Houdmouth Interview


We spoke with Katie, Shane, and Zak from Houdmouth. We love bands with a great sense of humour. Their self titled Ep is out now on Rough Trade.

NT: I wanted to ask about signing with Rough Trade. Sure, they have recently signed more Americana and rootsy acts but they are primarily known as a label that works with post rock, garage, and techno bands. Were you guys ever tempted at signing with a different label?

Katie: There were other offers to be considered, but Geoff Travis really seemed to take an interest. They have so much success, especially in Europe, and we are happy to be a part of their increasing success in the States as well.

Shane: Come on, it’s Rough Trade!

NT: The band’s self -titled EP has a real bare and organic sound to it, like a record Neil Young would make. Was it the band’s goal to keep things real simple in the studio?

Katie: It was sort of a magical thing that happened with the recordings. We recorded “Penitentiary” ourselves at The Green House, an old house where we practice. It was just for fun, no big plans for it or anything and we put it up on Soundcloud for our friends to listen. Next thing we know, it’s getting all kinds of attention. We’d wake up and have some blogs coming in and emails coming in. We had only been a band for about a month at this time. So to answer your question, we love that “bare and organic sound” and our equipment was so shitty that it just kind of worked out. (laughs) But it is a goal as we continue to record to keep that sound.

Shane: I recorded the EP with a small Pro Tools rig. I recorded the instruments separately because I only have 2 preamps and 2 crappy mics. Drums to a click track, then bass, guitar keys vocal. etc. It has a nice raw sound that we like. Mo-Town drum mic’ing techniques. Only used compression, EQ and reverb on everything. No fancy stuff. We’ve been working on a full-length record with Louisville legend Kevin Ratterman. We recorded live and went to tape in 3 days. Good call on the Neil Young.

Matt: Yeah, our equipment was below par at best, but I think for what we trying to do it was more than accommodating. We only had a couple microphones placed in a big living room with high ceilings, which is why it has that spacey/roomy sound. And, not being able to do much editing (of the recordings) gave it a nice feel. Loose and roomy. That’s how we like it.

NT: Some of your songs that sound like they were inspired by the 30s or 40s, what draws you to this period?

Katie: Maybe the decor in The Green House? (laughs)

Matt: I think everyone, at some point, thinks that a certain time period was better than the one they are currently living. For me it was definitely the early to mid 1900’s. Something about back then is just pleasing to me. I mean, I don’t want to write about something current like Enron (laughs).

NT: What is the story behind the band name?

Shane: …Nonsense.

Matt: We recorded at night to avoid the noise the daytime noise like sirens and car honks, but there were always these two dogs near the house that barked all night. We finally get a take that we liked, but when we played it back Shane said, “It’s not gonna work, there’s too much houndmouth on this!” He was clearly drunk because no one would say “houndmouth.” Ever. Still, the rest of the group (sobriety aside) decided that they liked the unique charm of the name.” We didn’t have a name for about a month and a half of rehearsing/recording, but we knew we liked what we were writing and how it was coming together. When we booked our first show we had to give this thing a name and Houndmouth just kind of stuck with us.

NT: Lead vocals are shared on the EP,  Is songwriting a collective process?

Katie: The lyrics are normally written by whoever is singing the song. The chords are subject to change when the song is brought to the table. Also the song structure is a collective process.

Shane: Then we fight to see who gets to take what harmony. (laughs)

NT: Can you tell me a bit about New Albany? Are there some other good young bands we should be looking out for?

Zak: New Albany is cool little place where we are all from (give or take 5 miles) and we are right next to Louisville, where half of us live now. The Green House is in the heart of good ole New Albany. Not too big, not too small. Matt: It’s is a nice little town bordering Louisville, Ky. We hangout and practice in the historic downtown area. Down the street there are a few bars, shops, and a cigar lounge called Billow. I like Billow. Not because I smoke cigars. It’s just a nice place to sit down and chat. If you go even further down the street you will come across a strip joint and eventually a casino. Hell, New Albany has everything you’d want except a good music hall. There are definitely not a lot of bands around town, but there is some talent. Our friends in Toledo Bend has been gaining some ground and turning some heads locally. A guy named Ben Traughber has some really nice recordings. His song “Josephine” is great.

Shane: The music scene is almost non-existent because there is nowhere to play in New Albany. Luckily, Louisville is right across the bridge. You can see the skyline from The Green House.

NT: Which five records are a staple in your collection?

Shane: Neil Young – On the Beach, Dawes – North Hills, any record by The Band, Jock Jams, Paul Simon – Duncan.

Zak: The newest “Now That’s What I Call Music” volume. The second newest “Now That’s What I Call Music” volume. The third newest “Now That’s What I Call Music” volume. The fourth newest “Now That’s What I Call Music” volume. The fifth newest “Now That’s What I Call Music” volume.

Katie: Gotta shout out Spencer Cullum, Jr., who plays pedal steel with a great Nashville singer/songwriter (Andrew Combs). He turned me onto Willis Alan Ramsey’s sole self-titled record. Obsessed. Other that that, The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan and the Band, Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker, and Ben Kweller’s Changing Horses stay in heavy rotation. And I must listen to Diana Ross and the Supremes when cleaning my apartment. It just makes me dance.