“I’d always been involved in music…”
Originally from the USA, Steve Hollas became part of the Wirral music scene after moving to the UK. With the formation of The Id, Steve took on bass player duties and performed with the band right up to the split. Following the demise of The Id, Steve concentrated on working in the electronics industry as a technical author.
How did you become involved with The Id?
I met Paul and Gary at college – we were in the same class studying electronics and communications. We became friends and discovered that we were all into music. We used to get together at weekends with an assortment of other friends and play all kinds of things, mainly stuff that was written by local musicians and friends. Paul mentioned that he was doing some music with Andy, and that maybe we should pool our “talents”, so I guess that’s how The Id got started.
Can you give some background to what you were doing prior to joining The Id?
I’d always been involved in music when I was at school, from playing the recorder in junior school to playing clarinet and saxophone right through high school (in the States – my high school marching band won the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York three years on the trot when I was with them!). I picked up the bass somewhere along the way and it became my main instrument. My family moved to England when I was about 16 and I met Paul, Mal, Gary and Andy about a year later.
What was a typical gig like?
Fun! In those days only Gary could drive, so it was always a bit hit-or-miss on how we’d get the gear to a gig. We always managed it, somehow… I don’t know about the others, but I was always a bit nervous until we got the first song under our belts, then I could settle down and enjoy myself.
In the beginning, rather then play the pub circuit, we’d hire out church halls and sell tickets. You never really knew how many people would show up, but we usually managed to fill the place. I think word got around and we became quite popular! Then we managed to get a gig at Eric’s, which was great. Andy was always the penultimate showman, so I was never worried that we wouldn’t go down well with the audience.
What are your memories of the Open Eye session?
It was my first time in a “real” studio and I was nervous as hell. I thought to myself “it’s one thing messing up a song on stage (you just keep going and hope nobody noticed), it’s another thing when it’s on tape and you have to start again”! Fortunately the session went really well and we didn’t have to do any re-takes that I can remember.
I think Mal calmed us all down with his very laid-back approach. I remember him sitting in the drum booth, with a grin on his face, asking “can I have a bit more echo on the foldback” and Andy (in the control room) replying “shut up!”. I think that’s still on the tape, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard it…
Were you disappointed that The Id folded?
Very. I think we were all about to go our separate ways, though. My parents were keen that I should “get a proper job” after I left college and, much to my disappointment, I got offered one.
Are there any particular stories and anecdotes that stay in your mind from The Id days?
I remember someone (I think it was Paul Collister) said that I was a bit boring visually on stage and that I should move around and dance to liven up the show. After I tried it, it was mentioned that I should just stand still and play!
My parents came to see us play in a pub once. I was doing a sound check on the mics and nothing was coming through. I kept switching the mic on and whoever was at the PA kept saying “it’s not switched on”. I was getting just a bit flustered, so after five or six attempts I shouted “Look, the FUCKING THING’S ON”, just as the two hundred watt PA cut in and the whole place erupted in laughter. I think they saw the funny side of it too, ’cause they never mentioned it. The only thing my mum kept saying (and still does) was how much Andy reminded her of Leo Sayer!
What did you do after leaving the band?
I moved to Chelmsford, Essex, to start work with Marconi Communication Systems Limited. I hated it from the first day, but stuck it out long enough to get some work experience on my CV. I’ve worked for all kinds of companies over the years (including IBM Toronto Labs, IBM UK, Imago QA, Industrial Control Services Limited, Standard Telephones and Cables, Cossor Electronics, and Thorn EMI), mainly on a consultancy basis, as a technical author. I now work, on a permanent basis, for Kudos Information Limited in Woking – if you’ve got any technical documentation or web design issues to sort out, they’re the people to ask (plug, plug!).
This interview originally appeared on the Official OMD Website 4th July 2001.
Revised text 25th January 2014
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and The Electricity Club.