Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR

Greg Holden performs "Boys in the Street" off his album Chase the Sun live in the Forum at Minnesota Public Radio for The Current. (MPR)
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Greg Holden performs in the Forum at 89.3 The Current (full session + interview)
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  • Greg Holden performs in the Forum at 89.3 The Current (full session + interview) 27:37
  • Greg Holden - Save Yourself (live on 89.3 The Current) 03:24
  • Greg Holden - Give It Away (live on 89.3 The Current) 03:06
  • Greg Holden - Boys in the Street (live on 89.3 The Current) 04:52
  • Greg Holden - Hold On Tight (live on 89.3 The Current) 03:27

For Greg Holden, it was all about positively directing his energy. "I had sort of trouble at home and trouble at school and always had a lot of anger inside of me," he says, "and I think that as soon as I realized music was an outlet for it, that's when it made sense to start channeling my anger instead of being a bad kid."

Holden now has a few albums under his belt, including the April 2015 release, Chase the Sun, on Warner Bros. Records. His song, "Boys in the Street," resonated powerfully with The Current's audience, and Holden recently visited Minneapolis for a show at Mill City Nights. While he was in the Twin Cities, Holden stopped at Minnesota Public Radio to play a session before a live audience in the Forum and to chat with The Current's Jill Riley.

"I was 18 when I wrote my first song," Holden says. "That's when I started playing guitar. I actually started learning guitar so I could write songs, because I think I wanted to do that more than I wanted to be a guitar player. I wanted to be a songwriter."

Even after Holden decided to pursue music in earnest, it wasn't an easy journey. He played in metal and punk bands for five or six years before he realized that wasn't going anywhere. Eventually, he made the major life decision to move from his home near Manchester, England, to New York City. "I was just really always drawn to New York," Holden explains. "The moment I became a musician and started following the music that I did, it just seemed like everybody was there. … as I just started getting more and more careless about responsibilities in my life and actually wanted to chase something that I really was passionate about, New York just seemed the only real option, to be honest."

Holden's big break in music came when a song he wrote, "Home," was selected for American Idol artist Phillip Phillips to cover. "Home" became a best-selling song on iTunes, and it was that success that led Holden to a contract with Warner Bros. Records, and eventually, to the Forum at MPR.

Here are additional highlights from Greg Holden's interview with Jill Riley:

His first thoughts after moving to New York:
"When I first moved to New York, which was seven years ago now, I realized I was actually really terrible at music, because everyone in New York is so talented, I was like, 'Oh noooo — I have a long way to go.'"

On his song, "Home," being selected for use on American Idol:
"I needed it. It came at the right time. I was really going down an unsuccessful road in my career. It wasn't working, and I wasn't making a living. It's never been about money for me but you have to pay your rent … I was really getting to a point where I didn't know how I was going to keep doing it, and right when I was about to stop doing it, I got the call from American Idol that they wanted to use my song."

His reaction to the American Idol licensing request:
"My first thought was, American Idol's still a show? And then I saw [the song] do what it did, and it was mind blowing. I never thought my songs would be heard on that level. … If I had kept the song for myself, no one would have heard it. I'm very grateful for it."

On his approach to songwriting:
"You can try your best to get famous or get exposure, but really the way I feel about it is that I just want to create the most quality music I can, and if people notice, people notice — and if they don't, at least I feel good about what I'm creating. I think a lot of times people try to create what they think will get them famous, and that's where crap music comes from."

On the inspiration for "Boys in the Street":
"I didn't have a great relationship growing up with my stepfather, and there were a lot of one-way arguments that happened regarding what I wanted to do with my life and with my career, so it was very easy to tap into that sort of lack of acceptance from someone close to you. That's where the main inspiration came from."

On which songwriters inspire him:
"Bob Dylan is obviously the first person I would go to, but in terms of songwriters of our day, of now, there's a band called Dawes, and Taylor [Goldsmith], he is really good at that, tapping into other people's minds and projecting it from their point of view. I think he's really brilliant at that."

Songs Performed


"Save Yourself"
"Give It Away"
"Boys in the Street"
"Hold On Tight"
All songs off Greg Holden's album, Chase the Sun, out now on Warner Bros. Records.

Hosted by Jill Riley
Produced by Lindsay Kimball
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Erik Stromstad
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Related Stories

  • Watch the video for Greg Holden's 'Boys in the Street' 'Boys in the Street', a single off singer-songwriter Greg Holden's album, 'Chase the Sun', made its debut on The Current on April 30, 2015. Holden debuted the video for 'Boys in the Street' on Tuesday, June 17. Watch it here.
  • The Current's Guitar Collection: Greg Holden, 1972 Martin 00-28 After playing a captivating session in MPR's Forum, Greg Holden stopped to talk to us about the guitar he played during the performance. Holden wasn't typically a player of Martin guitars, but a chance find changed his mind. 'It sounded amazing and I was like, Ah, I guess I'm going to get one of these,' he says.

7 Photos

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    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • Greg Holden 3
    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • Greg Holden 4
    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
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    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • Greg Holden 5
    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • Greg Holden 6
    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)
  • Greg Holden 8
    Greg Holden performs in the Forum at MPR. (MPR photo/Leah Garaas)

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