Hands Like Houses are readying the release of their first body of work since 2018’s much-frothed album -Anon. Recorded in a beach house in the NSW Central Coast suburb of Avoca, the Canberra rock monsters’ self-titled LP is slated to crash ashore on Friday, 23rd of October. So far we’ve heard two tracks — ‘Space’ and ‘The Water’ — both of which see the lads experiment with a more chilled-out style of alternative rock, pivoting away from the heavy melodic metalcore of their roots.
Now, to celebrate the upcoming release of the rest of the Hands Like Houses EP, we got bandmates Trenton Woodley & Alex Pearson to interview each other about the recording process, and the results are essential reading for any HLH fan. Cop a squiz below.
Hands Like Houses’ Trenton Woodley & Alex Pearson Interview Each Other
Trenton: Let’s dive straight in yeah?
Alex: Go for it!
T: Alright so the beach house where we recorded in Avoca was awesome – what did you love most about it?
A: That house was amazing – we’ve had some pretty tough housing situations when recording so this was a treat and a half. My room was great but I would’ve loved a balcony room, you know I’m the diva so I need the best of the best!
T: Haha I won’t argue, I was downstairs but did have an ocean view at least. How much did you love walking up the hill from the beach?
A: That hill and that beach kept me the fittest I’d been but I definitely felt like I had emphysema when reaching the top… a cruel reminder I should jog more and drink less.
T: I feel ya… that hill sucked. Speaking of, which bar in Terrigal is the blurriest in your memory?
A: Haha, big shout out to Mumbo’s – probably one of my favourite bars ever I reckon. Could definitely become a permanent resident!
T: I feel like staying back to work on songs was definitely a good call on my part haha. You guys never came back quietly haha.
A: For surreeeee. Alright your turn: we’ve recorded all over the place, so how was this time different?
T: It was close to home, even more so for me than you guys, so it definitely had a weird sense of normality that ended up making it a bit harder to focus or commit fully to the experience of it. I reckon we learned enough that we could definitely do it again and do it better, but it made it what it is. Is there much you’d do differently? Or anything you wouldn’t change?
A: First thing I’d do differently is extend our writing or idea collaborating time before the actual studio time starts… more time for ideas to sink in and get legs before we record them. Time is always what I’d change – studio sessions never seem long enough when you look back on them. I don’t think that feeling will ever change though because we are our own worst critics. What about you? What’s your favourite part of recording? Anything make your blood boil?
T: You know me, my favourite part of recording is putting together a tone or part, like deciding how it should sound and how you can make it sound that way. Whether that’s playing with pedals, or choosing mics and where they go, or designing a synth tone, but to be honest that probably ends up the most frustrating part for me about writing in the studio itself – it’s having to put that fun stuff aside to write words haha.
A: Were either of those part of the process this time?
T: 100%. I had to lock myself away in my room downstairs with my phone and wifi off and a song on loop, trying to turn melodies into lyrics and vice versa. I did try to balance it though, if I lock myself up too hard I lose connection to the music so being able to plug a few things in sometimes helps haha. Probably drove you guys nuts coming up and just asking questions about what’s being used at any particular moment.
A: Haha you definitely did but for a bunch of other reasons too probably haha!
T: Yeah… on a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you wanna kick me out of the band?
A: 100 haha. You were definitely a pain in the arse but that’s just recording for us. Everyone goes through their own process and we seem to love making each other’s job a challenge but in the end we always pull through. A bit of conflict brings the goods I reckon.
T: I reckon you just gave up on trying to beat me (or anyone) at table tennis.
A: Haha I was too busy writing the hits, no time for distractions!
T: Yeah whatever haha. But to be fair we did give ourselves plenty of chances for downtime to calm the nerves and keep the creative vibes fresh.
A: How bummed were you that my team always won?
T: Haha didn’t we only play twice? Once or twice does not ‘always’ make, my friend… but hey. I’m a team. I’m a team player and I got stuck with the American 😉 nah he actually did well. Beach soccer is a totally different animal to the real deal though. Running in sand sucks the life out of you. I had fun though.
A: Speaking of America, would you wanna record in Australia again or go back to LA?
T: Not that the latter is an option right now haha… but I like both and I’d happily do either. Really just depends on what we’re working on. I reckon I wouldn’t wanna go back to recording over there unless it was a full album I reckon. Or a writing trip where it’s only a couple of us so it’s not spending a bunch of money getting there for two or three songs haha.
A: I’d definitely be up for that.
T: So obviously we were somewhat limited in our gear etc. being in a house, rather than a “real” studio, but which song had your favourite guitar tone? Do you remember the setup?
A: One thing that was actually awesome this time round was a bunch of the songs we actually used some of the demo guitars I’d done, using Logic’s built in amps or some of my Kemper tones. They just suited the mood and tone of the song. We used a lot more pushed cleans rather than high gain amps which was also a nice change from our usual. I can’t remember the exact amp or profile for ‘The Water’ rhythms but it was a juicy boy and probably my fave.
T: I actually think it was combination of Colin’s Kemper (maybe a Fender profile?) and my little Blackstar HT1 with a sick overdrive pedal in front of it. Colin (Brittain, producer) always has a rad collection of pedals he brings out haha.
A: Speaking of, you were initially pretty hesitant about ‘The Water’ when we had the demo idea, what was the turning point?
T: ‘The Water’ was just hard – we had this song and ‘Wired’ both kinda happening at the same time and so I can’t really remember which one was driving most of the stress. You know me – I’m a “take an idea and run with it” kinda guy, but getting that initial idea is the biggest hurdle and these songs were just outside of my own usual circle of influences so I had no idea where to start. I did a shit job of communicating that effectively to you guys though, I think I had you thoroughly convinced that I hated the song when I just had no idea what to do with it. I reckon that’s why both songs have such a strong vibe of “I’m not cut out for this” lyrically haha. I honestly think I left the studio confident in the songs though, once the ideas started flowing it felt natural from there. Just needed that spark, ya know? What about you? Which song has been the biggest ‘grower’ for you?
A: I had an interesting relationship with ‘Space’. I loved the demo then thought it wasn’t enough of a change from where we’d been musically so it fell by the wayside. Then as we were choosing singles and it started getting mixed I loved it again. Now that it’s been spun so hard on the radio here in AUS I’m loving it more and more, and now ‘The Water’s been formally added so that’s mad! Was there a lyric from ‘The Water’ that you’re most proud of?
T: Hm… I think for me it’s the ‘return’ line in the chorus, “don’t make it harder than it has to be, this place was never meant for someone like me.” The way that melody runs is like water for me, gravity pulling it downwards, like a cascade. The melody just wanders down like water running over the music underneath it. I know that sounds super meta but I think that melody is what makes the lyric so important to me. In that moment, the song was about finding confidence in moving on – not necessarily from the band or any given situation, but just the principle of it because that’s the emotional journey I was on at the time. Hopefully people aren’t reading this thinking we’re calling it quits haha.
A: Haha no wayyy. OK, I’ve got one more question for you: what was your favourite studio snack… your guilty little treat?
T: I have no guilt, shame nor regret when it comes to snackage. You know this. I can’t really remember what my studio snack grind was though… I think it was just Vanilla Coke and a Snickers maybe? Caffeine and sugar definitely are a necessary ‘up’ for me creatively haha. Was there something I’m forgetting? I can definitely remember riding my bike down the hill (and back up) a few times to the local IGA haha.
A: HLH supporting local business haha.
Hands Like Houses’ self-titled EP is due out on Friday, 23rd October.