Podcast: Interview with Trenton Woodley of Hands Like Houses

On October 12, Canberra, Australia, rock band Hands Like Houses released their fourth full length album, Anon. on Hopeless Records. As the band hits the road for their headlining U.S. tour, Kiel Hauck caught up with lead singer Trenton Woodley to discuss the new album and the band’s sonic journey on our latest podcast. Woodley also shares details about the band’s songwriting progression over the years, how to evolve as an artist while bringing your fanbase along for the ride, and how Hands Like Houses keep up with an ever-evolving music industry. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

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Review: Pianos Become the Teeth – Wait for Love

If you’ve read any of my pieces regarding Baltimore, Maryland, post-hardcore band Pianos Become the Teeth, you’ll know that they’re one of my favorites. It will, therefore, probably be unsurprising when I tell you that I think their latest album, Wait for Love, is a masterpiece.

I found Pianos by chance in 2015 when Keep You was released and fell in love with their sound. The album was released in a year that was super tough for my family and I, so lyrically, the album is close to my heart and remains a comfortable spot to land when I want something familiar. Needless to say, I have been anxiously awaiting their follow up and am thrilled to say that it does not disappoint.

You can buy Wait for Love on iTunes.

Wait for Love starts with “Fake Lightning”, a perfect opener that sets the tone for the record. It kind of encapsulates the entire theme, even stating, “We wait for love / Tradition can’t be kept”. When I heard the second part of the line, I felt like it was almost for us, the listeners, as if to say, “Tradition can’t be kept, so here’s our take on that idea.”

Lead single “Charisma” can be seen as just another love song, and that’s how I first took it (and partly still do), but upon further listening and digging into vocalist Kyle Durfey’s essays (further expounded on below), this song is about the birth of his son, which made it even more beautiful to me. Musically, it’s euphoric, and it displays that joy that only new parents know.

If you follow the band closely, you’ll have at some point received a Twitter notification, an Instagram post, an email, etc. that contained a link. Durfey wrote an essay on each song from the record, and at the end, he writes, “It is not necessary to read this before listening to our record, but in doing so, my hope is that you keep these words in mind whilst you do.”

I read it but tried not to keep it in mind too much at first. Given my emotional connection to Keep You, I wanted to listen to the new album for myself and take what I could from it. Only recently have I really started picking apart the lyrics and matching it up to what Durfey wrote.

Keep You was largely about the death of his father, and “Bitter Red” draws to that topic again. As much as we want the pain of these things to eventually leave us, they never really do. Needless to say, the piece Durfey wrote on his album made me feel a lot. It brings a new perspective to the deeper meanings of these songs. Oftentimes, we as listeners aren’t always in tune to what the artist is trying to convey and just boil down these songs into lyrics and melody. Durfey has reminded us that this is his life.

Even the album title itself is poignant. In each song, the band shows a different facet of waiting. Throughout the album, the band discusses waiting for children to be born, learning to live without the immediate love of someone we’ve lost, and loving ourselves despite our mistakes. It’s about the love others have for us and how difficult it is to see and believe in sometimes. It’s about loving life on the road and experiencing new things in new places. It’s about loving a child we’re waiting to meet but won’t be able to because of a miscarriage. It’s about loving others through the curveballs life throws at us. It’s about loving others when things are going great and when love is new and exciting. It touches on every facet of life and love, which means that it has something to offer for everyone.

Simply put, this album is a work of art. Where Durfey’s vocals weren’t an overt focus on past Pianos releases, they are here. His voice shines and truly becomes an additional instrument. The drums are impeccable and driving, the guitars subtle. These guys are some of the most talented musicians, both recorded and live on stage. They’re completely captivating in every way, shape and form, and Wait for Love is a perfect example of what they’re capable of.

5/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Reflecting On: Chiodos – Bone Palace Ballet

By the fall of 2007, Chiodos had established themselves as one of the premiere post-hardcore bands on the planet. The band’s sophomore album, Bone Palace Ballet, fully harnessed the potential displayed on their debut and landed at #5 on the Billboard 200, transitioning the band from lively up-and-comers to a full-fledged headlining rock act.

Unfortunately for Chiodos, intervening years have hijacked the band’s narrative. Ensuing drama, inner turmoil, member turnover, news headlines, and the band’s own mystique have shadowed much of the music, namely the brilliance of Bone Palace Ballet. There’s an argument to made that it’s one of the most criminally underrated albums in scene history.

You can buy “Bone Palace Ballet” on iTunes.

Chiodos’ debut, All’s Well That Ends Well, was a firecracker of raw energy that put the band’s name on the tip of everyone’s tongue. For their follow-up, the band channeled that passion into a more controlled and polished body of work while expanding on their sound in exciting new ways. It’s still easy to hear the band’s signature chaos across ripping guitar riffs from Jason Hale and manic keyboard lines from Bradley Bell, but several new tricks provided a world of new possibilities.

Just under a year after My Chemical Romance dropped their smash rock opera The Black Parade, Chiodos followed suit with their own dramatic display, capitalizing on frontman Craig Owens’ theatrical performance. Bone Palace Ballet is chock full of rich, over-the-top melody and drama, highly inspired by poems from Charles Bukowski and others. On All’s Well, Owens made a name for himself with a wild, spastic delivery, and while his screams carry even more power on Ballet, his purposefully over-dramatic vocal inflections would become his calling card.

Yet it would have been possible for all of this to fall flat if not for the swirl of unexpected sounds underneath. Blended into the mix were full orchestral arrangements that somehow made sense alongside crashing guitars and drums. A string section carries the first 30 seconds of “Life is a Perception of Your Own Reality” before Owens crashes through the door with, “I’d like to take this time to detach my jaw”. A myriad of horns blast along with the chorus of “Lexington. (Joey Pea-Pot with a Monkeyface)”.

Think on this: Chiodos juxtaposed ragtime pop with their own personal brand of convulsive post-hardcore and the resulting product was a smashing success. How many bands since have attempted to blend in these kinds of theatrics and come anywhere close to something as powerful as “Is it Progression if a Cannibal Uses a Fork?” The chances taken on Bone Palace Ballet allowed the band to explore new territory without it ever feeling like a jump of the proverbial shark.

Credit producer Casey Bates with helping the band find balance. At times on Ballet, it feels as if even one more additional instrument could bring a whole song crashing down. Still, for all of the fully-loaded tracks on the album, Chiodos still finds time to deliver some of their softest (“A Letter from Janelle”, “Intensity in Ten Cities”) and heaviest (“Teeth the Size of Piano Keys”, “The Undertaker’s Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable”) songs. By the time Owens croons, “All the world’s a stage / I existed because I dreamed and, well, I dream no more” near the albums somber conclusion, it feels as though you’ve experienced every sound and mood a heavy rock album could hope to offer.

With Chiodos now decidedly disbanded, it feels like the conversation around the band focuses on squandered potential. I’d argue otherwise. Certainly, fans of the band would love to have gotten another album or two before they said farewell, but the quality of the output across their four albums is certainly undeniable. In fact, I’d hear an argument for any of the four releases as Chiodos’ best.

At the end of the day, though, Bone Palace Ballet stands as a beacon of the best parts of Chiodos – chaotic, melodramatic, fantastical. It’s still a spectacle to behold 10 years later.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Hands Like Houses Sign to Hopeless Records, Release New Song

Yesterday, Australian rock act Hands Like Houses announced their signing to Hopeless Records with the release of a new song titled “Drift”. The announcement comes just over a year after their last release on Rise Records, Dissonants, a stellar album that would become one of the most unsung of 2016.

“Drift” sounds like the logical progression from that album, full of energy and fantastic vocal work from Trenton Woodley. There’s no word on a new album just yet, but you can watch a lyric video for “Drift” below and catch the band on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour.

What do you think of the new track? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Saying Goodbye to Letlive.

My first experience with letlive. was unintentional. On a hot July evening in Louisville, Kentucky, I was in attendance to cover my favorite band, Underoath, in support of their new album Ø (Disambiguation). It was mid-2011 and I was unaware of letlive.’s existence before their placement as the opener on the tour, though that night would prove to be the most enraptured I have ever been while watching an opening act.

Within moments of taking the stage, vocalist Jason Aalon Butler leaped into the docile crowd, screaming the repeated refrain of, “There are no martyrs in resolution / Remain still, don’t expect restitution / Stand up, stand up, stand up”. From there, the energy only escalated. Before the band’s set came to an end, Butler would be pulled from the stage by two venue security guards and dragged out of the building for his response to their abuse of a spectator. Feedback blared over the house speakers as the crowd looked around in bewilderment, unsure what it had just witnessed.

In so many ways, it was the perfect introduction to a band delivering an unwavering wake-up call, resolute in its cry against injustice.

Hanging with Jason after a 2012 concert in Indianapolis.

That night, I purchased Fake History, their breakthrough album, which had just been re-released by Epitaph Records. In the years that followed, I made it my ambition to share the news of letlive. at every possible opportunity, framing them as the west-coast spiritual successors to New York hardcore kings, Glassjaw.

For all of the criticism aimed in the direction of modern punk music, perhaps none is more valid than the idea that the genre has lost its teeth: misdirected passion with no resounding political or social message; no voice. It was, and still is, my belief that letlive. encapsulated the spirit of the punk community in a way that very few bands have dared in recent decades.

Fake History is a manic display of outrage directed toward systematic oppression and collective rejection of truth. Topics range from religious denial of evolution to the pitfalls of capitalism. On “Casino Columbus”, Butler takes aim at the pillaging of Native Americans and their culture, shrieking, “I want to be the bourgeoisie, but I don’t have blue blood in my veins / My eyes did see the vampirous pilgrim drop a few red drips from his fangs” before closing with, “Stick your finger down the throat of your freedoms / And let it all purge on out”.

The raw, post-hardcore violence of Fake History, coupled with grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing around the band’s live performances brought letlive. to scene attention, complete with magazine covers and features that showcased the delicate, thoughtful off-stage personality of Butler – a man determined to deliver his message at any cost. It was that organic rise to attention to made 2013’s The Blackest Beautiful all the more impactful.

I’m a firm believer that The Blackest Beautiful is one of the most important rock albums the genre has produced in recent memory. In addition to refining their sonic chaos, Butler delivers an inspired performance, targeting systematic racism, the broken healthcare system, and a misplaced worship of celebrity. It’s the punk album that letlive. had earned more than enough cache to deliver, and it is close to perfect.

That summer was a whirlwind, with letlive. leading a long-overdue conversation in an often-complacent scene. One of the personal highlights of my career came while covering the band on that summer’s Warped Tour, writing a feature on a band that had put the genre I love on notice in all the right ways. It felt like validation.

As I’ve learned so many times in my life, though, it’s easy to take good things for granted. I largely shrugged at last year’s If I’m the Devil…, an album that I felt lacked the bite of letlive.’s previous work, even if it did contain some interesting new tricks and important discussion. It never crossed my mind that we might have heard the last from a band that I presumed would lead the genre forward for years to come.

The news of letlive.’s demise is hard to swallow and even harder to believe. The mission statement and idea behind the very website you’re reading is based largely off of the spirit of letlive. – a commitment to praise authenticy, progress and positivity. In a scene that still shamefully struggles with misogyny, gender and racial imbalance, and general apathy, it’s hard not to feel a giant hole. Nevertheless, I know this community benefited greatly from letlive. and I firmly believe that others will carry their torch.

I feel fortunate to have been at that show in Louisville in 2011 and even more fortunate to have watched the band play countless times after, seeing something new with each performance. I’m grateful to the band for their music, their message and their humbleness. Finally, I feel confident than their spirit of empowerment and justice will carry on. After all, according to Butler at every show I attended, letlive. was composed of more than just the members on stage – it was all of us.

“We got an army for us versus them, but look, it’s not us versus them / It’s just us, my friend”

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.