Exclusive Interview with Bryan Holland (Reverence, Tokyo Blade)(Guitars)

Pete and I worship Criss Oliva's (Savatage) playing. Criss had a huge influence on my playing, he was a supremely underrated guitarist and I hope you can hear some...


Interviewed by Denys (Site Founder/Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine


Myglobalmind: Hey Bryan greetings to you and the band, congratulations on Reverence’s kick ass piece of heavy metal debut “When Darkness Calls”!!!

Bryan: Thanks Denys your very kind! I really appreciate you indulging me the opportunity to promote Reverence and our new album ‘When Darkness Calls’.

Myglobalmind: How are things going with the new album and how has the reception from the fans, online media, etc been like so far?

Bryan: We have been overwhelmed with positive reviews, the fan and media feedback has been tremendous, far beyond what we ever could have expected. Hearing the impact that its already had on some people and how its brought a lot of excitement back into their lives about the metal genre, we could’t be happier.

Myglobalmind: That’s good to hear. Before we get into the actual record, tell the readers of our webzine a little about your background in the music business, where you got your first break and the former bands you have played in?

Bryan: Well, like all musicians we all start out nowhere and have to claw our way out of the local circuits playing covers, I’m no different in that regard. I did that for quite a while and just got fed up with the scene and moved on in life, started a family and started several of my own businesses geared towards music, that way I could kind of still stay involved in metal music even if in a different capacity. I had started a web design company and music label which let me continue to work in the music world with lots of bands such as TNT and Tony Harnell, Westworld, Starbreaker, Savatage, Crimson Glory, Masquerade, Vicious Rumors, Pamela Moore and Queensryche, Marcie Free and many many others. My past bands have been less note worthy, Riot Act and then Arrest until joining Tokyo Blade after becoming friends with the original guitarist, I rebuilt the band from scratch as it had been dead for over 12 years, we then went on to tour the world several times and released an album and live dvd.

Myglobalmind: Where are you originally from? And what kind of music we’re you into growing up?

Bryan: I am from Southwest Michigan, near the famed city called Kalamazoo. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, music had a huge impact on me as a kid. The local music scene was decent in the mid-80’s to early 90’s but died soon after and continues that way even now as is much of the USA. The bands I was really attracted too were bands like The Sweet, Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, Rainbow, and even America and Hall & Oats, I love great songs not just metal.

Myglobalmind: At what point in your life did you discover you wanted to be a songwriter/guitar player?

Bryan: I loved music from a very early age but it was seeing Kiss on TV in the late 70’s in the Phantom of the Park movie that did it for me, there was no going back after that! I knew what I wanted to be but not how to do it, everything seems so easy when your young. A few years passed, I started on drums but that didn’t last long until my dad traded them in for a guitar which I spent endless hours sitting in my bedroom for years on end teaching myself how to play. I got into doing cover bands like everyone else does, once I felt good enough then I naturally wanted to begin writing original material, which I have been doing for many years now but it all started that fateful night with Kiss on the TV screen!

Myglobalmind: Do you remember the first significant lives stage performance? How and where was it?

Bryan: Well, I’ve played countless shows over the years but some of the best have been the more recent shows on the Tokyo Blade tours including opening for UFO and Saxon in Spain, its always a lot of fun playing the big open-air festivals with 10,000 people singing the songs and chanting for the band, you can never get tired of that, haha! I really enjoyed some of the smaller shows too, we had some amazing sold out shows in Athens, Sweden and Paris, just the interaction with the fans at these smaller club shows was very powerful.

Myglobalmind: You we’re in the NWOBHM band Tokyo Blade for a short time, what ended up happening there that you decided to part ways?

Bryan: I know there’s three sides to every story but the simple fact is one guy screwed it up for everyone with his constant narcissistic and egomaniac personality and actions and on top of it he had a maniacal girlfriend that caused nothing but constant grief on tour with us, I’m not kidding it was something right out of Spinal Tap! I just had enough of the BS and constant tiptoeing around trying to keep one guy happy which was nearly impossible. I look at it like a stepping stone that at the time sucked but looking back without having gone through it would not have brought me to the present which is Reverence.

Myglobalmind: Fast forward a few years and you finally decided it was the right time to start this new venture with Reverence. Tell me how things came about, and how you ended up hooking up with Todd Michael Hall, Steve Wacholz, Pete Rossi and Frank Kruckel?

Bryan: I had approached Steve (‘Doc’) about joining Tokyo Blade when I rebuilt that band but he turned me down say thats TB wasn’t heavy enough and he was probably right. So one I got off the last TB tour I spent some time over the holidays deciding what I wanted to do and what direction to take, I knew I wanted to make a heavier band than TB was so I started looking on NYE ’10 for a singer, I found Todd’s Myspace page that night, I really liked a couple of demo he had on his page and contacted him a few days later, we met and decided to joined up and got a game plan together to make our own brand of classic early 80’s metal ala Judas Priest, Savatage, Dio, Queensryche, etc., funny thing is once I found Todd, I didn’t even look any further, it was fate. Once we had a few demos done I went back to Doc and he joined immediately, as did Frank Kruckel my friend and bassist from Tokyo Blade. Doc then recommended Pete Rossi as the second guitarist, although Pete is a bit of an unknown, he’s a helluva shredder and a fit perfect for what we are doing. Unfortunately Frank ended up leaving the band after recording the album due to have a new child, so Todd suggested Ned Meloni his bassist in Burning Starr, who has joined on permanently only a couple months ago just before we filmed the ‘Too Late’ music video. Honestly, I really miss having Frank but considering the circumstances I couldn’t be happier with the lineup.

Myglobalmind: So tell me what you we’re thinking initially when you guys decided that you wanted to make this particular metal record? Did you know you had some pretty good material from the onset?

Bryan: The song ‘Revolution Rising’ was out first completed song and after we finished that one we felt like we had a pretty good start and were on the right track, by the time we got to ‘Too Late’ which I think was the fifth song we wrote we knew we had something really good going, we we’re in a groove. It was just a matter of finding our sweet spot in terms of writing and it really started flowing easily, the hardest part was figuring out exactly who we were on the first few songs, what direction we wanted to take and how to work with each other.

Myglobalmind: Go into the strengths and weaknesses if any of all the band mates and what they bring to the table in Reverence?

Bryan: Hmm, that’s a loaded question isn’t it…well Todd has obvious strengths, is an amazing writer/vocalist and is center of stability for me, he’s a become my best friend. For a weakness, Todd can sometimes over analyze things, but I think that comes from him being a business owner. Doc, great longtime friend, hits harder than I thought drums could ever be hit, Doc is fairly easy going but very steadfast in his opinions sometimes. Ned is the new guy in the band so I don’t know him as well but his been nothing but kind and professional in everything to do with the band, I’m very happy he’s in Reverence. Now, Pete, he’s a stellar guitarist, he can shred and still play with feeling which is not a common trait among shredding guitarists, I wish I could play like him, he has a great knowledge of music theory. I guess the only weakness Pete may have is that he can be a bit unsure of himself at times but I think thats just a fear of the unknown creeping in sometimes because he’s doing a lot of things in Reverence that he’s never done before so I guess it understandable but in the end, they’re all super guys, total pros.

Myglobalmind: If I ask you to describe the sound of the band in a few words, what would you say?

Bryan: Pure Old School Metal, screaming vocals, killer riffs, shredding solos and slamming drums and bass.

Myglobalmind: Its hard to compare a bands can often imitate other bands, but you hear a little of Judas Priest, Testament, a little of old school Savatage all in Reverence’s sound. Is it fair to compare the band’s sound to that level?

Bryan: I think thats fairly accurate, I really set out to make Reverence a unique brand with a blending of my favorite bands like early Judas Priest, Savatage and Queensryche, not to copy them but as an outline while we still stayed true to ourselves. Pete and I worship Criss Oliva’s (Savatage) playing. Criss had a huge influence on my playing, he was a supremely underrated guitarist and I hope you can hear some of his style in both of our playing and hopefully a little bit of Randy Rhoads too. I think Pete’s opening acoustic picking of the title track ‘When Darkness Calls’ is quite reminiscent of Randy Rhoads style ala Diary of a Madman. Its funny because a lot of people have said we sound like Testament or Metal Church or Sanctuary. There are few Testament songs I like but I couldn’t recall even hearing the other two bands.

Myglobalmind: Give the readers your best sales pitch on why they need to go pick up the “When Darkness Calls”?

Bryan: Wow, I get to wear all kinds of hats in this band huh, haha! I would say if your sick to death of all the Nu-Metal and Emo bands and want some real metal music that takes you back to the classic era that you grew up loving, then I think you’ll really like Reverence, just give us a listen.

Myglobalmind: It often seems like the underrated bands always take the road less traveled, I know you have said before how hard it is to make music period especially given the current musical downward spiral we live in now, but explain a little about the songwriting process and what it takes to be good at something specifically the art of making music?

Bryan: There’s no book on how to be successful in music, its a lot of hard work so be prepared to leave the “Rockstar” attitude behind. With regards to how Todd and I write together, I come up with a nearly completed song musically I’ll email it to him and he writes his lyrics and vocal melodies over it, and we’ll keep sending it back and for tweaking it until we feel its pretty solid we’ll then send it to Pete so he can write his guitar parts. I’ve just learned over time what Todd is looking for and that he needs to have a ‘song sing’ to him as he puts it. I’ve learned how to tell what riffs fit better as an intro or chorus and another idea may be better as a verse section. It really just takes a lot of practice and having a good writing partner is really essential and being able to take constructive criticism without getting upset is important.

Myglobalmind: Give us an update on live touring and what’s next for the band? Here hoping you come somewhere near the southern USA… I will be there for sure!!!!

Bryan: Sorry, other than some local warm-up shows for the tour we don’t have any plans for any US shows. We do have dates in Europe this November in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland so far with more to come. I hear there is talk of dates in the UK as part of this fall tour as well.

Myglobalmind: We have spoken in the past about how hard it is for bands now days to make any profit with the big problem in illegal downloading and the lack of support for bands unless they manage to get on a big tour where they can actually have a decent payout. What’s your take on the current music industry and what do you think is going to happen next? Is it going to get better, is the bubble going to crash at some point if it hasn’t already?

Bryan: It’s without a doubt much tougher on bands today. I don’t think downloading is going anywhere, the big labels have spent millions trying to stop it and nothings worked yet. Some say that its just like tape trading back in the day, to me the music has simply become a marketing tool to get the fans to the shows where the bands can make their money off the shows and merch. All new bands can do is get in the trenches and work their way up the ladder.

Myglobalmind: What’s your advice for a young band with little or no budget but has talent and trying to spread their music horizons?

Bryan: Surround yourself with the best musicians you can find and its a must that you get along, are professional, everyones all working towards the same goal and be prepared to work your ass off, its called the music business for a reason.

Myglobalmind: Here are a few quick hitters before we wrap things up Bryan. Let’s play word association yeah? When I say Dio you say?

Bryan: Man On The Silver Mountain

Myglobalmind: Powerslave?

Bryan: Maiden! What else, hahaa!

Myglobalmind: Guitar Hero?

Bryan: Trend…gone!

Myglobalmind: Dr. Killdrums?

Bryan: Great Friend, generous, loves to KILL DRUMS!!

Myglobalmind: Hey Bryan thanks for taking the time, keep the faith alive and always rock hard!!! Wish you nothing but the best to you and the guys in Reverence!!!! The final words are yours.

Bryan: Thanks Denys, I really appreciate the opportunity to spread the word on Reverence, we can’t thank everyone enough for their support so far, we look forward to seeing everyone on tour this fall.

Keep It Loud! ~ Bryan


Webzine Review for Reverence – When Darkness Calls



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