Fabian Holland is a folk songwriter who’s gaining more and more appreciation, especially now that he has just released the brand new single ‘Home’. His self titled record is a collage of songs and each of them tells a different tale; Holland is a modern storyteller and – as Folk Radio UK stated in their review – Withguitars can’t wait to see more either. Until then, Monica Guerrasio questions the talented that is, Fabian Holland.
Hi Fabian, your personal background seems rather interesting. How did it feel to grow up in such an artistic house?
Fabian Holland: Hi, to be honest it felt really normal to me. I was a bit of a freak compared to other kids – growing up as a vegetarian and not having a TV in the house – but I didn’t know anything different. Not until I started going to school, did I realise that it perhaps wasn’t the norm. I got teased a bit at school for it but now I’m really thankful for my upbringing.
I’m Italian and I’m really curious about your choice to go living in Abruzzo, that is a very peculiar region, tough and some times close. Were where you located and how did you get along with the locals?
FB: I think I was around 19 at the time and I was living with my parents in England when they decided to pack up, sell the house and move to Italy. It was either staying in gloomy old England or having this adventure in sunny Italy. I think most people would have chosen the latter. We moved to the Majella National Park in a place called Civitella. The people there were great, open and very friendly. I joined the local basketball team to learn the language and played with a lot of great musicians. I also made friends with a guitar luthier out there, who used to make Italian guitarist Franco Morone’s guitars, so I eventually got to meet up with Franco too.
Any peculiar memory from your Italian years?
FB: When I first moved to Italy I was playing more electric guitar than acoustic and – for the first six months – there was no electricity in the house, so all my electric equipment was pretty much useless. I was forced to play my only acoustic guitar, which was an old beaten up steel string and the neck was so bowed that the strings were an inch off the fretboard. This meant I had to play it like a lap slide with the guitar on my lap and sliding a steel bar across the strings. At that moment I began to fall back in love with the acoustic guitar.
Watch single release video of ‘Home’ here –
You studied with Eric Roche but who is your major influence when it comes to your musical style?
FB: When it comes to guitar style I would have to say Kelly Joe Phelps is a major influence for me; I just really love the improvisational aspect of his playing and to me that’s been a huge inspiration.
I think the element impressed me the most is that your songs, at least in this album, are portraits of people you have met during your traveling. One of my favorite is ‘The Landlord’s Daughter’. What’s the story behind it?
FB: Thanks, yeah I like to tell stories in my songs, I think it adds another element to the music and perhaps makes people listen a bit closer?
There was actually a girl in my school who was the daughter of a police man and all the boys liked her, of course. But her dad was so protective over her and I think she was very rebellious as well. That’s where the idea for The Landlords Daughter came from and then I just expanded the story from that, unfortunately I wasn’t the guy who got with her at school though.
What’s your favourite story?
FB: I was a big fan of Roald Dahl when I was a kid, I had all the books and I was a bit obsessed with them and I think they’ve just stuck with me over the years. I don’t think I could choose just one story though? I’d have to say all of them.
Your choice of living in a boat is quite interesting. What’s the reason behind?
FB: I was living In London on my sisters sofa whilst trying to find a place of my own but I didn’t have a job or much money so the chances of me finding a place were pretty low. Then I saw an advert online of a guy renting a room on his narrow boat, so I jumped at the chance. I loved it so much I managed to save up enough to buy my own narrow boat shell which is just the steel empty shell of a boat with an engine and I’ve been building the inside and living on it ever since.
You’ll be touring till the end of this year, future projects after that?
FB:More of the same really. The more I travel the more stories I get to write songs about, I’d like to do a second album and play more with other musicians on stage as well as in the studio.
If you could choose an artist you could collaborate with, who would that be?
FB: Ahh that’s a tough one. If I can go back in time I’d probably say Davey Graham because he was such a versatile musician and I could pick his brains about different guitar tunings and techniques.
Fabian Holland – ‘Dr Price’
For more on Fabian Holland’s self titled album read WithGuitars review here