Hailing from the nation’s capital, Hands Like Houses are the most recent additon to the Rise Records family. Already creating buzz with their demos, the band are set to release their debut album Ground Dweller next month. In the lead up to the release we caught up with the band’s vocalist Trenton Todd Woodley to discuss band’s upcoming album and what it’s like being part of the Rise family.
Hey Trenton, how are you doing? Thanks for chatting with Kill Your Stereo.
No problem. I am good, just up bright and early, just about to watch The Bride video clip.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in Hands Like Houses?
My name is Trenton and I am the singer in Hands Like Houses, I have been doing it for about 3 and a half years now, and yeah that is me I guess.
Towards the end of last year you guys scored a worldwide deal with Rise Records, congratulations on that. What was it like finding out that Rise was interested in you guys?
Thank you. It was awesome. I guess when it kind of came together we actually had another deal and within a few days it was completely gone and off the table for no apparent reason, so we were all pretty bummed out. But our management and Cameron Mizell at Chango all kind of pulled a few strings and got the CD over to Rise and they loved it, so I guess it was a massive pick me up for us after all that we had gone through a couple of weeks before. Rise is obviously a massive deal, and it makes everything instantly a big deal. For them to believe in us and to eventually import us over to the US is just a huge encouragement and tells us what we are doing is something right
How different has it been working with a major label behind you?
Well now there are about a million different things going on more than before the deal (laughs), but thankfully they are doing a lot of it so it is a lot of heat off our backs because we have sort of been self managed and self run kind of up until the last six months, so between our management and Rise handling a lot of stuff we are going into a lot of new places and it is cool seeing all that happen but without having to do all the hard yards ourselves (laughs). Obviously there is still plenty for us to do, but seeing all the kids love all our stuff on youtube and facebook and everything has just been insane.
You guys will be releasing your debut full length Ground Dweller in March, how was the writing and preparation different when preparing for a full length?
For us, this is our first actual release because we had initially gone over to the US in 2010 to record an EP with Cam (Mizell, Chango Studios) and basically it ended up being that we had some trouble getting it finished and Cam tried shopping it around a few places but an EP wasn’t really giving us much of an opportunity to get something rolling. So we did a bit of soul searching and decided that it was best to actually go back into the studio and complete a full album, so we went back a year later, redid a lot of the original tracks, added on an extra 6 songs and made it a full length. I guess it has been a bit of a drawn out process for us, but I think over two years it has given us a lot of time to really rework things and rewrite lead parts and reproduce keys and change around drums beats to make something where we love every part of every song, so while it has been long it has been a great opportunity to just really make something special
What is the writing process like for Hands Like Houses?
We all have a very active role in it, generally speaking Coops and Alex will do most of the basic guitar work structuring to put together a loose song, then as we write keys and vocals and drums we kind of cut, change, re arrange things to make it all fit together. A lot of bands do have the sole song writer and we don’t really work that way, so that means we do get that diversity. Sometimes it is hard to get that control, just with so many different ideas and elements but that’s why we take a long time with our writing, we rewrite and rework until we are happy with every little part of every single song
As you said before you headed over to Florida to record. What made you decide that Chango Studios was the best fit to record in?
Well when we were initially looking around for where we wanted to do it, we felt that there wasn’t really the prospect of an Australian studio that was going to give us the sound that we wanted, so we came across Chango as at the time, I think, Broadway and Sleeping With Sirens and Oceana had all recorded there in the last 6 to 12 months prior to us looking around and we love those CD’s. So we sent off an email to Cam and he wrote back pretty excited because he was just getting started at the time as well, just starting to get a little bit of attraction with his own success, so to have an international band want to fly half way across the world to work with him, well he was pretty excited about that. So we made it all happen and just as we were getting things organized to get over there he got the first demos for Woe, Is Me and we fell in love with his sound, so we went in there and he did an amazing job of bringing it all together.
What has inspired and influenced your band’s sound this time around?
As a band we all have pretty broad tastes in music but as a band I guess we are most influenced by The Receiving End Of Sirens, Sleeping With Sirens, Circa Survive, Thrice. Also a lot of heavier stuff, we have a bit of influence from broad stuff like MeWithoutYou through to Attack Attack! through to Sleeping At Last and everything in between like heaps of hardcore, lots of metal, lots of pop, lots of indie stuff and I guess those are the biggest core ones like Emarosa as well, Dance Gavin Dance, I think has the most direct influence as a whole band rather than individually.
You have released a couple of tracks from the album, what has the feedback been like so far?
It has been insane, we have had the first two song, Animals and Lion Skin out for a year or two years now, and they have both had amazing responses especially when you know that there are still new people discovering them and losing their shit (laughs), which is awesome encouragement but especially Antarctica has been a really good gauge as it is kind of an older song for us, it was part of the original few songs we had for the EP, and so we have kind of gotten, not bored of it, but its kind of hard for us to gauge on our own so for it to have such a great response from people new and old has just been awesome. Lyrically it is one of my favourites and just seeing every part of the song kind of reach out to people has been awesome.
One of the tracks, Lion Skin, features guest vocals from Jonny Craig and Tyler Carter, how did that come about and can we expect some more surprises like that on the album?
I guess it came about because we were hanging out with Woe, Is Me and they were starting to record Number
straight after we had finished our first lot of tracks so we had some cross over time hanging out with them in the studio, had a few beers, had some hangs, played some sport, and Americans are really bad at sports (laughs), but anyway, but yeah we just hung out with them and the opportunity had come up. We had come back to Australia by that point and I was at work one day and got a call on my lunch break from Cam and I picked it up and Jonny and Tyler were like “Do you mind if we do a few lines on the song” and of course we said “Hell yeah” so that was very much a lucky thing and Cam, I guess, pulled a lot of strings to make that happen, so they listened to the stuff and wanted to be a part of it, there was no big money behind the scenes or anything to make it happen it was just purely luck based on the music. It has obviously been a great opportunity for us. I wouldn’t say it is a surprise but Matty Mullins from Memphis May Fire actually put down some vocals for our song Watchmaker, and that is actually one of my favourites on the album as well so I am really excited for everyone to hear that because he did an amazing job of that and once again I guess we kind of got lucky with them touring at the right time because we got to hang out with them and so when he got home he hit the studio and put down a few lines for Watchmaker and really helped make the song, so we have been very very lucky to make some good friends along the way.
With the album still a few months from being released, what can you tell us about it?
It is big, it is diverse, we have a lot of stuff going on. We have heavier songs, we have faster songs, we have more moody stuff. There is eleven tracks with ten full length songs and then one more electronic interlude. We are really proud with how it has come out and the mastering job Alan Douches did made it so clear, poppy and so smooth and you can really hear every aspect so we hope it’s something that people are actually going to be able to listen to over and over again and still find new things to appreciate about it. We couldn’t be more excited about getting it out there, it has been such a long time in the making, there isn’t really much more I can say about it except it is almost here, thank god, and yeah listen to it when it comes out and see what you think, I am definitely excited to see how it hits.
With an album waiting to be released, there is always the issue of it being leaked online. Are there any measures you guys have put in place to try and stop that from happening?
Yeah, we have been super protective, to the point where we weren’t even giving copies to our best friends, we have obviously given it to a few friends who were able to review it for us, but yeah we have been really super protective of it, even now we don’t keep or burn physical copies and if we do we hide them to keep them safe (laughs). We show friends stuff but we don’t really give it out. I guess the reality is, it is going to leak which does suck, but if it’s a couple of days before or a couple of weeks before, we are kind of nervous between now and then because if it does happen it will be somewhere along the production line, and I am sure those guys are putting in their own measures to make sure it doesn’t happen. I guess for us, people downloading our music is a reality, we know it is going to happen, it sucks but I guess the way we try and combat that is by actually making an album that is worth paying for and worth having. Stuff like piracy is going to happen and there is not much you can do about it these days, at the end of the day we have made something that we believe is worth having and worth paying for and we just ask people to support it if they enjoy it. If people are unsure about whether they are going to like it, then download it and listen to it and if you like it then go and pick up a CD, if not then delete it and be on your way (laughs). So I guess we are just trying really hard to keep it safe and so far so good.
Besides the signing, what were some of the highlights of the past year for you?
For me The Getaway Plan shows, we played two shows with them in November, that was a pretty big deal because first of all they are incredible live, they were two of the best shows I have ever seen in my life, and then being able to be a part of it was awesome. Travelling to Europe, I mean Europe came with its own set of struggles and it was a pretty small tour and we definitely roughed it with eating next to nothing and staying in some pretty dodgy places but the travelling and spending some time in London and getting to see Prague and a few awesome places like that was an awesome opportunity and of course earlier in the year being in the studio, we always have an amazing time being in the studio, my favourite part about being in a band is being able to create something, so yeah I guess getting over there and putting it all together and seeing it get finished has been awesome.
What does 2012 look like for Hands Like Houses?
We have got a few things almost locked in, we should be touring Australia to support the album in March, we have American tours lined up through till about August, so yeah just trying to lock that in, so we will be spending a lot of the year in the US promoting the album and the probably towards the end of the year we will start putting our heads down and writing again for the next one. We have got a lot to work out in the short term but there isn’t much we can do about that just yet.
Thanks for chatting with us. Is there anything else you wanted to add before we let you go?
No worries. Thanks to everyone who has actually come with us along the way, it sounds cheesy but the reality is that’s what has kept us going, they are the ones that have stuck with us and at the end of the day they are the ones that are going to be up supporting us for doing what we love full time. We are really grateful for everyone that listens to us and shares us and supports us because it really, honestly does make the difference between making this a hobby and a job and we are very lucky to get to do what we do so we are very grateful for everyone that helps us out.
Awesome, well thanks a lot and enjoy whatever else you have on for the rest of the day.
No problem, well I am going to have to head off to work soon but it is a lovely sunny day up in Queensland so I am not arguing.