“What I’m dreaming is more vivid than reality.”
--a lyric from“Bedford Stuyvesant”
The first-ever original artist signing to Zappa Records not named Zappa, HOLLAND GRECO lives up to the honor with an eclectic musical palette that is in full effect on her two-pronged album VOLUME 1. The multi-faceted GRECO showcases her double vision in the two halves of VOLUME 1—the light and dark sides of her personality, expressed in the high-pitched sing-song falsetto of Tunnel Vision and the deeper, smoke-filled vocals in the gothabilly of Murdergram: Songs Of The Misfits.
“I wanted to showcase the duality, the diversity of my interests,” HOLLAND explains of the unusual package. “It feels like an open way to make my official musical debut to the world. I like the idea that the next record could go anywhere—maybe combining a set of dance tunes with country songs. I like the freedom to follow that muse wherever it takes me. I think there’s enough truth and authenticity that it will make sense.”
“Holland had a desk job here," says Gail Zappa, "and gradually her other working wardrobe started showing up on hangers over the office door and then there was the singing behind the door. Attendance at a few gigs here and there and Diva’s photo coverage – that plus HOLLAND's intense interest in publishing and artist’s rights all coalesced into an opportunity for me to assist someone who I knew could carry off the business side of her career. We’re a tiny label, but I want to see what we can do with obvious talent, a unique vision, Big Dreams, and a ukulele.”
– Gail Zappa
GRECO’s musical passion comes from her parents. Her dad, Dan Greco, is a successful session percussionist for film and recordings who left his Pennsylvania coal-mining town to follow his dream in Hollywood, where HOLLAND grew up in the San Fernando Valley, learning to sing along to the Top 40 songs her mom listened to on the radio.
“I was a big fan of R&B and Pop, stuff like Michael Jackson, George Michael, Paula Abdul, Whitney Houston, Keith Sweat and Boyz II Men,” she gushes. “By the time I was in my teens, I was enlisted at slumber parties to sing ‘that Ralph Tresvant or Bobby Brown song for us.’”
Equally influenced by the lurid young adult fiction of V.C. Andrews and Christopher Pike, and books like Twin Peaks’ The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, HOLLAND began to write poems and song lyrics, learning how to play piano and read music from popular song books. She began to do readings and performances at downtown non-profit Art Share L.A. shows, auditioning to sing with bands looking for everything from “an Incubus / Mr. Bungle sound to pre-fab Destiny’s Child.” She ended up joining The Peak Show as lead singer, a local outfit which looked to trip-hop acts like Portishead, Tricky and Morcheeba along with the Neptunes and Wu Tang Clan as inspirations, and was signed to Atlantic Records by A&R exec John Rubeli, now head of music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas’ successful Chop Shop label.
And while the band’s album (co-produced by Mario Caldato, Jr., of Beastie Boys and Beck fame and mixed by five-time Grammy Award winner Serban Ghenea) was never released, several tracks were licensed to TV shows like Malcolm in the Middle, CSI Miami and Living Lohan as well as in trailers for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and Scary Movie 3, among others. They also toured with such acts as Maroon 5, LL Cool J, Ozomatli and the B-52’s, whom HOLLAND got to join on-stage one memorable night for a rendition of “Rock Lobster.”
“I enjoyed the major label experience, working with a support team and having access to collaborate with top-notch professionals,” she says. “It opened a lot of doors for us.”
The break-up of The Peak Show led HOLLAND to New York City to lick her wounds, but she immediately immersed herself in its vibrant artistic melting pot, joining up with the likes of future collaborator Clark Dark, with whom she co-wrote several of the songs that ended up on TUNNEL VISION. “Bedford Stuyvesant” recalls one particular New Year’s Eve writing session to the sound of gunfire in the streets, which eventually sent her back to her L.A. hometown. “Flashback” has an intimate, breezy jazz-soul-pop feel in HOLLAND’s sultry, come-hither vocal style, which she compares to Stevie Wonder. “He’s always calling out from loneliness for affection and expressing joy.”
Returning to Hollywood, HOLLAND kept busy with several projects, singing sessions on a pair of animated TV shows in “The New Looney Tunes Show” and “Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire,” while also serving as an extra on series and films like Mad Men, Castle, CSI N.Y., Ringer and The Aviator, among others, earning a SAG card in the process. She also appeared in several local musical theater productions, portraying Vampira in Ed Wood: Monsters of Hollywood, Tallulah Bankhead in Tallulah in London and performing as part of the ensemble in Lovelace: A Rock Opera.
GRECO recorded Tunnel Vision with keyboardist Lisa Harriton [Ke$ha, Smashing Pumpkins, Adam Lambert], bassist Joe Karnes [Fitz & the Tantrums], frequent drummer princessFrank and a horn section including ace musicians like trombone player Ryan Porter and trumpeter Brian Warfield. The results feature HOLLAND in her Norah Jones/Maria Muldaur/Cyndi Lauper mode, a seductive crooner capable of the buoyant samba beat of “100 Proof” and the horn-driven New Orleans by way of Mary Wells stomp of “Stuck!”
Murdergram, her tribute to Glenn Danzig’s horror-core punkabilly band The Misfits, was inspired by the exploitation flicks of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez and the fuzz-toned guitar sounds of Link Wray. You can hear those cinematic influences in the wide-screen “American Nightmare,” with a bowed bass solo that sounds like “a crying Orca, a wail of pain and anguish,” with HOLLAND’s declamatory style recalling yet another rock poet in Patti Smith. There’s a bossa nova beat in “Die Die My Darling” courtesy of princessFrank, while “Vampira” is straight-ahead monsterbilly in the classic crash-and-burn style of The Cramps. In her spare time, HOLLAND also plays keyboards, rhythm guitar, banjo, accordion and background vocals for similarly styled The Stripminers, featuring The Donnas’ Brett Anderson, The Radishes’ Paul Stinson and X drummer DJ Bonebrake.
“I feel I have something to offer whoever’s listening,” says GRECO. “My story is one of caring so much that I kept going. I don’t mind showing the blood, sweat and tears that goes into doing this. I want to show people they can do it, too. I want to be encouraging, give the world kindness and compassion. It is never too late to make your dreams come true.”
With VOLUME 1, Zappa Records’ newest recording artist is proving all that hard work can pay off.
“I am constantly digging into my own feelings and experiences to find those truths which connect us, the words to distill matters of the heart, mind, and body into knowable, articulated, musical mood scenes….be it love, sadness, or spaz.” says HOLLAND.
“To me, it’s about participation. I’m a passionate creator, performer, and fan. With this music I am figuratively looking to meld with and also to be molded by the musician and concert-going audience communities currently enjoying awesome live and listening experiences all over the world.“
HOLLAND GRECO is set to mark her territories.