Hollow Crown may have been bred in the frigid heart of Buffalo’s heavy music scene, but they have managed to create an unusual, yet calming comfort in the darkness. This comfort seems to guide them forward, almost as if they are using the lack of certainty they’ve faced as their compass. From traumatic events in their formative years to failed professional and personal relationships, the band aims to remind listeners that disappointment does not have to equal defeat. Their debut album is best described as energetic Metalcore with a message. The release guides listeners through the five stages of grief that we often experience as humans. Spearheaded by the story of brothers Anthony and Timothy Potenza, the album leans into the heartache of their mother turning into someone they didn’t recognize following her abandonment of them as young teenagers. The first step in processing this pivotal point in life was to Disconnect.
Hollow Crown’s sound bridges the gap between familiarity and innovation with ease. Their articulate guitar leads meet alluring ambience underneath captivating lyrical deliveries from vocalist Anthony. It’s an intricate, yet raw sound that the DIY enthusiasts will continue to expand on as they hone an honest identity. The band’s story serves as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is still hope. Their music encourages listeners to embrace the difficult emotions that come with life’s challenges and to find a way to move forward. Hollow Crown may have been born out of Buffalo’s heavy music scene, but they have created a sound that is all their own, and it is one that speaks to the heart of the human experience.
How long have you been performing and recording as Hollow Crown, and what is your primary mission as a group?
Hollow Crown: The 4 of us have been together under a different name for about 5 years. We changed our name to Hollow Crown this year as we released our first track. Our goal with our music is to create energetic, relatable music that connects with people who may have gone through similar circumstances that we have.
Who have been your major influences in your writing and playing style?
Hollow Crown: We’ve definitely been influenced by a lot of the modern metal scene, bands like Periphery, Architects, While She Sleeps to name a few, but a lot of us actually listen to a lot of different metal. We really enjoy a lot of prog metal bands like Tesseract and Between the Buried and Me, and Anthony and Timothy came from a background of old school metal. We think that all kind of blends together to create the sound we have.
What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Hollow Crown: I think the story that we’re telling should resonate with anyone who’s unfortunately had a bad upbringing, or a broken relationship with a parent or family member. Along with that, we really try to focus on keeping things sounding raw and emotional while still sounding modern, so the music and vocals specifically feel authentic.
How did the traumatic events in your formative years shape the band’s music?
Hollow Crown: When Anthony and Timothy were going through the stuff with their mother, that’s when Damian and Noah joined the band. As we all got closer we realized that all 4 of us had been through a similar trauma in our lives and that helped us all be closer as a group. That also made us realize that a lot of people, especially in the younger generations (millennials and gen-z) have gone through awful situations like this, and it just felt right to center our music around dealing with that trauma and getting over it in a healthy way.
Can you talk about the five stages of grief, and how they influenced your debut album?
Hollow Crown: The first 5 songs we’re releasing from the record were all written around the same time period about our mutual familial issues. Anthony one day sat down and realized that some of our working titles for the songs were almost like the 5 stages of grief, but instead of being exactly those (which are commonly used to mourn loss) we had the idea to make our own “5 Stages” but instead of coping with loss, they cope with the type of grief that comes with being neglected, abandoned, or seeing someone you’ve known since birth becoming a person you can’t even recognize anymore. Disconnect is the first of the 5 stages, and the next 4 songs will take you through the journey we all went through.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while working on your debut album?
Hollow Crown: Initially when we started writing and recording this record we went to a known Rock/Metal producer in Maryland. After months of not getting our final mixes, and having our money taken we decided to have Anthony mix it for us at our studio. The problem was the tracks we got sent from the producer were awful. Tons of audio errors on the engineering side and we didn’t want to put something out unless we were 100% stoked on the quality of everything. So we threw all those tracks out and started re-recording and even retooling the songs ourselves. It took years to get over this roadblock and get everything to where we wanted it. With things like us getting older, moving away and then coming back the future of the band was up in the air. We felt like we’d been working on making this album for years and it was just never going to come out. Luckily, we were able to work through all of that as a group and finally get the sound we’d heard in our heads for years.
What was the inspiration behind your single, “Disconnect”?
Hollow Crown: Disconnect was inspired by the anger that Anthony felt watching everything with his mother happen. The feeling of betrayal and rage that came from it. As a band we just wanted to make the music match that feeling and be able to translate that into energy.
Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Is it a democratic process between the members, and who does what in the band?
Hollow Crown: Usually we start with a guitar riff, we’re a very guitar oriented band so that’s where everything starts. Then we just end up building on that and eventually we have a song. Our main priorities with a lot of the writing is thinking about how things will go over live. We’ve always been a super energetic live band that lives off of the energy in a room, so we want to make sure our music reflects that.
How do you balance the intricacy of your sound with the rawness of your music?
Hollow Crown: A lot of it comes down to how we capture things in the studio. We don’t see ourselves as “technical” but definitely can see where the intricacy comes from with our playing. When we’re working in the studio, we’re all about capturing our real sound. A lot of modern metalcore has a kind of sterile production and we didn’t want that. All of our guitars are 100% real amps, real cabs, real mics. We quad tracked all of the rhythms because we wanted that wall of real guitars to jump out of the speakers. We think that contributes a lot to making us sound a bit more raw than maybe other metalcore bands do. Real drums, real bass, also add a ton to that feeling. The vocals, screams specifically, are pretty basic on purpose. Just a main and a double, no layering unless it’s one of the other guys in the band layering their screams. We made that choice because of how personal our music is and we wanted the vocals to just seem real, not super “studio magic, wall of screams” and treated them that way.
What has been your most memorable experience as a band so far?
Hollow Crown: We have a whole list of some wild stuff that’s happened to us over the course of these past few years. I think musically, selling out our hometown show under our old name has stuck with us. But our actual most memorable experience outside of just music is when we were down in Maryland recording, and stayed at a hotel and there was a SWAT raid that happened in the room next door. We heard “SWAT OPEN UP” and a lot of screaming, and then the door being kicked in. Had to get our witness statements taken after everything was said and done. Timothy and Noah were speaking to the cops and Damian came out of a shower he was taking, not hearing anything that went on and realizing he was half naked and there were swat members in our hotel room. When we came out to the hotel hallway there was someone on a stretcher with blood everywhere and glass stuck in them. Everyone in our camp was ok luckily, but that definitely will stick with us until the day we die.
What do you think makes your music stand out in the metalcore genre?
Hollow Crown: We think it’s a combo of how and what we write, our production, and our overall sound. Anthony was always a guitar player before he switched to vocals, and Damian is a riff monster. So usually when those two are working on guitar parts we want to make sure we’re coming up with memorable fun riffs that aren’t just typical chugs or anything like that, on top of all the production things we outlined earlier. We want people to listen to our track and go “Damn, that riff is sick”. For a while Anthony struggled with his screams, and still doesn’t have the typical scream you hear in a lot of modern metal, which had him worried at first but as we’ve come to appreciate it, we’ve realized it does help us stand out a bit more and fits our music perfectly.
How important are the lyrics in your music? Is it something you pay particular attention to, or are you more focused on the musical and technical elements displayed in your compositions?
Hollow Crown: Lyrics are very important to us, especially as we’re trying to tell this whole experience we went through and make it relatable to other people. We’re all musicians so it’s easy to just tunnel vision at first and make really cool sounding parts, but if the vocals aren’t conveying the emotion we want or aren’t catching like they should, we’ll focus on getting the part right for the vocals.
What is the story behind the band’s name, Hollow Crown?
Hollow Crown: We had trouble coming up with a name for a while. So we thought about cool lyrics or bands we were influenced by. Architects played a huge role in getting us into modern metalcore, before Anthony and Timothy didn’t want to touch anything with the word “core” in it. We always loved that lyric, and the imagery of something elegant or royal like a crown being hollow and meaningless, basically just there for show. So we decided to go with that name.
Putting aside the accolades or criticisms that fans or the media may afford Hollow Crown, is there anything about the band, or the music, you think people may overlook, misunderstand or underestimate in any way?
Hollow Crown: The only thing I think people might overlook unless they get more into the band and read what our music is about and the journey getting here is how much we struggled to even get a single song out. We’ve been through a lot these last few years together, and it’s not outwardly visible unless you take a deeper dive into the band.
Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?
Hollow Crown: This is tough, because we love the studio. Anthony’s job is producing us and other metal bands so it’s a very special place for us that we enjoy the entire process of writing, getting our tones, all that. Regardless, nothing beats live shows for us. Whenever we’ve played it’s always been a huge wave of energy, without any music out! That was always the most rewarding, and we cannot wait for the first show we play now that our music is finally coming out. It’s going to be a cathartic release for us getting to experience that.
How has your music evolved since your formation?
Hollow Crown: When Noah and Damian joined, we were a 4 piece modern metal/groove metal band (think Machine Head, Gojira) and over time we decided we wanted to go the more metalcore route. So that was a complete changeup.
How do you maintain your creative momentum and continue to push boundaries in your music?
Hollow Crown: By being really good friends with each other, it has helped us foster an environment where we can be creative and not feel pressured by anyone. We’re all here to make the best music possible period, having no egos and things like that really helps us work as a team to make sure every single detail of the song we’re writing is the best it can be. On top of that, we just push each other to be the best musicians we can at the end of the day, which really helps us feel like we can go beyond what we wrote before.
How has the band’s ambitions and activities affected your personal lives and relationships?
Hollow Crown: It’s actually been a great thing for our personal relationships. Everyone in our personal lives are super supportive of the band, and a big reason why Disconnect’s release has outperformed our expectations. It’s been fantastic to have a place like our Discord server where we’ve been able to hang with our friends and fans and make sure we’re keeping up with everyone.
As a band, do you have a specific musical vision or goal that you want to achieve above all else?
Hollow Crown: Our goal with our music is just to make the best songs we can and grow over time. We don’t want to be chasing something like “being a big band” just to be one, and we don’t want to write music just to “get bigger”. We always want to stay true to what we actually enjoy playing and listening back to. We want to write great music, and play some fun shows and have that take us to that point naturally. We’ve got some plans to try and grow, we’ll see where that takes us!
INTERVIEW: Or Golan is a testament to the power of resilience
INTERVIEW: Comatose Red Ivy – ‘LGBTQ NATION’ is about equality and intolerance for being abused
INTERVIEW: The Charlie Bucket Project – an easy-going philosophical approach to both music and life