A Cleared Path: 3 Years Hollow Releases Its National Debut, “The Cracks”; February 8 at Rascals Live Print
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 31 January 2014 09:53

The Quad Cities-based hard-rock band 3 Years Hollow can trace its current enviable position to a series of fortunate events.

The quintet is poised to release its album The Cracks on the national Imagen Records indie label on February 11 – with a local release show February 8 at Rascals Live in Moline – and has tour dates scheduled with Saving Abel through mid-March.

None of that would have been possible, vocalist/songwriter Jose Urquiza said in a phone interview on January 29, without a trade of equipment for time.

Roughly seven years ago, Urquiza said, the band was looking to cut its first album, and he approached Real Trax Recording Studios’ Rob Cimmarusti about learning the ropes of the business. Cimmarusti made a proposal, Urquiza said: “We had this really expensive microphone, and he basically said, ‘I’ll trade you. You can give me the microphone, and you guys can have all the studio time that you want.’ We wanted to record our record, so we did it. We would not be here without Rob.”

The products of that swap were 2008’s Ascension and a continuing relationship with Real Trax. Urquiza is now the studio manager, and he and guitarist Tony Reeves, guitarist Neil Kuhlman, bassist Dex Digga, and drummer Chris Cushman recorded the bulk of their new album there, too.

The story of The Cracks, 3 Years Hollow’s second full-length, is a bit more complicated but no less serendipitous. It starts with the band’s 2012 EP Remember, which was meant both for fans and record labels. Its title track topped Sirius XM Octane’s charts, which “really ... legitimized us [as] a national band,” Urquiza said.

Then there was a month of support dates in early 2013 for Eye Empire, whose bassist Corey Lowery suggested that the Quad Cities band hook up with his brother, Sevendust lead guitarist Clint Lowery, for some songwriting. 3 Years Hollow hired Clint for a week-long writing session at Urquiza’s home, which led to a handful of dates with Sevendust. That band’s drummer, Morgan Rose, is the A&R VP for Imagen ... .

As Urquiza said, “Basically, all the pieces just came together perfectly.”

Imagen wanted Clint Lowery to produce the record, which was, to put it mildly, fine with Urquiza. “Clint has been an idol of mine since I was 12 years old, so everything about it was a dream come true,” he said.

As for the album itself, The Cracks is an assured and accomplished way to introduce 3 Years Hollow to a national audience – unpretentious and melodic hard rock with the aggression and dense, sharp guitar work balanced by Urquiza’s passionate and unmannered vocals. (I’m particularly thankful there’s no screaming, and the only growling is in the background on one song.) There’s not a dull or dud track among its 12, with abundant hooks, ceaseless drive, and enough complexity and variety to sustain and reward close attention.

It does try a bit too hard to score a single, to the detriment of the whole. Each song is between three and four minutes, and none provides the breathing room that helps shape albums into elastic experiences with larger arcs. (Put more positively, The Cracks wouldn’t suffer a bit from different or even random sequencing.)

But that’s missing the point of the record, which is obviously, understandably, and successfully designed as a showcase for a band that wants to step up from the regional circuit. Signing with a national label and working with a member of Sevendust certainly represent success for 3 Years Hollow, yet it would be more accurate to say that those things have merely cleared a path – and Urquiza said it’s up to the band to take advantage of it.

“We know that there’s money to be made,” he said. “We know that it’s a hustle, and you basically just have to go out there and work hard to get it. But there are millions of rock fans in this world that want new music ... .” A successful radio single and national support tours, he said, are goals for the band but aren’t ends in themselves; they’re opportunities – to “play for a lot of fans and see if we can win them over.”

3 Years Hollow’s record-release show will take place on Saturday, February 8, at Rascals Live (1418 15th Street, Moline; RascalsLive.com). The show starts at 9 p.m. and also includes Top Shelf Lickers, Battle Red, and 9th Street Memory. Cover is $10.

The band will also perform a 20-minute acoustic set and conduct a signing session at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 8, at Co-Op Records (3727 Avenue of the Cities, Moline).

For more information on 3 Years Hollow, visit 3YearsHollow.com.

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