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Hands Like Houses: From The Ground Up

Between tours in the US and UK Hands Like Houses haven’t seen home in a while – now they’re back and frontman Trenton Woodley wants to ensure everyone else knows too. 

Hands Like Houses

In July of 2013 Canberra’s Hands Like Houses released Unimagine, their second LP on Rise Records, and in the short year since have played the Vans Warped Tour in both the USA and Australia, played across three continents over nine separate tours, and played their first headline tours to sold-out venues. They’re finally back home and, as Trenton Woodley admits on the phone from Newcastle, still trying to find their feet in the Australian scene.

“You get good days and bad days having time off. Sometimes you just wake up in the morning and think, ‘What am I going to do with myself today?’ But it is great to be home, to get a breather, to be able to look forward to things again and be able to work on a few things. Work a bit, save a bit of money, we’re doing well but not quite well enough that we’re coming home and just riding off the back of it, we’re still working.

“I don’t actually have a day job at the moment, not for lack of trying, I’ve just been learning to build a few bits and pieces. And to actually have a chance to sit down and write, rather than pack it in with touring, which we had to do for Unimagine very much.”

Making their mark at home is an uphill battle that began with their signing to Rise Records – a blessing and curse that saw their international profile skyrocket as they joined a roster that includes Hot Water Music, Transit and Of Mice & Men.

“Rise have a pretty broad ranging line-up, even though they’ve been slandered a bit for having a bunch of generic post-hardcore bands, they actually have a pretty broad roster,” says Woodley. “Their social media and internet marketing machine that they have in play is really, really good and that’s what gave us a head start around the world, that’s what they do brilliantly, even though they have this really small office they have a huge pull and a huge audience, which is a great opportunity.”

Despite the opportunity, difficulties arose getting their debut album Ground Dweller from the US-based label into Australian stores in time for the release.

“We had shipping problems that meant it wasn’t in store until a month and a half after release and by the time we’d actually signed a record deal and recorded the album we had tours lined up in the US, so we really didn’t get a proper chance to sink our teeth into Australia until Unimagine came out. We almost had to start again here with that album.”

Spots on the local Warped Tour helped that, but Woodley admits that sometimes it feels as though Hands Like Houses missed the ‘local band’ stage at home.

“The US has always been our biggest market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best – it’s just got the most people, the most shows, because the music industry over there is a lot larger and obviously with the number of cities that they have a few hours apart from each other it makes it a lot more viable.

“I think people here are very appreciative of music, especially when they catch on that it’s actually Australian,” Woodley continues before referencing our national malady, tall poppy syndrome, as one of a number of reasons the band took off overseas. “I think we have a tendency to get this mentality that Australian bands aren’t that great, but we’ve obviously seen a million exceptions to that. Tonight Alive, Northlane, Parkway Drive, they’re all killing it overseas, plus a few others are doing really well.

“I guess it’s just a reflection of the state of things that sometimes bands are discovering that if you make it overseas it’s actually translating back here quicker and more effectively than if we were to blow up here and go overseas.”

When the band gauge that translation with their headline tour this September and October they’ll be spruiking a new EP bridging the gap between Unimagine and its as-yet-untitled follow-up.

“We’ve got about six or seven songs together musically as a framework, it’s very early days but we’re trying to write as much as possible and get the bulk of it together before we make any decisions. There’s not much I can say as there’s not much we’ve decided on, but we’re feeling pretty good about it.”

Woodley is enjoying the time off he currently finds himself with, using it to trial new approaches for writing lyrics.

“I actually did a huge amount of writing for Unimagine just by driving late shifts on the road on tour, driving three, four hours and just daydreaming the whole time trying to come up with ideas, and a number of songs came out of that. But having to adjust to new writing dynamics is what keeps the band moving and keeps the band growing.”

While nothing is locked in, the band have a shortlist of three producers for the album including James Paul Wisner, who did Unimagine. “But obviously we want to keep progressing as well so we have to try and improve the sound or change enough that people don’t just feel like it’s another copy of Unimagine,” explains Woodley.

Elsewhere on the shortlist is Forrester Savell, who has worked with Dead Letter Circus and Karnivool in the past, and would enable the band to record in Australia; the band are also considering going across to Thailand to work with Shane “Buddha” Edwards, who used to be at Electric Sun, but is now working over at Karma Sound Studios.

With plans to record early next year, this far out a laughing Woodley can only confess that “It’s going to be a tough decision”.

In July of 2013 Canberra’s Hands Like Houses released Unimagine, their second LP on Rise Records, and in the short year since have played the Vans Warped Tour in both the USA and Australia, played across three continents over nine separate tours, and played their first headline tours to sold-out venues. They’re finally back home and, as Trenton Woodley admits on the phone from Newcastle, still trying to find their feet in the Australian scene.

“You get good days and bad days having time off. Sometimes you just wake up in the morning and think, ‘What am I going to do with myself today?’ But it is great to be home, to get a breather, to be able to look forward to things again and be able to work on a few things. Work a bit, save a bit of money, we’re doing well but not quite well enough that we’re coming home and just riding off the back of it, we’re still working.

“I don’t actually have a day job at the moment, not for lack of trying, I’ve just been learning to build a few bits and pieces. And to actually have a chance to sit down and write, rather than pack it in with touring, which we had to do for Unimagine very much.”

Making their mark at home is an uphill battle that began with their signing to Rise Records – a blessing and curse that saw their international profile skyrocket as they joined a roster that includes Hot Water Music, Transit and Of Mice & Men.

“Rise have a pretty broad ranging line-up, even though they’ve been slandered a bit for having a bunch of generic post-hardcore bands, they actually have a pretty broad roster,” says Woodley. “Their social media and internet marketing machine that they have in play is really, really good and that’s what gave us a head start around the world, that’s what they do brilliantly, even though they have this really small office they have a huge pull and a huge audience, which is a great opportunity.”

Despite the opportunity, difficulties arose getting their debut album Ground Dweller from the US-based label into Australian stores in time for the release.

“We had shipping problems that meant it wasn’t in store until a month and a half after release and by the time we’d actually signed a record deal and recorded the album we had tours lined up in the US, so we really didn’t get a proper chance to sink our teeth into Australia until Unimagine came out. We almost had to start again here with that album.”

Spots on the local Warped Tour helped that, but Woodley admits that sometimes it feels as though Hands Like Houses missed the ‘local band’ stage at home.

“The US has always been our biggest market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best – it’s just got the most people, the most shows, because the music industry over there is a lot larger and obviously with the number of cities that they have a few hours apart from each other it makes it a lot more viable.

“I think people here are very appreciative of music, especially when they catch on that it’s actually Australian,” Woodley continues before referencing our national malady, tall poppy syndrome, as one of a number of reasons the band took off overseas. “I think we have a tendency to get this mentality that Australian bands aren’t that great, but we’ve obviously seen a million exceptions to that. Tonight Alive, Northlane, Parkway Drive, they’re all killing it overseas, plus a few others are doing really well.

“I guess it’s just a reflection of the state of things that sometimes bands are discovering that if you make it overseas it’s actually translating back here quicker and more effectively than if we were to blow up here and go overseas.”

When the band gauge that translation with their headline tour this September and October they’ll be spruiking a new EP bridging the gap between Unimagine and its as-yet-untitled follow-up.

“We’ve got about six or seven songs together musically as a framework, it’s very early days but we’re trying to write as much as possible and get the bulk of it together before we make any decisions. There’s not much I can say as there’s not much we’ve decided on, but we’re feeling pretty good about it.”

Woodley is enjoying the time off he currently finds himself with, using it to trial new approaches for writing lyrics.

“I actually did a huge amount of writing for Unimagine just by driving late shifts on the road on tour, driving three, four hours and just daydreaming the whole time trying to come up with ideas, and a number of songs came out of that. But having to adjust to new writing dynamics is what keeps the band moving and keeps the band growing.”

While nothing is locked in, the band have a shortlist of three producers for the album including James Paul Wisner, who did Unimagine. “But obviously we want to keep progressing as well so we have to try and improve the sound or change enough that people don’t just feel like it’s another copy of Unimagine,” explains Woodley.

Elsewhere on the shortlist is Forrester Savell, who has worked with Dead Letter Circus and Karnivool in the past, and would enable the band to record in Australia; the band are also considering going across to Thailand to work with Shane “Buddha” Edwards, who used to be at Electric Sun, but is now working over at Karma Sound Studios.

With plans to record early next year, this far out a laughing Woodley can only confess that “It’s going to be a tough decision”.  

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