Taylor Holenbeck may very well be one of the most fascinating and hard working musicians in Lawrence. I’ve lovingly dubbed him “The James Franco of Lawrence,” because everywhere you turn, he’s involved in a project.
It’s safe to say that any musician who plays with that many bands is bound to find themselves on the road quite a bit. Holenbeck made the most of it, and recorded video of landscapes he viewed from the constantly-moving vehicles he found himself in on tour. He used those images to compile music videos for his latest project, Heartscape Landbreak. “I’ve been working on it since this past winter,” says Holenbeck. “I make an EP for each season. Spring’s done, I’m working on summer.”
Holenbeck’s bound to gather even more video for Heartscape Landbreak videos soon. In June, he’s heading out on tour with Hospital Ships. Then in July, he’s touring with Colony Collapse up north, where they will record an album in Northern Wisconsin. August will be filled with an Appleseed Cast tour of the Southeast. Somewhere in between all of that, he’ll be making a couple of 7″ with Old Canes.
But Holenbeck never feels like he has too many irons in the fire. Whether he’s on tour or in the studio, his mind is always racing towards the next project, and that couldn’t make him happier. “I’m playing music all the time, which is exactly what I want to do,” says Holenbeck. He jokes that sometimes when you pour a little too much into the bowl of knowledge, a little tends to spill out. “I remember a lot of the songs, but I forget other things,” says Holenbeck. “Like the difference between a rutabaga and a celery root. Or how to spell platypus. Or what day it is.”
Holenbeck jokes about the rutabagas because while he finds himself in a whirlwind of bands, he still manages to hold down the job he’s had for the past five years at The Community Mercantile. “The Merc is incredible as far as letting me have the time off to do what I want to do,” says Holenbeck. The community grocery store has a reputation for being tour friendly, and employs other musicians in Lawrence. “They’re super flexible and encouraging. That’s how I met Jordan (Geiger), that’s how I met (Chris) Crisci. It’s just the perfect hub of meeting people.”
If Holenbeck meets any more musicians at The Merc, we may very well never see him again. With each band comes dedicated time to touring. That means a near-constant life on the road. “I kind of lose track, unfortunately,” says Holenbeck. “I try to take pictures so I can remember everything.”
But, as with every band’s tour, some nights he’d like to forget. That includes one hot July night in Scottsdale, Arizona, while on tour with Colony Collapse. “It was kind of like a David Lynch movie, where every character was out of their minds,” says Holenbeck. In an effort to avoid a drunk promoter accompanied by two prostitutes, the band decided to take a bartender up on her offer of lodging for the night. “It was a mess,” says Holenbeck. “She kept us up until 5:00 in the morning, tried to force feed us whiskey. She busted in, turned on the light and poured whiskey on us.” The band then decided it was time to split. “There were girls roller skating through the house, and were like ‘We have to get out of here,'” says Holenbeck. “We finally got out and made it to the coast.”
There’s a reason Holenbeck soldiers through tours (the good and the bad) and always comes home to Lawrence. “It’s a great place to make music and write music,” Holenbeck says. “There’re so many inspiring people around you, a really inspiring environment to make music. You can’t really ask more from Lawrence than having people around.”
It’s a good thing Holenbeck’s embedding himself in the local music community, because it doesn’t seem like he’ll be taking a break anytime soon. “I feel really strongly that I should do what I want to do, and that’s what I’m doing right now,” says Holenbeck. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else but hanging out with really great people all the time in Lawrence and playing music together. That’s all I wanted to do.”