Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 76 - Interview with Hands Like Houses

Hands Like Houses

An interview by Mike Newdeck

After honing their craft on their earlier releases, Australian band Hands Like Houses decided to up the ante on their third release 'Dissonants'. A tour-de-force of Modern Rock, cutting guitar and melodic vocals – something seldom heard in this genre – it bucked the trend somewhat by adding a far more commercial edge and broadening the bands appeal.
Fireworks caught up with vocalist Trenton Woodley as the band embarked on their recent UK tour to chat about the band's new album and increased popularity.


HandsLikeHouses

You've had a long association with James Paul Wisner as a producer. How did you end up using his talents and why do you continue to do so?


We actually first heard of him via his early work with Underoath, Paramore and so on but when working with Cameron Mizell on 'Ground Dweller', he spoke really highly of James and his work, having interned/assistant engineered with him in the past. We got lucky when another booking fell through for the time we had planned to record 'Unimagine' so we locked it in and the rest was history. He's an incredibly focused and gifted producer and manages to get the best out of us, which is a challenge sometimes, by always being honest and candid but only ever in the spirit of being constructive. While we like to keep evolving with each record, which does mean always considering our options, we'd definitely hope to include him on future records in some capacity!

How does he help shape the sound of the band?

We've always wanted to have a sound that's both massive and intimate, and his production method is incredibly clear and dynamic, which gives us the ability to create the emotional impact of jumping between those extremes. He's brilliant at creating a place for everything to belong in the mix, where nothing gets in the way of the other parts.

How has this album progressed compared to your last one, 'Unimagine'?

We wanted to give it more bite; we felt that our 'heavier' songs were connecting better with live audiences and it was one of the most appreciated elements of our first record, so we wanted to see how we could better balance the song-writing focus we built from 'Unimagine' while still including the aggression and urgency we wanted.

Why did you call the album 'Dissonants'?

The album is about the complex and multiple experiences that make up who we are, so the play on the word 'dissonance' was a way to personify those dissonant traits and experiences and say 'I Am Dissonant', which is also a lyric from 'I Am' .

How would you accurately describe your music?

Not sure about 'accurately' but we want to create loud and impact filled music that makes you feel something. To us, that's Rock, pure and simple but people like to make up their sub-genres and references which we can't really control.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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How do you feel about being labelled Post Hardcore? Is that a fair assessment?

Honestly we don't really like the label at all. I think we had it on our Myspace and maybe referenced it in our first 'official' bio but even then I think that was referencing our energy rather than our actual 'genre'. As a genre label, I've found it to have become almost completely meaningless because of the dozens of distinct bands that have somehow been grouped together by it.

You've ditched the growling vocal delivery on 'Dissonants'. Why is that?

I'm not a fan of the term 'growling' because that's a totally different vocal style to me. But we have adopted moments of 'screaming' on 'Dissonants' as a challenge to people's perception of what Hands Like Houses is. For a long time we were 'the Post Hardcore band that doesn't scream' to a lot of people, so by changing that perception it was unsettling enough for old fans to give it a proper listen with an open mind.

How has it worked out for you being an Australian band? Do you think that it's necessary to make a break from the country in order to get success?

I don't think so, no, we have some incredible bands making a name for themselves overseas after more or less conquering Australia first. We had an unusual progression of opportunities and challenges that meant that it was better for us to develop overseas, the US in particular, to better tackle Australia but that's probably an essay-length answer of questionable interest.

How are things developing for you in the U.S?

Really well. 'Dissonants' and our radio team have opened up a whole slew of new doors for us. We certainly don't want to sell out or leave behind where we've been but there's a whole new world where we're a small fish in a big pond again, which is exciting.

Tell me how you came to cover 'Torn'?

We were invited to be a part of the 'Punk Goes 90s' compilation and so we considered a handful of songs but with Natalie Imbruglia being Australian it just felt right, although we found out later she wasn't the original performer or writer of the track – that credit belongs to Ednaswap, an LA grunge band from the 90s.

Do you think that there's pressure on bands like HLH to be commercial in order to survive?

It's not so much commercial as being sustainable. We could certainly survive in a number of different ways but to be a touring act where music is our full time career, being able to turn that music and brand into a sustainable business means you have to be accessible – you need people to enjoy your music. So the creative challenge is in writing good songs that people connect with while still maintaining what makes your art and style distinctive and original.

How was the band received on the recent UK tour?

It was phenomenal, especially the sold-out London show at Islington Academy. The biggest encouragement of this year is the energy and excitement people have for 'Dissonants'. Every band has to deal with fans screaming 'play all old songs' but honestly, so far those people have been practically drowned out by people singing along to the new songs. Obviously that'll change with time and as the new record has time to settle in, but it's such a positive encouragement that we're already talking about which songs we can bring in next tour that we haven't played yet!

What's the plan for the rest of 2016 for the band? When can we expect to see you back in the UK/Europe?

We have a few months off to catch our breath and maybe write a few future song ideas down before things get crazy again, but come September we'll be back on the road in the UK and then the US. That's all I can say for now... stay tuned!

'Dissonants' is out now on Rise records

Click HERE to read the album review on Rocktopia.

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