I recently got the chance to chat with The Worst Humans‘ vocalist Ian Holubiak. He told me all about their new single “What I’m All About,” how the band’s name was inspired by graffiti, what he nerds out about and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Well, I started the band, like, two or three years ago and it was with our bassist, Steve, and we had another drummer, at the time, and we went through a guitar player, we went through a couple of people. But now, over the last year and a half, it’s been the three of us. So that’s the main band.
And how did you get connected with them? How did you guys start playing music together?
It was all through a friend of ours named Sam Tall. Steve and Chris, the other two musicians, they went to NYU. And Sam went to NYU, as well. So they’re NYU based musicians and, through our friend Sam, that’s how I found them.
Gotcha. And for you personally, how did you get involved with music? Was music something you always wanted to do as a career from the time you were a young kid?
Oh, since I was nine years old. I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do since I was nine.
Did you have a moment at nine-years-old where you knew or was it just kind of like, “Oh, I’m gonna do music and see where it goes?”
I had a friend and his name was JP, JP Barton, and he got a guitar. He was older than me, but he got a guitar before I got a guitar. I remember being at his house because we were family friends, our families are very close, and when I was hanging out with him I saw his guitar in the corner. I remember looking at it and then picking it up and just, like, the weight of it. I remember just being like, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever held.”
That’s awesome. In terms of the name of the band, I mean The Worst Humans is kind of one hell of a name for a band, how did that come about?
Well, I was with my old band and I walked out of the studio one day and it was in, I think, Greenpoint, and graffitied on the wall was The Worst Humans. So I went home and looked it up and there was no band called The Worst Humans. But a couple months later, come to find out it’s an album from Highly Suspect called The Worst Humans. That’s a big band, they were nominated for a Grammy and everything. But that was where it came from.
Interesting. I love how street art influences all parts of our lives and we don’t always know it. That’s cool.
Straight up, straight up.
I’ve always been genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So I’m curious, how would you describe your sound if you couldn’t use genre names? Like, what kind of music do you guys produce?
That’s a good question, actually. I guess it all starts from an acoustic. So, like, all the songs I write start from an acoustic folk genre, even though I’m not going to use folk because I can’t use genres right now. But the music is, while it’s very personal, it’s loud, it’s in your face, it’s obnoxious. If I were to classify it, I would classify it as obnoxious.
That’s cool. I like that word, especially when it comes to music because “obnoxious” usually has almost a negative connotation to it a lot of times.
But I think it’s cool that you describe your music like that. So I want to talk a little bit about your new single, “What I’m All About.” What’s the story behind that song?
I wrote it with my friend Chris McLaughlin; he’s not in the band but he’s a very talented songwriter. We wrote it in Greenpoint, at a studio, because my manager set us up to go on a songwriting session at the studio. We were kind of dicking around, like fucking around. I was trying to find, like, a cool chord progression and when I found that we started to put lyrics to it and then at the end of it, we realized that the whole song was just about being bored. And if there’s anything that I can convey to fans, people who listen to us, it’s I am always bored and people who are bored all the time… I can imagine that they similarly, like, contemplate suicide, doing drugs, all that shit.
So did it all come together in that one session? Like the entire song was written in that one studio session?
No, it was written over I think two sessions.
And for your songwriting process in general, do you guys typically write by yourselves? Are you big on collaboration with other writers like you were talking about for this session?
Lately, the whole band has been involved. But when I started writing these songs, I was in my old band and I was touring and I used to write these songs and just put them in my phone. So everything kind of stems from these huge, like, one-line notes in the notes section of my phone. It’s just like all these one-liners that I kind of piece together. Obviously, they follow an idea or a theme, but it’s kind of like mixing and matching, putting them together. I love it because at the end of the day, at the end of the songwriting process, you see, like, all these cool one-liners ended up being part of a whole big idea and it’s amazing.
That’s awesome. When it comes to songwriting who were some of your musical influences? Who do you look up to as a songwriter?
Do you have a favorite Bob Dylan song?
“Mr. Tambourine Man.” I think that is the most perfect song I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
Yeah, that’s a great song.
I classify certain songs as being perfect songs, as in people kind of, like, discovered them instead of writing them. They’re just so flawless. When people play them, or when people sing them, it doesn’t even sound like someone wrote it. It just sounds like it’s always been there and “Mr. Tambourine Man” is one of those songs.
Interesting. Yeah, that’s a good point.
It’s kind of as if someone found it on the ground and picked it up.
Right. And that whoever covered it, obviously they’ll have their own interpretations of it, but it’s still just a perfectly flawless song.
Totally. But I have not heard anybody cover Dylan in a good way.
Right. For sure.
Even myself. I can’t cover Dylan because it’s so unique and it’s so him that, like, people can’t. Anybody who tries to do it just fails miserably.
Yeah. He’s just one of those artists that no one really should touch, ever.
Hundred percent, hundred percent.
Does your new single mean we can expect an EP or even a full-length album anytime soon? Musically, what can people expect from you guys for the rest of 2018?
So, we have a lot of songs recorded and we’re actually going into the studio this week to record four or five new songs. The way that the market is, the way that everything relies on Spotify–and I can’t fucking stand Spotify–but everything comes out as a single. Like, it’s always supposed to be, like, a three-and-a-half minute kind of statement to get on a playlist, to kind of… it’s almost like they get into these spheres that people listen to which, I guess, are fucking playlists now. But I would love to just release all of these songs, like 15, 20 of them, all at once and everybody just listen to them. But, I guess, as a new band, as a new musician, I try and play the game. I try and do the single thing even though I think I’m just going to say, “Fuck it.” I think I might put all of it out, like, at least by the fall.
Gotcha. I didn’t realize that for new artists it’s kind of encouraged to do a lot of singles until you have a following and then you can release an EP or an album.
Well, if you’re on a label, and they’re fronting the bill, that incentivizes you to do an album because they’ll tell you that they want an album, they will tell you that it’s a good idea. And if you’re a band that’s trying to establish yourself you’re going to try and do singles because those are the things that… it’s like I said before, can be put on a playlist. It can be streamed through YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, all that stuff. Until you’re an established band it’s almost like people don’t want to listen to a whole album. They want to get a feel from just a select few songs, like, your best songs.
I guess I never thought about it like that, but now that I’m thinking about it, that’s interesting…
I can’t fucking stand it, to be honest. I would love to put out a whole album and people just be into it and people just listen to the whole album and listen to the context of every song and understand the story that I’m trying to put through this album. But it’s not like that anymore.
Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some sort of inner nerd. So what is something you nerd out about?
Game of Thrones. I fucking love Game of Thrones. I can’t get enough of it. Like, I’ve watched every season of Game of Thrones at least four times.
Have you ever read the books?
I’m starting to read the books, yeah. But, like, Game of Thrones is… I have a sweatshirt that says “The North Remembers” and it looks like a Northface sweatshirt. Like, anytime I wear it people always give me shit but I don’t even fucking care. I think it’s just rad.
Yeah. I feel like I could ask you more questions about Game of Thrones, but I’ve never seen it so I don’t even know where I would begin. But it’s on my list, one day.
Seriously. You’ll be completely consumed by watching that show.
So I’ve heard. At this point though, I feel like I’m just going to wait for it to finish and then I’ll start it.
Totally. Like, I fucking hate having to, like, watch a show and then stop because another season has come out and then it comes out, like, one episode at a time and I can’t deal with that.
Especially I feel like with Game of Thrones because it was, like, a year and some change in between seasons. That’s a long time. I mean, it’s good, so it’s worth the wait. But ugh… it’s annoying.
Well, it sucks. It’s like music right now. They’re trying to build anticipation. They’re trying to keep you interested. They’re trying to keep you hooked into it. So then they get those play counters, they get, like, that “oh-so-many people watched it” and they get the good ratings. So it all comes down to just companies wanting to make money and just make some sort of profit off of this music or shows or movies, anything like that. They’re just trying to make a buck.