by / June 18th, 2008 /

Interview: Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs

Holly GoLightly

Holly Golighty’s first musical past is a long time ago now. Once a member of Billy Childish’s all-girl garage band Thee Headcoatees, since 1995, Holly has produced 16, soon to be 17 albums as a solo artist ensuring she is prolific (and good) enough that her solo work stands on its own. You may also know her from the White Stripes collaboration a few years back on ‘It’s True That We Love One Another’ but we won’t talk to her about that. Holly’s solo work is seeped in American rhythm and blues, country, gospel or anything that pre-dates 1960 in the American musical landscape. Her music never feels forcibly retro, rather lovingly inspired by what has gone before. Her last album You Can’t Buy A Gun When You’re Crying was recorded with Lawyer Dave (aka The Brokeoffs) and is the first album Holly has worked not as a solo artist. The title was taken from an old American law which states you can’t sell a gun to someone if they are clearly distressed or upset.

State talks to Holly about boats, horse-riding, puppies, living on the road, rare record collections and boring office jobs. We also have tickets to giveaway for her show in Whelans this Friday.

Where are you right now?
We just arrived in Birmingham. Playing tonight. Monday night in Birmingham!

Where is home for you?
Oh god, nowhere at the moment. Just the inside of the van. We’ve been on tour since the beginning of April and we’re still on tour now. Actually, I had to half move house before I left to tour so half my stuff is in storage and the other half is going in when I finish the tour. I don’t know where I’ll be staying. Maybe with a friend as I’ll be back out on tour again in September so there’s no point looking for a place for two months. I’ll be travelling light and staying with friends in London probably.

You’ve been very prolific in terms of recording of the last thirteen years, why do you think that is so?
I don’t know any better (laughs)! I think probably initially it was because I had a lot of free time on my hands and a four track. That’s really how I got to do some much because I was doing it on my own time. Then gradually, over the course of time, I had a backlog of stuff that I had recorded. It had its own momentum and there is still a lot of stuff left over that hasn’t been released. Over that course of time, if you even it out, it’s really only one album a year. It’s a big back catalogue for the uninitiated, sure.

Do you approach each record with a particular theme or idea and go from there?
No. I haven’t actually done much recording with an album in mind. Things get picked from here, there and everywhere. One album might be made up of a couple of tunes from a 4-track recordings, a couple of out-takes from the last album and a few more new things. The only time I’ve been doing it, I’ve only made two records as whole records in one recording sessions which is a new thing to me.

How has your recordings as a solo artist shaped your personality?
You do it on your own because you don’t want other people’s opinions necessarily. Otherwise, you’d be in a band I suppose. The people I work with I do value their opinions, that’s why the starting list for most records will recur over and over again; the same people that I worked with. So I trust their judgement on things. We have similar reference points. Doing something on your own is quite lonesome but you have that absolute control and power then! (Giddy laugh)

How does recording with Lawyer Dave (The Brokeoffs) differentiate from that?
It’s a lot more easy going than cobbling it all together yourself!

How did that you hook up with Dave?
Dave has been playing in my American touring band for many years and so we have played together a lot anyway. This was the first thing we got to do; just the two of us. It’s an old idea that only came to fruition at the start of last year.

Do you worry about record sales or financial dealings?
Like anything, there are ups and downs but the label (Damaged Goods) are old friends so it’s better the devil you know I think.

It’s funny you should mention devils.. (Holly’s songs are littered with devil references)
Yes, well there’s plenty of those (laughs). I’ve never had an accurate gauge on sales or finance because I’ve just bundled along and the prime incentive was not to make a living out of it. It never crossed my mind that I might be able to do that really.

So you do make a living out of it now?
Well only for the last year. Before that I always had a day job.

What were you doing before?
I had successive string of jobs. I worked in Social Housing for a long time following an injury. Before that, I trained horses for years. So I had to go get a rubbish office job when I hurt my foot and couldn’t ride professionally anymore.

Did you compete and win anything?
Yes I did. Mostly for endurance races mostly. That was my particular field.

Tell me about your rare record collection?
I sold it a while ago! I needed the money. It was my investment really. I had been collecting for a long long time and it got to the point where I needed to raise a big lump of money and that was really where my money was. It was that or horses or guitars. The records were the least important thing. I lived on a boat for a long time and it was to re-line the underneath of the boat in steel, which doesn’t come cheap so it was a case of scratching together all the money I could at one time to stop it sinking.

What makes you really happy?
Baby horses. Absolutely top of the list! Or puppies…

Baby animals?
Yeh absolutely.

Is that something you’d like to do in future, work with animals, maybe workon a stud farm?
Yeh, that’s really what I would do if I had the time, I would be breeding. I did a little of it when I had the time before. I had a couple of mares and some good luck with that, personal as opposed to financial good luck. It’s not a way of making fast money but it’s certainly a way of having joy in your life everyday. That’s what I’m aiming for really. It’s something you can’t explain to people unless they know it. That’s certainly the way I would go. If I had the time. If I wasn’t on tour that much, I would find a patch of scrub land and have some foals.

What are your concrete plans for the near future?
We just recorded a new album actually in Spain. It’ll be out at the end of September and then we’ll be off round the States when that comes out, then back in Europe for Spring I believe.

State has five pairs of tickets to giveaway for Holly GoLightly and The Brokeoffs in Whelans this Friday (20th June). Just answer this question:

What label releases Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs in the UK and Ireland?

Answers before Friday noon to

  • support for this comes from Dublin blues hounds Murder Plan.. fairplay to Leagues for getting the small guys some good gigs eh?