interview

//The Mariana Hollow Interview

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Interview – The Mariana Hollow

by Nicholas Holmes


Five people are squeezed into the tiny what-passes-for-a-dressing room backstage at London’s Borderline. It is about the size of classic CBBC’s famous broom cupboard – but without Edd the Duck. No groupies or giant bowls of white powder either…just about room for a couple stools and a pack of mineral water. The glamour of rock n’ roll…


However, the mood is buoyant as London – five-piece The Mariana Hollow prepare to open for fellow British metallers Pythia. Like the headliners, the band have recently released their second album. “Velvet Black Sky” is the follow-up to their debut, 2009’s “Coma Heart”, which was mixed by Chris Sheldon (Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters, Skunk Anansie, Anthrax). 


While drummer Adam Stanley and lead guitarist Danny Russell handle another interview, singer Rebecca “Spinky” Spinks, rhythm guitarist Richie Walden and (lead!) bassist Scott Chesworth discuss not being pigeon-holed, tight budgets, taking risks…and why their sticks-man’s bum deserves it’s own Facebook page!


How was the album-making experience this time round?


RS – It’s been very different because with this album we knew each other more. The writing process was different, because we all started at the beginning on all the songs. This album is more intense, it’s more of a challenge for all of us. It’s slightly heavier in places, and some of the lyrics are a bit darker. We tried to push ourselves with this album, because we loved making the first album but I think some of the comments were, “we want slightly more…” or “we wanted slightly more uptempo”. We took that onboard and tried to come up with something more exciting, which we think we’ve done.


RW – I think we really learnt what songs off our first album worked better live, and it felt quite natural to follow that direction. People seemed to enjoy the build and release songs, or the heavier songs. We definitely focussed on that more this time around, and it’s considerably longer as a record.


Was response to the first album a factor in the writing process?


RW – I don’t know if it was the critical response as opposed to the actual response we got at the shows – the songs that went down the best. 


SC – We enjoyed playing those songs as well. People seemed to get into a certain few songs off the first record, and they were the ones that we come away from each show thinking, “Fuck! I really enjoyed digging into that one tonight!” So we just went in that direction.


RW – You have to listen to critical response, but I don’t think you can write based on it. You can get an understanding of what people are getting and enjoying about your band, but I think it’s a mistake to try and automatically say, “they should be more like a symphonic metal band”, and we go “right we need to do that!” It’s very honest music that we write. It’s definitely for ourselves first and foremost.


How do you fit in – or not – to the female metal landscape?


RS – To be honest, I don’t think we really fit in anywhere and that’s what I love about our band. I feel we can play on metal bills quite easily, sometimes we can play on rock bills. We can play on the female-fronted bills and I think we have something for everyone, because of all of us listen to very different music. There’s no orchestral side to our band really either, so as much as I enjoy some of that music it’s not a scene that we are desperate to be part of. We’re just happy to be playing music we love, and I’m influenced by a lot of different singers. Male singers like Phil Anselmo. It’s definitely more gritty-based. It’s not a fully operatic kind of influence.


RW – I don’t think any of us are particularly influenced by any female-fronted bands, which isn’t a dislike of them. 


SC – I like Skunk Anansie.


RW – I quite like Skunk Anansie, but I don’t feel they inspire me to write music. I like things like Crisis or Walls of Jericho, and the symphonic things less really. We all listen to quite a lot of different stuff. Danny and Scott like quite a lot of prog stuff. Adam likes more indie – he’s a big Foo Fighters fan. I like Alice In Chains and grungier stuff – things like Perfect Circle and stuff like that. There aren’t too many bands that are massive influences for me and Danny. We tend to write a lot of the parts initially. The core things that we both enjoy are things like Anathema, Paradise Lost and Type O Negative probably. They’re probably the big three, and also early Metallica.


RS – I enjoy all of those bands, but I have quite varied interests. I love my ’80s hair metal! (laughs) I listen to a bit of black metal, I listen to all kinds of stuff really. I enjoy some female-fronted bands. I’m quite influenced by Human Waste Project, Jack Off Jill and that sort of thing. That’s what I grew up with. A bit of everything for me, really.


What kind of people are your fans and how have they responded to the new album?


SC – It’s a really broad mix. We’ve got everyone from kids that go nuts for us at my sister’s school, who are like 10, 11. Right through to…how old is the oldest person we’ve met at shows? 


RW – Late 50s…early 60s…


SC – It’s a really even mix.


RS – Which is a nice thing, isn’t it?


SC – The response to the second album’s been awesome. We did a pre-release of 100 signed and numbered copies, basically because we got to the end of making the album and thought, “Fuck! We’re skint! We can’t actually release it!” (laughs) So we thought this would be a really cool way of giving something to the people that have followed us through the first album and been to shit-loads of shows, and want something to show they were there at the start of it. Also it was a way of us raising a bit of capital so we could get the digital release together and pay for video distribution and that kind of stuff. We sold out of those 100 copies really, really quickly.


Do you think it is important to give that kind of added value to fans?


RS – Massively. 


SC – We were so surprised by the response to that pre-sale package, because I am a geek of horrible proportions! (laughs) Sometimes Adam has to remind me people listen to music away from the internet. Sometimes it gets that bad! I wasn’t really expecting it to do that well, and they just flew, man. We sent some to…


RS – The States and Japan…


SC – Canada…and they were flying off. Not even just in England, but in all directions. It made me think, “Fuck! People actually get this!” – which is really cool. 


What was the defining band, album or show that made you think “I want to do this!”?


RW – Mine was “…And Justice For All” by Metallica. I was a kid – about 14, 15. I had never fallen in love with an album quite like that. I’d been very much into Guns N’ Roses, but that really triggered something in me. That I actually wanted to pick up a guitar and start playing. I found it through a friend at school, who was aware I liked Guns N’ Roses and so on. He was like, “Have a listen to THIS!” He then proceeded to give me an education in the early thrash bands, so that’s really how. My musical background is the “Big 4” and that kind of thing.


RS – Mine was probably “Anti-Christ Superstar” by Marilyn Manson. They are still are my all-time favourite band – such a massive inspiration. That album is probably my all-time favourite album. Everything about it. I was really inspired by him and his vocals and his performance on stage. It was something I wanted to be, but I was terrified at the same time while I was growing up. I thought, “This is brilliant!” The mood I felt in when I was at the shows, watching. I think what he stands for as well. While I was growing up, I thought “Yeah…that’s really cool!” That’s what inspired me to get in a band.


What do you think Marilyn Manson stands for?


RS – Individuality, speaking your mind, not being brainwashed by stuff. For me, that was quite a thing growing up. 


(back to inspiration to be in a band…)


SC – Record-wise, probably Incubus’ “Science”. I stumbled on it completely by accident because a mate of mine was learning drums, and started to geek out over the drummer. Something about the variation they put into that album. Pretty much whatever they turned their hand to at that stage, they were so young. Even so they had really fucking dazzling musical chops going on, and something about that appealed to me.  As far as live shows go, probably seeing either Sikth or Opeth at Download Festival playing in a tiny, tiny, tiny tent – and it made me feel like I wanted to head-butt a bear! (laughs) I thought, “Yeah! I’m definitely doing the right thing!” I’d been playing quite a while,  but until then it was quite casual – a hobby, a bit of fun. Might some play some shows eventually, blah blah blah! Seeing those two made me take it a lot more seriously.


What is it like being the only girl with four fellas? Are there any problems that crop up? Good, bad, gross?


RS – I definitely feel part of the gang. I think I sort of keep the peace sometimes among the others in the band (laughs). It’s kind of like having four brothers. It’s a real pleasure – it’s never a bad thing. Occasionally, it’s farting and those sort of guy things that get on my nerves but apart from that it’s always a pleasure. 


SC – What’s actually going on is that we are all terrified of her, so we don’t dare misbehave! (all laugh) Seriously she’s so calm. We’re all living in fear of the when Spinky eventually loses her temper and just paints someone’s face across the rehearsal room! (all laugh) There’s got to be some anger there somewhere?! 


RW – Spinky’s probably got one of the darkest sense of humours in the band. You just get a glimpse of it once every few months, and she’ll say something! (laughs) And we’re like, “Wow…ok!” I think the only man problem we really have is our drummer’s arse seems to get involved everywhere, really! (all laugh) Every single rehearsal it seems to make an appearance! 


SC – If you look close enough, you might see it tonight! It’s exposed often enough, it probably should be listed as in the band. (laughs)


RS – It should be on Facebook!


SC – Adam Stanley, drums. Adam’s arse, smells and humour!


RW – It’s like the Bez of The Mariana Hollow! Put a bunch of maracas in the middle! (all laugh)


Speaking of the name, where did that come from?


RW – We spent quite a long time fretting and sending suggestions to each other, and shooting them down trying to get the right name. I can’t entirely explain why, but I’ve always had this feeling that our music and the songs have got a feel of the ocean. There’s a lot of undercurrents…


RS – People have said that…


RW – Yeah, so we wanted something kind of nautical but that isn’t very silly! (laughs) Then I just stumbled across it one day. I was looking at the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the ocean, under the Pacific – nerdy facts ed) – there is another  band called The Mariana Trench. But I thought The Mariana Hollow, or just Mariana Hollow, as I saw it…I remember sending it to the guys and about two minutes later them saying, “I really like that!” We had a meeting at a pub in Camden. I’ve got a photo somewhere of a table full of little bits of paper. We’d screwed them up trying to put words together. At the end of the night, we came back to that and…and I think Danny said it should be The Mariana Hollow.


SC – I was worried people would think it was Spinky’s name. 


RS – Yeah, some people do think I’m called that…


SC – …and that she just somehow recruited four hairy, ugly dudes to back her up, and she was kind of the solo artist.


RS – No, we definitely didn’t want that.


SC – Danny said, `”Let’s stick a “The” at the beginning of it, as it is a thing. Everyone went for it. 


It is Leap Day today…what is the biggest leap into the unknown you have taken?


SC – I know I go on a lot about how much this costs, but that’s because I am a combination of tight and skint! (laughs) I think the money we poured in getting Chris Sheldon to mix our first record was a big leap of faith for me. Probably one of the most exciting times of being in this band. When I got an e-mail from Chris, and it had the first rough mix of “Come Undone”. It just said, “Hi Scott, Chris Sheldon here. How’s this sounding?” It’s just like, “Fucking Chris Sheldon!!!!” That was a point for me where I realised, “OK, we’re actually pouring money into something that he’s going to take seriously. Incredible. Big leap of faith financially, but definitely worth it.


RS – When I joined the band,  because prior to that I was in a girl band with my best friends. Kind of an alternative, indie girl band. We’d been together for ages, and I just decided it wasn’t right any more and I decided to leave. It caused massive friction, and it was a really terrible time. I think I put my best friends through it, to be honest. But in doing that I discovered these guys, and I think after all it’s turned out to be the best thing – the best decision I’ve ever made. Although it was a bit of a gamble, it turned out well. The girls I used to play with are now in a new band, and that’s doing brilliantly – so it’s worked out for the best.


RW –  Less of a leap of faith. More that I spent a very long time in various different line-ups of other bands, with nobody else that wanted to do it as much as me. Their commitment was never there. I always wanted to do it, and eventually Danny joined the band. That turned my world around because we started writing together and I loved what we wrote. Essentially, it went on to become our debut album. We got the rest of the guys in pretty much after the songs were written. It was sticking with it, really. There were many times when I could have just jacked it in. There were times when it was just me and Danny in the band, and we always believed in it. Actually, quite quickly after the other two guys left we got in Adam, then Scott, and then Spinky after a couple of months when we had kind of learnt all the songs. Now the position I’m in, it makes me appreciate every single gig, every song we write, every time we perform. Having waited so long to be in a band I love being in, and I’m really proud of, I don’t take any of it for granted. 


Next gigs:


With Breed 77 – Acoustic Tour

16/04/12 The Borderline London

17/04/12 The Rainbow Birmingham

18/04/12 Yardbirds Grimsby

19/04/12 Stereo York

20/04/12 Alter Ego Manchester

22/04/12 Bogiez Cardiff


Find out more:


Video for “Your Halo” –


You can also check out the live review and photos from their London Borderline show with Pythia here.

By |2012-03-14T00:00:00+01:00March 14th, 2012|Featured Bands|0 Comments

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