Denver’s Houses issues final seasonal EP and gets set for name change
:: Houses ::
:: Meadowlark Outdoor Stage ::
By Brian F. Johnson
Andy Hamilton looks like he should be on the new IFC reality TV show “Whisker Wars” — where men compete in the “sport” of bearding.
With long straight hair that only works to accentuate the length of the full brown beard that hangs down to his stomach, Hamilton looks as if he’s poised to take on some of the upper-echelon of facial hair growers around the nation.
But while those men spend countless hours and dollars on their hairy chin masks, Hamilton is more inclined to focus on his creative vision that, at least for now, is called Houses — an electrifying, gritty Denver rock band that Hamilton started in 2008 which awesomely channels classic rock of the seventies, while adding more modern style elements and themes.
The band just released its latest EP Winter, the final installment of a four EP set that featured a disc for each season.
“We were trying to work out what kind of project we wanted this to be and had a lot of different ideas,” Hamilton said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “I just had this idea of rather than putting out one record — you know, like a lot of bands do and then just kind of sitting on that for a while — I figured why not write a bunch of tunes and split them up instead of putting them all together into one.”
Taking cues from the Italian baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, who famously produced a violin concerto known as The Four Seasons, Hamilton began to write songs that captured the mood and setting of the seasons. So while Winter was released in August, most of the songs were penned during the darkest season.
With Winter now out, the collection of the EPs is a formidable catalog that accomplishes what few groups can claim, true diversity in style and sound. Listened to individually, each EP gives nods to genres and sounds that have influenced them, with each disc almost sounding like it was done by a different band. But when taken as a whole, the four EPs all sound, well, just like Houses — which is probably due to the fact that Hamilton does the lion’s share of the writing.
“I’m not picky for one genre,” Hamilton explained as we discussed the diversity of the band’s sound. “My head’s kind of a messy space, so sometimes it’s hard for everyone in the band to make sense of what I’ve got going on, or what I’m hearing in my head. There were definitely a few songs that I brought to the group where people were like, ‘Really? This isn’t going to work out.’” But worked out it has. From some of the folkier numbers on Spring to top-down driving anthems on Summer, the ominous orchestral sounds of Fall and the heaviness of Winter, the band dips toes in all sections of the musical pool and thusly appeals to a wide range of musical connoisseurs — even the band members themselves.
“It’s funny. When Summer came out, we all decided that was our favorite. But then Fall came out and we decided that was our favorite,” said Hamilton, who explained that these days he’s more emotionally attached to Fall and Winter, both of which, lyrically speaking, have a lot of his personal life wrapped up in them. Hamilton has weathered a divorce since the start of Houses, which originally included his wife on vocals. He explained that while mixing and finishing the tracks he realized that he wasn’t in the same place he was when he wrote the songs. “So while there are songs that have a really honest feeling and whatnot, I’m just not ‘there’ anymore. My current mental and emotional state has changed and it’s not quite as dark and despondent as I’d originally hoped for the songs to be,” he said.
Like a house, with people coming and going, the band, which at one point had 13 members, has seen a ton of lineup changes in its short time. “We originally started off as a 13 piece band,” Hamilton said. “I’m a really big fan of big collaborations and I really wanted to have that. But that’s a lot of work. To get 13 people together, let alone the five of us, was way too much. So we whittled it down to 9, then 8 for a while and now we’ve got it down to the five of us.”
But while the group may have solidified its numbers, it’s far from cementing much else, including the name itself. Not long ago, Hamilton found out that a Chicago band that uses the same name was getting ready to go to battle over the use of “Houses.” “So, even though we have claim to it a couple years prior to them, we’ve decided to take the high road,” Hamilton said. “We as a band are going through a lot of changes and it’s giving us time to re-group,” he said, putting a positive spin on what could be a band-killer to many groups.
Whatever they end up calling themselves, the band has already built an amazingly strong foundation for itself, and anything above basement level will simply be the icing on the cake.
:: Houses ::
:: Meadowlark Outdoor Stage ::
:: September 17 ::
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