An Inside Look at The Hotelier

Matt Rushford, Co-Editor-in-Chief


The Hotelier are a rock band who are based in Worcester. The group formed in Dudley, Massachusetts listening to hardcore and have been called “leaders of emo revival” by the Boston Globe. Today, I sat down with the lead singer, Christian Holden and talked about their group, 

Matt: We’re here live with Christian Holden at the Sigmund Freud statue! Holden is the lead vocalist and bass guitarist for the project The Hotelier. How are you doing today?

Christian: I’m doing good! My car almost broke down on the way here, but other than that I’ve been doing alright! 

Matt: Living here for most of your life, what is your take on living here in Worcester, Massachusetts?

Christian: I like Worcester a lot. It’s a pretty chill city, I like how you can be engaged in what’s going on without being trumped by developers. The thing about Worcester is that Worcester is very “uncool”. So you’re never competing with developers, except maybe around here you might be. You can always make your mark when you’re not competing with developers. You can help mesh and create cool events, and there’s a cool scene developing around here. I’ve always thought Worcester’s motto should always be “keep Worcester uncool”.

Matt: I totally know what you mean, I feel like Worcester has a personality. It’s very bold and brash with what it is. It’s got a charm for sure.

Christian: Yeah for sure, It’s not Boston. When I think of Boston, I think of how they really try to grab you with the history of the city. And I don’t necessarily get that same energy here as I do when I’m at Lexington and Concord. It’s not even like Western Mass, it’s not like Providence. It’s kind of its own space of nothing-ness. 

Matt: So you’re the lead vocalist and bassist of The Hotelier, you’ve been in the city for a while, how was The Hotelier formed? Where did everyone meet? 

Christian: We all grew up around here, in Dudley – Charlton. We all met in high school around 2005. There were tons of bands around that point, you could head to the Upton VFW and there’d be shows with like 200 people in the audience. It was a very popular booming music scene and it just surrounded us. So we grew up going to shows, and we met in high school, thought we should form a band and went from there.

Matt: When you first started The Hotelier, did you have a group or a general influence that you looked up to and got you more into music?

Christian: Yeah I’d say thinking locally there was a hardcore group called Last Lights based in Worcester. The vocalist, Dominic Mallary was a really special writer and lyricist and the group had a lot of power over a lot of groups in this area. It raised the bar for what you should strive for, even as kids starting out.  

Matt: So you briefly mentioned you’re from the Dudley-Charleton area. How would you describe it?

Christian: It’s like an area on the edge of suburban Worcester. You go one town over and you’re technically in Western Mass, you go the other way and you’re in Auburn, suburban Worcester. So growing up there is a little bit of both worlds, there’s tons of woods to walk around in, and there’s also the backdrop of suburbia, which is its own unique experience that I try to talk about through Hotelier. 

Matt: Are there any anecdotes from your childhood that you kept with you?

Christian: That’s a lot of what’s in our writing. Lots of anecdotes, lots of stories with the little crew I grew up with trying to carve out some space for ourselves in that world. In a sense, we were radicalized by the freedom to simply go out into the woods and do what we like. Just doing things because we can. Not particularly cool stuff, but things we did just because. Just things you do when you’re growing up. 

Matt: I started listening to your group 6-7 years ago, and something I take out of your music is the embodiment of day-to-day life for better or worse, both malaise and anxiety, but also something more than that.

Christian: Life is many things. It’s always a collection of good and bad. Art sometimes focuses on how powerful trying to own your life is. We can focus on particular emotions, but in reality life is just a bunch of emotions that form each other. You don’t have the good without the bad, the boring without the exciting. Everything is interconnected.

Matt: I was interested, when you’re going into the writing process for your songs, how does that work? ?

Christian: You know, there’s some magic that happens. There’s a lot of intention and then there’s a lot of raw intuition that comes into play. I’ll usually meditate on an idea or theme for a while, and then I trust my intuition to fill the rest. Because it’s music and poetry, you don’t have to write a scientific paper to encapsulate an idea of a song.. You can tweak things that don’t fit, work around what does. There’s a different me that writes songs that I am very amazed by. There are so many different elements that come into play when making music, it’s like a completely different part of our brain that we don’t understand.

Matt: Personally I’m a big fan of your Twitter (@moldyfish). You often talk about Worcester in-depth, which I love. Something I wanted to ask though, is if you had the power to change Worcester to how you saw fit, what would you do first?

Christian: I don’t think the City of Worcester trusts its people. They don’t listen often, or make substantial differences in people’s lives. If there could be some kind of radical change, some sort of democratic confederalism of neighborhood assemblies, with regular people having the potential to engage in government, I think you would see something different. I would love to see the city more of a sandbox where people with cool ideas can enact change.

Matt: Have you been listening to a lot of music this year?

Christian: Yeah, I have actually. But not new music, necessarily. I’ve been listening to a lot of celtic music, actually. I’ve had a music slump for a bit, and because we are of course in Massachusetts, there is an NPR section that is called “Celtic Sojourn”. Honestly, I listened to it a couple times and I realized “wow this is some powerful stuff”, and I really got into it.

Matt: How would you get someone to listen to emo music if they haven’t listened to music like it before.

Christian: Well, if you’re ever going to explain a style of music and expect them to get it, you have to connect it to something that they have listened to before to get a better idea. I was listening to a lot of Saddle Creek bands in high school. And the things that got me into emo were diverging from sadder indie stuff into emo. There’s a lot of different entry points now into emo. Part of me is like emo doesn’t matter so I would never tell anyone that they have to listen to it, because I actually don’t care that much about it. There’s a lot of great pop-punk and emo, and there’s also a lot of shit in both. Genre almost doesn’t matter ever, in regards to what you should listen to. It might matter to some people in a way that I don’t understand, but I feel like I have a good idea of music I like. And in every genre or scene, there will always be good artists, artists that people think are just alright, and bands that suck. 

Feel free to follow Christian and The Hotelier on Twitter, and check out the group’s Bandcamp for all their official releases!