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Blue-collar band

Citizen Staff Writer



Hard work pays off. At least it’s beginning to for members of the local indie-rock band Holy Rolling Empire.

After years of playing the Tucson music scene and working as bartenders and construction workers, the blue-collar musicians have signed with Burning House Records and will have a release party for their first full-length album, “Gigantis,” March 6 at Club Congress.

“This album is about overcoming a lot of things that we’ve all had to go through in the last couple of years just to get to the point of writing a full-length,” says Orin Shochat, lead singer and keyboardist. “This album is about the sacrifices of being in a band.”

“Gigantis” is the group’s first album since 2006, when, under the band name The Crowd, the members released an EP. While the EP received favorable recognition within the local community, the group strived to create a full-length record. It was a connection through another Tucson group that would get the wheels of “Gigantis” rolling.

“Our record owner signed (Tucson’s) The American Black Lung and (ABL) said that we were good guys and that we work hard so (the record owner) decided to try us out and everything has been going good since,” bassist Bryan Moran says.

As soon as Holy Rolling Empire signed with Burning House, the members quickly began work on “Gigantis,” which they say is a far cry from their original EP.

“Everything has changed,” Shochat says. “We put so much more time and creative energy into this new album with interludes and outros and different instruments that we used on it. The songs themselves are more structured and mature. The sound itself is just a lot different.”

It doesn’t take long to hear the “difference” in the band’s new songs. “Bipolar Bear Mania,” on HRE’s Myspace page, is a prime example of the polished and intricate music that appears to have been produced with “Gigantis.” The song showcases a perfect blend of Shochat’s smooth vocals mixed seamlessly with the band’s unique and fun style of pop rock. HRE guitarist Ian Carstensen hails the band’s new album as “a total reformation of (the members) as musicians and as people.”

It is this reformation that the band plans to bring to Club Congress for its CD release party. Included in the $10 cover is a copy of the new album – as well as a damn good time, Shochat says.

“(Fans) go to the show to have a good time, so I feel like it’s my personal mission to make sure that everyone is having a good time. If that’s it, if they hated the music but still had a good time, it’s a success.”

Burning House Records helped the band create its new masterpiece and has even taken on some of the more mundane tasks of preparing for shows, guitarist Noah Horton says.

“It’s really interesting for the first time to have our label tell us, ‘You’re going to have a publicist and she’s going to do this for you,’ ” Horton says. “We’re thinking, for the first time, ‘We don’t have to sit down and e-mail these people and try to promote for these shows?’ ”

These added perks don’t mean that the boys of HRE have gotten lazy. Until they build an empire of fame and fortune, these holy rollers still have to keep their day jobs. This leaves a very small margin of time for band practice.

“There are three of us doing construction now who wake up super early in the morning, and two of us who are bartenders who stay up until 4 in the morning,” Horton says.

“So we meet right around 6 to practice,” Moran interjects.

After a brief pause, Horton has a revelation.

” ‘The hardest working band in Tucson.’ That could be your headline.”

Blue-collar Holy Rolling Empire throwing release party


What: Holy Rolling Empire CD release Party, with Mostly Bears, American Black Lung Transfer, The Ottersey

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

Price: $10 with CD, $6 without

Info: 622-8848, www.hotelcongress.com

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