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Hands Like Houses

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Listen to HANDs LIKE HOUSES while you read.

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Canberra post-hardcore outfit Hands Like Houses had the year of their lives in 2016, with the success of their latest album Dissonants rocketing them nationally and internationally. Coming home from the chaos of success temporarily is something that’s been much needed for frontman Trenton Woodley, who started his 2017 seizing the opportunity to take a breath. “It’s been fairly quiet”, he admits. “But it’s been a nice little change to rest and recuperate from my side. My sister’s getting married this week, so it’s all hands on deck at the moment”.

 

Reminiscing on his highlight of 2016 following his return to normality, he starts describing playing to “20, 30, maybe more, thousand people”. “Playing Rock On The Range in the US last year, we had this absolutely monster crowd which was pretty cool because we were early on in the day on a side stage. Five minutes before we were about to start the main stage band had just finished…it was one of those moments where you’re just like, ‘holy crap. That’s a lot of people’. We didn’t really have time to think about it beyond that, we just had to start playing”.

 

Despite their worldwide success, what’s also been a nice surprise for Hands Like Houses is that Australia has finally started to latch on. “It feels like with Australia now, people have this sense of ownership of us, being this Australian band doing what we’re doing on a world stage. There has been a sense of 110% coming from Australia because people have been proud of what we’re doing as well as actually enjoying it”.

 

It wasn’t always that way. Having started on the American powerhouse label for alternative and core, Rise Records, Hands Like Houses didn’t originally capture the hearts of an Australian market despite being embraced by the Warped Tour scene.

 

“Americans like to think that they know how to handle the rest of the world”, Woodley notes. “But most of the time they don’t. So our strategies and stuff from a marketing perspective were never quite suited to Australia”. He credits working with UNFD as contributing to why Dissonants had such success. “For us, working with UNFD has obviously been the kind of nudge we needed to get into the right frame of view, triple j and audiences in general…it’s a happy convergence of timing, the right album at the right time and obviously the right people behind it with UNFD”.

 

Having originated in Canberra and looking onto Australia’s current musical climate, Woodley does see issues for musicians in terms of making it as far as Hands Like Houses have.

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“Coming from Canberra, it’s a small place. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for musicians because venues have been closing left, right and centre over the past ten years, which is really kind of making it harder to build a community around”. It has always had something: “musicians. And some really great quality ones”. But the lack of community makes it harder for those musicians to get the boost that they need. In addition, “there are bands like Safia and Peking Duk who have absolutely killed it on a national stage but are still just starting to get their feet overseas”.

 

It’s unsurprising then that doubts do arise about being in a band when it doesn’t bring overnight success or any sort of stability. When asked about these uncertainties, Woodley admits that “it’s a pretty regular part of being a band”.

 

“We do have to be realistic about how we do things and that thought in the back of your mind pushes you to make smarter decisions and think about the best way to operate the business side of things….it’s certainly not the lucrative career that it used to be. Even at the level we’re doing we’re only really kind of starting to see actual return on the investment of time and energy.” Eloquently he notes that “it’s always a question in the back of our minds”, whether to give up, “but it’s more of a motivation than a crutch”.

 

Continuing to do it will mean a new album at some point, but for Woodley, that’s not this year. “We’ve already jammed out a few new tracks, but immediate plans are not for an album”. Nevertheless, they “will have some new music coming in the next 12 months, just little bits and pieces here and there which I won’t say too much about. But an album is more of a mid to long term goal, we want to really knock it out of the park.” “We want to kind of give ourselves the opportunity to not have to throw ourselves into the deep end the way we did with Dissonants”.

 

The next year is going to be just as crazy for the post-hardcore giants as the last one was, with a headline tour and a support slot for Bring Me The Horizon lined up for the next few weeks. In terms of where they are, Woodley describes it as a “rabbit hole”.

 

“For us, we’ve certainly ‘made it’ so much further than we ever thought we could or would”, he explains. “So it’s about seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes, and that just means keeping on our toes and keeping focused, and if the time comes when we’re not enjoying it I don’t think that we’re going to want to keep doing it”.

 

Written by Peyton

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