October 21, 2019 Interview – Jonathan Bonilla of Hollis Brown
There is an age old New York State of Mind belief that anything can happen to anyone if you hustle hard enough, stay tough, and never, ever give up. Out of the cultural melting pot of Queens, Hollis Brown is living proof that, yes, hard work does pay off. A Rock-n-Roll band who has been at it for a decade now, the band has shared stages with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Zombies, Counting Crows, among others, plus in 2018 signed on with Mascot Records.
Recently releasing their new album in early 2019, the band now find themselves on the road rocking and rolling with Robert Randolph before closing out 2019 with Vintage Trouble. The only question left to ask yourself, isn’t it time you learn more about Hollis Brown? Here to help shed some light is Lead Guitarist Jonathan Bonilla talking the journey of the band, their dedication, Ozone Park, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – Begun a decade ago, Hollis Brown has been hard at work putting out music, performing live, and building a strong following. At this point, how would you describe the journey of the band?
Jonathan Bonilla – Right now we are in a real good place. It feels like everything we’ve worked hard for is finally all coming together.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. Coming from Queens, NY, the band really possesses the working class, hard-nose attitude of the city. Do you feel that being born and raised in NYC helped instill your outlook toward Hollis Brown?
Jonathan Bonilla – Yes, Queens is a melting pot of different cultures. We grew up around all different kinds of musical styles that have influenced our sound.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly seems like it. As mentioned, your hard work has paid off because in 2018 you signed on Mascot Records and released your brand new album, Ozone Park, back in June of this year. A really well-balanced record, what the was writing and recording process like?
Jonathan Bonilla – Every song was different. This album was the most collaborative effort we’ve made to date. Bruce Sudano even wrote a song for the record. It was a real artistic environment.
Cryptic Rock – It shows in the music and it is great you were able to collaborate with such a seasoned songwriter like Bruce Sudano. Ozone Park has a Classic Rock vibe with warm textures in the keyboards, guitars, and vocals. Was it important for you to create that type of soulful vibe?
Jonathan Bonilla – Yes, we wanted every musician to be present of the record. It was important that we sounded like a band. Our producer, Adam Landry, was key to helping us express that.
Cryptic Rock – It does have a cohesive sound. You have spent a good deal of time touring since the release of Ozone Park. You went out with Thunderpussy, now you are on the road Robert Randolph, and then Vintage Trouble. How was the touring being going thus far?
Jonathan Bonilla – Touring has been great. Supporting great bands always teaches us new things. It’s also great to be exposed to a new audience.
Cryptic Rock – Awesome! Speaking of touring, you have shared the stage with some really cool acts through the years from The Zombies to Counting Crows. What do you take away from these experiences and how do you apply it to Hollis Brown moving forward?
Jonathan Bonilla – The Crows showed us how to take command of an audience; once you have them, it’s important to keep them engaged the whole show.
Cryptic Rock – That is a very valuable lesson to learn as a live act. There is no doubt you guys have a old school vibe to your music. You can hear Rock, Soul, R&B, and everything in between in your sound. That said, what are some of your musical influences?
Jonathan Bonilla – The influences run deep, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, Hendrix, Run DMC. We try and listen to everything.
Cryptic Rock – It is important to be diverse, limiting yourself only limits your sound, right? So, what does 2020 hold for the band?
Jonathan Bonilla – Hopefully a lot more touring. We are planning a headlining tour. Supporting bands is a lot of fun, but we want to expand our wings and put on a full show.
Cryptic Rock – Well, the future looks bright. Last question. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi films, what are some of your favorites and why?
Jonathan Bonilla – My favorite Horror film has to be the original It (1990). Tim Curry’s performance still haunts me till this day.