By: Robert Cavuoto
Reuben Hollebon debut album named, Terminal Nostalgia, is a collection of deeply personal stories told with raw, tremulous vocals.
A reflection of his past, but also a warning note that life should be about now and not only something to carve into a remembrance.
The CD is colored by his discovery of music as an outlet, and attempts to capture an acoustic approach that is at once experimental and accessible, but also intense and intimate.
Each song draws its distinct pace and personality from percussion, carefully considered instrumentation, and a nicely subtle use of electronics. Above all the CD, taken as a whole, reveals a man with an uncompromising resolve to connect with his audience.
In my interview with Reuben, he shares his insight into the making of the CD and what propels him, as a musician and entertainer.
Robert Cavuoto: Can you talk a little bit about the vision you had going into this CD?
Reuben Hollebon: There was no concept, just songs—a lot of them. Working with them taught me which ones were important.
Most songs stem from acoustic guitar, which allows for a rhythmic melody and percussion, bass, harmony, patterns, and accompaniment. From this, the conversation between the vocal melody and the guitar is created.
Once the lyrics are brought in, the song is complete. Everything after is done as enhancement. I have no limitations on what those next instruments can be. Rhythm and texture take more significance than instrumentation.
Robert: Your lyrics come across as deep and meaningful, can you tell us about that approach?
Reuben Hollebon: I write every day; lyrics or the continuation of a story. The stories are all from real events, some first hand, while others I’ve seen or been close to.
I’m not great at the extended form yet, that’s not a worry though, it’s about improving. Some lyrical ideas push and push and have to become part of a song soon, they also create the melody and feeling of the music before I’ve picked up a guitar.
Robert: What do you want fans to take away after listening to your CD?
Reuben Hollebon: If they can enjoy and find interest in the music, if there’s a connection with the intent of the song, or similar experience, and it speaks to them, then I’m satisfied. Songs depend on the mood of the listener, and we all have swings.
Robert: Who are some of your formative influences?
Reuben Hollebon: I saw a cover of “May You Never” by John Martyn in a folk club in Yorkshire. That performance showed me what being a musician was for me.
The song drew me into Solid Air, an album that taught me quite a bit. I can’t deny Tom Waits, a real storyteller, and the majesty of Radiohead who influenced me years before I picked up a guitar.
Robert: When did you start performing?
Reuben Hollebon: Not many years back at the same club in Yorkshire, Bar 1:22, everyone got one song per turn, microphones weren’t needed, being exceptional wasn’t necessary.
We’d all get up two, three times and learn about our own music together. The best memories came from here, the same jokes repeated, and a collection of musicians.
Robert: What is the connection you feel to the crowd when playing live?
Reuben Hollebon: I fear and enjoy the stage, and need those watching to help break the nervous energy. A good show will go further than almost anything, even when it feels correct to wrap up that show, the thoughts stretch to the next one.
The only moments in music that come close to this are when you realize you have new songs in your fingers.
Robert: What do you consider to be your “big break”?
Reuben Hollebon: I can’t say I feel this has happened yet, but everyone that decides to come along to help out and to be involved give me a reason to push on.
Robert: What do you think has been your biggest challenge, both musically and professionally, so far in your career?
Reuben Hollebon: Momentum and honesty. It sounds like an idiom for life and it kind of is. Getting things off the ground takes longer than most will admit.
When things go well, the most successful artists are ready for it. I’m trying, but I’m not sure of my footing yet. I don’t look upon this negatively, but hopefully I’m doing better than I realize. Being honest with yourself is tough.
Robert: With all these experiences you have gone through in your career, if a young musician was to come to you for advice about working in this industry, what would you tell him or her?
Reuben Hollebon: First, is to work out what it is you really want and to keep going and never stop practicing.
I remember watching an interview with Booker T, and he said he still goes through his scales every day—that’s the dedication that’s needed.
Reuben Hollebon – Terminal Nostalgia – An intense and personal collection of songs
Source: Guitar International Magazine