Hollerado Remember the "Romantic Time" of 'White Paint' 10 Years Later

"We needed to paint 10,000 CDs and 3,000 LPs, but everyone was so high we only finished like a quarter of them," recalls Menno Versteeg

Photo: Joe Yarmush

BY Alex HudsonPublished Feb 24, 2023

A decade ago, it seemed like every few months brought a wild announcement from indie rockers Hollerado — a quarter-million dollar victory in a battle-of-the-bands contest, a Canadian "meet the mayor" tour (which was exactly what it sounds like), or a dizzyingly ambitious music video. That, combined with the giddy power pop catchiness of 2010's Record in a Bag, made the band one of the most entertaining and irreverent acts in the country.

By the time they got around to the follow-up album, 2013's White Paint, these four goofballs from the Ottawa suburb of Manotick were ready to reveal a newfound depth. They had matured musically, preserving their towering pop hooks while adding hairpin rhythmic shifts to the frantic "Don't Think" and crafting a six-minute epic with "Fresno Chunk (Digging with You)," the latter track spanning folksy strums and swaggering funk before deconstructing with spooky ambience.  And then there were the reflective lyrics from frontman Menno Versteeg, who paid tribute to his grandfather's Nazi resistance on "So It Goes" and celebrated falling in love while "twirling through space on the luckiest rock in the loneliest place" on closer "Pick Me Up."

This wasn't the end of Hollerado's attention-grabbing ambition, mind you: the band and their friends hand-painted thousands of physical copies of White Paint, meaning that each one is unique, and they also wrote custom songs for fans as part of pre-order bundles. The latter project resulting in a mammoth total of 111 songs — more than double the rest of their catalogue combined.

White Paint came out on February 26, 2013, through the band's then-nascent Royal Mountain Records. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, we caught up with singer-guitarist Versteeg about that "romantic time" in the band's career, and how most of their friends got too high to finish painting the album sleeves white. Bassist Dean Baxter, guitarist Nixon Boyd and drummer Jake Boyd also let us know what they've been up to lately.

What do you remember about making White Paint?

It was a very fun and romantic time. We rented a two-bedroom apartment in Ridgewood, Brooklyn, for a few months while we made it. It was the very early days of us being full-time "musicians," as in we could finally afford to not work other jobs. The place was quite terrible and it took 24 hours for the shower to drain, so us and our motley crew of random friends visiting each had to take turns showering once a week. 

What does this record mean for you as a band — both at the time it first came out, and now in hindsight?

At the time we just felt so grateful that we got to make a second record and go on a new round of adventures. We loved every second of it. In hindsight, especially working in music after the fact, I am even more grateful that the stars aligned that allowed a bunch of kids from Manotick with no clue what we were doing to go on that grand adventure.  

Listening back to White Paint 10 years later, what stands out?

Definitely the record of a band that had done 250-plus shows in the last year and were trying to spread their musical wings, with varying degrees of success. We had toured that year with bands as diverse as Passion Pit and Black Lips and Gang of Four, and we all loved every minute of it. We were a bunch of sponges for all of these new experiences and new friends and music we were being exposed to, and the record kind of reflects that, for better or for worse. There is a song that kind of got buried cause it was such a mishmash of styles called "Fresno Chunk (Digging with You)" that I still think to this day is one of the best things we have ever made. 

Is there anything you wish you had done differently on White Paint? Conversely, are there any qualities of White Paint that you wish you had carried forward to subsequent albums?

Honestly, it's not something I like to think about ever. It is what it is and there is no point trying to rewrite history. Of course, there are some lyrics that I think are pretty stupid in hindsight, but I find some of my best growth has come from releasing and having to live with something a bit embarrassing. I like to think that I put a bit more thought or effort or at least perspective into subsequent attempts.

Back in those days, Hollerado were known for their stunts — elaborate videos, ambitious tours, and, in the case of White Paint, painting all of the vinyl sleeves by hand. Looking back now, what's your favourite stunt.

Its funny that people call them stunts, cause every single case was just us asking ourselves: how can we make this really fun thing even more fun? We loved involving our friends, and the artistic community that we were fortunate to be a part of was so incredibly creative and supportive of each other. It really made for endless fond memories.

The White Paint party was certainly one of the best memories though. We rented a warehouse in Etobicoke, and a few school buses to bus all of our friends from Toronto to the warehouse. It was the middle of January and the warehouse was fucking freezing, so we had to rent these industrial heaters that were basically flame throwers with fans attached, and it didn't really even do the trick, so everyone had to keep their winter jackets on. We also bought like 200 pills that we gave to anyone who wanted, and soon enough it was a very fun party with all of our best friends being very high and covered in white paint. We needed to paint 10,000 CDs and 3,000 LPs, but everyone was so high we only finished like a quarter of them. When the wreckage cleared, we had to rent the warehouse for another 3 days, and thankfully our most patient and dearest friends stayed to help finish the rest of the painting. Unfortunately, CDs as a format went extinct about six months later, and here we are 10 years later and we still have over a thousand of the originals collecting dust in the basement of Royal Mountain Records. 

Hollerado played their final show in 2019. What are the members up to now?

Here's what everyone answered about that very general question:

Jake: Living in the country, working for the postal service by day, teaching drums in the evenings.

Nixon: Producing records and painstakingly teaching his dog how to say "hello."

Dean: Trying to recreate all the best sandwiches I ever ate in my life, and devoting free time to finding new and exciting sandwiches that haven't been discovered yet.  

Menno: Playing a few shows a year with Anyway Gang, working with some inspiring artists at Royal Mountain Records, shit talking the music biz to whoever will listen.

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