House Vs. Hurricane | Chris Shaw

House Vs. Hurricane are back, and they’re doing things on their own terms. 

Self-recorded, mixed externally, and now three years in the making, their new and third album overall, ‘Filth’, picks up right where the Melbourne group left off with 2012’s ballsy and energetic ‘Crooked Teeth’. Since performing at this year’s UNIFY, and after recently running through a couple live dates in April, House Vs. Hurricane’s guitarist/songwriter Chris Shaw [pictured far right] talks this comeback album, trying to start another band, working with UNFD, loving Every Time I Die, and the future of HVH. Check it out below!

First off, Chris, the artwork for ‘Filth’ – who came up with that image of the two mannequins on top of each other?

Well, they’re actually not mannequins, they’re contortionists! I hired a couple contortionists for this record cover. Pat Fox did our artwork, and he and Riz [Ryan McLerie, guitar/vocals] nutted this whacky idea out one day and I just went “Yep, that sounds good”. As I did most of the writing, I just wanted to stay out of the other art process as much as possible and wanted another pair of eyes on it. So what’s what they came up with and it’s awesome – I love it. Especially the colour scheme.

Cool, and yes, it really does stand out! With you trying to create a new band post HVH, you’ve stated before that you auditioned multiple musicians for this other project. Were there any other well-known Australian musicians from the local heavy scene that you tried to recruit?

Yeah, there were a few well-known ones! I will keep them anonymous here, though, as some were really fantastic and some not so fantastic. Overall, though, it wasn’t a case of them not being good, it was a matter of them just not fitting the sound and vision that I had. I eventually just came to the realisation that this album was intended for Daniel [Casey, vocals] and Riz.

In saying that, was the original direction and sound of that other project different to that of HVH’s?

Yeah… kinda. It was much more guitar focused, which you see here. Two or three of the songs were written prior to House breaking up, and I then extended from those songs into this new record. I’d always kept the songs not as wild and as fast on past releases, as we had so much going on vocally and with the synths from the old days. Even on ‘Crooked Teeth’, there was a lot going on and we had riffs on top of breakdowns instead of them actually being riffs. With this record, I wrote it all in my room and I had no limit to what I could write… and out came this angry guitar record!

Right on. You know, the first time I heard this record, I thought, “Wow, they’ve ben listening to a lot of Every Time I Die.”

Well, that’s my favourite band! [Laughs]. We wanted something more aggressive this time. Also, for me, it’s also more challenging to play which is fun. It’s all at least 30BPM faster than ‘Crooked Teeth’.

It really is and that ETID sound really comes across. Also, with trying to start a new band, did it bum you out at all that this project wasn’t working and that things would turn towards another HVH release?

At first, when it was happening, it did bum me out, as I spent so much time writing and I was loving what was coming out. But when I had the conversation with Riz and Dan about doing another House record and I heard their demos of these songs, I was so happy with it as opposed to it being anything else. I wouldn’t want any other vocalists being on board for this album. Riz and I have worked together since I was 17 – I’m 28 now. He understands my writing, my riffs and how I approach the time signatures and rhythms. Even with Dan, when we privately auditioned him for ‘Crooked Teeth’ after Christopher left [in 2011], he sent us the worst quality demo – it was from his phone or something – but it was so perfect and it worked so well for our sound. Here and now, it was a breath of fresh air and a relief to have them both on the album.

I saw HVH far too many times prior to the break-up, but Dan and Ryan just made it work so well live. Also, speaking of Dan, one of his lines on the song ‘Pillowtalk’ goes “You bought tickets to your own show? SELLOUT!” Is that something HVH once got written off with or is that a dig at other bands? Cause I know one in particular who has done that…

[Laughs] that song isn’t really written about our band at all, just about a person in particular that I won’t go into. I don’t think we’ve ever been accused of being sellouts either. I don’t pay much attention to what other people say. I mean, I’ve been pretty thick skinned ever since releasing a hardcore synth crossover EP [‘2008’s Forfeiture’] that then got written off all over the Internet. [Laughs].

Fair enough! Was just curious as it’s a standout line in that song, and man, I loved that EP! Now, Chris, what’s the end game here with HVH in this post-reunion phase?

Well… I wouldn’t officially say that we’re back together, which is a very ironic statement I know. Everyone except for me is married, three of us have kids now, our schedules are pretty hectic, and we all live in three different states. We just won’t be a full-time band again; it just won’t happen unless something major comes up. So for us, it’s more about us doing this new record and making this a really fun outlet for ourselves. It’s about scratching the itch for us creatively now. There’s nothing set in stone for us and we like that. We were on tour for ‘Crooked Teeth’ for a long time and that put a strain on us, and our relationships at home. To come back with a record, it’s nice to know that there are no expectations held down on us.

I do imagine that it is quite liberating, and it’s great to hear that it’s also fun again for you dudes. 

Yeah! And not that it wasn’t fun before, but we just did a run in April, and it was like old mates hanging out, cracking the same old jokes and being the same old idiots. If we play a bad show and if something breaks, it’s no longer the end of the world. There’s no incentive to tour and we can now enjoy each other’s company.

That’s rad. With the business side of this album and UNFD, how did they take to the band’s wishes of not touring and of you all just doing this band whenever possible?

They were cool with it! And I think that was because ‘Crooked Teeth’ was one of the first UNFD releases back in the day after they switched over from Boomtown Records. We have a really good working relationship with them, as there’s no real expectation either way for us both.

Glad to hear that Chris, not every band can get that from their label when they get back together.

It was real lovely, yeah. We walked off stage at UNIFY this year and Luke Logemann came up to me and was like “I want this new House record” and I just said, “Yeah, let’s do it!” It’s really cool to see the people who were fans of the band in the past still wanting to work with us for this record.

Good to hear dude! That’s actually all I had for you, Chris, so thank you for taking the time for this interview and hope this new record’s release goes well!

No dramas at all Alex, thank you!

‘Filth’ is out June 2nd via UNFD!

HvH Filth Cover HiRes

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