Week in Pop: Cal Fish, Halfalib, Holy Youth

Sjimon Gompers

Image still taken from Cal Fish's visual companion for Cassette Traveler.

Holy Youth

Hanging out & holding on with Holy Youth; press photo courtesy of the band.

Hanging out & holding on with Holy Youth; press photo courtesy of Wes Frazer.

Here in the great hangover of 2017 we continue to mull over what-in-the-hell-happened in 2016. From political, social, international, personal & local disasters; we lost the imprints OSR Tapes & Happenin Records. In wake of Happenin’s closure, we bring news that one of the former label’s flagship band Holy Youth has signed to Lolipop Records to release their forthcoming album Heavy Bored in early April. To celebrate this monumental event, Holy Youth’s own Chris, John Paul, Travis, Stuart & Gibbs are proud to present the world premiere of their radical new single “Crawling Home”.

Like everything you have heard before on the Happenin Records catalog previously from Caroline Says, White Laces, NUDITY, Plains, Drew Price & much more; Holy Youth live up to the blessed sacrament of their moniker & mission by delivering the most reverent garage pop possible. Thus is the might & majesty of “Crawling Home”, a single designed to soundtrack both your pub crawl as well as that humbling hobble on home long after the evening’s festivities & revelry has commenced. The single also shines a light on how monumental the guitar work in Holy Youth are, where they destroy whoever-your-favorite-pop-punk slackers are by combining some of the most road-ripping chords that make a nearly six minute single feel like a fleeting three minutes. “Crawling Home” is the penultimate anthem for your night out with the gals & guys & everyone in-between where the liberated spirit of a night that you never want to end is given an appropriate track that strikes every energetic nerve with an exhilaration & excitement that words cannot contain, and only electric guitar tabs can relate. To comprehend all this and more, we caught up with our old friend Chris McCauley to discuss life after Happenin, their new release on Lolipop & more—all via our interview that follows the debut of “Crawling Home”:

Give us the current state of the Birmingham scenes right now.

The Birmingham scene is healthy. News bands emerge everyday, and it feels like show attendance is increasing. At the moment, we’re really into Rollo, Dommel Mosel, King Magnum, Holly Waxwing, Wray, and GT. We’re all friends and collaborate often, so that helps us maintain the most fundamental element of a music scene—that element being community. Also, the venue landscape is pretty incredible right now.

Post-Happenin Records, what’s next for Holy Youth, and what can you tell us about the follow-up to Bleached Teens?

Happenin came to an end in 2016, so our primary focus has been the new Holy Youth album, Heavy Bored. It took us about two years to record, mix, and master it. Thankfully, we finished it a few weeks back, and the amazing Lolipop Records is going to release it in April. We’re definitely ready to share it and play some shows.

“Crawling Home” is a rip-roaring & rocking single, what sorts of pub & house crawls inspired this single?

Hmmm, well it was inspired by several things. It’s about recognizing that a relationship—either with a significant other or a friend—is not working. It’s about encouraging the person to seek out what they need elsewhere. Funny enough, it’s also an internal reflection on the feelings you experience when you see that person searching for something (or someone) new.

Give us a glimpse as to how you all write & record your songs.

We employ a collaborative approach when writing and recording songs. In most cases, we start by writing rhythm and lead guitar parts. We’ll rehearse the guitar stuff pretty thoroughly, then introduce the song to the full band. Together, we flesh-out out the song in rehearsals. Most of the singing and melodies come from Chris, and John Paul writes all of the harmonies and backing vocals.

We record everything at John Paul’s studio/house in Montevallo. He’s the mastermind behind all of the production and engineering. This time, we branched out and worked with a studio on the mastering, though. Our friends at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS helped us out, and they did an incredible job. Shout out to Bronson Tew.

Palling about with Holy Youth; press photo courtesy of the band.

Palling about with Holy Youth; press photo courtesy of Wes Frazer.

Other artists & groups you all wanna give a shout out to?

Mainly the bands we referenced earlier—plus Caroline Says, Shocks, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, The Zoltars, Wray, and Music Band.

We don’t know them personally, but we opened for Sunflower Bean once, and they totally blew us away.

Also, shout out to Lolipop Records, Gibbs, Seasick Records, DIY Birmingham, The Firehouse, Good People, Saturn, Syndicate Lounge (we recorded our live album there), and anyone else that supports the Birmingham music scene. Also, shout out to Derek Prevatt for designing the cover art for Heavy Bored.

Spring & summer dreams & wishes?

We are going to self-release our live album—You Did Hear—on February 19, and Lolipop Records is going to release Heavy Bored in April. Hopefully, the Heavy Bored release show will take place at Seasick Records, one of our favorite spots in Birmingham. Then we’ll probably go on a small tour and promote the record. Later in the summer, we’re going to play Sloss Fest, which is pretty cool. Anyhow, we just want to share our music with people and have some fun.

Holy Youth’s upcoming album Heavy Bored will be available in early April from Lolipop Records.

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