Interview with Trenton Todd Woodley & Alex Pearson From Hands Like Houses
In the conversation, Hands Like Houses discussed many topics with us, among which touring, their new album ‘Dissonants’ and stepping in for Linkin Park if the opportunity presents itself and more.
The entire chat can be read below. Buckle up, it’s a long one (but highly entertaining)!
Samia (Strife): What made you guys want to incorporate some slightly harsher vocals into the new songs
Trenton: I guess we’ve always tried to convey some sort of emotional content, you know, make
music that makes you feel something, and it was just a combination of feeling like it was an angrier
record totally as well so it just made sense in the context of the record, and also just about
challenging expectations cos for so long people sort of labelled us as the band who don’t scream,
well, it’s not that we don’t scream, we just don’t scream unnecessarily. It just felt right for the songs,
you know, really trying to pick the moments to make the songs come to life and then not overdo it.
Laurie (Strife): Are we going to be seeing a bit more in that sort of vein from you guys, is it something you’ll
carry on bringing through?
Trenton: We’re not sure, you know, we’re still very early in the album cycle for Dissonants, we are
starting to put together some new ideas for the future but even then we’ve gotta figure out what
we’re doing and where were going with it and that’s probably going to impact the choices we make
as its us that come together, I mean I think we enjoy playing that sort of harder sorta element to
what we’re doing, musically or vocally.
Alex: I feel like when you spend upwards of ten months a year playing shows live to hundreds of
people the thing that they connect with more is like a heavier beat than necessarily a softer kind of
jam out so it’s just natural you progress towards A) music we love and B) music people enjoy and
then it all kind of mashes into one really.
Samia: Are there any songs that you dislike nowadays that you regret producing?
Trenton: I will pretty much flat out refuse to play One Hundred live, like that song I wrote before we
were even Hands Like Houses, I think that was the first full song I wrote when I joined the band and
there’s just something about that song that just felt so synthetic and awful and not a Hands Like
Houses song, more like the band we were before, so for me, like musically way cooler than it was
originally but vocally it doesn’t fit with anything else we do and I think we’d rather never play it,
Laurie: Anything that you don’t like playing?
Alex: I think as a band goes on and releases more and more music, you just always want to be
playing your most recent stuff rather than your older stuff, not necessarily hating or not wanting to
play or wishing we’d never produced it, we released Grounddweller what, like five, six years ago, so
it almost doesn’t feel like who you are, per se? it’s just growth.
Laurie: So, the last time I saw you guys live, you were supporting Bury Tomorrow, whereas currently
you’re over here with two American bands, what’s it like touring with a British band compared to a
couple of American bands while obviously being in the UK?
Trenton: I think there’s different kinds of attitudes, like touring mentalities that you get when you
tour with US/UK, it also changes band to band. We’ve been lucky to tour with a broad stroke of
artists from all different genres, you get those punk dudes who are just happy to get their hands
dirty and do all their own stuff and you get some bands that are all about the showiness so you have
as many techs as members of the band, and don’t touch their instruments until they go on stage
because everything’s done for them. UK bands that we’ve toured with have always been pretty cool,
definitely they party a lot harder than other people, it’s a mix, it’s hard to lock it down to one or two
personality types. I think we’ve been lucky, and even just being out with them it’s cool to see that an
all international band can pull the kind of numbers that you see here tonight and that we’ve seen so
many times before.
Samia: Say you’re at a gig and one of the band members suddenly injures themselves, and you’re
called up to replace them, who the band be for you to play a part of?
Trenton: Linkin Park, straight up
Alex: That’s a pretty good one. What would you do though, would you sing, play bass, play the
Trenton: obviously only for Chester, I don’t know if I could do Mike’s stuff.
Alex: I don’t know who id do to be honest, just because they’re doing massive shows and they seem
to have such a sick light show and confetti, Bring Me The Horizon would be mad, they seem to be
killing it everywhere at the moment, just seem to be unstoppable. I’d play guitar, actually maybe
bass so that I’d have my own little riser in the middle.
Laurie: would you guys love to tour with Bring Me if you got the chance?
Alex: Yeah any big band is always fun to fill in with, whether its anyone.
Trenton: we met the Bring Me dudes at a festival last year and they were like really cool, we were
chatting and having a few beers on their bus which was cool, but they’re doing their thing and were
doing our thing and if they cross over then that’d be sick, well see what happens, well see how the
future goes. It certainly makes a lot more sense musically nowadays for both of us, we’ve both come
to middle ground from sort of opposite genres and directions; if you’d told us five years ago it would
ever make sense for us to tour with them we’d laugh at you. It’s cool to see how music grows and
Samia: so would you guys prefer to play festivals or your own shows, more like tonight?
Trenton: Honestly there’s a lot to love about either, it’s really hard to compare. I like this size of
venue where it’s still big and impressive, and it feels cool to be playing in a room this big, playing
music, especially when it’s got a good sound setup, but it’s still got that sense of connection, like you
can connect with the audience at this sort of size venue, whereas festivals its obviously harder to do
but it’s an experience that, like, it’s so cool to be there. If we only ever did one I think we’d miss the
Samia: You guys can come to Slam Dunk next year then?
Trenton: we’d love to, honestly we’d love to – it didn’t work out this year because of timings
unfortunately but we’d like to come back.
Laurie: so on the topic of shows, what’s the weirdest show you’ve ever played, like in weird venues
or had a really weird audience?
Trenton: I’m thinking El Paso, what are you thinking?
Alex: Like all of Scream It Like You Mean It? We’ve played some shows where we’ve been coupled
with heavier, like drastically heavier bands and it kind of makes sense but then you get on stage and
go ‘hmm, it actually doesn’t make sense’
Trenton: people either don’t enjoy what you’re doing or they just straight out don’t care, you feel
tempted to play your heavier songs but at the same time its sometimes better to be polar opposite
to what’s going on because they’re gonna hate you or love you the same.
Samia: I suppose you never know what’s going to happen, like what the audience’s reaction is gonna
Trenton: I was gonna say, El Paso, we played this show where it was just like roasting hot, I think it
was 48 or 50 degrees outside, it was in this weird little club, horrid sound system, there was no room
on stage, ended up being kind of a fun show but I think it was fun because we were like ‘this can only
be so good so let’s just give it our best and not care’, and that was kind of cool, it was just a really
weird little setup, like a shit club setup with the stage sort of shoehorned in the corner – we ended
up putting Jamal inside the DJ booth to play keyboards, it was weird. That was a few years back, I’m
sure we’ve had another few weird ones but that jumps to mind.
Samia: when writing new music do you prefer writing when you’re on tour, with a deadline, or just
whenever it comes along?
Alex: that’s an easy question to answer. One of the reasons Dissonants was such a struggle was
because we were trying to write on tour, and we can’t write on tour. We can have ideas on tour, be
like ‘that’d be cool’, but we need to have like privacy in a room and really have like, time to flesh
that out, either whoever has the individual idea or with another person.
Trenton: we kind of have to go away and all do our own part and then come back together and then
go away again and come back together. Were all very individual but we have a really group built
flow, we have a very strange writing dynamic and we haven’t quite figured it out yet properly but,
we need time and motivation to be proactive about it. We work with great people and we have
managed to pull it out of our proverbials on several occasions
Alex: I just don’t understand people who enjoy writing on tour, because there’s so many other fun
things to do on tour. You’re always in a new place and hanging with a new band and you’re out
talking to people, I don’t understand how people have the time to sit around and be like ‘oh I’m
gonna sit around for six hours writing a song’.
Trenton: I wouldn’t mind it so much because I’m more of an insular person but at the same time that
also means just feeling really disconnected from what’s around you. I mean, I’ve got a keyboard with
me because I wanna start writing some stuff on this tour and the next tour but even then that’s just
gonna be me playing around on my own to just see what I can come up with, not necessarily the
band sitting down and writing songs, everyone needs their own space and time.
Alex: bet you didn’t expect five minutes for that question.
Laurie: Yeah, on that note obviously we don’t want to keep you guys for too long as I’m sure there’s
stuff for you to do, a final question – how do you feel the new album has gone down? How has it
seemed to have gone down with the fans, as obviously you guys are up on stage every night so you
see how people react to the new songs?
Alex: awesome, I feel like tonight was a good gauge of how the album goes down, like we start off
and the rooms filling up as well, but you see people who may not have heard if us but they start
getting the groove and start feeling it and then by the third last or second last song you can really
see that any kind of interaction that you’re asking for or conveying is brought back to you, that’s the
best part. The main reason we wrote the album how we did, we spent a lot of time thinking ‘I
wonder how this song will sound live’ and now we have an album like, every song is gonna be
awesome live, and it shows from the amount of crowd participation. And we don’t even have to ask
for it, it’s just like fuck yeah!
Laurie: See when I saw you with Bury Tomorrow it was really interesting to watch how the crowd
was reacting because Slaves opened, then it was In Hearts Wake, who are really heavy, and then it
came down to you guys before Bury Tomorrow and you could see people like really enjoying your
set, and being able to calmly enjoy the set rather than being thrown around constantly.
Trenton: yeah that was a strange tour, but everyone got along really well backstage. It was a really
cool group of bands, the kind of eclecticness of it did mean that the crowds did look a bit confused at
times and didn’t know what to do with themselves for a lot of it but I think around that time we
were starting to road-test a couple of the earlier – oh actually no that was all Unimagine wasn’t it?
Alex: yeah we were nowhere near releasing anything Dissonants-wise.
Trenton: yeah I Am wasn’t even released then.
Alex: that was a very hard tour for us.
Trenton: two years is a long time, it all starts sort of blurring together after a while, but yeah it was
definitely a strange tour dynamic, but you know, great people and loved the time on the tour even if
it was a bit of a strange one for the crowds but that was a big part of why we wrote the album how
we did because we could see what people were connecting with and what aspects and that shaped
Dissonants and I’m sure its gonna shape things from here.
Laurie: Great, so, in the interests of not keeping you any longer, thanks a lot for having us!