The debut EP from The Hollow, the Phoenix-based duo of Shane Hunt and Jon Watkins, could prove to possess a very appropriate title. The album, Let Me Never Be Complete, may well leave you wanting to hear more… and even setting the album on repeat for many spins to come.
The duo began their partnership as simply one guitarist joining another to help provide lyrics for an incomplete original song. The bond has since grown to a number of shows, a brand-new EP, and more fun than either of the two expected.
Singer/songwriter Shane Hunt was growing weary from the rigorous political demands of the music industry, and as he took the stage of the Lyceum on March 3, 2012, he did so certain the show would be his last performance.
After the set – contrary to his usual practices— he stayed to reminisce with friends and other performers. That was when Jon Watkins and Last Step Down took the stage and truly impressed Hunt with their show.
After Watkins’ group finished their set, they approached Hunt for a conversation. Joe Cole, the other guitarist in LSD, told Hunt he admired the music videos he had posted on YouTube, and indicated he had followed Hunt for ages.
“From that exchange I realized I was not, in-fact, operating in a bubble; this whole time I thought I wasn’t being heard – that I was just screaming into a void,” Hunt said. “But the void, in this case, screamed back. So, in a way, that evening talked me down from the ledge.”
As for Jon Watkins, the group he played with that evening dissolved suddenly when Joe moved away. It was not long after this departure, however, that he and Hunt decided to work together on their new venture. The pair began routinely playing shows together as supporting acts when Watkins eventually mentioned to Hunt he was working on an unfinished set of lyrics for an original song— which would later become, “In Somnia.”
“I offered to help. So he played me what he had, and I improvised the lyrics and melody for the chorus and second verse,” Hunt said. “We thought the song was so bloody catchy, we decided to turn the project into a group, serendipitous as that may be.”
Hunt and Watkins began performing together and, according to Hunt, as with most addictions – they couldn’t quit, even if they tried. Thus, The Hollow was born.
“It’s still fairly new to both of us,” Watkins said. “We try to work as equals with material, splitting original tunes and sharing ‘In Somnia,’ the first Hollow original. The project is a bit of a ‘home for wayward songs.’ It’s weird… (writing “In Somnia”) was the first time we had ever worked together, so it took a lot of faith to literally just throw yourself and your material into the mix.”
Despite the initial trepidation, Watkins is happy to have started this project with Hunt. Each artist feels free to say exactly what they are thinking, and both bring a lot to the table despite their usually quiet demeanors.
“We both, at the core, are introverted,” Watkins said. “There are many interactions in day-to-day life that we simply don’t have the tools to process. That’s what inspires some of my writing: struggles which I am not naturally equipped to handle.”
In the same way, Hunt has always turned to music and songwriting as his expressive outlet.
“I have this odd sort of social trepidation,” Hunt said. “I have a tendency to be verbose, so people often respond to me with that blank, puppy-dog head-tilt. Music was always the conduit for me to actually connect to others. It makes being in a band very edifying.”
The album’s cover, an image of an inverted tree, has always served as a metaphor for how social situations feel to Hunt.
“From one perspective, everything is fine,” Hunt said. “But from the outside looking in, there is something not quite right… something askew.”
Whatever the inspiration, the duo’s songs – not to mention the lyrics behind them – all seem to come from a very real emotional place. The words and tones echo intense sentiments inspired by love and loss, hope and pain, urgency for change – and the fear it may come too late.
Hunt’s original, “Push,” contains the line, “If I pull you when you push me, we’ll both fall down eventually.” While Hunt did not use any specific past relationship as inspiration, he did look at many past relationships and the ‘nothing fights’ that escalate quickly over trivial events, leaving scars forever.
“It’s how I am wired– I can’t lose a fight,” he said. “I can go from zero to Def-Con in no time at all, and it only exacerbates the issue because you aren’t just fighting about 1 thing; you’re fighting about the last 12 things before that as well. So you set the older issues ablaze again.”
Watkins admits he continues to be impressed by Hunt’s songwriting.
“That’s the reason I love writing with him,” Watkins said. “He’s a storyteller; he paints a picture.”
As for Watkins himself, he can craft just as vivid a picture – such as in his own original, “Too Late,” from the album:
“When will we finally learn
The bridges to keep,
and the ones to burn?
If we escape
from this hell we’ve created
Can we finally find ourselves
before it’s too late?”
Watkins explained the inspiration for the song by saying when you are entering a relationship you never know the proper time to draw the line.
“The song is about hindsight. Looking back – if we had drawn a line – would it have gone differently?” he said. “Could the outcome have changed?”
Let Me Never Be Complete is full of real, tangible emotions and great songwriting which will leave you listening to the album over and over again. Check out The Hollow and this debut EP or – better yet- visit a live show and hear the emotion for yourself. The group will be hosting their official CD release party at the Fiddler’s Dream Coffee House on July 5th with Mike War and Dan Tripp of Field Tripp. Be there!
For fans of: City and Colour, HURT, Death Cab for Cutie , Arco’s Angel , Silversun Pickups