Holy White Hounds Take Southern California By Storm: Coaster to Coaster, Tattoos and More

Post Author: Meredith Schneider

On October 18th, I flew out to the west coast from the IMPOSE offices to follow a band around. But they’re not just any band. I had the pleasure of meeting the four piece rock collective Holy White Hounds while attending Riot Fest Denver earlier this year. Even just a few moments with them was enough to know that there’s something special there. Hailing from Iowa, the band’s debut album Sparkle Sparkle was released earlier this year, and they’ve received attention nation-wide and garnered rave reviews for their work on it. I was headed west to meet with them and film their journey for a couple of days in southern California, right after they played a show in the desert with some of their music heroes, and right before heading out on tour with The Pretty Reckless. 2016 has been a big year for them so far, and it’s not about to slow down.

I met up with the band in Mission Beach across Mission Blvd. from the rollercoaster, as it was a pretty easy spot to get to and I wanted to show them my old college haunts. When I pulled up, there was no mistaking where they were, so panic-stricken me was able to relax a little bit. If the white tour van wasn’t an indicator, it was their skinny jeans, dark shirts, and signature manes that did the trick. (See: Seth Luloff, Ambrose Lupercal) I pulled up to a spot close to where they were parked, smoking and hanging out in the California sun, and eased into what I had previously assumed would be awkward conversation. This moment made me appreciate even more that they’re Midwest people like me, as conversation flowed easily.

But that’s what is great about these guys. They’re charming and know how to entertain people. While Brenton comes across as the most enthusiastic and extroverted of the four, James is the “baby” of the group and has some of the most insane drunken stories (as I’m sure will be shared with you in the future), Ambrose seems like the level headed “let’s get shit done” personality in the group (save for the fact that many of James’ stories involve him), and Seth is the quiet, observant type that stands to laugh at every single joke made. Because if they weren’t a rock band, they’d easily do well as a traveling comedy show. And as irreverent and insane as they come across, they’re caring, open Midwest boys behind all of that bravado and I felt a strange kinship pretty quickly. (That I’m sure they didn’t give a fuck about.)

Not entirely knowing what to do, we decided to get some drinks. We started off for The Coaster, a divey bar that served as one of the frequent spots for undergrads during my days on the west coast. Brenton wanted to film them interviewing each other while drinking – a pretty stellar idea, especially with this group of gents – and we spent quite some time getting into tour life, bringing uncomfortable stories from James’ past to the forefront, and trying to ensure that the waitress got along with them.

I’m not entirely sure how, but that’s a story for another day.

They decided they wanted to step into the area of the bar with no roof so they could smoke and get a different vantage point. On our way over, I was stopped by a man and woman at the bar who had seen me filming and heard the guys making a ruckus and they asked where we were from. After giving the shpeal, the woman – Heidi – decided she wanted to meet them, laugh a bit with them, and buy a round of shots. That’s not typical behavior in San Diego, which made it all the more welcoming. Even moreso when I stopped to pay the tab and the guys went to the bathroom in a group. The people at the bar laughed about how they traveled in a pack like women, but pretty quickly I learned of the shenanigans they partake in when they go off in a group like that, and I abandoned the building to head across the street.

Why? Because the Holy White Hounds wanted a different kind of party. This time, we were going to ride Mission Beach’s notoriously rickety coaster. Brenton ran up to buy tickets, and we filled up the front car on the coaster to nab some footage of them screaming like children. And doing lines of Snuff while operating at high speeds, which isn’t dangerous at all.

The guys decided that wasn’t enough of an adrenaline rush, so we ran over and got those who wanted to partake onto a couple more rides. The poor girl operating the rides was somehow conned into liking the guys, and ended up letting them ride more than she probably should have. I think it had something to do with her wearing James’ glasses – a pair of $5 women’s shades from Forever21 – while they spun in circles and got weird. (On the rides. That’s where I was going with this.)

Eventually, we made it back over to the van. I had to duck out for a photo shoot elsewhere for the evening, and didn’t go back to meet them and party later like I had originally planned. But the fact of the matter is that anyone who has met this group knows they’re not easy to keep up with.

And I’m an old lady who required sushi and a nap.


Day two was a whole other beast. After a series of unfortunate events on my part, I ended up at the radio station that was promoting the show that night at the storied Casbah club in San Diego, taking video and photos of the guys playing with puppies. I had spent the entire 27 hours in California listening to my two favorite stations, and happened upon their “Switchblade” single more times than I could count. Their music is noticeably gaining traction in the area. The station had hosted an acoustic set earlier with some fans, and then they held a pet adoption project with the guys playing off of the band’s name. It was unusually hot that day – but don’t talk to Brenton about it, he’ll go off on a tangent about people who brag about the weather – but the guys held their own, talking to staff and fans and sharing dog stories.

photo by: Brenton Dean, @holywhitehounds
James and puppy // photo by: Brenton Dean, @holywhitehounds

After a brief break in the green room – which was actually red – we set off to run errands, which included a gnarly track around the San Diego freeways in search of miscellaneous hardware, velcro strips, a cover for their tour manager Cole’s new Apple watch (Did that ever happen?), and Mountain Dew (R.I.P. Seth’s dollar in a Wal Mart vending machine). There was a moment when I was made painfully aware that they were running low on cough drops – Brenton had the flu during their performance a couple of days prior, but I won’t be the media outlet to skew that story. On our way to the venue, I lost them somewhere behind me on the mess of highway during rush hour. So I detoured and nabbed an acaí bowl at Robek’s.

Once I got to a strange parking spot right off the 5 on a hill, I found the guys and we ended up at Bearcat Tattoo Gallery, almost directly across the street from the venue. Because, of course there needed to be an impromptu tattoo experience involved. That was some of the most enjoyable time I had on my trip, watching James and Brenton add knuckle tattoos to their collections – James, a five on one knuckle and an eye on the other, and Brenton, a demon on his knuckle whose mouth opens and closes when he bends his finger. (Alonzo Villa‘s inspiration was Harambe, and the finished product was amazing.) I’ll give James and Brenton credit, as they were getting this done around the time of sound check, knowing full well their fingers might be sore as they played their guitars on stage that night.

James getting his tattoos
Brenton getting Harambe

What was really enjoyable about that window of time was that I got to hang out with each of them on an individual basis, just chatting about life, music, politics, and the upcoming tour. (My biggest accomplishment? Getting Seth to give me more than two word answers and short lived smiles. So that was a win.) I got some great footage of them in the chair,  and I also may have accidentally promised Brenton we’d go get tattoos when they’re back in my neck of the woods. (We’ll see if that memory sticks with any of them.)

After I nabbed dinner with some friends, we stood along the side of the venue, waiting for the band to finish eating and to get some interview footage. Little did I know that when I texted them to ask them what was going on and they told me they were eating Subway in the van, they were actually parked mere feet away from me. It took me a few minutes to realize what was going on, but when I pointed at them lounging, they started laughing and all hopped out to hang out with my friends and a couple of other lingering fans. I was able to observe them in their element with others, and it was refreshing in that respect.

We set up shop to shoot an interview inside, hilariously under a portrait of The Last Supper. My talents as a writer and interviewer were called into question shortly before we started rolling so I came in guns a-blazing. And then an incredibly intoxicated woman cut in front of the camera and started speaking nonsense to them. A couple of the guys looked at me like, “WHAT THE FUCK?” while simultaneously trying to entertain her and get her to walk away. We got her out of the frame, continued the interview, entertained everyone in the room, and then had to cart the same woman off when she entered the frame and just said, “Cudi?”

Bleeker opened, and did an absolutely stellar job getting the crowd amped up. When Holy White Hounds took the stage, everyone ran to the dance floor. Their show that night was – to their credit – full of their close friends and supporters from home that had migrated west, and it felt like a big coming home party more than a performance at a venue that has seen many grunge and rock greats over the years. They took shots on stage with their friends, brought their comedy act to life, and maintained insanely high energy throughout the performance.                        img_9976

I may have been in San Diego on assignment, but it’s because the IMPOSE team chose to highlight an up-and-coming band that is stunning people across the nation with their live performance. I hope the high praise doesn’t inflate their egos too much, and I also pray that they didn’t completely despise the time I spent following them around like a lost puppy (Get it? Hounds…), but I also don’t care. Because what we’re creating with them is going to blow peoples’ minds.


Get to know the guys here, and be sure to harass them a bit on Instagram. Keep your eyes peeled for live footage of their performance and other fun Holy White Hounds features coming your way, exclusively on IMPOSE!