Contrary to popular belief, this interview does not contain wallabies or kangaroos, nor is there a threat of some poisonous reptile. It’s common to make such an assumption when writing about a band from Down Under. Of course, I’m referring to, Hands Like Houses – a group of experimental rock musicians who recently signed with Rise Records (From First to Last, The Early November, Of Mice and Men).
Despite the rocky terrain of the music industry, Hands Like Houses remained strong throughout the bulk of last year, breaking into the New Year with a label to support them and a new record, Ground Dweller, due to be released on March 13th. Had it also not been for the tenacious support of their fans, perhaps Hands Like Houses would have fallen victim to the poisoning of that thing we all dread (most days) – life.
With their incredible determination to make their dreams realities, aspirations like playing on the top of President Abe Lincoln’s head might not be completely bizarre, after all.
ASHLEY JEAN: How do you think being apart of Rise Records is going to alter, not only your band life but also your personal lives?
TRENTON WOODLEY: Band life is a tough one – the more successful the band gets, the more you’re taken away from home and the people you love. Rise has given us a huge opportunity, and [they] really believe in where we’re headed. So it’s exciting and scary all at once to see where the next couple of years will take us.
ASHLEY JEAN: Ground Dweller will be released on March 13th. I see you’ve posted some of the lyrics off the album on your Tumblr page. What are you hoping fans will gain by reading the words before actually hearing them?
TRENTON WOODLEY: I think having lyrics up early gives people an opportunity to read them and appreciate them on their own as they are. I put a lot of effort into making the lyrics as rich and descriptive as possible. Essentially I try to write poetry rather than just lyrics so I guess I’ve liked having the chance to present them as such.
ASHLEY JEAN: Before I get completely serious again, while we’re on the subject of Tumblr, assign a meme to each member of the band. (I’m totally Anxiety Cat!)
Coops – Hipster Kitty
Me – Philosoraptor
MP – Good Guy Greg
Jamal – Trollface
Joel – Typical Aussie
Alex – Technologically Impaired Duck
ASHLEY JEAN: You made a conscious decision not to scream on this record. Does being more melodic, vocally, add to the “experimental” aspect of Hands Like Houses?
TRENTON WOODLEY: In a way yeah I guess it does. Were wary of the experimental tag, because what were doing is not wholly new or different – we just do what we do and make it the best it can be. We wanted to make a huge and heavy album without relying on aggression and metalcore cliches. We have the occasional breakdown but we always incorporate leads, vocal hooks or electronic samples to make them special.
ASHLEY JEAN: There are quite a few animal references on Ground Dweller, at least in the song titles. So I have to ask: would you rather be trapped in the belly of a whale or attacked by a spineless crow?
TRENTON WOODLEY: Definitely attacked by a spineless crow. It would just be a lump of feathers on the ground. Is someone throwing it?
ASHLEY JEAN: In “A Definition of Not-Leaving,” there’s an allusion to Where the Wild Things Are. Being that I’m a literary geek, if your music was a children’s book, which one best captivates your sound overall?
TRENTON WOODLEY: I think you’re probably spot on with WTWTA. The book is about escaping sadness but also exploring emotion and reconciling parts of yourself - at least to me. I think the movie deepened that perspective on the book. I like to think our music is a similar sort of ride, sometimes emotional, sometimes irrational but all together a chance to escape and imagine for a while. Otherwise anything by Shaun Tan or Graeme Base because you can read them over and over and still find new details to appreciate.
ASHLEY JEAN: Plans to tour the US in 2012?
TRENTON WOODLEY: Definitely. Shoring up a few options for the spring but well have to wait and see…
ASHLEY JEAN: If you could play an “American Landmarks Tour” (The Alamo, Disneyland, etc.), which 5 places would Hands Like Houses conquer?
TRENTON WOODLEY: I think it’s going to be stretching my knowledge of landmarks to name one let alone 5 I’d like to play at. Haha. Madison Square Garden would be sick, 6 Flags Magic Mountain, the Statue of Liberty’s torch (can you even get in there?), Mt. Rushmore on Abe Lincoln’s head…and I’m running out of ideas, haha.
ASHLEY JEAN: You’ve been releasing quite a few secrets these past weeks. Are there anymore you want to reveal?
TRENTON WOODLEY: Nothing major locked in yet but we definitely have a few tricks up our sleeves to keep everyone pumped between now and the album release.
ASHLEY JEAN: And finally, because this is Golden Mixtape, I’d like you to make me a mixtape of the top 5 songs that helped you get through the hardships of 2011 and allowed you to ring into a happier new year.
Be sure to also check out Hands Like Houses newly released single, “Antarctica.”
Originally published Jan 24, 2012