Photo by Tyler Zoller
Interview by Scott Preston
Buckle Up Music Festival 7/18-7/20/14
Houndmouth performs at 4:15pm on 7/19
That first November 2011 night, when it all fell together, was just four friends who brought instruments to a shambling rehearsal space (or picked up what was there), along with something to drink and a curiosity about what might happen. The generation who has come of age in the new economy, already adept at shuffling jobs and get-bys, firmly acclimated to the diminished expectations that come with growing up somewhere the rest of the world assumes is nowhere. Which, in this case, is New Albany, Indiana.
Houndmouth, then, knew each other from around. Matt Myers and Zak Appleby had played in cover bands together for years, schooled in blues and classic rock and Motown, toughened by indifferent audiences. Matt and Katie Toupin had worked as an acoustic duo for three years, when she wasn’t on the road selling cosmetics. Katie and Shane Cody had gone to high school together, before Shane disappeared off to Chicago and New York to study audio engineering. In the beginning it was Shane and Matt who’d started knocking around at first, just drums and guitar, once Shane got home and free of a brief bluegrass flirtation.
The rest happened in a rush, Zak and Katie switching from guitars to bass and keyboards, respectively. Four months later, their homemade EP in hand, Houndmouth made the pilgrimage to South By Southwest. Their booking agent convinced Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis to come have a listen. Of such things are dreams made. A little conversation and a proper studio later, their debut album, From the Hills Below the City, will be released by Rough Trade.
Cincy Groove: It must feel pretty good to finally get your full length debut out of the way.
Matt Myers: I don’t know maybe it puts more pressure on us to make the second one (laughing). We are really happy on how it turned out and can’t wait to start on the second one. The first record we booked a week of studio time and did it in 5 days. It was done pretty fast, we took some extra time the second time around.
Cincy Groove: Where did you record your debut full length album?
Matt Myers: There is a guy in Louisville, Kevin Radderman. He has tracked with My Morning Jacket and with some other heavyweights. He has a studio called La La Land now, but when we recorded the record he had his studio in his apartment. He had everything set up in a back room and we did it in the summer so it was about 90 degrees in there. We had to turn off the air conditioner because the noise would have ended up on the recording. I just remember sweating throughout the recording of the album.
Cincy Groove: What kind of environment does the band like to be in to write?
Matt Myers: Most of the time we will all write separately then bring our ideas together. We got really lucky, Shane lives in a great old house his grandparents used to live in. I think it was built in the mid 1800’s. All the old decorations and everything is still in there. Its like a museum. Shane won’t let anyone touch anything, its like a no fun zone (laughing). Its really a nice place to write, it has a nice aura.
Cincy Groove: It seems you have attracted quite a bit of attention in the last few years, could you point to some things that could explain it?
Matt Myers: It has happened pretty fast. We started the band at the end of 2011 and we put out a song write before SXSW in 2012 and a local blog wrote about it. Then we went there to play and met our current booking agent. I think that was the real launching point. We try to keep up on whats going on with the band on social media but its kind of hard when you spend 8 hours a day in the van (laughing).
Cincy Groove: What does the band like to do to pass the time when you driving?
Matt Myers: Well, you are around the band so much, that the conversations just get more and more outrageous. Because it can get quite boring on those long drives. We were doing Mad Libs and they were so out of control that we had to burn them. Luckily though we have a tv in the van and we bring a long a PS4.
Cincy Groove: Do you remember the first time you heard a Houndmouth song on the radio?
Matt Myers: I had just gotten into my car and my radio only works about 1/10 of the time because the antenna had been torn off. As soon as I turned the car on, a song from our EP was playing on a local AAA radio station.
Cincy Groove: How has the band’s reception been over in Europe? Has it been any different than here in the U.S.?
Matt Myers: The one thing that is really different about Europe is that they love guitar solos. Which is great because we play a lot of guitar solos on the new album.
Cincy Groove: How did the band end up getting their own brand of beer?
Matt Myers: We went to shoot a video at a local brewery. We kind of went in with the intention on trying to get them to do a collaborative beer with us. We saw some of the bands we tour with do the same thing. We were talking about the video with the staff and before we could ask about it, they asked us if we wanted to do a beer with them. We said yes and lets set up a meeting. Its a hoppy, wheat ale. I think its 4 percent alcohol so you can drink it year round. A lot of though went into that (laughing).
Cincy Groove: I thought your video for “On The Road” was really well done. Who came up with the concept for the video?
Matt Myers: A guy named Joe Baudhman. He is a wonderful artist. He does a lot of claymation and he ended up getting a hold of us. We went out to Alabama to shoot the scenes after he had the claymation worked up. I think it took him a couple weeks to get the clay and put together all the scenes. We knocked out our live acting parts out in a day.