Few names invoke as much majesty in the world of melodic death metal than Swedish …
Hands Like Houses are in the midst of their biggest headline tour to date and they’re excited. Tired, but excited.
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Having just come off a massive hometown show, they’ve driven down to Sydney from Canberra. Now, they’ve crammed themselves onto a sofa in the back of the Enmore Theatre, ready to let us in on what life on the road is really like with them.
“Sydney’s the only driving leg of the tour. I guess the four of us had a pretty mellow drive up”, they begin, speaking directly into our iPhone.
“We’ve been listening to a bit of music, people did a bit of napping, Coops [that’s guitarist Matt Cooper FYI] did a bit of driving and put a podcast on. It was all happening! It was a pretty riveting drive from Canberra to Sydney.”
The band begin to laugh, party animals they are not. Our proof? Their explanation of their current touring rituals.
“We’ve gone through some phases”, says bassist Joel Tyrrell. “I think at the moment we’re in a phase where we’re doing nothing. We’re super boring at the moment so maybe we need to bring some of these rituals back to give a little life to the band I don’t know what’s going on you know … getting into our forties.” It’s a running joke that will hang around for the rest of the conversation, we promise they’re not actually forty though! In between casual roast sessions about age and throwing out their backs during mosh sessions (for Ocean Grove’s set, natch), the band mention some of their past rituals—cards, hacky sack and pumping some tunes through the green room.
As guitarist Alex Pearson (or Al for short) explains, “When we tour in Australia everyone has a lot of friends and family that come out so it’s less us entertaining each other and more us entertaining everyone else, so our rituals here are probably just eating and drinking.”
There’s a real sense of family between the band, so it seems only natural then, that on their biggest Australian headliner, they’d bring their tried and tested photographer over from America for the ride.
“He was pretty excited about the drive from Canberra to Sydney but I think after about five minutes his head was down, he didn’t even look out the window”, says Joel. “He saw his first kangaroo, had his first meat pie this morning, his first vegemite and cheese toastie. It was a big day! He hasn’t had Tim Tams yet but one of his questions today was how to open those squeezy sauce packets, that was a cute moment.”
Figuring out how to operate a squeezy sauce packet was a huge moment for their photographer, but walking into the Enmore Theatre itself was equally massive for the band themselves.
“When we walked in today, we just thought wrong venue”, says frontman Trenton Woodley, and there’s a definite sense of agreeance in the room. “We thought is there a side stage somewhere? Are we playing the basement?” “It feels like a nice, complete Australian tour though”, adds Al, “We’re ticking all the boxes!”
From there we jump from story to story, as the boys let us in on:
What’s in store for fans this tour:
Trenton: “We’ve had a bit more of a budget up our sleeves to do some really cool production. We’ve got a different stage set up—like an asymmetrical set up which is pretty cool, a bunch of extra lighting we wouldn’t normally be able to take out and some confetti and streamers and all that stuff.”
Matty (Parkitny, drummer): “It’s basically all the bells and whistles.”
Al: “Minus the hook so we can all go flying in the air! That’s the next one, when we get a slightly bigger venue and better insurance.”
Trenton: “I think they’re still packing it up from the P!nk tour.”
Their tour highlights so far:
Trenton: “Canberra was a fun show because we do have a lot of fans there. We have our friends and family too so it always feels more relaxed in that regard because even though our family and friends only make up a small amount of the crowd these days, it’s still kind of easy to pretend that we know everyone there. It takes a bit of the pressure off.”
Joel: “I got into a bit of a surf last night and I’m not going to lie it was pretty easy. The last time I did it I had a much smaller surfboard and it was quite difficult, I had a lot of strain on my hips—had a few hip problems the next day!” “At the Canberra show I had a much bigger surfboard, it was so much easier and smoother, I made it look like it was really hard to make myself look cooler but it was pretty easy.”
Matty: “That was a diva moment for you!”
Reacting to Anon. blowing up:
Trenton: “We’ve always felt like a band that’s in the shadow of other bands or associated with those bands that are doing big things so it always felt within reach but just not quite there, so for those things to actually come through for us with this record, it was definitely affirming because we did take a few risks with the album but we took those risks really confidently.”
Their worst hotel experiences (and no, it wasn’t the time they surfed down a set of stairs on a mattress):
Joel: “There was a time when we were in Hungary and it was our first European tour. We went to this hotel and it was really spooky and we got in there and our driver went into the bath, I don’t know if he was actually going to take one but he went into this bathtub and turned it on and the water was bright orange. It looked like Fanta and it was just pouring out of this tap.”
Coops: “We’ve stayed in our fair share of crappy hotels and motels over in the states. I remember we had this one place in Atlanta and there was just a bunch of undesirable people hanging around the hotel lobby, they were just cracked out and it was really rough. We all went into our rooms and locked the doors.”
They all laugh before simultaneously remembering one specific incident in the US.
Joel: “There was one place we stayed at just outside of Bakersfield in California and we had a whole bunch of problems, our driver didn’t actually get into California until the night before the show and we had to hire two vans last minute and start driving overnight to even make the show.” “We got into this place at maybe one or two in the morning and everyone was so tired. So we went to bed and we woke up and as soon as we opened the door in the hotel room it was the smelliest place.”
Matty: “Was it near an abattoir or something?”
Coops: “As soon as we arrived and opened the doors you could just smell it within the linen and pillows and everything. At first we thought maybe it’s a bit damp or something like that, but then you wake up and it just hits you in the face. We were nearly vomiting.”
Joel: “Then there was this place that had deep house techno playing all night. It didn’t stop … it was this constant ‘oonst oonst’ all night.”
Trenton: “We got in at like three in morning and we left at 10 and it was still going.”
Joel: “It was the same loop and I somehow must’ve fallen asleep to it, so now we do that at every hotel we go to! Everyone’s got their doof doof sounds down!”
What they’ve learnt over the years of touring:
Trenton: “Touring is a lot of waiting.”
Al: “We were so naïve, we started out thinking, ‘cool we’re a DIY band’, but we had no idea about what that was. I think now we have a way better hold on what you need to do for a tour or album. Knowing the whole music space in general has just taught us a lot about having more of a hand on everything rather than just sitting there and going ‘cool, we’re going on tour’. There’s a lot of prep work.”
Trenton: “I think a lot of bands, when they start touring, have this idea that it’s going to be a massive adventure and this big, long party but you’re either working your ass off or you’re just waiting to work. There’s a lot of in betweens. You’re waiting to get in the show, you’re waiting for your turn to soundcheck or you’re waiting for the venue to unlock the doors so you can load in because you got there early.”
It’s at this moment that the rest of the band burst into fits of laughter, “It sounds so shit Trenton!”
Trenton: “Look I’m just saying it is just that whole hurry up and wait mentality. I think that’s one thing that’s always sunk in, but then when it is your turn to do something it’s just making sure you’re present and ready to do your job because if you don’t then it just goes away very quickly.”
Catch Hands Like Houses with special guests Ocean Grove, Endless Heights & RedHook at their remaining dates.
Friday 15 February // The Tivoli // Brisbane
Saturday 16 February // The Forum // Melbourne
Friday 22 February // HQ Complex // Adelaide
Saturday 23 February // Astor Theatre // Perth