With their fourth studio album ‘-Anon.’, Hands Like Houses have delivered a collection of boisterous tracks that we’re going to replay, rewind and remember piece by piece!
By experimenting with new sounds and fresh lyrical concepts, the Australian rockers have added to their already incredible discography. Their new record marks a step forward in the band’s sound.
We recently caught up with vocalist Trenton Woodley and rhythm guitarist Alex Pearson. In our exclusive interview, they spoke about: the recording process for ‘-Anon.’, their favourite lyrics, touring the world, their plans for the future and much more.
You can read highlights and hear our full interview with Trenton and Alex below!
You’ve just released your fourth album ‘-Anon.’ – how would you say the reaction has been so far and what do you want people to take from it?
Trenton: “It’s been fantastic honestly. It’s obviously a bit of a different record for us; we like to think it’s not more different to the last record than the last record was to the one before that and so on and so forth. All in all, I think we were kind of preparing ourselves for a little bit more polarity on it but honestly people have been so stoked on hearing us in it which is awesome. We’ve always tried to do our thing in a way that still feels like us no matter what type of music we make and that’s carried. People have just been absolutely loving the record and singing all the new jams that we’re playing on tour. It’s been really good.”
Alex: “I think the whole point of ‘-Anon.’ and releasing it was for us to not really have to define a lot of things. People can take literally whatever they want to take from it; it’s not a purposeless album but it’s more what you want to take from it than what we have defined it to be.”
Trenton: “What we put in is not necessarily what we want people to take out. What we put in is for our own reasons but what people take out is what makes it more meaningful for them. It’s been really nice to have that open slather and let people take what they want from it.”
‘Sick’ and ‘Half-hearted’ are two of our favourites on the record – do you have a favourite at the moment or is that like picking between children?
Trenton: “To be honest, you’ve picked my two favourites. We’re playing a couple of different ones on this tour. We’re playing ‘Sick’, ‘Bad Dream’, ‘Tilt’, ‘Overthinking’, ‘Monster’ and we’re looking forward to breaking out a bunch more on future tours. The idea of favourite switches for different reasons.”
Alex: “It’s also hard because when you start playing a song, it may not necessarily be your favourite until someone’s reaction to it or how it’s presented live. When you then listen to it, you’re like ‘I remember when we played that, it’s really cool’. But yeah, ‘Sick’ is definitely a unanimous favourite.”
Was there a song that came really quick to you or one that took particularly long to perfect?
Trenton: “‘Black’ was more the latter there. That song got reinvented so many times because it started off as a kinda riffy almost ‘metalcore’ song… ‘metalcore’ in inverted commas because I hate using core at the end of anything. It started off as something real riffy; kind of similar to ‘Glasshouse’ off our last record. Then it just wasn’t working and we tried to make it something else a bit more progressive but that didn’t quite click either. Just that riff became the main thing… Colin (our producer) was like ‘there’s something really grimy and almost hip-hoppy to that’ so we actually referenced a lot of Post Malone with the song structuring and stuff like that. We made it a kind of almost trap heavy sludgey hip hop song.”
Alex: “It definitely went to a very different place.”
Trenton: “Yeah, ‘Black’ took a long time because it went through so many iterations and it was very nearly cut from the record. Coops was jamming around with some spooky lead guitar stuff.”
Alex: “I remember hearing this sound he was working on, it wasn’t even necessarily a part but it was just this sound and it was freaking me out. He was sitting hunched over the computer with this weird shit going on. It was interesting.”
Trenton: “As far as coming together quickly, I think ‘Sick’ was one of the ones that happened most quickly. I was working with Colin on ‘No Man’s Land’ in the studio because we were set up at my house doing pre-production and Colin came out to Australia in February. I was kind of working with him on that. Coops and Joel were just jamming around outside to some drum loops that Colin had brought around and ‘Sick’ just started coming together out of that. We were like ‘dude, that is actually really cool’ so we actually took that in the next morning and I think we had it written more or less by the end of the day. We tracked it the next day and all of the vocals we actually did in my studio actually ended up being the ones on the record for like 80% of the song. It just kind of happened and then it just felt like this catalyst moment that was like this is what the album is about so let’s double down on this feel and this vibe. That kind of shaped the record from there.”
At the time of doing this interview, you’ve released music videos for ‘Overthinking’ and ‘Monster’ from the new record. How did you find filming those? ‘Monster’ has lots of cool after effects.
Trenton: “Yeah, that one we shot in like two days. We actually shot three videos in four days. The ‘Overthinking’ one we did in the house that we were staying in. We’d seen the ‘This Is America’ video by Childish Gambino with that single-shot thing and that’s obviously a very big and very cool video. We thought ‘cool, can we do something like that just kind of through the house?”
Alex: “A much smaller scale kind of thing.”
Trenton: “Yeah, I guess it was kind of doing that mindfuckery of moving to a room where everyone is there and then turning around and looking back and they’re all gone. You can’t really load in a full drum kit in a matter of seconds so it was kind of a bit of creativity on the editing side of things there. I think we shot it in a couple of hours and that was it. The same with the ‘Monster video’; that was one that we shot at a green screen studio in LA.”
Alex: “We also shot half of it at the house as well.”
Trenton: “Yeah, we actually shot a lot of stuff on a little green screen.”
Alex: “It was all very D.I.Y. We just sat there and were like ‘I hope this works out’ and sent all of this footage to one of our friends. We were just like we want this kind of Andy Warhol sort of vibe.”
Trenton: “Yeah, Warhol meets Hitchcock which are obviously quite interesting and quite different visual styles but the way he managed to kind of bring them together into this real kind of spooky grainy cool mix of effects just came out so well. It’s one of my favourite videos we’ve ever done. We spent the other two days recording a video out in the desert which is yet to come out.”
Can you say which song the third video will be for? We’d love to see a video for ‘Sick’ or ‘Tilt’.
Alex: “I don’t know if we can. We haven’t necessarily committed to when it’s going to come out and stuff so I think we’d better keep it up under wraps.”
If you could go back and release another single from one of your previous albums, which song or songs would you choose? Were there any that you really wish you did a video for?
Trenton: “I would like to have done one for ‘Stillwater’ just to give that song more attention. That was one of my favourite songs off the last record that is kind of like one of those sleeper songs. We love playing it live and put it in every two or three tours because it’s such a vibey song. I think there would have been some really cool dark visuals we could have done with that but I don’t know.”
Alex: “I feel like we’ve chosen our songs that we do either videos for or chosen as singles, like we’ve put a lot of thought into it or it’s just like it’s an obvious thing. I think going back to the songs that we may not have done videos for, I can’t think of… I was trying to think back to ‘Unimagine’ and we did ‘Fire On A Hill’ and ‘Tale Of Outer Suburbia.’”
‘Monster’ was recently selected as the official theme song of WWE’s Super Showdown – how did that come about and is it quite overwhelming?
Alex: “Yeah, the wrestles. The big wrestles.”
Trenton: “It’s cool, I think it’s kind of the first real like mainstream break we’ve had. It’s pretty cool in that regard just to see it reaching people.”
Alex: “In terms of how it came about, it was literally just like an email was sent one morning that was replied to within two seconds. Obviously when someone is like ‘do you want to do this?’, you’re just like ‘yeah, where do I sign?’ and then they started playing it a matter of hours after that.”
CelebMix: “Was it always ‘Monster’ in mind?”
Trenton: “We presented ‘Sick’ and ‘Monster’ to them but they just loved ‘Monster’. This happened through our American label; there’s a guy named Josh at Hopeless whose entire job is like Spotify placements and radio work and that sort of stuff. That’s like his entire role and he has so many great relationships with people all over the board so it just came across the right person’s desk at the right time. He said it’s one of the quickest approvals they’ve ever gotten.”
In 2016, you played a special show in London where you performed ‘Dissonants’ front to back. Are there plans to do the same with ‘-Anon.’ at some point?
Trenton: “It’d be cool to. I know we’re talking about some festival stuff next year and kind of starting to shape up our touring plans for next year. There was talk of if we’re doing one of these festivals for example, there is facility to do a couple of side shows. If we did do that, maybe we’d do a little underplay in London. Like a 400-500 cap room in London and we could do an ‘-Anon.’ front to back which would be a lot of fun. I dunno, we’ll see. The potential is there and we’d love to do it.”
Alex: “I think it’s generally like a later in the cycle thing; once it’s really kind sunk in with people. I think that’s a better time to do it. We’re coming over here like three days after releasing the record.”
Trenton: “We’ll see. There’s no specific plans but it’s definitely an idea we’d be very into.”
With ‘-Anon.’ just released, we imagine you’ll be incredibly busy for the foreseeable future. What things do you have in store?
Trenton: “We’re trying to be a bit more focused with our touring these days rather than just grinding it out 365 days a year because we’ve been there and we’ve done that. It does take a toll on us. We’re trying to create better shows and better environments and even just a better mental state for us. I think doing better shows slightly less often is a lot more effective for us. That said, we’re talking about all our plans for next year. We’ve got the Australian tour and then we’re going to South Africa off the back of that. From there, we’re just trying to look at a bunch of festivals and routing and seeing how it all kind of falls together. It’s a lot of moving pieces and thankfully there’s some pretty cool pieces on the board. Fingers crossed it goes everywhere.”
CelebMix: “And the third music video too.”
Alex: “That will be early next year I reckon.”
Trenton: “To he honest, ‘Monster’ has been doing such cool things that we just want to let that run. As that’s worked its magic, that’s when it’s kind of pick up on that and carry the momentum through. It’s still growing so you don’t want to nip it in the bud too early and almost confuse it with another single off the back of that but we do have one up our sleeves and we’re looking forward to seeing how that lands.”
If you could leave a message for your fans, what would you say?
Trenton: “I mean probably the same thing we always say with that question. Thanks for coming to shows, thanks for singing along, thanks for approaching what we do with an open mind and embracing us as people as much as musicians as much as writers of people’s favourite songs. We do this for ourselves, first and foremost, but the fact we can share that with people and create this mutual experience is the reason for us to tour otherwise we could just write songs in our garage and record it and be done with it. The fact that we tour is because there is something we’ve done for ourselves and put it out to the world for people to take on… the fact they have taken that on is what gives us the opportunity. So thank you for the opportunity to do that and to be on the other side of the planet playing shows; that’s not to be underestimated even after 10 years of being a band. It’s something we don’t take for granted and we’re looking forward to what comes next.”
‘-Anon’ is available to purchase here on iTunes and stream here on Spotify. The ten-track record, which was released last month via Hopeless Records, features Hands Like Houses’ latest singles: ‘Overthinking’ and ‘Monster‘. As mentioned in the interview, a third video is set to follow soon.
To promote their new material, Hands Like Houses are touring the world. They recently played a string of shows in the UK, they’re currently impressing crowds across America and they’re soon to embark on their biggest Australian tour to date. You can view a list of their concerts here online.
What do you think of ‘-Anon.’ by Hands Like Houses? Which are your favourite tracks on the record? Make sure you let us know over on Twitter @CelebMix!