It’s been more than a decade since The Once released their first self-titled album.
Their three-part harmony has stunned crowds internationally since those early days, but lead vocalist Geraldine Hollett said she has only truly felt confident at the microphone in the past few months.
Over a latte at Fixed Coffee and Baking, Hollett discussed the national tour in support of the band’s fourth studio album, “Time Enough.”
Fresh off the first few dates in Labrador and on the island’s west coast, the trio will be onstage at the Gander Arts and Culture Centre on Friday and at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Saturday.
After that, they tour the country until December, and pick up again in January with dates in the U.K. and Europe.
Hollett’s conversation focused mostly on the tour and the latest album, released in May.
However, to speak about some of the album’s themes, it’s necessary to talk about what spurred some of that songwriting.
For Hollett, it involved significant self-reflection.
“It’s only in the last year I’d say, probably months, that I just went, ‘Geraldine, you know, this might be what you do,’” she said of singing for an audience.
“You might not have to be nervous about it. You might want to trust that you’re OK at it.”
She laughed, but her eyes were serious.
Hollett said that change in how she views herself is the result of some positive self-talk.
“My voice has gotten nicer since I started talking to it. So, talk to your inner voice, folks.
“When I’m out there (onstage), I feel like that’s where I’m supposed to be, as opposed to, ‘What am I doing? Is this right? Did I sing that right?’ Or, ‘I’m not going to be able to hit that note,’ or all those little yap, yap, yaps. They just left me.
“It’s very brand new, and I don’t know what it is — I’m not doing anything different, except talking gently to myself.”
Though the tour is in support of the new album, the band will perform a mixed bag of songs from their repertoire.
Joining Phil Churchill, Andrew Dale, and Hollett on tour is bass player Greg House of Corner Brook — providing the group with a “bigger sound,” said Hollett.
The shows, like the album, will also feature Churchill and Dale’s vocals more than in the past, when they’d typically back Hollett.
The group promises an intimate show with plenty of stories to tell in addition to the music.
Hollett said the hope is audiences walk away “feeling good about their mortality.”
Thematically, the album focuses on that mortality — on death, and on loving while we’re alive.
“We’re all going to die, and what do you do with your time here? How do you treat yourself? How do you treat the inner demons that you have?” asked Hollett.
While one track on the album was gifted to the band by Tim Baker, the other eight tracks were written by either Churchill, Dale or Hollett.
As for Hollett, her writing focused on dealing with that voice in her head.
The track, “I Can’t Live Without You” deals with women battling self-esteem issues.
Hollett sings, “Will you try and tear me down?” as if asking that inner voice what it’s going to tell her today.
“That voice, it’s just so cruel,” said Hollett.
“It’s about talking to it and saying, ‘Look, you don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t know what I’m talking about.’ … Saying, ‘We don’t know anything, man. I’m going to make mistakes — that’s OK.’ And just being good to yourself.”
Other themes of letting go, whether of a relationship, or someone who died, feature prominently.
In many ways, these themes come together in the album’s title, “Time Enough” — it’s time enough to love yourself, it’s time enough to let go.
“That was not its intention at all, but it sort of became that,” Hollett said of the title.
It’s actually a phrase Hollett’s grandmother would say at the end of the night when it was time for her visitors to go home.
“To me and my sisters growing up, we would say, ‘Nan is so rude. She’s saying, ‘Time enough’ to everybody and kicking them out,’” laughed Hollett.
“That’s fine and all, but she just meant, ‘We did it. We had the best kind of time’ — ‘time enough’ — no more necessary. And it was always this endearing thing. We’re all full. It’s fine. You guys go on. ‘Time enough’ — we did it.”
For The Once, it will soon be “time enough” to head out across the country.
In the meantime, at press deadline, people in Gander and St. John’s can still purchase tickets to the band’s last two shows before they go.