Canberra post-hardcore 6 piece Hands Like Houses are one of the hardest working bands right now, constantly touring and working up their reputation overseas as well as locally. Somehow during a brief break from 5 solid months on the road, they managed to get away and revisit some songs from their sophomore album, Unimagine, and rework them completely, releasing the acoustic EP, Reimagine. I had a chat with vocalist Trenton Woodley about their touring schedule and how Reimagine came about, and came together.

How has your day been so far?

It’s been great! First sunny day in a few weeks so just been getting outside and getting a few things done.

You guys are in Canberra aren’t you?

The majority of the band is, I actually live just behind Newcastle on a property out here which is awesome.

Bit rural yeah?

Yeah it’s good. Get away from people a little bit. You spend so much time around people on tour it’s nice to get a bit further away when we’re not.

Absolutely. And you guys have been touring… I guess ‘relentlessly’ is probably a word I could use…

(laughs) Yep! Probably.

You  did a national tour, then you did an international tour and coming up to another national tour.

Yeah we had the Australian run then we went from that straight into a full US tour, then from there went across to the UK for our first headline run over there which was awesome. Then we went back to the US, did half a tour with Chiodos and Emarosa which was mad and then did another headline run across from one side of the US to the other and then flew out home, did a round of club shows and finally got some time off after 5 months.

But you love the touring?

Yeah for sure.

So would you say the US tour was successful, you had a good run of shows there?

Yeah. This year we’ve done a lot of headlining runs after doing some great support tours in the last couple of years and it’s really encouraging to see just the natural growth and how many people have latched on to what we’re doing and aren’t just kind of being ‘force fed’ our music because they came to see the band we’re playing with. Very affirming and great to have had the chance to headline this year and looking forward to seeing how this next home run goes.

Are you excited to be playing for the Australian fans again?

Absolutely. Australia’s been great, especially because we haven’t really had the big press push and we haven’t had the hype value that we have had overseas because we have just spent so much time overseas so just to see 6 months after our Australian run here just to kind of see how much things have grown on their own… Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Have there been any highlights on the tours recently? Anything spectacular happening?

We’ve had a bunch! I mean every time you play a big show, especially a full room, whether it’s the size of your lounge room or a 500 or 1000 capacity venue, when you’re playing those full rooms there’s just such a great vibe. Having a bunch of people in one place enjoying themsleves creates this real vibe. For us, it’s hard to lock it down. The bigger shows are sometimes easier to remember because there are a lot more people but I think every show we’ve really done on the headline runs, especially the sold out ones, have always been really positive and something we’ll remember.

Anything offstage worth mentioning, or is it a matter of what ‘happens on tour, stays on tour?’

(laughs) We’re not that kind of ‘to the wall’ type band. I think most of the funny stuff that happens is all in-jokes anyway. I could tell you, and I’d have a great time, but I don’t think anyone else would really get it. We’re very much a tight group when we’re on the road. We’ve got a lot of funny moments but they’re mostly ‘had to be there’s.’

It’s probably better that way anyway.

Yeah.


Now you guys have just released your new EP, Reimagine which is alternate versions of songs from Unimagine. What was the drive behind deciding to revisit these songs?

We’ve always, I guess, explored the songs particularly from an acoustic perspective. From back in the early days, even before we did Ground Dweller, we’d actually done a couple of those songs acoustically which became the Snow Sessions YouTube series, I suppose, which was never meant to be a really big thing but people really enjoyed it. I mean, we enjoyed the process: not so much the snow. (laughs) But the actual writing and recording of those versions was great and we’ve always kind of done it so we had the opportunity over the Australian summer to spend a little bit of time away, we went up into the hills in the Snowy Mountains and locked down for a week and a bit just writing together and just playing through things and seeing what worked. It was just a good experience to be able to do that, and it just kind of happened organically and naturally after that. We didn’t bother booking studio time until we had the songs written, then we thought “Yeah, this is working. Let’s book some time.” We managed to find a week between tours in the US while we were over there, jumped in the studio with Erik [Ron, producer] and we got it all done. Once we had all that finished and felt good about what was coming out we got on the phone to Rise and said “look we’ve got this, let’s make it work” and ended up with a release date. So being quite a natural and progressive project, we were able to be quite relaxed which was good to the creative process…

You say there’s an acoustic perspective, but when you listen to the songs they’re not really acoustic versions rather they’re very intricate reworkings of them.

Well we wanted to build it up so that if people came across this and they’d never heard of us before then it did make sense on its own. They wouldn’t have to think we’re this loud and energetic rock band, which we definitely enjoy, but at the same time we really wanted to make sure these songs were justified on their own. You know, every man and his dog has put out an acoustic EP lately so, to be able to do it and go beyond just picking up an acoustic guitar to the point where the acoustic guitars really are a minimal feature of the EP, we really wanted to do it justice. And if it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out and you know, we haven’t wasted a lot of time on it. But it all just came together really naturally and we’re stoked.

So you did all the writing up at Little Plain, how much did the environment impact your approach with the arrangements?

Well just being up there in a house where, well there was running water but you had to go up and turn it on at the tank every morning because the toilet was broken and leaked, so we weren’t able to use the toilet at all, but being pretty much disconnected from everything was just good. We’d get up, we’d have breakfast, jump in the room and jump on the instruments. Whether it’s one of us just palying around on guitar with one other person, basically all we really had to do up there was just get stuck into the music and play the instruments all day, every day, for the week and a bit. We jammed all sorts of other things, we practiced songs, we jammed around and just enjoyed the process. By being in kind of a sparse environment with pretty much nothing around meant we really could lock down on what we were there for.

If you went back up there to write new songs, for a new album, would they come out in the same style, or would they be classic Hands Like Houses?

Well we’ve started writing for our next album, just kind of putting the ideas together before we start really fleshing it out and we have discussed that we would love to get back up to Little Plain if not somewhere similar, to do the same sort of thing. Even since the band was very young, before I joined, lockdowns were quite a common practice for writing and practicing and getting things together. I’m sure we’ll all do that but that doesn’t it’ll come out sounding necessarily anything like it. I’m sure as the album comes together I’m sure we’ll head up there to take on the things we learnt, and the things we enjoyed about doing the Reimagine EP and take that into whatever’s next, however it sounds.

Wes Fahey

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