Art: Jay Ovittore’s brother

Bio: HolyRoller formed in 2019 when Adam Cody (Glass Casket, Wretched) & drummer Jay Ovittore (The Pretty Ugly, The 5 L’s) began to jam heavy stoner rock in the vein of Red Fang, Elder & Mastodon. In a unique bubble of time created by the pandemic, HolyRoller was given a special circumstance needed to create countless well-crafted songs fusing Rock, Doom, hardcore & Punk rock. Brewing in the smoke-filled basements & dive bars of the North Carolina punk & metal scene, HolyRoller recruited local guitar virtuoso Jim Mayberry and low-end mainstay Jason Kincaid. Together the four pieces immediately began writing & entered the studio with Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, the Contortionist) producing the debut effort. In September 2020 HolyRoller released their debut self-titled EP. Gathering attention from Black Doomba Records. July 8th HolyRoller released its debut full-length, Swimming Witches, on Black Doomba Records. HolyRoller has honed its live show with countless regional gigs in NC, SC, & GA. With a history of intense, powerful stage performances and original ideas to expand Heavy doom and rock. HolyRoller’s brand of psychedelic smoke n roll keeps heads banging & riffs blazing. HolyRoller has come to rock.

HMA: Tell us about the artwork.

Jay: We decided on the record’s title first, and from that point, I started sketching ideas to fit the title. I already had the cover idea; I just needed to make it visual. The term’ Swimming Witches’ was used during the early days of the Witch trials to see if the person accused was a Witch. We wanted the cover to show an accused woman drowning without being too gory. We wanted to show the person accused and the devastation left behind due to other people’s accusations. The original artwork was hand drawn in black and white with a more psychedelic feel. I took that drawing to my graphic design guy (my brother), and we created the coloured cover we have now. We, as a band, want to make sure that the visual side of the band is represented, and the quality of the artwork is very important to us as artists. We are lucky enough to have a badass bass player who can also draw the shit out of some artwork for us. Jason is great, and I’ll let him answer this one for you. The album doesn’t follow a concept. I play the drums, so I’ll defer to Adam on the title and lyrics.

Adam: I believe our bassist came up with the title. It was a cool and gnarly title that relates to how brutal society can be, especially in a mob mentality. The lyrics on the album are just a collection of thoughts about growing up and facing the unforgiving world of ageing in the music industry, politics & religion. Our song Atheist prayer is a satirical look at religion in the South & how that shaped me as a youth. Our title track, Swimming Witches, is about the fear of being forgotten & left behind. Much of my lyrics are based on feelings I have at the time & how the music steers those feelings. Our song The Deuce has some political undercurrents, but I will never tell you what to think or how to vote, so I guess the listener should make their own decisions about my lyrics.

HMA: What are your thoughts on the use of occult symbolism in music?

Jay: I am an atheist, so the occult doesn’t make sense to my beliefs. Everything is a story, and some occult stories are cool. To believe in demons and such, I would have to believe in the existence of gods or a God. I believe there are things like Sasquatch and aliens, but I am counting on death just being asleep because I don’t get much now. Humanity is lost, but instead of trying to find their way, they latch onto religion as a crutch to not have to fix their own lives and be forgiven for their wrongdoings. Religion has always been about fear; if the congregation is scared, they will believe it has become a profitable business model for the church. I long for the day that aliens are proven true, as it will completely discredit the church.

Adam: I think the occult is interesting, but to me, it’s all purely a contrarian stance on spirituality. Wanting to rebel against the norm is great, but I don’t think believing in something different is always the way to go. I love the imagery and the great music that came with the new sense of open minds.

HMA: What does doom-metal mean to you?

Jay: Life is depressing. We work to make a living, just making enough to pay bills and rinse and repeat. We live in a world where mass shootings are the norm and hatred is running rampant in every news cycle. We have become numb to our surroundings and fail to do anything productive about them as humans. To me, doom metal is a soft and fluffy pillow fort I can fall back into and feel whole again. A place I can escape what I have described above.

HMA: Thoughts on drugs?

Jay: It is obvious we are a pro-weed band. Supporting the legalisation of weed everywhere. I previously struggled with heavier and harder drugs but was lucky enough to get it under control. I don’t need drugs to create music; music is a drug. But it doesn’t hurt to expand your mind and see where it takes you. We are writing songs to write good songs with longevity that may touch someone in a way that moves them.

Adam: I’ve always been attracted to expanding my mind and trying new things. I think music and marijuana are a match made in heaven. That being said, it’s only a means for enhancement. Relying on anything for creativity is a mistake. The information is out there. Be informed & have a good time! Legalise it, people!

HMA: Events that influenced your creativity and made you who you are today, tragedies, misfortunes or serious life dramas?

Jay: The only event that changed me was my dad’s passing about ten years ago. He supported my musical endeavours, and life has felt more empty without him. I only wish he could hear what this band is doing and get his opinion on the music.

Adam: I think we all have some trauma at this point. I lost my sister Erin Cody to suicide early in life. I thought I’d probably follow a similar fate. I’ve always had music as a therapy, and if you’re familiar with my other bands, you’d know I’m not ashamed to talk about mental illness. I try not to focus entirely on the anxiety & desperation as much anymore when it comes to my lyrics. Although I’ve never known another inspiration before, doing so takes a bit more thought. Of course, I’ve been influenced by all sorts of things; but navigating mental illness is what I want to talk about.

HMA: Does evil influence your music?

Jay: Sometimes we write about dark shit; sometimes we write about life in general(which is also dark). I don’t know if evil and malevolence play a big part for me, but I’m sure Adam can enlighten you on our lyrical content. It is good in this world. It is inside of every one of us, but most make a conscious decision not to embrace it. It’s easier to be a shitty human. A good friend once said, ‘The world would be a better place without people, and he was spot on. We actively work to destroy ourselves, greed and power corrupt and religious wars are fought over thousands of years of beliefs. We will be the reason for our demise as a society; it will not be an asteroid or global warming; it will be nukes and radioactive fallout over who has a bigger dick to swing. I don’t think doom is the soundtrack to humanity’s extinction; it is the escape to make us reflect upon what we are doing to ourselves.

Adam: Fuck yeah, there’s goodness all around. Music is goodness, and right now, music is abundant and oftentimes free. So put that in your nihilistic pipe and smoke it! I don’t believe in evil as much as sickness meets perfect circumstances. I think situations like our album title or the Salem Witch trials are some of the scariest. Neighbours turn on each other all to save themselves. Greed & paranoia are probably the evilest things of all. Songs like Last Embrace talk about wanting to leave this earth to find other creatures that also want to live in peace without greed and ego, only to find nothing else.

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