top of page

Study Music Intensely: Christ Holt

Re-inventing and re-introducing classic sound, Bastards of Soul, as the name suggests, is a band that effortlessly weaves soulful lyricism and novel music together. With the last album as a tribute to the frontman of the band, Chadwick Murray, Bastards of Soul has disbanded after making music since 2016. We had the opportunity to learn more about the band in an interview with the guitarist, Christ Holt. 

How did the band come together?

Danny Chad (Stockslager), Matt and I had all played in various bands around Dallas, both together and separately. We knew Chadwick as a bassist and a friend but didn’t know he could sing. They had been talking for years about wanting to put together an old-school soul outfit, possibly as a cover project, but really as an original thing - writing our own songs. I was on the outside looking in for a lot of that conversation until they found Chadwick and wanted to build the band around him. At that point, I either was called to play guitar, or it’s quite possible that I just pushed my way into the circle!

“From a bar band to a songwriting machine” - how has your sound evolved from 2016?

Our earliest shows were just us trying to learn the form - to get our heads around how the greats did it. We loved old soul music, from Motown to Stax-Volt and 70s funk. So we just studied it, intensely. In the first year or two, we played a lot of shows and did a lot of old covers, some well-known, and many deep cuts. But the goal was always to write our stuff and transition to being an all-original band. Around 2018 we started transitioning. It started with a handful of songs and then just kept growing until we had an album’s worth that we thought was decent. There were four writers in the band - myself, Stockslager, Danny and Chadwick. So there was always lots of material to sift through, and a healthy competition to get songs on the table.

Why the name Bastards Of Soul? What’s the story behind that?

You’d have to ask Danny, I think that was his concept. But really it was the simple idea, I think, that we were white guys (with the exception of Chadwick) bastardizing the idea of soul music. Not that we wanted to bastardize it, we genuinely wanted to have an authenticity to our sound and songwriting - we just were being a bit self-deprecating in acknowledging it. At least, that’s how I looked at it.

Your music shows a clear influence of classic sound. Your music is almost a modern reminder of music from Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Modern Talking, and the like. However, with the shifts in music listening trends and genres like commercial pop and afro-beats taking over, how do you think your genre and style could stay relevant? 

I don’t have a clue what music trends are, or how they’re shifting. I’m blissfully ignorant of what’s cool and hip. I’ve never cared about what’s trendy, I’ve only cared about what I consider good and bad. It’s all subjective. I think it comes down to songwriting. You’ve gotta write a great song and from there, try your very best to dress it up in a package that sounds interesting. I think great soul music will always be relevant because it has a wonderful sound - funky rhythm sections, syncopated horns, melodic strings and vocals, and passionate lyrics. That’s a timeless formula.

What does the band enjoy the most: composing or performing live?

I think it’s a bit of both. The process of arranging the music was always very stimulating to us - both in the rehearsal room and studio. But then sweating it out onstage was an absolute thrill. Sadly, none of that is in the present tense for Bastards Of Soul anymore. We’re all still doing it, just elsewhere.

Much of your music has lovely lyricism. What inspires your songwriting? What themes draw your most attention?

Soul music in general has a lot of common themes: heartbreak, oppression, and the struggles of tortured souls. We definitely tried to tap into that, both from personal experience and just from observing the world around us. We live in modern America, which is every bit as troubled and turbulent as it was when the first generation of soul artists was coming up. We tried to hold the mirror up and reflect, as best we could.

How does the band resolve conflicts or disagreements?

Bands are always about compromise. You get a bunch of strong personalities in a room, everyone has ideas, and everyone’s got a song they wanna get out. With us, it was always about finding that middle ground. You can’t make everybody happy, and often there was an undercurrent of disgruntled frustration within the ranks. But that’s how bands go. If you’re lucky, you end up with some great music. It doesn’t have to be a joyride the whole time. You just want it to be worth the struggle.

Give It Right Back is the last collection of songs recorded with your late band leader, Chadwick Murray. Our deepest condolences. If you could, do tell us more about him and the impact he had in making Bastards Of Soul, what it is, today. 

Thank you. Chadwick was a really lovely guy. The band would’ve never happened, I think, without him. And when he left this world, we couldn’t really imagine carrying on, because the whole concept was built around him and his voice. The tragedy of his loss hits on multiple levels. It’s still hard to put into words a few years later. But I’m glad there’s music out there to show a glimpse into the man, and the chemistry we had with him while he was here.

What do you think Chadwick Murray will be most proud of, about Bastards Of Soul, today?

I think if he could see the outpouring of love for him, he’d be absolutely floored. Watching the way people reacted to the band in real time was one thing, but seeing the way they’ve embraced us posthumously has been a real surprise. I think Chadwick would be very proud that there is an actual legacy, and that he will be remembered. I think if he could see the mural on the wall at the Kessler in Dallas, he’d weep. Hopefully he can see it.

Is Give It Right Back the final album of the band? Has Bastards of Soul disbanded?

The band has already disbanded. Everybody’s moved on to different things. Danny and Skin have a band called Silver Skylarks, and they just put out a fantastic album. Stockslager and Trimble are staying busy with projects around Dallas. I joined Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs a couple years ago, and I’m touring with him. We have a new album out in June, and I’ve also got a brand new solo album (my first in seven years) that I’ve just finished production on. I’ll never say never on the Bastards, but I don’t see us coming back together any time soon unless something happens that would make us all want to play together. We’re all still friends so it’s certainly a possibility that we’ll play together again in the future. Just not sure what it would be called.

What do you think sets you apart from other music bands working in a similar genre?

I’m not sure. I think each of us as a player and songwriters has our distinct flavor. So it’s inevitable that our songs are going to be a little different than what you’re hearing from other artists out there. I think that’s the kind of thing that may have made us crazy while we were together - because we were too hyper-aware of our own idiosyncrasies - but in the end, that might be what makes us cool and different.

What do you hope listeners take away from your music?

I just hope people will listen. And dig in more than just one or two songs. And I hope people find some joy and some solace in it. All I ever want from music is some sort of connection and escape from the pain of the “real world.” Hopefully, somewhere in the BOS catalog, people will find an escape or two.

A piece of advice for any upcoming musician?

Pick a different career! Ha. I’m not sure. I see myself as being incredibly lucky. I can’t believe that I’m still able to be a musician for a living. But the game has changed so much. I guess the advice I’d give an upcoming musician is - to learn every aspect. Study music intensely. Learn the history of it, know it front and back. Not just what you like, learn what your heroes loved, and study what they studied. And learn every nook and cranny of the modern business - the social media and the online world, all those things that are too scary or superficial for most creatives. You’ve got to get with the times or get lost in the shuffle. It’s a big ocean.

You can stream Bastards of Soul’s music on Spotify!


bottom of page