The Brag speaks to Hands Like Houses vocalist Trenton Woodley as he’s enjoying a chill day at the beach, taking respite from a mammoth leg of dates with the US Warped Tour. After breaking through internationally with last year’s debut Ground Dweller, the Canberran outfit are ready to unleash their follow-up, Unimagine.
“It’s definitely sneaking up on us, but at the same time we’re glad to have it out,” Woodley says of the album’s impending release date. “We finished it about two months ago, and now it’s coming out in about two weeks – a couple of days earlier in Australia, which is sweet. I guess we haven’t thought about it too much. We’re as nervous as anyone with a sophomore album, it’s a scary thing. But we’re feeling good about it.”
Considering Hands Like Houses’ hefty touring schedule in the year following Ground Dweller, the release of Unimagine feels swift but, as Woodley says, they’d already been working on new material before their debut was even released.
“Truthfully, Ground Dweller isn’t that new for us. We recorded it a year before it was released, but due to finding a label and a few other bits and pieces, it dragged out a bit longer than we intended. A lot of those songs we even started a year before that, because we did Ground Dweller in two halves over 13 months. For us, it felt like a pretty natural time to put out new music. Plus it’s good to capitalise on all the momentum happening in the past 12 months. It didn’t feel overly pushed, it was just a matter of finding time to write in between touring. It turned out really well, we’re really happy with it.”
The success of Ground Dweller booked the band onto tours in the US with the likes of Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, Attack!Attack! and We Came As Romans. As you’d expect, there’s some pressure to continue the spoils of victory with Unimagine.
“It was very nerve-wracking. Obviously we had a short amount of time to write it, and things were in a bit of an unfinished state when we hit the studio. But we had a fantastic producer, James Wisner. He’s very direct and confident in the way he wants to get a take out of you. There were times when he was constructively critical, and it made for a much better album in the end.”
With Unimagine’s release being sandwiched in between the run of Warped Tour dates, many of the album’s tracks are yet to be eased into the current setlist. “Obviously it’s a tough thing to figure out the balance,” Woodley says. “But we’re playing two new songs on the Warped Tour, one of which has been released – ‘Introduced Species’ – and another one called ‘Shapeshifters’, which I think is coming out in the US before the album is released. For us, depending on when we do our next tour in the US, we’ll try and stuff it with as many new songs as possible. It’s probably going to be a delicate balance for a little while, as much as we’d like to dive head-first into the new stuff.”
While Hands Like Houses have spent a fair chunk of time stateside in the past year or so, Woodley’s proud of their ACT origins. “We are an Australian band, we’re very proud of where we’re from, and we love living in Australia. We love touring there, but we haven’t had a ton of opportunities to do so. Once we got the [first] record out, things started lining up over in the States. But as we see it, we’re an Australian band touring the world.”
BY RICK WICKMAN
Unimagine out now through Rise/Warner.