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Sole & the Skyrider band bring rock and hip-hop together with a social conscience

Tim Holland is one of the most respected and influential figures in underground hip-hop. Performing under the name Sole, he was one of the founders of the Anticon Collective in the late '90s and subsequently worked with (and otherwise helped to bring to the world) acts such as Why?, Slug of Atmosphere, Sage Francis, the Shapeshifters and Odd Nosdam. In February 2010, Holland announced his amicable departure from Anticon and his desire to focus on a more DIY approach to producing and releasing music. In 2009, Holland moved to Denver, and he plans to cultivate a local presence with his latest project, the Skyrider Band, an act that melds rock and hip-hop in a way that's like nothing you've heard before from such hybrids. We spoke with Holland and his bandmates about his lyrics and the move to the Queen City of the Plains.

Westword: Many of your lyrics are fairly political. Has this always been the case? Why do you feel compelled to talk about those sorts of things?

Tim Holland: I just talk about what I care about. My favorite music growing up was stuff that inspired me to think about my life differently, my job, politics. There are some records that made me go and read certain books, and that made me who I am. That's one of the things I'm trying to do with my music, is leaving nuggets of truth here and there in my stuff to get people more curious about the world.

John Wagner: You've gotta mention that Tim listens to NPR, C-SPAN and Democracy Now all day long.

Bud Berning: Even when he sleeps.

TH: I guess my thing is that I think art should seek to intervene in the bullshit going on in the world. Doesn't mean I think I'm storming the castles of the White House or anything. I just think that at a time like this, really the question is, how can you not talk about this stuff? How can you keep talking about your high-school sweetheart, how much you love snowboarding, how much you love your shoes or how much beer you can drink?

So why did you move to Denver last spring?

TH: When we were living in Flagstaff, Arizona, there were markets we could drive to: L.A., Albuquerque and Denver. I loved living in Flagstaff; I loved the climate and where it was. But culturally, if you're not playing in a jam band, people don't really care about it. So I saw Denver as kind of like Flagstaff with culture. It reminds me of Switzerland here, and it reminds me of so many of my favorite things about so many places I've been. It's a pretty European city; you can walk it. It's built in a way that, as a pedestrian, you can really experience the city. You can get late-night vegan food in almost any quadrant of the city.