Troubadour Greg Holden’s new album is “World War Me.” (Courtesy Laurel Renee Valdez)

Dropped from major label, Greg Holden hits reset button

Scottish songwriter still ‘trying to figure out’ who he is

On his third album, 2015’s “Chase the Sun” on Warner Bros., Scottish-born tunesmith Greg Holden achieved something nearly impossible. Inspired by a near-death experience on a wisdom-seeking trip to meet the Dalai Lama in the Indian Himalayas, he set his “carpe diem” life philosphy lyrics to uplifting, sugary melodies — but the sound never once felt cornball. With tracks such as “Save Yourself,” “Give It Away” and “Hold On Tight,” the feel-good record was the perfect panacea for today’s dark, daunting times, and it never pandered. Proudly, Holden waited for folks to notice. They never did. Only recently did he pull out of his tailspin with his fourth effort, “World War Me,” with the warnings to himself: “Chase the Money” and “What I Deserve.”

What was the worst moment about what you’ve just been through?

Hmmm. I would say it’s right now. This minute, I’m still going through it, the same mental torment I’ve been wrestling with for the past three years. So I’m still trying to figure out who I am.

“Chase the Sun” really felt like a guaranteed, crowd-pleasing hit. But instead, your label dropped you and it vanished.

I was really excited about that record, too. So was the label, my management. Everybody felt good about it. And initially, I did a lot of touring behind it. But still, it fell short of expectations. And the way the music industry works is that — even with a record that everyone is excited about — if it isn’t making money, the powers that be will usually just walk away to another project that will make them money. So I felt, uhh, a little abandoned. By everyone around me, to be honest.

You already had started making your next album with the brilliant producer Butch Walker. Then there was suddenly no financing for it.

For me, that process of being dropped and learning to figure out who I was as an artist led me to produce this record myself, which was also a real emotional rollercoaster in itself. I had always recorded my own demos, but I’d never shared them with anyone outside of the band and our family and friends. But this was the first time I set out to make a record by myself, and I had all these insecurities and self-doubts about it. So I was wondering if I could even pull this off, just as all the foundations all around me were crumbling. And six weeks ago, I actually parted company with my manager of 11 years. So in truth, all negativity aside, it really does feel like I’ve hit the reset button on my life.


Greg Holden

Where: Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 Fourth St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. June 6

Tickets: $12 to $15

Contact: (415) 546-6300,

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