Following on from 2018 album ‘-Anon.’, Aussie faves Hands Like Houses have just dropped their self-titled EP, a release that came together during an intense ten day blast. Trenton Todd Woodley talks us through the record’s five tracks.
When we were in the studio, I found myself spending a lot of time on the balcony overlooking the beach – watching people wander out into the water and back in again. Dark as it may sound, there’s something deeply powerful about marching out into the ocean, this seemingly infinite and powerful force that can overwhelm you completely in an instant, but also going out into it willingly. It got me thinking about what it’d be like the other way around, coming out of the water into our world, our reality and just how overwhelming that must be.
The voice of this song came out of that – it’s a song about resignation, but without regret. It’s about recognising your place in the world and where that isn’t. When it comes down to it, this song is about closing doors and opening new ones.
‘Space’ came out of a kind of mental collage of situations where I was grappling with exhaustion, going through the motions, pushing ahead with the best of intentions and still coming up short of others’ expectations. It’s strange that that sense of emotional claustrophobia fast-forwarded to the literal isolation we’ve all felt in some capacity this year.
Writing this EP, I think we were figuring out some of the creative challenges of living in separate states, and some of our own interpersonal differences came to the fore during this process. Because this was the first release we’d write and record entirely in Australia, we were somewhat caught up in our’ home life’ normality leading up to hitting the studio, so it became a real challenge to actually come together creatively. The ideas we were each bringing to the table were in a much more raw state than we’ve been used to in the past, so having to refine them and work through our differences in taste and personality in just over a week put us under a lot of pressure, and I think ‘Space’ really captures that moment in time for me.
There’s a real sense of volatility to ‘Dangerous’ – I went in trying to make it this fun, light-hearted, and borderline arrogant song… but lyrically at least, it came out with this real sense of uneasiness. It’s a song that’s meant to be what it is at face value, like you’re all built up and need to let it out to feel like you’re powerful and in control. But in a way, it’s the total opposite. You get hit with a wave of different emotions, everything gets blurry and then you explode, catching everyone around you in the blast radius. For me, the bombastic, in-your-face push of the music itself drove home that feeling of being in control and out of control at the same time.
The more these songs came together, the more I realised I was trying to disappear into my own reality for a while. We’ve been slowing down our touring for the sake of stability and sustainability, but it still felt like we’d never really taken a proper break. We tend to come home after tours and go off the radar for a while to recoup and recover – it takes me a while to get back into a rhythm and routine, including seeing friends and picking up where I left off. Half the time my friends think I’m on tour still, when I’m actually home, just haven’t seen them yet haha.
It’s easy to take on the feeling of responsibility for that yourself, but at the same time, everyone’s still busy with their own lives, no matter where you are, who you’re with or how long you’ve been anywhere. ‘Stranger’ is about just embracing that relative anonymity, living at your own pace and walking your own walk.
This one actually went from being a song I was deathly afraid of, to one of my favourites in the course of almost a single day. It came about because we were trying to write ‘one more song’ – to bring a certain pace and colour that the EP was lacking at that point. I was struggling immensely working out where to start on it vocally – the song had this dry, relentless drive to it that I couldn’t get my fingernails around, so to speak. It just stayed in this one place and owned it, but I felt like I was stuck on the outside. I felt like everyone else had this grand vision of what it was and needed to be, and I just didn’t understand it at all. But channelling that misunderstanding, the conflict and the feeling of being on totally different wavelengths finally gave me the foothold to finish the song, and that vulnerability feels incredibly present for me in this song, but in a way that I’m truly proud of.
Taken from the November issue of Upset. Hands Like Houses’ self-titled EP is out now.