2016 is only just into its third month but has already been the stuff of dreams for Canberra outfit Hands Like Houses. With a new album, new record label and a spot on one of the biggest tours of the year, things are looking up for the local lads. Lead singer Trenton Woodley caught up with Killyourstereo.com to discuss how the band is feeling, as well as new goals and reflections on the Canberra music scene.
Hi Trenton, what’s been going on?
I’ve just been doing errands and washing windows today. It’s been a full on 12 months; so to just settle into home life for a couple of months has been great.
I’m assuming the next 12 months are going to be even crazier.
Yeah, we have plenty of cool things lined-up. We hope that with this new record out that it won’t be quite as time consuming as the last one, which should be great. We are all feeling pretty good. We are still getting our heads around the fact that it’s out after all the delays and stresses of making it happen.
How did the deal with UNFD come about?
We wanted to work with UNFD since day one. But, as it worked out, with stuff happening in the US with our first album a few years ago it fell down the priority list a bit. But as it turned out, we ended up signing with Rise Records worldwide. We had that partnership to distribute in the US and vice versa. However, it just made sense to get that conversation going again, and UNFD have been a massive help in the way that they operate, and they have so much happening. They have been phenomenal in getting our stuff out and that seems to be the difference between pushing at the edge in Australia and then getting over [that] edge and making it.
Did they impose a time limit on this record, and was that different for you guys working on a new label?
Nah, it was pretty [casual], to be honest. Obviously, we had to re-evaluate our timing and strategy a bit more, but that wasn’t because of different time limits, but rather to make sure that everything hit in the best way. That’s the difference between an early year release in 2016 rather than a December release last year. We had to work with a new set of people who had a better understanding of how Australia works, so it made sense for us to have a global strategy rather than just what works best for the US, and then letting everything [else] happen.
What did you guys change with your sound this time to suit that strategy?
I guess we had to accept that if we want to have a career doing this then the live show has to be the linchpin for that. We have to make sure that every song is fun to jam live. It wasn’t about outdoing ourselves technically, but rather about creating songs that connected with an audience and with that heavier edge. That in itself has been a big connection, just that little bit of bite, as well as playing alongside heavier bands over the past year, so it has made sense. Obviously, we have some songs that might do better in Australia and some that will be better in the UK, but we will find out how that [eventuates].
What kind of subtle differences are there?
The UK is very pop-oriented. They really seem to be into groove and the funky kind of vibe with their sound. America like their big four to the floor, straight choruses. Australia is sort of in the middle. We seem to appreciate when something has depth. We don’t have much stomach for mediocrity. A lot of American bands are managing to survive and make a following over there, but over here people don’t give a crap if you don’t cut that higher standard that we have of ourselves.
Mentioning that heavier edge to the record, what were some artists that you listened to when recording this record? How did that inspire the sound?
A lot of bands that we came across during the process cemented how we were doing it, but the most obvious influence for us on this record is definitely the new Bring Me The Horizon stuff. We went to some older things like Deftones and Saosin, and Linkin Park. We [then] started thinking over what makes a big power chorus. But then listening to the new BMTH and even Beartooth, who we toured with and collaborated on a couple of tracks with Caleb, albums just for some outside opinion on what we were doing. A band called Nothing More also have some cool post rock vibes. Like Dead Letter Circus but a bit grittier. But yeah, we just wanted to make a good song regardless of genre.
I feel like there aren’t a heap of bands from Canberra that sign record deals. What’s going on in the Canberra scene at the moment?
Not a lot, unfortunately. Not to wax lyrical about it but Hands Like Houses was born in the golden age of Canberra music, which sounds way too quotable. This was when MySpace was changing the way we approached bands and consumed music. That connected us to this local venue called Sound Underground, and everyone went there. Confession, Carpathian, Parkway Drive, I Killed The Prom Queen…everyone came through that tiny little skate park venue, which was pretty crap, but it was the place to build a community around. We were lucky enough to meet each other through that process of playing in different bands and meeting other people that you make friends with. As people came and went, each of us filled the gaps until we ended up as we are now. In terms of nowadays, there is no vibe or venue. Every time a little place pops up, it just seems to get cut down by regulation or promoters giving up because there is nowhere to build a community around due to audiences being quite fickle in terms of what they do and don’t come out for. It’s something that we want to see change in future, and we are definitely looking into ways we can do that. You look at Peeking Duck and Safia…those guys have signed worldwide deals, so in terms of quality music, it’s not lacking. It’s just that community that lends itself to punk and hardcore is just lacking.
‘Dissonants’ is out now. You can read our album review here.
Catch Hands Like Houses supporting Northlane and In Hearts Wake, with Ocean Grove, this June.