New Year’s Eve is always a festive event either braving the elements outdoors or ringing New Year’s Day in warmer confines. Toronto indie rock group Hollerado cap off 2018 with two shows which are essentially their own take on the Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus.
“Exactly, that’s exactly it!” singer Menno Versteeg says. “Thanks for coining that term.”
The two concerts, set for Lee’s Palace Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 are unique offerings. On Dec. 30 Hollerado performs a matinee show with Fred Penner as the support act. Meanwhile the following night, according to the band’s Instagram account, features “magicians, comedians, circus performers” and others prior to Hollerado’s headlining set.
“It was something which (we) just always wanted to do,” he says. “Just kind of a variety show, something that’s kind of a concert but also something where there’s a bunch of people doing other things that aren’t musical. A good old-fashioned variety show.”
Versteeg says the lineup, as of mid-November, was still being finalized but was something they were looking forward to. The matinee show with Penner was also essentially a no-brainer to stage.
“Fred’s an old dear friend of ours that we’ve crossed paths with on the road many times through the years,” he says. “He’s become like a mentor and when the road gets long and the road gets you down a little dose of Fred will pick you back up.
“We’ve done a lot of all ages, we love all ages. It’s a different vibe. With our crowds when we do shows it truly is all ages. There’s parents with kids and then teenagers and adults and probably some old people and grandparents too.”
Aside from the upcoming shows Hollerado are also in the midst of working on a new studio album, the follow-up to 2017’s Born Yesterday.
“It’s great,” Versteeg says of the new record. “We’re all in the studio, Nix (guitarist Nixon Boyd) from the band has his own studio in Mimico. We’ve been holed up there five days a week just digging into making a new record. We’re a little over halfway we’ve written a bunch of songs and we’re having an absolutely great time.”
The singer says the as-yet-untitled album should be out hopefully sometime in the spring but nothing has been confirmed. Versteeg adds the new material is “definitely different” from their previous release.
“All of our records they follow similar veins but we also don’t make the same record over and over again,” he says. “This is the first one we’ve done all ourselves just the four of us like no engineer, no producers. As much as we love working with all the producers and engineers we’ve worked with over the years there’s something really special about just the four of us doing it ourselves.”
Hollerado spent a good chunk of 2018 touring, starting the year off with Portugal. The Man and also touring with Beck. Perhaps the biggest change was the band getting used to a bigger and most likely cozier commute in a tour bus, a far cry from the years racking up miles in a cramped van.
“The tour bus is like a big summer camp where you’re in this bubble that you don’t leave for a few weeks and you’re just in this weird bubble,” Versteeg says. “That’s like your entire existence. Whereas when you’re in a van you do your drives and stuff but you stay in hotels and checking into hotels and having different beds every night. It’s a different life but we like them both. The tour bus is pretty fun. The thing about the tour bus is that you arrive in the city in the morning, you can walk around the city a bit after driving all night.”
Another highlight was performing at the season opener for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in October, something the band lapped up. It’s not the only link the band has with hockey as Versteeg is a friend of Ottawa Senators forward Zack Smith.
“Zack and I are good buds, he’s a class act and a great hockey player,” he says. “It’s inspiring to see what he does whenever we’re complaining too about being too cold or having to lift amps. He just got his face smashed. He’s got a broken arm, he’s got some totally different hazards on the job than we do. I really admire him.”
The upcoming year sees Hollerado touring in support of the new album with a “couple of big announcements” to come. The album will also be issued on the band’s own label Royal Mountain Records. Versteeg says running the label comes with some ups and downs.
“With the younger bands, you can take some of their enthusiasm and it’s contagious,” he says. “But it’s hard too because there’s not a lot of money for anybody in the record business these days. It’s a lot of work and everyone has big dreams and they don’t always work out for everybody. So that’s tough too because you want the best for every single one of your artists. You want everyone to succeed. But no matter how hard you work and how hard they work sometimes that success is not monetary. It’s travel and experience and friendships but it doesn’t become your career.”
But for now, Hollerado celebrates with these two year-end shows even if Versteeg isn’t making any resolutions.
“I used to but I don’t think any of us do anymore,” he says with a laugh. “We’re all constantly going through changes and we all vow to change one thing or another but sometimes the thing needs to be changed so urgently that you don’t have time to wait until New Year’s.”