FOR THE PAST three or so weeks, Christian Holden has again become "Christian from the Hotelier." It will be this way for another three weeks, as his band crisscrosses the country on tour with like-minded New England rock band the World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. Until Thanksgiving, at least, when the tour ends in Boston, where Holden and his mates in the Hotelier can spend the holiday with family, when the lines between being a person and being a member of a popular band are blurred.
At 23 years old, Holden is impressively wary of losing himself in his work.
"One thing I've witnessed is people who allowed their band to become them, and I'm pretty real about the understanding that this band is a mortal thing, something that will eventually die [and] be gone," he says from a tour stop in Dallas. "The more I rely on this one specific thing being 'me,' the harder it is for me to understand when the work that I'm doing with this project has done all that it can and just let it go."
If that sounds like the thoughts of a man in a band near its end, it's not. Riding the momentum of their outstanding 2014 album Home, Like Noplace Is There, members of the Hotelier—bassist Holden, guitarists Chris Hoffman and Ben Gauthier, and drummer Sam Frederick—have already sketched out tentative plans for the band through summer of 2016, Holden says.
Those plans include writing and recording another album, which means facing the monumental task of following up Home head on. At nine songs and 36 minutes long, it is one of the best rock records of the year, an addictive amalgam of alternately chiming and crunchy guitars, deft quiet-loud-quiet dynamics, and Holden's emotionally raw lyrics, which he sometimes strains to deliver in a way that recalls the heyday of '90s emo. "Held underwater, told to scream your self-worth," he howls in "Against the Wildflowers," the majestic centerpiece of the album. "It wasn't good enough/Entrust the secrets to the backs of your arms."
It's just that the Hotelier's style attracts young, passionate fans who not only feel deeply connected to the band and are curious about the men and motives behind the message, but also have easy access to those men, either at shows or via social media. That's a wonderful thing for a band to engender, but it also can be exhausting, Holden says.
"I've learned when it's appropriate, I think, to be more vulnerable, and then when I can just take a break from band stuff and kind of carve out some specific space where I'm not Christian from the Hotelier," he says.
Toward that end, Holden wants to get a job when he gets home. (He lost his last one when the band got too busy, and thus had to vacate his apartment in Worcester.) He'd like to be involved in some sort of ongoing creative or community project, he says.
"I just want to feel more integrated in some sort of space so that I can feel like I have something to come home to every time I go out [on tour]," he says. "Like the other day, my friend hit me up about this event he has happening and I was like, 'That sounds really nice, but I'll be on the other side of the country.' It's little things like that, where, when I do go back, I feel like a visitor, and I'd like to feel more part of a place."