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Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


The Hotelier’s Christian Holden talks connection to, inspiration from peers in the scene

Vocalist, bassist describes textural differences between latest album, past works
Courtesy of Flickr Chloe Muro

Progressive rock band The Hotelier is currently touring with their latest album Goodness, and is set to make a stop at the High Noon Saloon Nov. 15.

The band, lead by vocalist and bassist Christian Holden, released its third studio album Goodness in May 2016 under the label Tiny Engines.

“The Hotelier has sort of been a project that always deals a lot with epic moments, as a friend has told me,” Holden said. “He says that like a lot of our songs are just sort of like cushioning for those moments that happen on the records. And in that way, I feel like Goodness is similar to the rest of the catalogue in that way.”


The Hotelier primarily focuses on subjects of personal importance in their works, which engage audiences in thoughtful and provocative ways.

While similar in structure, Holden expressed that Goodness feels different in execution, subject matter and feeling.

“It’s texturally different. The sort of aesthetic, mood and the feelings are much brighter, and are dealing with warmer sensations I guess than maybe some of the other records,” Holden said.

When it comes to genres, Holden said his band lets others decide.

While Holden acknowledges certain similarities between The Hotelier’s sound and other bands in the indie scene, Holden believes the complexity of genre groupings makes it too difficult to pinpoint where exactly the band rests.

“Genres are hard, and mostly just exist for bands to be grouped in a way that can be bought and sold in a way,” Holden said. “In reality, every project is so intensely different, although maybe follows a similar lineage.”

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While The Hotelier is often referred to as an “emo band,” Holden expressed that the term is mostly just used by media outlets to “lump together” bands that emerged at the same time and place.

The band, however, is largely motivated by their peers in the scene, whom Holden believes push them toward greatness.

“We’re lucky enough to have a lot of peers, and so like a motivating factor maybe more than an inspirational factor comes from just like witnessing the work that my friends make,” Holden said.

With friends in the scene such as Emperor X and Oso Oso, Holden expressed that in different ways, each of their peers largely influence the band’s outlook and style.

While listing music inspirations, Holden said the band’s list of motivators and friends is nearly synonymous.

“You get to witness your friends sort of win sometimes, when they have a really epic performance or they create something really epic, and you get to sort of be like ‘wow, I want to also have that opportunity to win at some point,’” Holden said. “And like you sort of use the greatness that your peers have to sort of motivate you to also do something great.”

The Hotelier formed in 2009, when its members were all still in high school. Starting as a friend group that enjoyed playing and listening to music, the band first started formed the summer before Holden’s junior year.

While members Chris Hoffman and Sam Frederick had experience playing in prominent bands in their local scene prior, Holden and former member Zack Shaw started their musical beginnings in songwriting instead.

“Me and Zack had written a lot of songs, and so it was just like a melding of all of us together to make what started as the band,” Holden said.

As the band released their third studio LP, Goodness, Holden said they could sense their traction through crowd reactions. Through touring at different venues, The Hotelier watched their fan base grow through increasing audience participation and excitement.

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In particular, Holden reflected on a D.I.Y. venue in New York called the Suburbia, where the band performed numerous times in their past tour and shows.

“We played [at the Suburbia] at the beginning of the tour, before the record came out. And then it was like a couple weeks after the end of our tour, and we went and played there again and it was insanely, drastically different in this way that was so sick and fun,” Holden said. “That stands out to me a lot.”

The Hotelier played a handful of memorable shows, including shows in Toronto and Barcelona.

Because of the beauty of the cities, and the energy at each of the respective shows, Holden recalled feeling a sense of pride and humility at the opportunities the band had been given.

“Being in Barcelona … was like outrageous feeling the entire weekend — having this ‘wow, our band took us to Barcelona’ [feeling], it was pretty wild,” Holden said.

Accordingly, Holden expressed that any shows that bring a sense of excitement and connection with the audience are memorable and stand out.

Holden suggests Madison fans to bring a “vulnerable self” and to be ready to sing at their upcoming show at the High Noon Saloon.

“The nicest feeling shows I’ve ever played are shows in which people are both ‘vibing’ with us as well as with each other,” Holden said. “This sort of unification of all of the energy into this like shared performance between us and everybody in the crowd — those are the most powerful moments when playing shows.”

Doors at the High Noon Saloon will open at 7 p.m., and the show will begin at 8 p.m. with openers Oso Oso and Alex Napping.

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