On King Ropes' debut album Dirt, frontman/guitarist Dave Hollier writes deeply expressive songs rooted in the highs and lows of human experience. Layered with sonic textures and melodic hooks, these songs resonate with hard-won insight and timeless emotional struggles while reflecting life's beauty, terror and complexity.
King Ropes — the name is borrowed from a Wyoming saddlery store — generates musical and emotional fireworks throughout Dirt, with such insistent tunes as "Dogleg Boy," "Lurch on Sister," "International Shortwave" and "Shovel and a Pickaxe" exemplifying Hollier's vivid songwriting and the band's infectious punch, maintaining a gritty, organic vibe that underlines the album's title.
"After years of working with my hands, I was at a place in my life with a severe lack of dirt under my fingernails," Hollier explains. "So I guess that calling it Dirt is a bit of an incantation, hoping to attract more of it back into my life. Musically, I felt pretty strongly about balancing out the pretty, sweet elements with the raw, gritty stuff, both in the sounds and the lyrics."
Dirt is the product of a journey that's taken Hollier and his songs back and forth across the United States before landing him in his home state of Montana. The album began in Hollier's long-time home of Brooklyn, where he began cutting tracks with drummer Konrad Meissner (Katy Perry, Matt Nathanson). Hollier took the project with him during a brief stint in Los Angeles, where he continued recording with some West Coast based players. Now settled back in Bozeman, Montana, King Ropes has evolved into a self-contained quartet with the addition of kindred spirits Dylan Treleven (Silver Dollars, Oberhoffer, Widowspeak), Ben Roth (Oberhofer, BOD, EZTV) and Adam Wolcott Smith (Zen Mother, the Growlers), whose effortless rapport and multi-instrumental abilities lend added gravity and power to Hollier's compositions.
"I'm interested in the contrasts between urban and rural, eastern and western, sophisticated and raw, sweet and bludgeoning," Hollier states. "People think it’s weird, a kid from Montana to move to New York in the 80s. NY was pretty gnarly then, and Montana was really isolated, geographically and culturally, but those two extremes define who I am, and I think that this music reflects that."
Despite its far-flung origins, Dirt maintains a sharp musical and emotional focus, reflecting the band's potent chemistry and Hollier's distinctive songwriting voice. "I used to be a painter," he notes, "and I had a fascination with the line between abstract and figurative. When do some marks on a piece of paper start to look like something? I think I have a similar thing in my songs. There's something beautiful to me about a song where you get the sense that it comes from a real experience, but there's enough left out that you're not sure you know the whole story.”
Now, with the long-brewing Dirt a vibrant reality, Hollier is looking forward to taking King Ropes on the road.
"I've got a record that I'm really psyched about, and a super solid band who get all the influences I'm trying to bring together. I'm excited to get these songs out in the world. This stuff is so much fun to play, and I want to share it with people. My life has taken me down a bunch of different paths, and to a lot of different places, but right now I'm feeling lucky to be able to dive deep into playing this music."