Touring powerhouses Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors headed to the Belly Up in Solana Beach
It was over a decade ago that Drew Holcomb and his band The Neighbors first joined forces to collaborate musically and hit the road. To Holcomb, it feels like he’s made the most of the past 12 years. “People always say time flies,” he explains from his home in Nashville during a break in his hectic schedule. “That’s definitely true on one hand, but on the other hand I look back and think about all of the things we’ve done and experienced. We’ve played over 1,800 shows around the world. There’s enough memories and records to fill up that time, so it feels like we’ve made the most of it.”
Holcomb and his bandmates are ready to add another gig to that immense list of engagements when they hit Solana Beach’s Belly Up on Wednesday, April 26. (“This will be our second time there,” says Holcomb. “We love it, we had a blast last time.”) The show is in celebration of the release of their latest album. Released last month and dubbed Souvenir, it’s their follow-up to 2015’s Medicine which entered the Top 10 on Billboard’s Folk and Independent album charts, and includes a variety of classic Holcomb tracks, including a protest anthem called “Fight for Love” in reaction to the election of Donald Trump.
“The biggest change with this record is that I co-wrote these songs with the band,” Holcomb notes, who initially started off as a solo act before forming The Neighbors with Rich Brinsfield and Nathan Dugger. “The last two records I wrote alone and we collaborated later on the recording process. For this one, I wanted to try something different.”
As a result, the outcome turned out different than usual as well. “I think it brought a totally fresh musicality to it. We started with the pre-existing notion that we’re a band that records in real time and try not to fix any mistakes we may make. We let ourselves build on that more than we have in the past, and on this one we made our sonic landscape fuller as well.”
Having over a decade of studio under their belts hasn’t hurt ether. “The studio part has become less intimidating and more comfortable,” says Holcomb. “I feel more confidence in the studio now as a 12- year veteran of making music than there was when I was 22 and had never even sung on a studio mic.”
What defines the band, however, is their penchant for a life on the road - a recent Rolling Stone article dubbed them “touring favorites” - and it’s a lifestyle that Holcomb has become accustomed to over the years. “Touring is a bizarre existence in a way,” he explains. “Your schedule gets flipped. The adrenaline rush of your day comes at 9 p.m. and then it takes some hours to come down from that after the show. Meanwhile, when I’m home I’m usually in bed by midnight because I get up with my kids at 6:30 a.m., so it’s just completely different. Some days you have no responsibilities and others you’re just slammed.”
In fact, it’s those varied days that keeps Holcomb interested in the lifestyle. “Sometimes I look back and say, ‘Man, I’m tired,’ but thankfully I still love and enjoy it,” says Holcomb who’s ready to depart Nashville for a fresh set of dates around the country, including their trek to Solana Beach.
“It’s gotten more comfortable. We used to be in a minivan driving stuff around the country, now we get to be on a tour bus. It’s a different experience, but more sustainable.”
For tickets and more information on the April 26 event, visit www.bellyup.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Also visit www.drewholcomb.com.
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