SKILLET w/, Red Gazelle & RedHook Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Thursday 15th November, 2018 …
Over the course of a decade a lot can change. Political climates shift, trends fade, bands start, bands break up – the possibilities are endless.
For Canberra rockers Hands Like Houses it’s meant going through years of musical growth and development, back to back touring and releasing albums whenever they find the time.
Hands Like Houses announced their new album -Anon, with three accompanying intimate, and now sold out shows along the east coast during release week. Released via UNFD last week—in which we gave it a glowing review—you can pick it up via 24Hundred, here.
Ahead of the release of the album, Hysteria caught up with guitarist Alex Pearson to talk all things Hands Like Houses and all things -Anon.
HYSTERIA: Going back to when it all began when you released Ground Dweller in 2012 did you ever think that the band would rise to where it has now?
Alex: [Laughs] Not at all, and I think that’s what made the recent recording of –Anon. extra comical, because it was like, I think when you first start a band everyone has these grand dreams of being like “We’ll go over to LA and record, we’ll stay in a nice house, we’ll go to parties, and bars” and blah blah blah and that was so opposite from our first recording with Ground Dweller we recorded in like a windowless box down in Florida and we showered in a car park, and then you fast forward to the last album… we’re in LA with our own bedrooms in this four bedroom apartment it was a complete polar opposite!
On that same note, you’re all getting older now, and you’ve got your fans who are the same or similar age as you but now you’ve got these new fans as well that are just stumbling onto the scene, what’s it like trying to satisfy both?
That’s always hard, I feel like it’s actually almost harder to satisfy the older fans… because they’ve been with you the longest they have that real attachment to your first record or your second record. Whereas people who are coming in to know the band now haven’t had as much time to attach themselves to it so they don’t feel as not necessarily as part of it, but like those original fans feel like they’ve been part of the journey I think, which is obviously something they have been willed and encouraged, so I feel like they have a little bit more passion in the band and a bit more entitlement with it, so it’s kind of harder to give them everything they need while trying to satisfy ourselves and then we’ve got new fans coming in so it’s a bit of a circus… balancing it all.
Do you still feel a certain pressure when it comes to writing and recording and then releasing that album, or does that nervousness dissipate a bit when it’s your fourth album?
It’s strange because there it was definitely a pressure situation going over to LA, recording and trying to balance with all these different aspects because we’re this international touring band and we’re trying to make everyone happy – different labels and there’s lots of cooks in the kitchen, and when we finally got to LA we were so relaxed and so kind of carefree, it was almost this relieving process to be recording, rather than this pressured situation. It freed us up to be really creative and just take each day as it came… yeah it was actually to be honest probably the best recording experience that we’ve had.
Are you nervous to see how the public receives it?
Always. [Laughs]. I think it’s one of those strange things where you come out of the studio and I feel like a group of people like us who produce it like us may have heard some songs, and the label may of heard some songs and everyone’s so excited and then you’re really confident and the more people you kind of show things the more you… even if they like it, the more nervous you get for someone who may not like it or someone if they give you a different kind of opinion. I think we’re definitely really excited about everyone hearing it, but also nervous to some degree, because there has been a little bit of a change, I suppose, in some aspects of it. It’s a different approach for us being Hands Like Houses.
In your three releases so far, they’ve had a very clear intent, and tell a story throughout the album. New album –Anon is no different, except it feels like there’s more pop influences. Is that fair to say?
I think the easiest way to describe it would be, because we’ve had such a long time off, it’s definitely with my aspect of writing within the band, and each of us really we didn’t listen to as much of our peer’s music… if that makes sense? When you’re on tour with a band like you go on tour with Pierce The Veil and it’s hard not to be influenced by that or Warped Tour it’s hard not to be influenced by that either. So us being at home and travelling or doing different things, we were able to listen to a lot more music than we may usually be surrounded by, so that might be pop music or that might be rock music… which is the majority of pop music anyway. So having those aspects it’s kind of more audible for that to come though, obviously we were wanted to make an accessible album as well, like we’re at the point with our careers where we’re not like trying to prove to some crazy niche credibility or anything like that, we’re just trying to write music that’s connected to us and it’s something that we can enjoy the most being part of the process. It’s kind of pushing to be pop orientated.
We’re at the point with our careers where we’re not like trying to prove to some crazy niche credibility or anything like that, we’re just trying to write music that’s connected to us.
Ten years is a long time to be together as a band, especially as a successful touring band, how have you guys coped with the life changes, and also the change in musical taste that come along the way?
When people bring that up I’m like “What the fuck?” [Laughs]. Oh man there’s been some uh, some rows… of course. Some kind of clashing of heads and like particularly emotionally and everyone’s like trying to find where they sit in what the definition of Hands Like Houses is and then there’s what we want to be and what other people want it to be, and you have your influences changing over the course of 10 years, as anyone would. So, then you’re kind of trying to stay where you are but adapt and it does make it quite difficult. I think everyone is now at a point where we can kind of incorporate everyone’s personal music tastes a little bit more, especially going into this album it kind of plays into the freedom of everything, we’re not necessarily feeling as refined to being like how we may have been viewed as a post-hardcore band. I think we’re going to be viewed as this alternative rock band, and that just opens us up so many more doors creatively for us to be exploring things and like our own musical taste. That’s a more doable thing, like when we were recording Ground Dweller, that seems like a lifetime ago.
-Anon did an incredible job of avoiding a specific genre, but do you ever find that in the cycle of touring, recording repeat you can become too comfortable in your work?
I think it’s true, everyone falls into that but I think a lot of bands do that and it’s weird because I was going to say blame, and take that with a grain of salt but partially fans are to blame for releasing the same music and partially bands are to blame for releasing the same music. Because you try to evolve as a band, and you may lose some fans or you may gain some fans, and people who don’t like your evolution are always the most vocal about it… They kind of interplay with each other, but I think it’s something everyone should be trying not to do and then like I said when you’re not surrounded by the same stuff all the time it’s easier to feel more creative and more unique and to be kind of constantly on the road and constantly surrounded by bands that play breakdowns or bands that only have some certain type of formula you know what I mean? More versatility I suppose.
You said the recording process was different this time… what was it like sort of step by step?
Even when we released Drift, which is maybe a year ago, or a year and a half ago, that’s when we had our first inkling towards what the album might be, and then from there it kind of kept evolving and evolving, we had a bunch of time off and our singer ended up getting married which gave us even more time to give him space with his life and do some things like that, honestly this is the longest time we worked on a collective group of songs so I’d say over year, which is an adequate time for bands to work on music but it’s really hard in this sort of day and age with how quickly music gets turned around for you to kind of separate yourself for long enough to make that happen with it revolving around some sort of touring and writing and being on the road.
Can we expect a tease of anything off the new album at any of your upcoming live shows?
[Laughs] This is another thing we’ve been juggling around, I think we are going to test run a couple of newer songs you know not singles, that won’t have been released prior to the album, particularly because their smaller shows it gives us a nice little bit of practice and we can really gauge the fan response because we’re back so close to everyone, in such close quarters I suppose, I think it’s going to be the best place to test out some of those potentially quirkier songs on the album, just test driving some of the ones that we were like alright we really love this song let’s see how it goes live and gauge the fans response from there. I think we’ll definitely play another couple that haven’t been released from the record.
We implore you: don’t sleep on this album; it’s different, it’s weird, it’s not what anyone would have expected from a band that’s been kicking around in the industry for over ten years. It’s worth listening to for the change in perspective alone.