Joshua & The Holy Rollers’ latest single is about physical temptation and bad decisions

I’m no musician, but it seems to be that the worst decisions end up making the best songs.

Joshua Hanson knows this, and embraces this idea in his latest single off his “Tribulations” EP with the Holy Rollers.

In the song “Hey Hey,” Joshua & The Holy Rollers talk about giving into bad decisions, physical temptations, and other things us humans can’t help but do.

The youngest Hanson brother certainly has his own distinct sound that separates him from his brothers. “Hey Hey” is the soul, rock, melancholy anthem we all need. Joshua explains that this particular song off the new EP is the most autobiographical one he’s written, and that the entire process of writing it was cathartic for him, among other things.

We spoke to him about what inspired their single, how he wants listeners to feel upon hearing it, and of course, what’s next for him. Check out the exclusive single and interview below:

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What is “Hey Hey” really about?

Joshua Hanson: At its root, “Hey Hey” is about the temptation of the physical. The urge to lean into a relationship that we know in our hearts isn’t good for us, and though it will inevitably end poorly- we know the middle part will be really fun. The chorus simply stating “Hey hey, don’t judge me, girl. Hey hey, I’m just a boy,” a simultaneous tongue-in-cheek plea and knowing baiting; asking for permission while knowing one already has it.

“Hey Hey” might be one of the more autobiographical songs I’ve written. There have been times I’ve ignored my better judgement for the gift of a good night, only watch as red flags I brushed aside come back to bite me in terrible, deceitful, haunting ways. The final verse being the moment one realizes the deceit, having to face it with the 20/20 vision of lust-less eyes.

Shouting wildly by the end, not knowing what else to say in the face of being taken lied to “burn everything and forget that I lived” – words that have left my lips – ending a bad decision the only way it could be ended.

How do you want listeners to feel when they hear “Hey hey”?

JH: Above all else, I want people to feel what I felt when from writing through recording and mixing- overcome with the urge to close your eyes and move your hips. I’m so very proud of the way this song has come alive and grown into this groovy, visceral jam.

Writing this song was really cathartic. Being more of a lover than a fighter, it’s a release every time I hear it or play it, to reach into the angry, hurt parts of myself and really let them loose. So I hope in the end, when you finish listening to “Hey Hey”, you feel like you just let loose a little bit, slayed a few demons and emerged a little more at peace.

Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations? Any artists you’d love to work with? 

JH: Goodness. Above all else I almost HAVE to say The Beatles. It’s become cliché to even mention them as an influence because they’re The Beatles, but they’ve shaped my sensibilities in immeasurable ways.

I’d place Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Three Dog Night, Queen, Aerosmith, Beck and CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) right alongside them in as far as how deeply they’ve moved me. Their music, along with countless other acts that I wish I had space for here, have been a part of my upbringing in a real way.

In as far as someone I would love to work with, Afie Jurvaven of Bahamas has been such a major part of the last few years of my life and I have fallen in love with his writing, musicianship and taste. Such a wonderful, melody-focused vibe; I can’t tire of it. I hope to one day get the chance to just sing a harmony or two. That’s all I’d need to feel complete. Outside of him there’s just so much great music being made right now. Other people who’s talent I would love to learn from: the cats in Vulfpeck, Andy Shauf, Sam Cohen, Dr. Dog, Benji Hughes, Temples, Chris Stapleton… and a thousand others that I respect.

What made you decide the time was now for “Hey Hey”? What pushed you to put out your upcoming EP?

JH: A certain amount of desperation, I suppose. “Hey Hey”, and the EP it lives on, are really the result of feeling completely without any other option, saying to myself “I’m going to do this”, and not giving myself the option to fail. I’ve been out in Los Angeles for about 8 years, really trying to make it happen. The doors wouldn’t budge on everything else I’d wanted to do with my life. Making movies, writing, acting.

So I decided to take the one route that was perhaps the most natural and the one I was most afraid of. I’m really glad I made that decision, because once I did: everything just fell into place. The friends and compatriots that have come to help me along my way is truly staggering.

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How long have you been working on the EP?

JH: Well, depending on how you cut it, I’ve been working on this EP for 6 years. Furlough, the first track on Tribulations, was one of the first few songs I wrote on guitar when I started learning the instrument in my early years in LA; so it’s been living with me for a really long time. And there are a few songs like that on this first EP; “Little Mare” and “Right In Front Of Me” have been percolating in my hands and heart for a few years.

Thanks in part to all of that time with these songs, when I went into the studio on April 8th this year, we moved really fast. We tracked a total of 7 songs in 6 days, with 120 hours in the studio that week. By the time we’d been through mixing and mastering, it was July 21st; and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

My co-producer and brother Isaac, along with Jesse Lauter who did me the honor of mixing Tribulations, and Alan Silverman at Arf Mastering truly gave these songs life. It would’ve been impossible without them.

Photography: Brittney Panda

What inspired the “Hey hey” cover art?

JH: Well, outside of just loving my red velvet blazer, I love the mystery of it. It’s telling of the song, I think, that you can only see so much of me, the same way I only understood so much of her.

How would you describe your sound in general? Give us three words. 

JH: Soul. Melancholy. Rock.

What else can we expect from the Tribulations EP? What will we learn about you after listening to it? 

JH: Tribulations is truly a series of stories and feelings, in varying levels of autobiography, about hard times, finding oneself and ones place in the world, and maybe making some bad decisions along the way. There’s a simple melancholy in these songs- I think-  that, much like sadness, can take a lot of different shapes.

It’s angry. It’s yearning. It’s hopeful. It’s the kind of sadness right before you get out of your funk; the kind that gets you out of the house and out to the concert, or the dance floor, because, damn itm I don’t want to feel this way anymore.

You’ll probably find out a lot about a side of myself that I don’t show often. I’d love to hear what you think you’ve learned.

What’s coming up next for you? 

JH: A lot of things! Music videos and touring and making MORE music. Currently planning to record another EP in the spring next year.


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