Singer, songwriter, guitarist and drummer Holly Hansen created Zoo Animal in Minneapolis, after moving to the city from the small town of Cokato, MN, where she grew up in a conservative Christian household. The band’s debut recording, Young Blood, came out in 2008 and included standout songs like “Black and Gold” and “Hold Tongue.” It was mixed in monophonic and showcased Holly’s introspective approach, combining elements of indie, grunge and minimalism. The band toured nationally, building a dedicated audience.
The second album, Zoo Animal, was cut in 2010. Hansen produced it. “We tracked 15 songs in two days. We tracked it live on a two-inch tape machine, in 20 degree weather, in a large unused theater in downtown Minneapolis.” She made Departure (2012), blending acoustic and electronic textures for a contemplative exploration of her shifting worldview. The EP’s tracks include ‘Out in the Ocean’ and ‘Black and Charred,’ investigations of Hansen’s evolving consciousness and her struggle with her fading Christian beliefs.
Hansen continued to write songs and make music after Departure, but now, with the help of Waxploitation Records, she’s ready to put a cap on the Zoo Animal story. “It’s never too soon, and it’s never too late, to re-release great music that might have been missed the first time around,” says Waxploitation founder Jeff Antebi. Complete Recordings collects all her Zoo Animal masters, including six tunes she’s cut in the past five years. “I’m really proud of Zoo Animal,” she says. “The people I played with are incredible musicians. I treasure the time we spent together, but I don’t relate to the songs the way I used to. They feel more like old friends. The music changed as Zoo Animal progressed; we got a lot more rock and roll as a band. That’s why we’re releasing ‘Gravedigger’ as the first new single, and the last Zoo Animal record.”
“I was religious for a long time. ‘Gravedigger’ is figuring out a way to be moral, without some person in the sky telling me what’s right and wrong. I did it with Matt Latterell on guitar, Noah Paster on bass, Justin Korhonen on drums and producer Alan Sparhawk, from the band Low. Alan was in the room with me when I was singing. Between takes, he was talking to us, getting us to take it up a notch. He was literally yelling at points, saying we should be picturing slaying dragons. I think that energy comes through on the record.”
While she won’t dismiss the idea of reviving Zoo Animal, Hansen is currently concentrating on writing songs for her new Holly Hansen Trio and finishing up an electronic music project. “I just got a grant for my electronic music.