Music News

Hollow Head Fled to Denver

Hollow Head releases its first album on Thursday.
Hollow Head releases its first album on Thursday. Courtesy Hollow Head
An existential crisis brought Michigan-raised musician Jimmy Adame, one half of folk-rock duo Hollow Head, to Colorado.

The move happened “in 2020, when COVID was first going on, and I knew I needed a change,” Adame recalls. “I thought if the world was going to end, I didn’t want it to end while I was in my hometown.”

Elliott Miller, the second half of Hollow Head, is from Michigan, too, and had more musical reasons for relocating, although he was also fueled by the lousy state of affairs brought on by the pandemic. He was originally looking to move to Nashville.

“I wanted to change things before everything went to shit, and try to get more experiences in other places,” Miller remembers. “I was going to go to Nashville, but the job I’d gotten there fell through. Jimmy was like, ‘Hey, there’s music [in Denver], too,’ so I ended up coming here.”

The duo releases its debut album, A Spark of Madness, on Thursday, May 26. The songs range in style, but in general fit somewhere in the alternative indie and folk universes. The band’s sound is much larger than you would expect from a two-piece.

“It’s pretty diverse,” Adame says of the ten-track record. “They go all over the place, ranging from pretty acoustic geeky atmospheric folk to punk to rock. Everything in the album fits pretty cohesively.”

The two started playing together about five years ago — or seven years ago, depending on which one you ask. They were in a “really bad college band,” Miller says.

“Back then, we would play and just kind of write for fun together,” he adds. “We’d busk some original songs Jimmy wrote, mostly. At that time, it was mostly Jimmy’s influence.”

Both men write lyrics for Hollow Head and split the job down the middle on A Spark of Madness, Miller says, noting that many of the songs were written before the pandemic struck. The two wrote about their own experiences, so the album lacks a great deal of topical unity. But because they were in similar places in life, many of the lyrics concern feeling overwhelmed by life and being critical of one’s own faults.

“A lot of that is within the soul of the record,” Miller says. “It’s kind of what we were thinking about, generally speaking.”

Adame agrees that the record is self-critical, because that’s how he was writing at the time. He was going through some big changes and was thinking about what he could have done differently, what he hoped to do in the future, and how he could progress as a person.

“I was just feeling very stuck,” Adame says. “I was just getting out of a long relationship and probably getting out of my occupation, and then getting out of my hometown — or at least wanting to.”

Michigan has produced tons of great musicians and bands over the years, including the White Stripes, Bob Seger, the Stooges, Stevie Wonder, the Mysterians, etc.; it remains to be seen whether Hollow Head will one day be counted among the ranks of such legends. Adame and Miller say they are not from a "cool" part of the state, so they aren’t sure how much credit to give it for inspiring their music. Miller was born by Detroit but grew up in Midland, a city near Saginaw.

“If it influenced me in any way, it’s just feeling like you have a stagnant existence,” Miller says. “I’m writing about that. I guess the weather there played a part for me. It wasn’t a cool part of Michigan. It was very much a cul-de-sac, white-collar town where nothing ever happened.”

He enjoyed the music of Stevie Wonder and Jack White growing up, Miller adds, but recently he’s looked to Soundgarden and its late frontman, Chris Cornell, for sonic influence, as well as Radiohead.

“I’m a big ’90s guy,” he says. “The whole vibe of the grunge movement is something I’m a big fan of. Some of that is an influence on the album one way or another, probably subtly.”

Adame says the Midwest has a stereotype of being gloomy breeding ground for punk culture. He’s found that influential, he adds, but cops to not listening to a wide variety of bands during his formative years. The Beach Boys first sparked his interest in music.

“From there I branched out to strictly Christian-rock punk bands, so Reliant K, which was the only thing I listened to until I was maybe thirteen,” he recalls. “Then I got into Green Day and a couple other punk artists.”

Adame adds that in recent years, he’s taken inspiration from modern folk musicians, including the late John Prine. London folk-rock band Bear’s Den is also high on his list, as are Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit, which has served as a massive influence.

“I only discovered that a year and a half ago,” he says. “I’m a little late to that party, but man, they became my favorite artist really quickly. I’ve been dwelling on their lyrics and songwriting methods for as long as I’ve discovered them."

A Spark of Madness premieres on all streaming platforms Thursday, March 26. Physical copies, as well as band merchandise, are available at
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