Ahead of the release of their debut album, ‘From The Hills Below The City’, on 3rd June and their stint at the Great Escape at The Haunt, Brighton on 17th May, we caught up with Houndmouth’s Katie to discuss all.
We formed in November 2011. Matt and I played as an acoustic duo for three years. Zak and Matt played in blues bands together prior to that, throughout high school. Shane was doing a bluegrass thing right before this. All four of us were playing guitar in our respective previous bands when Houndmouth formed. Zak picked up the bass for the first time for this project, and I picked up the keys. It all came together quickly as we all had a similar vision for the sound we wanted to make.
For those that don’t know, how would you describe the music you make?
Folk-rock-ish. Emphasis on rock?
How did you come up with your name, Houndmouth?
We were recording at the Green House (150 year old house we use as rehearsal space and recorded the EP in) when these local dogs wouldn’t stop yapping. Their barks bled onto the tracking and Shane drunkenly said, “There’s too much houndmouth on this!” At the time, we had no name and were recording for fun – and that term stuck with us.
So your album, ‘From The Hills Below The City’, is out on 3rd June, can you tell us a bit about that?
On the album, we moved from the Green House to a real studio. We recorded with Kevin Ratterman in Louisville KY. Parts of it were done in his old studio within a church. Then we moved to his brand new space in town called La La Land – which is truly amazing. Most of the tracks were recorded live. There’s nothing overly produced about it. Everything was bounced to tape so it’s got that raw quality to it that we love. We share lead vocals duties on the record – each of us has a story to tell.
What/who influences your music?
The people our parents listened to when we were kids and our surroundings.
I think since we are all from the same town and have similar influences, we have this intangible, understood-but-not-spoken vision for the sound we are looking for, if that makes any sense. It’s like meeting someone from your home town in a city far away – it’s always easier to strike up conversation. We know the same things.
But for me personally – my dad is a blues guitar player, so I heard a lot of Eric Clapton. And my mom clued me into Diana Ross from a young age.
What has been the most memorable gig you’ve played?
Four now stick out in my mind:
– Out first fairly large hometown headlining show at Headliners that sold out in November 2012.
– Willie Nelson’s Heartbreaker Banquet during SXSW, which was on my birthday and on Willies farm.
– Our first show with the Alabama Shakes in New Orleans. Biggest crowd we’ve ever played to who gave us an unbelievably welcoming response.
– Our most recent headlining show in Louisville at Iroquois Amphitheater in front of 1500 people.
Do you have a favourite track from your new album?
“Palmyra” breaks my heart, but it’s my favourite.
How are you feeling about playing at the UK’s Great Escape Festival this year? Excited?
Yes, excited of course! But like most things we get to do, since it’s all coming so fast and we are learning on the fly, we are naive enough to not get too worked up about things.
You guys have already had a pretty exciting year – making an album, touring with the likes of Alabama Shakes, Drive By Truckers, and The Lumineers, and going down a storm with the gig you played at SXSW – but what are your plans and goals for the future?
I am really looking forward to Newport Folk Fest, Lollapaloza, Outside Lands, Forecastle, and Great Escape Fest. And definitely our album release show in London at the 100 Club on June 3. What I love most about this whole music thing is performing live. That connection and mutual feeling between performers and audiences – feeding off each other – it’s beautiful.
Catch Houndmouth at The Great Escape Festival on 17th May and hear their debut album, ‘From the Hills Below the City’, released on 3rd June on Roughtrade.