Despite having been around for about seven years and having been on as many as 37 tours, Denver rock outfit Holley 750 is just getting started. With its latest and greatest lineup firmly cemented, the band is touring the East Coast behind its new album "Crashing into S***."
Holley 750 is a speed rock band (presumably named after a carburetor) with songs that are short, fast and infamously loud. Its raucous live shows are described as "alcohol-fueled scumbaggery." The act recognizes its proclivity to offend and seems to have a punk mentality, but don't call them a punk band, at least not to their faces.
"A lot of our lyrics are about killing my ex," tells guitarist and spokesman Jamie DeSoto, describing the band's indignant subject matter. "She tortured me for four and a half years, so I gotta a lot to draw from.
"We don't consider our music to be 'punk;' it's rock 'n' roll. We're a speed rock band, plain and simple. I had some (expletive) kid argue with me that we are punk and we sound like NOFX in St. Louis a few days ago ... I should have beat his (expletive). As for what we stand for, I don't think we really stand for anything. I don't wanna be a role model."
As the only surviving original member in Holley's current iteration, DeSoto has seen the band go through many, many lineup changes (26 by DeSoto's count) and takes credit for forcing most of those changes to happen. With its most recent addition of vocalist Clay Greene, DeSoto expects this roster to stick and put an end to the act's internal volatility.
"I was the singer and guitarist since the beginning, almost seven years ago," DeSoto recalls. "I don't like singing and didn't wanna do it from the start, but I was the only one who could. I met Clay about five years ago. He showed up at my motorcycle shop needing work done and we became friends. I joined his old band Insomniaxe about a year later as a side project, and he was the greatest front man I'd ever seen.
"He joined (Holley 750) about two years ago, playing bass when our old bassist left a few months before a tour, and he stepped right up. I'm kind of a tyrant, and if you're not pulling your weight or you bail on a tour or show without a good (expletive) reason, I kick you out. Most just didn't want to live this life anymore. Most I'm still friends with; others I'd like to beat the (expletive) out of. This is the last version of Holley; this time it's perfect. If we remove one person it won't be as good."
The scrappy, ever-touring Holley 750 cites the scene in its hometown of Denver for its nomadic lifestyle. With little cohesion or camaraderie, the act finds its audiences on the road. With a base of operations somewhat isolated from other major cities, touring is admittedly a logistical challenge but doesn't appear to have a significant impact on Holley's travel-heavy itinerary.
"Denver has a handful of killer bands and even more handfuls of crappy bands," says DeSoto. "The scene there is very divided, even within the punk rock scene. Nobody in Denver is doing what we do, though. ... It's hard to get out a lot being 500 miles from anywhere. This band was formed to (tick) people off in Denver; now we are (ticking) people off all over the place."
Despite sometimes being intentionally abrasive, the band has earned a great deal of respect and recognition. Holley 750's resume includes shows and tours with such name brand acts as Supersuckers and Nashville Pussy, a split-EP with North Carolina's Antiseen and, according to some, has had music featured on MTV's "Nitro Circus." Most acts would either delight in or take exception to the latter, depending on their stance toward unapologetically commercial music outlets, but Holley seems completely indifferent.
"We don't honestly care," DeSoto says. "It's about time they put some decent music on that (expletive) station. ... Someone from our record label told us he heard us on "Nitro Circus"; none of us have seen or heard it. We get a grip of airplay all over the country — our music is a good soundtrack to a full-scale riot."
While the act is self-described as "not out to make friends," it has apparently found a few in Knoxville. After playing one of its best shows in at The Longbranch Saloon on a Tuesday night on its last round of touring, Holley 750 has vowed to make Knoxville a regular stop on future tours of the East Coast.
Thursday night Holley 750 returns to Knoxville to share a bill with locals La Basura Del Diablo and Casey's Trunk. The show starts at 9 p.m. at The Well and costs $5.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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