It’s survival of the fittest out there these days in the music business. You either adapt, or get run over. Holly Golightly is a survivor, but beyond that, she’s not just surviving, but thriving, on the road with longtime collaborator Lawyer Dave supporting their latest Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs release, All Her Fault.
But to reach this point, she had to make sure she knew that what used to work in the studio or on the road a decade ago doesn’t necessarily hold true these days.
“I go back to the days where you record on the weekend and it would be pressed the next weekend,” she said, referring to the wait between the conclusion of recording for All Her Fault and its eventual release in March. “I like instant gratification, and I’m an impatient person really. So once you’ve done something, it’s over and done with, and you want to move on to the next thing.”
That next thing is the tour that will visit NYC’s Mercury Lounge Monday night, and in keeping with the times that prevent most artists from taking a full band and production on the road, Golightly and Dave will be traveling light, a process that requires some reworking of material.
“Especially doing the duo stuff, we have to work out a way of doing these songs live that you can impart on tour because they’re not going to sound like the recording,” she said. “We’re not a full band and some songs we just can’t do. So I worry that people won’t enjoy the compromise of it being performed by a two-piece. But I’m fairly confident that the record’s great, and I’ve really liked everything I’ve ever done.”
That’s confidence well-placed, because the record is great, and she also shouldn’t be concerned about fan reaction to the live gigs, as her fan base a) will follow her to the ends of the Earth no matter what she does, and b) always gets a compelling show, no matter what the format.
And while the current shows are different, different – in this case – doesn’t mean bad.
“Instantly it’s more intimate because it’s not a full band and you’re not traveling as a pack,” she said of the changing dynamic. “There’s not that sort of cliquey-ness that you get when a band rolls into town and everybody shows up. Quite often the bands will make themselves inaccessible to the people – they’re their own team. And when there’s only two of you, and you’ve sat in a van for 12 hours, you’re really desperate to talk to other people. (Laughs)
“Two people is an intimate thing for the audience, and doing things on a small scale has its own momentum,” Golightly continues. “It doesn’t really run parallel to these bands going out with these huge buses, and a crew, and blah, blah, blah. It’s a totally different thing entirely, but I think it makes you more accessible in a way.”
So she doesn’t long for the good ol’ days?
“I still have the old days,” she laughs. “I can still go and play with my full band if I wanted to, so I haven’t given anything up. I haven’t been on tour with the whole band in the States for a really long time, and the main reason for that is logistics and finances. It’s just not feasible to do it. But I’m going to go over in the new year and record with my band, so I haven’t forsaken anything in favor of this. It’s just something different.”
Good different. That would be an apt description for All Her Fault, which captures all the aspects listeners have loved about Golightly for years, while keeping things fresh and witty at the same time. And if it sounds like it was a fun record to write, that would be accurate.
“We have to make our own entertainment,” she said. “We had a lot more time, and something that we really enjoy is the comedy element.”
It’s there, both overtly and subtly, so whether you want to dig deep into the lyrics or just bob your head and move to the music, Golightly is just happy that you’re listening.
“Everybody listens to something differently, don’t they?” she asks. “Some people never know the words to a song; they just really like it and they don’t need to know the words. And other people are much more interested in word crafting.”
Golightly gives you enough to work with that whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it. That doesn’t mean the record is scattered though; it’s just that when you’re done listening to it, you don’t find yourself asking ‘is there more?’ And maybe that’s the secret to her success, both among critics and fans, after all these years. As for her thoughts on the matter, she says, “I think it comes from not setting out with any particular ambitions. I fell into it by accident and I think I’ll fall out of it by accident as well at some point. (Laughs) I didn’t think it was going anywhere in particular and I’ve always just done it. I’ve never compromised for anyone. Some people might think that’s a good thing, some people might not. But I’ve just done what I’ve liked.”
Whether on stage or on record, Golightly’s efforts show someone doing this for all the right reasons, regardless of what the bottom line eventually reads. And with a life and job outside of music, it provides the right balance to keep everything in perspective.
“If you go into it thinking you’re going to be the next big thing, you’re really going to fall on your ass, because so few people are,” she said. “If that’s what you set out to do, then you can only fail really. I think if you stick to your guns and do other stuff, you can be a valid person outside of that. I think that brings an edge of strength. When I see bands or I see people perform, you can sense the thing that’s driving them, and sometimes it’s not a pretty thing. They’re not playing music for their own sake. So I think by being very grounded in the real world and being active doing lots of other things besides playing music, when I do it, that’s the thing that’s the best fun in the world – playing music with your friends and people having a good time.”
Holly Golightly plays the Mercury Lounge in NYC on Monday, April 21. For tickets, click here