The Bloody Hollies are one of America’s finest garage rock bands! Forever glued to the genre’s very soul, and possessing the kind of inexhaustible energy that could power a space shuttle, the band is ready to return to the road and to the studio.
We had the pleasure of catching up with vocalist/guitarist Wesley Doyle. He told us about the early days of garage rock revival, his enduring love for Bon Scott, the band’s plans for a new album, and who’d make it on to a Bloody Hollies festival bill.
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m a big fan!
I’ve never heard the Bloody Hollies sulking. What’s the secret to your inexhaustible energy and excitement?
Haha no doubt, the early days were definitely full of youthful excitement about rock n roll. I think I identified that youthful excitement as part of our sound, and tried to keep that spirit alive with every song I wrote over the following 10 years or so. The real secret was getting into music because we loved doing it, and not because we tried to find a sound, or some kinda look that we could cash in on.. I think people can sense that you’re not genuine, and like bands that are honest.
You have a massive sound that seems to improve from one record to another. Any gear, or production techniques that are vital to creating your music?
People would come up to me after concerts all the time trying to dissect how I’m getting my sound, and I really wasn’t doing anything special… just a Fender Deville amp, and a 64 Melody Maker. I’ve always relied on studio talent to help us out. I thought I did a pretty good job communicating with them about what I was looking for.
Also, I wasn’t ashamed to hear something on a record I liked, and try to duplicate a guitar, vocal, or drum sound that I thought sounded cool. But of course, I wanted people to listen to something that they would impulsively want to turn up as loud as their neighbors would let them!
Let’s play pretend. You’re sent back in time to 1979. You’re asked to back up Iggy Pop, Roky Erikson, and Bon Scott. All are cutting solo records at the same time. Who do you choose?
Ahhh.. this is easy for me. No doubt it would be Bon Scott, I think I’d be able to pull that off really well. I met his son in Australia after a show, and he told me his dad would have been proud. I’ll take it!
You’ve been a bit quiet lately. But, fortunately, if all goes well, you’re returning to the stage in August. What should long-term supporters expect?
Yeah, we kinda went our separate ways in San Diego for a long time. People move on and it’s pretty common, and kind of expected. Last year I made a big move back to my hometown of Buffalo, NY, and recently contacted the original members from Fire At Will, and we decided to get back on stage in August at a local club. We haven’t rehearsed yet so it could be amazing, or a complete disaster. Either way, it’ll be entertaining!
It’s been a while since the Bloody Hollies put out an album. Do you have that in the works, or is it up to your previous records to preserve the legacy?
No, I can ALMOST guarantee a new record will happen in the next year. I’ve already started tracking material, and I’m starting to get really excited about it. The material feels like I started right where I left off and feels every bit as inspired as the original material.
I’ve been working on material for about 7 years now, so it’ll be cool to start to hear it all working together on one album. I’ve played a bit for the other guys as well, and they’re into it.
Let’s play pretend. Buddy Holly returns among the living and wants a word with you about your band’s name. How do you appease ol’ Buddy?
Haha… well I’m a generally respectful person, I’d probably tell him it was an homage to his brilliance or something.
Of course, garage rock is one of the most durable genres. But, at the time of your debut, Got it Where it Counts! it had reached a commercial peak. What were those days like and how have attitudes changed towards you and your peers?
Yeah, there was a time we felt like we were right in that cyclone of garage rock popularity, and we would no doubt, be part of the commercial success story. We even did a Peel Session on the BBC, and felt like we were well on our way.
Like I said earlier, we were making music that felt genuine, and honest, and we felt like the success was a product of that genuine vibe we were giving off. It was frustrating to us to hear bands that were making it, and we could immediately tell that it was more or less and act.
And of course, no one cares about most of those bands anymore. I have no delusions that I’m going to revive that era again, but if I do, that would be pretty fun, we really need that right now.
I think the Bloody Hollies could be a great festival band. What festival would you love to play? And, what was the most significant concert you’ve played?
Oh, I was never comfortable in front of those big festival crowds. It felt like I was out of my element. I was able to work the crowds so much better in the smaller clubs. I really don’t know what the cool festivals are anymore. Burning Man? Haha.. do they have bands?
I think the first time I played Vera in Holland was crazy. It was completely packed and was the first time I played in front of a large crowd like that. It was a trip watching everyone singing along to songs I wrote in the shower.
You released Got it Where it Counts! and Fire at Will, your first records, months apart. The sound, the lyrics, the songs sound fleshed-out and carefully developed. Did you have those songs for a long time before recording them?
Well, Fire At Will was really what I would consider my first album. Only because the Garage Pop record was pretty juvenile, and I was still trying to figure out where I was going musically. It was fun, but it was more or less the soundtrack of a kid figuring himself out.
Fire At Will was really the album where I got serious about what I was trying to do. I was 100% focused, and the music was really the culmination of all of my experiences from the Marine Corps, and growing up in Buffalo. Haha I mean, I had lyrics about heading off to bootcamp, and getting a GI Bill. I made that album with the sole intention of surpassing everything else I was hearing in the scene at that time.
If footmen tire you… was the followup. It sounded a good deal nastier. What fueled that record?
I really started getting influenced by apocalyptic themes, and made up my mind before heading to Detroit to record with Jim Diamond that just about every song on that record would have an “End of the World” feel to it.
I really thought this was me growing into my own skin, and was learning that this kind of sound was something I was pulling off really well. And above all, I thought it was unique, and had a really interesting vibe to it. I still really love that album and still get creeped out by the lyrics on Dirty Water.
You got such a wide, trampling sound on that record. What was different in the production as compared to earlier releases?
Well, Jim Diamond gets a lot of the credit on that album. We both did a lot of experimenting together in the studio. It was the first time I really got to experiment like that in the studio, and I took full advantage of all the gear he had. He had stuff in that studio that looked like it belonged in a museum!
I worked on a lot of that material as part of our Peel Session, so it was always changing. So what was recorded was different than what was on the BBC. So I think the biggest difference was keeping my mind open to new sounds, and having a loose idea of how I wanted it to sound. I still wish I slowed the songs down a bit. Some of the tunes are really great, and kind of get lost in the frantic pace of the record. We’re So Anxious could have been one of our greatest songs had I eased off the gas pedal just a bit.
Yours until the bitter end is a classic! What were you listening to while making that album?
Yeah, this was the album we all thought was our ticket to rock star status! To be honest, I don’t really remember exactly what I was listening to. But I do remember me and the guys worked extremely hard on it.
I was really drawing from every influence I could, and above all, wanted to make something genuine and honest. While working on this record, I really felt like we had established our own identity and our own unique style. So really, I was trying to remain true to everything I had been doing up to that point.
You always seem to be revved up and ready to deliver rock at full throttle. Have you ever been billed live along with mellower groups? How did the crowds react?
Haha of course! It depends on who they’re there to see… If it’s us, it’s gonna be a long night for the mellow guys. We have a lot of material that’s a little more laid back though, so we usually have something for everyone.
You hail out of Buffalo, New York. Of course, New York punk from the 70s and early 2000s is famous. But, what was the local scene you came up in?
I moved back to Buffalo in 1998 after I was in the Marine Corps, and I was mesmerized by all the bands playing here. I was having the time of my life going out every weekend. Eventually, it only made sense that I’d wanna be in a band and having some of the fun the other guys were having.
How has it changed?
Those good times seem to be a distant memory at this point. I’m really not sure why, to be honest. Probably because the current state of music is so dismal. Less people listen to rock. Hip hop and Pop music are the dominant music forms, so why would some 25 year old go out to a rock show? I don’t know.
Like everything, there will be a new emerging fad that everyone will be into. Maybe I’ll become a DJ and make money by yelling my name in the background of remixes.
Everyone hopes wide-spread touring can return soon. If you were to put on a Garage Fest Extravaganza 2021, who would you choose to headline with you?
Oh man, I got to hang out with Mickey Avalon one time, and the guy definitely likes to have a good time. I think our tour would be absolutely insane. Sign him up!
Let’s play pretend. Sony wants to give you $1 million to do a Morrissey covers album. Do you play it straight, rev-up the songs to fit your style, or tell them to screw off out of principle?
First of all, I would read books on tape for a million dollars, so I’m definitely not turning them down. Yeah I’m sure there’s gotta be something salvageable in his records that would sound pretty good in my style.
The Bloody Hollies have always been a force. What’s left to conquer, what do you have planned?
Ha, well there’s plenty left to conquer, but let’s take it one step at a time, and try to get some new music on tape! I think I just want to get back into music writing. Recording for the first time in a long time recently started getting my creative juices flowing again. As long as people wanna hear it, I think I’d like to keep doing it. Thanks!