They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and we sincerely hope that doesn’t ring true in respect to Canberra outfit Hands Like Houses.
For over a decade they’ve been a tour de force, and yet deep down we all knew that we could have appreciated them a little bit more. Until now, it always felt like Hands Like Houses would be playing another show in our area, promoting another record. But 2020 had different plans in mind, and like all of us, the band have had to adapt.
“It wiped out pretty much a year’s worth of touring,” frontman Trenton Woodley comments. “So obviously, it’s had a pretty significant impact on our income. We’re lucky that, between the last couple of tours, we’ve spread things out a bit, so that we were able to support ourselves a bit longer.” In lieu of touring, Woodley and the crew have started doing live streams, as well as running their own Patreon.
He continues: “It’s a cool opportunity to normalise different sorts of interaction types that people just wrote off earlier…It comes around full circle and makes us feel a lot more valued in what we’re doing. Hopefully, once we get around to touring, then it’ll complement things and make us come back even better and stronger.”
Woodley makes a good point. Livestreaming itself has copped its fair share of flack, with a lot of artists deemed not worth our hard earned money when it comes to digitally supporting them. Northlane’s recent stream was a case study for success, hopefully turning the tide in the digital content area of engagement.
“It’s crazy how OnlyFans has actually normalised that business model,” Woodley laughs. “It should have existed in music, people tried to make it happen, hell, I tried to make it exist a couple of years ago. But it took OnlyFans to normalise that business model and people are getting around it way more now.”
It’s not that Hands Like Houses didn’t have a loyal following until now. In fact, it’s the opposite. Since their debut album Ground Dweller, they’ve had significant success in what they call the “Warped world”. That first record had features from Tyler Carter, Matty Mullins and Jonny Craig (in the category of artists with allegations of engaging in misconduct, Woodley is the last man standing.)
“There was an eerie sense of familiarity when everything went down.”
“Features were very much the cross-over point,” Woodley explains. “Ground Dweller was always about making our collective influence as listenable as possible.” From there on, the band had a three album deal with Rise, aligning with UNFD for Dissonants and transitioning to a UNFD/Hopeless collab for the ride with Anon. Their relationship with UNFD meant that they were able to better foster their place in the Australian market, since it had felt like they were looking through a global lens for so long. It’s interesting to hear the answer from Woodley on whether or not he feels backed by his Australian audience.
“It’s such a hard thing to read,” he notes. “Like a lot of people, I’m getting less engaged on social media…I scroll past and read heaps of shit, but I never react to or respond to it.” He adds that he thinks it’s about sharing “the authentic side of yourself.” Ultimately, his conclusion is that Hands Like Houses “certainly do feel supported, but it’s only because we’ve actually started, especially in a post-COVID world, to have those conversations with our fans in this way.”
With their engagement with their fanbase, and every new release they’ve put out, it almost feels like Bruce Wayne finally figuring out how to drive the Batmobile. Every new output from Hands Like Houses is better than what it was before, and every move they make is informed by their wealth of experience across the scene for over ten years. With their self-titled EP on the way for release this October, they’re at the peak of applying what they’ve learned to their craft.
“For me,” Woodley articulates, “I’ve always tried to put a constructive spin on things. I feel like, with a lot of the songs that I wrote for Dissonants, people were trying to over-read into…I don’t know if they attached too much personality to it. So, Anon was this knee jerk reaction to that, of just trying to write away from my own problems.”
Now, Hands Like Houses are coming home to themselves. The fact that their forthcoming EP puts forth sentiments that resonate particularly at the time of this pandemic is simply an uncanny coincidence, as relevant as it may be. “It had nothing to do with what was coming ahead,” Woodley concludes. “But being in that space…There was an eerie sense of familiarity when everything went down.”