Holly Long, aka Bullyheart.
Where are you from?
Born in Kansas. Bred in Chicago. Became in Los Angeles.
Who else is in your band?
Kevin Hart, Eric Gardner (drums)
David Boucher, Bram Inscore (bass)
Eric Sampson, Brett Farkus, Clint Walsh (guitars)
Holly Long (vocals, guitars, organ)
Chase Meyer (drums)
Gregg Cash (bass)
Eric Sampson (guitars)
Holly Long (vocals, guitars, organ)
How would you describe yourselves and your music?
Most would put Bullyheart squarely in the 80's throwback bin a la Pretenders. When I write, I definitely have Chrissie's voice ringing in my head. Though there's a number of other influences at play, and I believe since I come mostly from a folk/soul songwriting background- the range of sound is not as specific as simply early 80's rock. Though that's the heart of the project.
Who are your main influences musically?
For the Bullyheart sound, it's mostly a Tom Petty, Pretenders, Cars, Motels love fest. Though there's a couple of tunes that don't jive exactly with that sound. The last tune on the record called "Stay" is very much influenced by Lucinda Williams, and the tune "The Pendulum" has other sloshy 80's rock sounds floating around in it akin to The Cure or other early gothic rock bands.
What do you hope to achieve in music?
I suppose my "goals" these days are actually less "goal" oriented than they were in my early years of writing and performing. I'm just hoping to create good music, honest music, and I find that as I move along my path, the actual sound of that music changes with my moods and whatever I'm hearing and vibing to. Because I have a family, I'm less inclined to go on long tours, so there's only so far my music can reach through the traditional industry channels...though I like to utilize other angles toward that end, like film/TV song placements, interviews, internet radio coverage- that sort of thing. I'm always looking to expand the fan base, because really, it's all about connection with me. I hear something, I write it and record it. But the circle isn't complete until I find those like-minded souls out there who dig it. Who really get what I'm writing about and what I'm saying.
What has been the highlight of your career so far, and why?
I don't know that I can pinpoint one particular thing. I've had a number of really great/weird moments... like the day I got to sing "Purple Rain" live on stage with St. Paul - Prince's discovery and briefly, keyboard player. The day I discovered a YouTube fan had created a video of my tune "Never Forget You" along with footage from a movie called "Tuck Everlasting" which my husband co-wrote. (The fan had no idea of the connection there...it was totally random). Having Tom Tucker mix my third album in two days. Accepting an ASCAP TV award along with my co-writers for the "Necessary Roughness" theme song. The gig I performed at Martyr's in Chicago when the place was packed with all my best friends from middle school. The day I kicked Jason Falkner's ass at the pool table while he was mixing his first record.The early morning demo session I recorded using Tracy Chapman's whole set up. Playing and recording with some of the best jazz cats the Minneapolis jazz scene has to offer. Opening for Jason Mraz back in the early days at a San Diego coffee shop. The night I couldn't stand up after taking just one toke off of Darius Rucker's arm-sized doobie. The day I heard one of my tunes playing on the PA in the grocery store while I was picking out apples in the produce section. The morning I awoke to find a telecaster sitting on my doorstep with accompanying letter saying I'd won it in an online songwriting contest I didn't even know I was entered in. Being mistaken for Sarah McLachlan in a West Hollywood restaurant... Though my most random memory probably happened before I even decided to be a musician at all: In the very early underage Chicago days, my friend and I talked ourselves backstage at an Iron Maiden concert, and then proceeded with the bus back to the hotel room where we spent all night playing poker with the band, listening to and critiquing Jethro Tull.
I can't imagine there will ever be just one point that supercedes them all... There are still many things I would love to have happen. People I'd love to meet and work with. Perform with. Hopefully I'll keep on trucking and some of those moments will manifest. Though likely most will remain where they probably belong, in my dreams. The best things that end up happening to you, I find, you never saw coming in the first place...
And what’s the moment you want to forget?
Back in my Americana singer/songwriter days, before I really picked up my Tele and found my snarly voice, I was asked to be one of two opening bands for Crosby Stills Nash at the Troubador in LA. It was a one-time event- a fundraiser for a friend of a friend who was running for local office. I was really honored to be asked and prepped like hell for that show- practiced for hours with my guitar player. Poured over my set list, agonizing over which 8 or 9 songs I'd play from my repertoire... And then when I showed up at the gig, pulling my gear past a huge crew of folks with headsets, some swanky donors already seated in front rows sipping Martinis... I totally clutched. Like, I kind of left my body. I barely remember meeting the band, and David Crosby's warm handshake. I barely remember my first decent private green room, or the polite roar of the packed house crowd. All I remember is my insistent belief that I should NOT be there. That I WASN'T ready. All I could hear were the voices of some of my folk influences in my head who had stood on that very stage, like Joni and Lucinda. And instead of me taking love and support from my memories of these amazing women, I felt unworthy. My own self-loathing crept in, grabbed my interior mic, and screamed, "You're an imposter! You can't do this!" making it almost impossible for me to perform. Which I did-- because I had to-- though so half-assedly. I barely stumbled onto the stage. Barely made it through my songs.. just wanting to get the hell off the stage the whole way through. The audience responding tepidly after every number that I apologetically delivered. When I got off stage, I sobbed in my dressing room for the rest of the show. I had totally let myself down. It was, for me, possibly my worst show of all time.
But oh my god, did I learn something that day. The most important thing. Essential and elemental. As a performer, no matter who you are or what you do, you just have to own it and bring it. Whether they love you, hate you, or anything in between, it doesn't matter. If you're there- you're SUPPOSED to be there- so BE there. And be there fully. No apologies. No excuses. Show up and do your work- embody your material. That's all.
If you had to pick just one of your songs to represent your music, what would it be and why?
For this latest Bullyheart record, I'd have you hear the title track of the album, Antigravity. It's artistically the focus of the whole project, both lyrically and sonically. I set out to create a four piece rock band record, very clean and raw. And I set out to find a place for my frustrated older, wiser voice. I think both of those things were achieved in the making of this album, and I believe the title track specifically is a great example of that. (Hence, the reason I named the album after it). The song itself is about what it's like to feel invisible- ignored- particularly by those in charge who seem over-inflated and riddled with self-obsession. An "homage" to my experience on the periphery of the music industry over the years, for sure, but also a tune with a broader message. As I've gotten older, I've come to the realization that what really matters has more to do with grounded feelings of self-worth than anything. Which can't be experienced from the outside in, and can't be netted through shortcuts.
Where can we listen to it?
Where can we find out more about your music?
Anything else you’d like to say about your music that I forgot to ask?
Thanks so much for the interview. I always appreciate the interest and the chance to spread the word about my music.