Q&A with Reuben Hollebon

UK-based singer, songwriter, engineer and producer Reuben Hollebon is just gearing up to release his debut album, Terminal Nostalgia this Friday. Inspired by a passage in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions” and made his own by a desire to stay present in the moment, Terminal Nostalgia is an unsurprisingly confident and stunning debut. Listen to a full stream of the album and read what Hollebon had to say about it below.

Interview by Dom Vigil

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who may not be familiar?

I grounded myself in music making 3 track demos for bands in Norwich, England. We’d have the console setup, get the drums sorted, and get a ‘mixed’ demo finished every day, good energetic music making. From there I assisted a composer whilst engineering and producing for others. Joyously envious of these musicians and their skills, I took to songwriting during down time and eventually had a collection of material and my own style of painting my songs into records.

You’re getting ready to release your debut album, Terminal Nostalgia on May 20th. Where does the title Terminal Nostalgia come from?

It’s a shortening of a passage in ‘Breakfast of Champions’ by Kurt Vonnegut, a phrased that paused my reading. Now to me Terminal Nostalgia is a mantra to remain with your enjoyment and interest in the present moment, to not get caught in a photo loop wishing this time into a good memory.

What was the writing and recording process like for Terminal Nostalgia? Was there anything that you wanted to be able to accomplish with the album? 

Every song is written full of intent, including those that didn’t make the cut this time. There was no particular concept around the record; however, when I looked at what was forming them, they made sense together, in one order, and that shape coloured the finish and texture of each contiguous moment.

Quite a few of the songs on the album feel very emotional and raw, especially your new single, “Faces.” Can you tell us a little bit about the track? 

It’s an attempt to deal the multitudes of self, not to suggest a filmic split personality, but to acknowledge the different moods and characters we become through the years and days are all ourselves. Now for me the most intriguing self-pushes an unfolding situation to see how mischievous and interesting things may get.

Are there any songs in particular that mean a lot to you? Any that you’re really excited for listeners to hear?

Everything I make as well as everything I hear from others has meaning, the potency is the question. No doubt “Come Back Early” is a tough record, it’s the only love song in this collection, it preferences expression over technicality, the harmony is deliberately dissonant, to allow it to reform to a simple triad only twice after the opening, controlling the release. My own relationship with each song is adapting with each show.

What do you hope listeners will take away from Terminal Nostalgia?

That’s optional, maybe the sense of commonality that I have with people is accessible, I don’t want to barrier off any humans, it’s not easy to achieve. Also I hope a few can see the clues and tributes to other genres, artists and art forms that are woven here and there, sometimes with an intent and sometimes serendipitously.

You’ve got a couple of shows lined up after the release of the album. What can fans expect from these live performances?

I tend to change the live show most evenings dependent on the players and mood, but I’m lucky enough to be able to go out on with the band or own my own. My main line up features three great friends and players, with drums, bass, painet, piano, and trombone. Sometimes it strips to bass and drums, and we’ve also done shows with the trombone and painet. For me the direct recreation of a record is not a preference, something adaptable and unique to that crowd is worth more.

Do you have any plans to hit the road more after Terminal Nostalgia releases?

Yes, though they are quite fluid, currently we’ve got sporadic dates in the US over the next month before returning to Europe for Berlin, Luxembourg, Paris and London shows and then back to the US to finally get to see this country more extensively. Add in a good mix of festivals and I probably won’t see many studios until the end of summer.