Neon Lights, Alligators, and “Making It”: A Once Through with The Once Before they Close the NL Folk Festival

Lukas catches up with The Once Before they Close the NL Folk Festival

With nearly constant touring in North America, Europe, and Australia, and work in the studio on a new album, St. John’s trio The Once might just be the province’s hardest working group.

But vocalist Geraldine Hollett has no complaints about the workload, and says she and her bandmates Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale are blessed to get to see the world while playing music. “[We] got to play the Hammersmith Apollo in London, got to see our name in neon lights in Paris at the Olympia. We got mobbed in Milan. Foolish. Surreal b’y. Makes no sense.”

Many of those opportunities first came for the band while supporting English singer-songwriter Passenger through Europe, but Hollett said The Once have now carved out their own following around the world. “Touring with Passenger really gave us an opportunity to play in front of thousands and thousands of people and we made the most of every moment in case it never happens again,” she said.

“[The] coolest thing was when we went back on our own tour of Europe and we had picked up thousands of our own fans. So fantastic. Amazing when folks want you to continue making the music that you do.”

Being on tour with Passenger had other benefits as well, though. Hollett said the band got some extra special treatment at a zoo in Australia by association. “We were with Mike [Rosenberg, of Passenger], so we got the full backstage tour,” she said. “Totally tickled about how the staff treated all the animals. They were so proud of how they treated crocodiles and alligators, they even brought some out for us to pet and proceeded to tell us how these reptiles in particular would be sold to Louis Vuitton for bags. That was weird – farmed for baggage.”

Despite the group’s success abroad and the experiences of travelling the globe, the singer said there’s something special about being back in Newfoundland and getting to close out the Folk Festival at home. “Isn’t that cool? You work up to these moments,” she said. “When we realized we were closing the thing, we realized we must have ‘made it.’”

The band are now back at home for a while, with upcoming dates at The Gathering, New Branch Music and Arts Festival, and Roots, Rants, Roars and have no plans to slow their busy touring schedule. The Once have also been recording new music over the past few months for a new record. “We got an album coming out soon so we will tour the hell out of it wherever fans want us,” Hollett said.

The Once will be on tour throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes this fall and close this year’s Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival on Sunday, August 7th in Bannerman Park. For more info on upcoming tour dates, visit theonce.ca.

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