Richmond-based punk band HOLD TIGHT!’s sound is steeped in ‘90s era pop punk bands like GREEN DAY and BLINK-182. But their approach to music is more aggressive and perhaps a bit less poppy in the traditional sense than those two FM radio behemoths of yesteryear, a fact that can be attributed to band member James Goodson’s long time obsession with the straight-edge hardcore band MINOR THREAT.

In an interview with Punks in Vegas, Goodson said his idea about what music could be was completely reimagined when, in the sixth grade, a friend gave him a copy of Minor Threat: Complete Discography. “The first chord of ‘Filler’ played in my headphones so loud that I thought everyone else in my study hall could hear it and when Ian MacKaye’s amazingly pissed vocals started, I knew something was different in my life. Never before, and maybe never since, has a band influenced me as much as MINOR THREAT. I had never heard anything so fast and aggressive yet instantly catchy.” MINOR THREAT’s influence can be heard stitched throughout HOLD TIGHT!’s discography, as Goodson and his band mates lather their pop hooks in punkish wailing vocals and violent interplay between drums, guitar, and bass.

Last week, Goodson spoke with us about the legendary blizzard of ‘96, playing demolition derby with rolling chairs, and why all four members of HOLD TIGHT! are actually “poseurs”.

I see you all just finished up a tour of the northeast/Canada near the end of May? Any good stories to tell from that journey?

That tour was a really good time. We went out with our buddies OLD FLINGS, and not only was it great to hang out with Matt, Jordan, and Sam a bunch, but they just tore it up at every show. One of the most fun things we did was go see Niagara Falls in the middle of the night. It was really dark and kind of creepy. Eric wanted to go for a swim.

What was ya’lls favorite place to play on that tour?

I think our favorite show of that tour was in Wilmington, Delaware at Bummer’s Beach House. It was the last show of the tour, and there were so many of our friends there. It was just a really surprisingly great show.

Can you talk a little bit about Jake and Alex’s new band CROSS EYED? Are they planning on touring any time soon?

CROSS EYED is pretty much the most punk band ever. They are the second coming of RANCID as we know it. They’re going to release their EP as a tape through Bitter Melody Records and go from there. You should probably get into them now before they sign to Hellcat; then you can brag about how you were a fan before they toured with the TRANSPLANTS.

Your sound seems to be pretty heavily inspired by ‘90s pop punk. Who are some of the bands from that era that you all draw influence from?

We all grew up on ‘90s pop punk, and since we’re a pop punk band the influence is pretty heavy. All of the obvious stuff like GREEN DAY, BLINK-182, LIFETIME, and KID DYNAMITE are all huge for us. Pretty much everything we wrote before our second LP was just us trying to sound like LIFETIME or KID DYNAMITE and failing.

Several of your albums on Bandcamp date back to 2010. How long have you guys been playing together? What are some of the most important lessons about being in a band have you learned during your time together?

I think we started playing together back in 2009. There is some debate as to whether our first practice was on New Year’s Eve in 2008 or if it was squarely in 2009, and honestly, I can’t even remember which I thought it was anymore. We definitely learned a lot of lessons, usually the hard way. I think the most important thing we learned is that quantity is not always quality. We used to put out as much music as possible, play shows left and right, say yes to literally anything that was offered to us. That really only led to getting burnt out. I guess we just learned to think before we act. Sometimes you need to step back and make sure you’re still doing all of those things because they’re fun, and not just because you can.

What are ya’lls plans for the summer? Any cool festivals on the horizon?

As of right now we don’t have a ton of plans for the summer. HOLD TIGHT! is going to play In It Together Fest in Washington D.C. on August 2nd, and WORN IN RED’s final show on August 22nd in Richmond. We’re also very slowly working on some new songs. All four of us are either taking summer classes, or just graduated from school, Alex and Jake are doing CROSS EYED, James and Eric are doing TEEN DEATH, so it’s a pretty busy time.

What is the craziest thing you all have ever experienced while on the road?

It’s always so hard to think of the craziest tour story. We’ve played some pretty crazy, weird shows. One time a promoter told us that we weren’t going to fit in at a show because the venue wasn’t “one of those corporate punk rock venues”. Another time we played in a weird meth house with a rapper pirate of some kind. Another time we had a demolition derby with TIMESHARES in VACATION’s practice space using rolling chairs. Mostly just weird random situations that sound really dumb when you try to explain them to other people.

One of your more recent releases is entitled Blizzard Of ’96. I’ve lived in the central Virginia area all of my life, so I remember the crazy amount of snow we got that year. Do you have any specific memories from that winter?

That blizzard was a pretty huge deal. I didn’t have to go to school for over two weeks. The snow was up to my waist. It was definitely the greatest run of snow days I’ve ever experienced. I remember that even as a little kid, I was able to recognize that it was something special, and in retrospect I think it was just feeling carefree in a way that doesn’t happen very often.

Of all of your releases, do you have any that you are particularly proud of? I mean, I’m sure you’re proud of all of them. But do any of them stick out above the rest?

I’m absolutely the most proud of Blizzard Of ’96. That was the first time we ever wrote a collection of songs to be a cohesive record with a specific idea behind it. All of our releases focus really strongly on the idea of growing up and being uncomfortable with the responsibilities that come with that, and I really wanted to write our sort of definitive statement on that subject. I also just feel like we all played and sang our best, and Chris Compton recorded the hell out of it.

Are each of you originally from RVA? If not, where did you emigrate from?

None of us are originally from Richmond. Eric, Jake, and I all moved from TruNova (a tiny little town in the northern most tip of Virginia called Lovettsville), and Alex moved from Virginia Beach. We’re all a bunch of poseurs.

What can we expect from HOLD TIGHT! over the next year, in terms of touring, releases, that sort of thing?

We’re not really sure what are plans are right now. We’ve been spending so much time getting our shit together as human beings that now we don’t really have our shit together as a band. We are playing Gainesville Fest in October, and we’re super excited about that as always. We are hoping to release an EP sometime in the future, and we’ll probably play some shows.

For more updates on HOLD TIGHT!, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and check out their extensive discography on Bandcamp.

Mike Schoeffel

Mike Schoeffel

Mike’s passion for music took root at the age of 13, when he a hijacked a booklet filled with hundreds of CDs from his best friend’s older brother. Mike graduated from Christopher Newport University in December 2011 with a B.A. in English and a concentration in journalism. He has a loose grasp on AP style and harbors an unhealthy obsession with the band Radiohead and its front man, Thom Yorke. He is considering seeking treatment.

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