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Brian Holwerda Gets Weird

Blackout Party’s Brian Holwerda rejects the Americana label.  “I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”
Blackout Party’s Brian Holwerda rejects the Americana label. “I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”

"Blackout Party came together a few years back as a bluesy, unplugged, acoustic-folk project,” says singer/guitarist Brian Holwerda. “The ‘Blackout’ was actually a reference to us playing without electricity at the time. We’ve since morphed into more of a face-melting rock group, definitely plugged in. The songwriting still comes from that foundation, though, three chords and the truth. We’re just a little louder now.”

Holwerda says he turned his back on heavy metal when his teen band Fine White China imploded shortly after recording one album for a European label, because, “I couldn’t see myself playing [metal] all my life.” Spending around three years as a server at the Sporting Club (“I’m a sports fanatic”) and then taking a similar position at Café Japengo (“I’ve been at the same job for a while and try to do my best while I’m on the clock”), Holwerda uses his off time to build up a musical résumé that includes playing and recording with John Meeks and cofounding Blackout Party in 2007.

Having recorded two full-lengths with BP, as well as serving a year-long residency at Riviera Supper Club, Holwerda seems reluctant to certify his band as “Americana,” despite being slapped with that label in countless articles and multiple San Diego Music Awards nominations. “We actually won Best Americana [in 2011].... I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

“I’ve been listening to a ton of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sword, Gillian Welch, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. I basically listen to hip-hop, stoner metal, or delta blues and folk. Weird mix, but it treats me right.”

EVER BEEN INJURED ONSTAGE?

“The last time we played Riviera Supper Club, there was a young lady who was dancing with her back to me right in front and her booty kept bumping the mic stand. I was doing a pretty good job dodging it until mid-set, when she did an extreme booty bump and knocked me hard right in the teeth! I was so mad, I stopped the song and got a little cranky with her, which I still feel bad about. If she’s out there reading this, I apologize for yelling. I thought you knocked my teeth out.”

LAST PERSON WHO YELLED AT YOU?

“Probably a pissed-off customer who thought they waited too long for their food. I always find it amusing when people get so bent out of shape at their waiters.”

IF YOU HAD A TIME MACHINE?

“I’d go to 1967, see all my favorites live in concert, and experience the Summer of Love before the dream died. I’d want my old VW bus back, and I’d wear a buckskin vest with the tassels, hang out in San Francisco, and get weird.”

BEST AND WORST BAND NAMES?

“Worst has got to be Hoobastank, right? Best is probably Slayer, just because it’s so simple and tough. You can’t mess with it.”

GREATEST CONCERT?

“I’ll never forget Sigur Rós at Copley [Symphony Hall] a long time ago. I remember it was amazing, with people crying and everything. That was pretty spectacular.”

BIGGEST LIE YOU EVER TOLD?

“I’ve had two beers, officer, but I’m fine, sir.”

ARE YOU MORE LIKE YOUR MOM OR DAD?

“My dad, with the music. He’s a ripping funk bass player, and he taught me all the fundamentals on the guitar. He’s a pretty intense, smart dude, and I can see a bit of that in my personality. But also my mom — she’s a lover and a mellow sweetheart, so I got a bit of her DNA in there to soften me up a bit.”

WHO MAKES OUT IN YOUR WILL?

“Probably my parents, to help pay them back for all the crap I put them through when I was younger. You could sell all my stuff and still not make enough to pay them back for all the crashed cars and unfinished college degrees.”

MOST EFFECTIVE PICKUP LINE?

“Hi, babe, how was work? Can I pour you a drink and cook you some dinner?”

FIRST TIME DRUNK?

“When I was 15 years old, at my buddy Wes Ferguson’s house on the Fourth of July. These older kids gave us six beers each to watch out for cops, since they were lighting off M-80s. In an hour, we drank ’em all and were laying on the front lawn laughing. I still remember getting dropped off at home and trying to play it cool with my parents, but they knew!”

CHILDHOOD OBSESSION?

“I was obsessed with baseball and football. I actually threw a no-hitter in Little League. Had a nasty curve.”

STILL OBSESSED?

“I bought my Toyota 4Runner with fantasy-football earnings.”

WHAT’S YOUR PORN NAME (FIRST PET & STREET WHERE YOU GREW UP)?

“Harvey Thunderbird.”

SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

“I quit whiskey for tequila.” ■

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Blackout Party’s Brian Holwerda rejects the Americana label.  “I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”
Blackout Party’s Brian Holwerda rejects the Americana label. “I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”

"Blackout Party came together a few years back as a bluesy, unplugged, acoustic-folk project,” says singer/guitarist Brian Holwerda. “The ‘Blackout’ was actually a reference to us playing without electricity at the time. We’ve since morphed into more of a face-melting rock group, definitely plugged in. The songwriting still comes from that foundation, though, three chords and the truth. We’re just a little louder now.”

Holwerda says he turned his back on heavy metal when his teen band Fine White China imploded shortly after recording one album for a European label, because, “I couldn’t see myself playing [metal] all my life.” Spending around three years as a server at the Sporting Club (“I’m a sports fanatic”) and then taking a similar position at Café Japengo (“I’ve been at the same job for a while and try to do my best while I’m on the clock”), Holwerda uses his off time to build up a musical résumé that includes playing and recording with John Meeks and cofounding Blackout Party in 2007.

Having recorded two full-lengths with BP, as well as serving a year-long residency at Riviera Supper Club, Holwerda seems reluctant to certify his band as “Americana,” despite being slapped with that label in countless articles and multiple San Diego Music Awards nominations. “We actually won Best Americana [in 2011].... I’d say our sound is more like Southwestern swamp rock.”

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

“I’ve been listening to a ton of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sword, Gillian Welch, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. I basically listen to hip-hop, stoner metal, or delta blues and folk. Weird mix, but it treats me right.”

EVER BEEN INJURED ONSTAGE?

“The last time we played Riviera Supper Club, there was a young lady who was dancing with her back to me right in front and her booty kept bumping the mic stand. I was doing a pretty good job dodging it until mid-set, when she did an extreme booty bump and knocked me hard right in the teeth! I was so mad, I stopped the song and got a little cranky with her, which I still feel bad about. If she’s out there reading this, I apologize for yelling. I thought you knocked my teeth out.”

LAST PERSON WHO YELLED AT YOU?

“Probably a pissed-off customer who thought they waited too long for their food. I always find it amusing when people get so bent out of shape at their waiters.”

IF YOU HAD A TIME MACHINE?

“I’d go to 1967, see all my favorites live in concert, and experience the Summer of Love before the dream died. I’d want my old VW bus back, and I’d wear a buckskin vest with the tassels, hang out in San Francisco, and get weird.”

BEST AND WORST BAND NAMES?

“Worst has got to be Hoobastank, right? Best is probably Slayer, just because it’s so simple and tough. You can’t mess with it.”

GREATEST CONCERT?

“I’ll never forget Sigur Rós at Copley [Symphony Hall] a long time ago. I remember it was amazing, with people crying and everything. That was pretty spectacular.”

BIGGEST LIE YOU EVER TOLD?

“I’ve had two beers, officer, but I’m fine, sir.”

ARE YOU MORE LIKE YOUR MOM OR DAD?

“My dad, with the music. He’s a ripping funk bass player, and he taught me all the fundamentals on the guitar. He’s a pretty intense, smart dude, and I can see a bit of that in my personality. But also my mom — she’s a lover and a mellow sweetheart, so I got a bit of her DNA in there to soften me up a bit.”

WHO MAKES OUT IN YOUR WILL?

“Probably my parents, to help pay them back for all the crap I put them through when I was younger. You could sell all my stuff and still not make enough to pay them back for all the crashed cars and unfinished college degrees.”

MOST EFFECTIVE PICKUP LINE?

“Hi, babe, how was work? Can I pour you a drink and cook you some dinner?”

FIRST TIME DRUNK?

“When I was 15 years old, at my buddy Wes Ferguson’s house on the Fourth of July. These older kids gave us six beers each to watch out for cops, since they were lighting off M-80s. In an hour, we drank ’em all and were laying on the front lawn laughing. I still remember getting dropped off at home and trying to play it cool with my parents, but they knew!”

CHILDHOOD OBSESSION?

“I was obsessed with baseball and football. I actually threw a no-hitter in Little League. Had a nasty curve.”

STILL OBSESSED?

“I bought my Toyota 4Runner with fantasy-football earnings.”

WHAT’S YOUR PORN NAME (FIRST PET & STREET WHERE YOU GREW UP)?

“Harvey Thunderbird.”

SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

“I quit whiskey for tequila.” ■

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Outtakes: USELESS – BUT INTERESTING – TRIVIA FACT? “The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album cover photo is from the San Diego Zoo.”

BEST VOICE IN SAN DIEGO? “My favorite is Arabella Harrison, who sings with us live sometimes. Her voice just has that pure quality. In a way, her singing reminds me of Gillian Welch.”

FAVORITE DAY OF THE WEEK? “Monday, because it’s my full day off. I get to make a second pot of coffee, catch up on emails, play some guitar, demo new tunes, and just relax. I work in restaurants, so I’m busy when everyone else is chilling, and vice versa.”

Sept. 5, 2012

I think most anyone who values Pet Sounds for it's place in music history knows the cover was shot at the San Diego Zoo. But, did you know that specifically, it was shot in the petting zoo?

Sept. 5, 2012

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