© Kevin Julie



HOLLYHOCK is a Swiss blues & classic rock influenced band. The band has 1 self-titled CD out, as well as a 3 - track. For a review of their CDs check out www.lowerroomproductions.com/hollyhock.

 The band have had a number of highlights over the past 5 years [as you'll read], as well as have plenty of material that'll hopefully find it's way on to a new full CD soon. I put my questions to the band, and they were happy to get together and answer them [and send the results!]. For more on the band OR to order their CD - check out www.lowerroomproductions.com
Or write the band snail mail:
Condor & Phoenix Productions
Case Postale 138
CH 1001 Lausanne Suisse
Phone/Fax: 0041 21 946 19 01

 *All photos courtesy of Hollyhock.

Hollyhock is:
Thomas Johnson
Jean-Philippe Dupraz
Eric Busatto
Jacques Lambelet

Q: Can someone give me a run down of how the band came to be? were there previous bands that the players came from? any recording bands?
H: In the very beginning, we were just friends playing music for fun - Jean-Philippe Dupraz, Eric Busatto, Jean Michel and Stefan. The name 'Hollyhock' was established in 1993 when things were about to get serious. The songs were originals and we started to play in bars, clubs and bike festivals, mostly 'Hell's Angels' gatherings. In 1994, the drummer Stefan quit the band and was replaced by Giles Mercier. The band was also jointed by the rhythm guitarist Mitch Szenyan. In 1995, the lead guitarist, Jean Michel, was replaced by Thomas Johnson. This fact started a whole new era for the band. A couple of months later, in September 1995, Hollyhock recorded the first album which was released in the first semester of 1996. Since then, the band had undergone several changes and today the musicians are: Thomas Johnson - Rhythm and lead guitar, solo musician recorded 'The Troubadour' and some other LPs and CDs. Olivier Quinche - Drums recruited from the Swiss band 'Northern Light'. Eric Busatto - Vocals, coming from an Italian band called 'Stukas'. Jean-Philippe Dupraz - Bass, coming from the Swiss band called 'Starter'.

Q: Can you [guys] give me a few of your biggest influences, favorite singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.. [respectively] ?? Fave bands growing up?
H: Jean-Philippe Dupraz: Abe Laboriel, Stuart Hamm, Billy Sheehan (Mr Big), Van Halen, Uzeb. Thomas Johnson: Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter, Mick Box, Queen. Eric Busatto: AC/DC, MotorHead Olivier Quinche: Dave Weckl, GRP, Nico Mc Brain, Carlos Vegas, Vinnie Colianta.

Q: What sort of band do you see yourselves as? what sorts of bands would you like to be held alongside? Can you tell me any bands that you've drawn comparisons to ?
H: Blues, hard rock from the seventies and real rock'n'roll band. We would always like to be considered as an original band which is quite hard nowadays, we know! But if the audience suggests any comparisons, we are always proud to be put at the same level of their comparisons, as long as we're talking about big time rock bands. But we will never surrender our own style.

Q: Where are you guys based out of ?
H: In Lausanne, Switzerland.

Q: What sort of venues / gigs does Hollyhock play in Europe ? what countries have you performed in over the past few years ?
H: Bars, pubs, clubs and festivals. Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Brazil.

Q: What can you tell me about the bands Live show -- I presume it consists of mainly originals ?
H: Yes, mainly originals.

Q: What have been some of the biggest gigs you've played ? [ie Festivals, major highlights ??]
What bands have you opened for and/or shared billing with ? H: International Open Air Festival in Ouro Preto, Brazil for an audience of ten thousand people. Open Road Bikers' Festival in Switzerland for an audience of four thousand people. Opening Act for Saga in South Germany for an audience of six thousand people. Twenty five Opening Concerts for Uriah Heep during the 'European Wizards of Rock Tour'. Town Festival "Fête de La Musique", in Geneva. Town Festival "Fête de La Musique", in Lausanne. Opening Act for 'Genocide'. Opening Act for 'Rated-X'.

Q: What can you tell me about the bands original material ? who writes most of it? How is it conceived ? ...
H: Most songs are written by Thomas Johnson and Jean-Philippe Dupraz and conceived by simply living life at its core, dreaming and loving, hating and fighting, flying and crashing, and getting up again. No life like rock'n'roll.

Q: How is your fan base over there ? How did fans greet the debut CD ?
H: We're still a newcomer band but we already have quite a troop of followers. We love them and they love us! Concerning the debut CD, we only sold a couple of thousand through Condor & Phoenix Productions. But as we are considered as an alternative rock band, for the fact that we're not hired by a big record label, we're happy with the result








Q: What are some of your favorite tracks from the CD and other original material [that is yet to be released] ? Any stories behind any of the songs ? [give me a few] / what songs receive the biggest response in the live shows?
Night Fever
Open Road
Spanish Blues
I don't care

Not been released yet:
She's all mine
Space Ticket

Blood, sweat and tears ...

Night Fever, Space Ticket, Shuffle, Spanish Blues

Q: Have you had any local / national success as far as a radio hit or lots of exposure in certain markets or territories ?? Any interest or deals with record labels in the works ?
H: a) We had radio ga-ga here in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria and Brazil. Sure, but we try to stay independent. Anyway, we have just closed a deal with the American distributor 'Lowerroom Productions' through the internet.

 Q: The debut CD came out in '96. Is there a 2nd one available yet? if not, when may there be ?
H: The second CD - which is a maxi with three tracks - was forged into one CD with the debut album and is available as 'The Best of Hollyhock' through 'Lowerroom Productions' at: Lowerroom Productions The Indie Artist CD Webpage > http://www.lowerroomproductions.com/cdorders.htm <

Q: What else is planned in the band's future ? Has there been any line-up changes since the debut disc ?
H: The up to date line-up is as mentioned in question number one. We're working on a CD and the idea of touring in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, USA and Brazil where we can reunite with our fans and have a great time.

Q: Could you each give me a Top 10 of favorite all-time albums ?
H:Thomas Johnson - Woodstock - Band of Gypsies, Jimi Hendrix- Electric Lady Land, Jeff Beck - Blow by Blow. Carlos Santana - Borboleta, Johnny Winter - Captured Live, Uriah Heep - Look at Yourself Jean-Philippe Dupraz - Van Halen - Balance, Toto, Deep Purple - Perpendicular Eric Busatto - Led Zeppelin - 1 through 4 and ACDC Olivier Quinche - Wayne Shorter live in Montreux, GRP live, Chick Corea - Acqua, Toto - Tamboo

Q: You guys played with Uriah Heep a few years back [ya know I'm a big fan ! ;-)) ] - Can you give me any stories from that ? what did you think of Heep live [are you familiar with the classic line up more?] Also, any Heep fans in the band that has [have] a few favorite Heep songs or albums?
H: {Narrative by Thomas Johnson, Hollyhock’s rhythm & lead guitarist}
‘The people you meet on the way up are the same people you meet on the way down’, said Jimmy Hughes, guitar technician of Mick Box, when offering me Uriah Heep’s guitarist's powerful Marshall double tower after the fourth gig we did as an opening act for Uriah Heep’s Wizards of Rock Tour 97 in Europe. When we had the honor to be introduced by our manager to the members of the legendary rock band, they all shook hands with us in a very polite manner. It was the afternoon before the sound check of the first concert in Winterthur, Switzerland, and during soft drinks and light snacks the conversations went on for over an hour in a polite and courteous spirit which nobody of us expected or ever would have dreamed of. As the tour went on, we achieved privileges, as having the same back and front line mix as Uriah Heep themselves, as well as the lights and follow-spots. We, Hollyhock, could regard that as a pure miracle, the technical director and stage manager assured me.

 Backstage, while I was noodling scales to heat up for the opening act, Mick Box passed by the open door of our dressing room, paused, looked at me and said: ‘- Hope you’ve got the blues tonight boy because otherwise your exercising will lead you nowhere.’ With humble acknowledgment I bowed my head and when I looked up he had moved on. Mick Box struck me from the first eye-contact on as a prominent headliner of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I was very honored when he accepted to try out my guitar during a sound check and stated that it seemed to him like an untamed pony. He was chasing my Gibson L6-S through the P.A. microphones taking his own time leisurely, then he offered me to grip a tune on his Fender Stratocaster, which seemed to me as heavy rock as an elephant track. He kept tinkering his eyes and it was pure magic. Although the technical crew had waited with due respect for quite some time, they let us know that it was dinner time and that the doors would open soon.

On the road of 23 concerts in one month, our relationship with UH became quite convivial. The tour management had provided an excellent catering service and the days often began with hearty laughter around baked beans on toast, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and strong coffee or tea to overcome the hangovers for often the nights before liquid ran as tropical waterfalls following a summer rain ... after show time, of course! Sometimes we dined together in restaurants and as spirits ran high, Lee Kerslake, often pulled our legs imitating each and every Hollyhock member. Gesticulating and releasing sounds so funny, most of us almost ended underneath the restaurant tables laughing our heads off for the dismay of the other guests and the owner. We toured in a night liner and the atmosphere was of real comradeship and respect. An unforgettable experience! But let there be no mistake! UH has been on the road for over 30 years and they for sure won’t take no shit!

Q: When will we see a Hollyhock web site ? How can people get in touch with you guys to order CDs ?
H: Through Lowerroom Productions at Lowerroom Productions.com

Q: Is Hollyhock a full-time gig, or do any of you guys have side projects and/or non-musical jobs and interests ??
H: For sure Hollyhock is a full time gig and there's gonna be some tough ass kicking pretty soon.

Interview written & conducted by Kevin J. Julie Copyright - KJJ, Sept 2000.Interview, Sept 2000.