In his book Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote, “We are halfhearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
“A lot of people look at our name and immediately think we’re being sarcastic about our outlook on life,” Scott Anderson said of his band’s moniker, This Holiday Life. “It actually refers to what Lewis wrote, and we believe that life truly can be a holiday if we long for the things Christ gives us and not the pleasures that come and go in the world. It usually makes for some pretty interesting conversation.”
At this point, no one can accuse the San Diego-based quartet of not living up to the purpose of its name.
While studying at University of Miami (Ohio), bassist Bobby Anderson, drummer Mark Nagel and Anderson (vocals, guitar) formed This Holiday Life in 2001 and quickly gained regional popularity with its college radio-friendly, melodic pop/rock sound. Despite its loyal and increasing fan base in the Midwest, the trio chose not to settle with the safe environment of its local following, and decided to test the waters of the more successful and attention-promising music scene of the West coast.
Shortly after the move in 2002, THL released a three-song EP of previously recorded material independently and later picked up a second guitarist in Joe Freeman. “It was at that point, when we picked up Joe and had some music to hand out, that we began to hit it really hard and pour everything into our music,” Scott said.
Such a commitment has been anything but an easy task for THL, especially in a musical hotbed like the SoCal area, where many of rock’s biggest outfits thrive. “It’s taken some serious grassroots promotion in order to get our name out,” Scott said. “We go around and plaster stickers and flyers everywhere – surf shops, concert venues – anywhere people hang out. People start to see our name all over, and it begins to create a buzz. Eventually, people are saying all these great things about this band that they’ve never even heard, but know the name, and it spreads.”
With a constantly growing tour schedule around the West Coast and beyond over the next few months, support from other bands like fellow San Diego residents Switchfoot, and a new six-song EP The Fallout released on their own at the beginning of the year, it’s only a matter of time before a vast majority across the country have caught ear to more of THL than simply its band name.
Blending catchy, hook-filled melodies with edgy, guitar-driven rock and air-tight harmonies, supplemented by Scott’s introspective – if not cryptic – lyrics, THL prides itself on a universal sound that is set apart from the rest of the local stock.
“In the San Diego area, there’s a lot of indie rock and there’s a lot of pop punk,” Scott said. “But there aren’t a lot of bands that sound like we do, which is good because it makes us different, but it makes it also takes a lot of marketing and fervor to gain exposure.”
While more exposure and bigger opportunities are certainly on the group’s wish list for the future, they are content, in the meantime, to hold out for the right moment to take the next big step, following dutifully to Lewis’ “from mud pies to holiday” analogy.
“We want to really build a story with this band and have a lot to present to a major record label before we start pursuing them,” Scott said. “The idea for us is to gain a strong fan base, tour all over the country and sell around 10,000 records in the next couple of years. We want to be very appealing to a label and bring a lot to the table in order to get the company’s full support for a long time, instead of being signed on a whim and kind of lost and forgotten in a matter of months.”
As far as THL is concerned, signing a major record deal isn’t exactly the defining characteristic of a successful band, anyway. The group’s persistence paid off earlier this year when 850 people were in attendance for the album release party for The Fallout, advertised only through word-of-mouth and a devoted street team. Instances like these have proven to exemplify how THL truly measures its success.
“Success is relative,” Scott added. “A band could be signed to a record label, but only be playing to five people a night. To me, that’s not success. When people really start feeling like they’re a part of what we do and getting something out of our music, that is when we know we are where we want to be as a band.”