In just a few years, San Jose reggae/pop quartet the Holdup went from playing skate parks for 10 people to headlining—and selling out—the Catalyst in Santa Cruz.
Forming in 2009, the Holdup’s laidback vibe and Sublime-inspired genre bending arrived at the perfect time, as other California bands found success with a similar sound.
“It all snowballed at the same time,” says Clev Stiles, who managed the Holdup before joining as the band’s DJ. “I literally had this plan of attack to contact all the promoters, all the venues and all the managers that I knew that were booking Rebelution or Iration, and at the same time, reach out to the radio stations. It was a massive 360 attack. And that’s kind of why everything happened so fast, which was good.”
The Holdup built an audience that skewed young, between 13 and 19 years old. Though reggae was a main component, their music was really closer to pop than traditional reggae from Jamaica. The younger crowd also related to lead singer Mike Garmany’s lyrics, which discussed everything from partying and relationships to general turmoil in life.
“Everything I write is very personal,” Garmany says. “It’s first person. Every song I write is basically me just documenting my life.”
By the release of their second album, Confidence, in 2009, the Holdup was able to get more radio play, not just on LIVE 105, but on college radio stations and a couple other major stations in California. They were touring successfully up and down the West Coast and even finding fans in parts of the country the had not yet visited.
They have continued to release a new album every year since, including last year’s Consequence—a departure, in that there was barely any reggae on the album.
“When we started out, we were a lot younger and reggae was prominently what I was listening to,” Garmany says. “I grew up and my taste became more eclectic and it was recreating what I was into at the moment. It wasn’t conscious.”
The Holdup is finishing the final touches on their fifth album, Fools Gold Part 1, which they hope to have out this fall.
“We’ll definitely be revisiting our roots a little more on this album, but there’s also a lot songs that really don’t have any reggae influence whatsoever,” Garmany says. “I know some fans feel a little betrayed because they were so in to the sound and then we changed pretty quickly. You definitely have to take that into consideration, I think, because the fans are what make us.”
Milano, San Jose
Fri, 7pm, $20