Zoo Animal's Holly Newsom talks about upcoming projects and playing SoundTown

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Erik Hess
Coming down off a packed set at SoundTown, and having taken some time (say, approximately 36 hours) to chill out and sober up, Zoo Animal's Holly Newsom peered at me from behind dark sunglasses on Saturday, chatting about her music and upcoming gigs. As the beginning of Okkervil River's set played just behind us from our spots at the media tent, I grilled Holly on her experience so far.

How was playing yesterday for you? You were the first act of the festival, 3 p.m. on Friday...

It was pretty vibrant, actually. That whole tent was full. I thought it might be thin because it was a work day, but we saw a lot of people there for us. A lot of people really liked it. Some were fans before and some hadn't ever heard us, so that was cool.

Awesome. So, what are you working on right now?

Zoo Animal just finished tracking five songs, we're trying to decide if we want to release it as an EP or hold onto it. Tim Abranson, our bass player, has got a much bigger presence in the songs, which I think adds a huge vibe. I'm also working a solo record produced by Grant Cutler, that's really cool.

Really? That's separate from Zoo Animal? Are you considering leaving the band?

No! No, nothing like that! I just had these songs that were just not right for a three-piece rock band, and even when I play them it's a whole different Holly. They're tender, whereas the new Zoo Animal songs are, I would say, even more aggressive.

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Holly Newsom meets the Flaming Lips
Are you guys planning on touring as Zoo Animal again soon?

Not really, we're gonna wait. We want to release our next album nationally, and there are a couple things that might be catalysts for that. We'll see how that goes. Other than that, we are just planning on playing a lot of local stuff, clubs, you know.

Do you have any gigs coming up?

Yes! This Tuesday night, August 23, at the Ritz theatre. We are playing with Cactus Blossoms, this local country rock group that's the best in Minneapolis, maybe the world. And this band called Leagues from Nashville. It's a good workday show--doors are at 7 p.m. so it's over early.

We've also got another show coming up on September 7th at the Kitty Cat Klub with Slow State and Tungston.

What have been your favorite SoundTown experiences so far, aside from playing?

Oh, getting to see Channy [of Roma di Luna] play. That made me want to be a better singer.

(Holly pauses, reveling, I can imagine, in the memory of one of Roma di Luna's last sets--which was, as always, utterly devastating.)

It's funny, when you listen to her on record, you can't tell she's belting it out. Her voice timbres are so soft. But then you see her up there, and she is just belting... The whole time she's singing, it's like flower petals. It never cuts you, but in a good way.

That's accurate. And a good line.

(Laughs) I can talk about other bands much more easily than my own.


For more on SoundTown, check out an index of our festival coverage here.


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