Named after a line from a Graham Greene murder thriller, “Brighton Rock,” The Holiday Crowd formed in Toronto in 2010.
Three of the four members were childhood friends who, as the story often goes, decided to form a band together. First singer Imran Haniff and his best friend and guitarist Colin Bowers formed a project. They then invited another friend, drummer Dave Barnes, to join the group. When Alex Roberts–a recent transplant from the UK–first heard them play together, he found something that resonated within him, and soon after, came on as bassist, which completed the lineup.
And in regards to why the band was formed playing this particular form of indie pop, as Haniff described it, the band was a response to what the members perceived as a lack of quality bands in the Toronto music scene.
“I don’t like anything from [Toronto]. The others in the band may feel different because we have friends in bands. But I don’t like it,” he said. “If there is an indie scene…then it’s news to me. There’s a whole world of better music out there. It’s just not here.”
Perhaps it’s a case of “the grass is always greener”, but Haniff also pointed to his own high expectations of art as one reason why he is so critical of his hometown scene–expectations that he believes The Holiday Crowd is meeting, and hopes to exceed.
“We have a following [and] it gets bigger with each show,” he said. “But it would be interesting to [see] how the rest of world responds.”
The band will soon discover, as it is in Berlin on its first overseas venture. The four came over specifically to play Indie Pop Days, namely because Cats on Fire–which has never played in Canada–is one of Haniff’s favourite bands.
“This whole trip to play in Germany is just an excuse to come see them play,” he admitted.
However, since they are already overseas, the band will play a couple other shows in Germany and Denmark, and looks forward to–among other things–sightseeing and exploring the nightlife.
“We figured it would be nice to leave for a holiday before summer ends,” Hanriff said. “A last chance for romance.”
The four also view it as an opportunity to meet and mingle with other bands doing similar things.
“It’s not often you get to see such great talent play throughout one festival, so I think we’ll take the opportunity to catch everyone play,” Haniff said.
In January of this year, The Holiday Crowd released “Over the Bluffs,” its full-length debut. The album was released on Shelflife Records in the United States and on New Romantic in Canada and the rest of the world.
Now, more than half a year after the album’s release, the four are already looking forward to the possibility of a new full-length.
“Relieved is the best way to describe it,” Hanriff said, explaining his feelings about the first album in hindsight. “It’s good to get it out and move onto newer material we feel is stronger and more ‘us.’ Those songs are the first we ever recorded, on a whim. It’s still magical in every way, but we’re just eager to keep moving. ‘Over The Bluffs’ is just a taste of what we’re capable of. We think we have better songs than that, and they keep getting better.”
Of course, improvement always comes at a cost, which Haniff admitted to straight away.
“Our songs [are] the product of hard work and struggle,” he said, sharing that often their friendship feels the strain of things. “We tend to get at each other from time to time, but it’s to make us do better than best.”