Dead Words | Contributed Photo
By: Forrest Cook
For anyone wishing to deck their halls with boughs of dirty pop rock and roll this Holiday season, Dead Words’ annual Festival of Tight is coming back to Division Brewing in Arlington for the second year running on Friday, December 13. This will be the event’s third year, owing its inception to a 2017 Star Wars themed party at Three Links in Dallas. Last year’s theme was “Stranger Things’ Snow Ball”, and this year – taking careful advantage of calendar placement – the good people of Arlington will bare witness to a Holiday Halloween with the so-themed conception of “Tightmare Before Christmas” on Friday the 13th..
“We thought, ‘How fun would it be to do a spooky Halloween on Christmas, or like the Christmas slasher films Santa Slay or Black Christmas?’” says Garrett Hollowell, who is thrilled about the spooky concept, and hopes show goers will play along and show up draped in costume. “I’m trying to find someone to dress up like Krampus and take pictures,” he adds.
Garrett is the singer/songwriter/guitarist for Fort Worth based pop punk band Dead Words – an act that’s spent the last eight years touring steadily, and releasing music at every pit stop along the way. Their latest EP, The Geek Shall Inherit, was released in January, earlier this year.
Recently married, Garrett’s band has slowed their hectic schedule since the birth of his daughter, Kyber. “I told my wife that I wanted to take that year, and we both agreed that seven days (tour) was kind of the max.” Garrett also works as a paraprofessional for the Cleburne school district, and is working towards building his own travel agency to share with others what he himself is notably passionate about.
“The best part of touring is that I’ve gotten to go and see a lot of places, but [like] I tell my wife, ‘You’ve got to go with me!’ You’ve got to taste the food and meet the people and experience what I get to experience doing in the band.”
“The last thing Dead Words did do was a little Texas run with The Scutches, about four or five dates,” relays Hollowell. That was back in September. In the time since, Dead Words has seen yet another member wed. Lead guitarist Blake Gunter got married in October, and the band decidedly took November off for some much-needed R & R. Of late, they’ve been back at practice prepping their set-list and tightening up songs for a few upcoming releases.
“We are in the process of self-recording an EP, and then we are going to record a two song 7”… and we are moving forward with finally doing an LP with this line-up.” It may seem like a lot, but these projects are in the baby-stages at the moment. Garrett’s voice cracks with creative ambition as he navigates back to current tasks at hand. “We’ve got some tours we are planning for next year, but for the moment, it’s Festival of Tight.”
“It’s a good cause. The band’s have been incredible. We had a great time last year,” relates Wade Wadlington, owner and brewer at Division Brewing. “Last year was small but a lot of our events are. The only place I advertise is On The Street. Word of mouth spreads it and hopefully this year we pick up a few more.”
The good cause Wadlington is speaking of for this year is still technically up in the air. Garrett explains, “We always give to somebody, and there will be a charity that will benefit from this event.” Previous donees have included Toys For Tots, as well as Presents for Paws – a supply drive for Fort Worth animal shelters. “It’s become an important tradition for us to give back in many ways. The holidays are a good time for that.”
This year, he says, “The plan is to have attendees bring in Christmas cards for LGBTQ people who have been disowned by their families and don’t really have too many people to call family at the holidays, so they can realize there is a bigger family out there for them and people that love them whether they know it or not, and that it may feel lonely, but there’s people out there that do care about you and want to pour into your life.”
A noble sentiment.
When asked where Festival of Tight comes from Garrett tells the story of some of his favorite bands putting on similar Christmas shows. The Vandals. The Bouncing Souls. He relates how no one in Dead Words thought the show would last, but that something in the spirit of the event just stuck.
“It went from, ‘Hey, other bands have done this. It would be cool.’ to realizing that this is a season for family and giving back to the community. It’s become something that we feel our holiday season would be lacking without.” Garrett’s sincerity brightens. The season of giving and is here!
“We try to have diverse line-ups and bring in people that we love and think are great on shows, and different line-ups so that we get to embrace different people from our community and not only put on a really cool show but show the bands that we are into that we appreciate and support them. So we normally do a stocking with some goodies in it for the bands that play. It’s about showing everybody that we love and appreciate them; saying thank you to bands for existing, and venues, and people who have supported us; our friends, and family – stuff like that.”
Along with the show, (and the goodies) Garrett has assured some surprises perhaps emanating from Dead Words’ new conception of “dirty pop music”. That’s what they are calling themselves these days, and the band is looking to throw some “bigger, badder rock shows,” than they ever have before.
“Dirty pop is the broader idea because then you can’t listen to it and say, ‘They’re all over the place.’ You realize they are their own entity, and they can write their own songs, and they can do the things they want to do. We really are working hard to sound like Dead Words and not like anyone else.”
Which brings us to the beer.
Holliday Screams is the Belgian Quad Wade Wadlington and co. at Division Brewing are cooking up exclusively for the Fest. He says, “We’ve done a couple other band based beers. I don’t know if you’d call them collaborations or what. Garrett came up with the idea and kind of challenged us. He came up with the name.”
Garrett had some suggestions. Division Brewing made it happen. “Hey man, I’m up for almost anything!” laughs Wade. Holliday Screams is expected to rock in at around 14% ABV, and is spiced with traditional mulling spices. If last year’s Festival of Tight is any indication, then you’ll get a dollar off per beer with each donation.
Other charities will be represented, as Garrett puts it, “to give as people are led to give.”
“I’m excited because we’ve got Hans Gruber and The Die Hards, which I’ve wanted to have on the show for a long time because they are a cool band but also because Die Hard is absolutely a Christmas movie.” Hans Gruber and The Die Hards are an Austin based punk band recently signed to Vinnie Fiorello’s (Less Than Jake) label, Paper + Plastick.
Also sharing the stage will be DFW favorites, From Parts Unknown and Dead Flowers.
This is an all ages event. Five dollars gets you in. Division Brewing is located at 506 E Main St. Arlington, TX 76010. Band performances will take place on the patio or at Growl Records juxtapose to the bar.