Latest release: Crooked Teeth (UNFD)
It’s July 2, a week out from the release of their album Crooked Teeth and quietly spoken House vs. Hurricane guitarist Ryan McLerie is in the office of his record label, We Are Unified, trying not to give away a secret.
“We’ve got some pretty big news that’s going to be announced in the next few weeks about something in the beginning of next year,” he says. “It’s exciting times. I wish I could tell you, but I can’t.”
Since this interview was recorded, not only has Crooked Teeth hit the ARIA Top 20, but the secret is out: the Melbourne five-piece has been announced on the bill for Big Day Out 2013. That’s a couple of major achievements for a group that has spent the last few years working hard, touring and perfecting their sound. The departure of their former vocalist wasn’t even allowed to slow them down. They just called on Dan Casey to replace him and headed off to New Jersey to record with Machine.
“We were in LA for a few days and then we went across to New Jersey and New York,” McLerie says in a disarmingly polite voice. “It was sick. We had Manhattan a twenty-minute bus ride away, so we were never bored. We saw a lot of movies and we did a lot of music.”
Being so far from home gave them the time to bond as a unit and fully concentrate on the task at hand, following up their 2010 album Perspectives. That album led to some major doors opening, a slot at the Melbourne leg of Soundwave and an appearance at the No Sleep til Festival among them, so dilligence was required.
“You’re isolated over there,” says McLerie. “You’ve just got the dudes in your band and that’s it. You’re just hanging out constantly, talking about stuff. It’s just a good creative space to be in. You’re all focused on the same thing. If we were home, everyone would be going to see their girls and see their families and it wouldn’t be so focused. We wouldn’t be together all the time. I think it’s really good for us to go away and do records because we just get a lot more done. Because we’re not distracted.”
House vs. Hurricane was aided in their task by producer Machine, who’s worked with fellow Aussies The Amity Affliction and 28 Days as well as Pitchshifter, Suicide Silence, Protest the Hero, Every Time I Die and Lamb of God amongst others. McLerie has nothing but praise for him, in terms of both how he made the album sound and how he was to work with.
“We had an awesome time and I’m super stoked about how it sounds. [Machine’s] vibe as a guy is just incredible. He’s just a really encouraging guy and he makes you feel confident about yourself while you’re tracking. He’s just a really good guy to work with. A great guy in general.”
One thing Machine impressed on the band was the importance of creating their own musical identity. With the sheer number of acts working in the post-hardcore sphere, that’s one thing that House vs. Hurricane was keen to do.
“I think there’s definitely parts where we thought, ‘This is too normal, we need something a bit different’,” the guitarist admits. “We don’t want to sound the same as every other band doing the same sort of stuff. That’s one thing Machine taught us. Getting your band its own signatures and reinforcing those throughout the record.”
The rather obscure album title came about from the band’s desire to make a statement about the hard knocks suffered on the road of life. With their music taking on a more uncompromising edge, McLerie reckons Crooked Teeth is a good descriptor for their sound as well.
“We wanted a name that would kind of represent the sound a bit as well. We’ve got a little bit of a harder, punkier, aggressive edge to what we had I think,” he says. “It’s just a bit dirtier and tougher, and we sort of felt like the title reflected that a bit. That was kinda the main reason for it, and it just ended up that we really liked the title and we ended up writing it into our lyrics a bit as well. The first song is about crooked youth, and it mentions in another song that no matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been, it’s nothing without crooked teeth. Everyone goes through crap.”
McLerie says he finds himself “putting it on all the time, listening to my own band all the time.” He’s immensely proud of what his band has achieved, and he rightly doesn’t seem to care what anyone else might think.
“One of my favourite songs on there is “Haters Gonna Hate”. That is a stand-out track for me. It’s got kind of a Rage Against the Machine-type rant in a sort of a preachy sounding thing. I really like that. There’s also another song that has a Rage Against the Machine reference in it as well (“40 Deep”). It’s just about the people in your life that are too cool. They’re happy to stand back and say what they will about you, but they won’t do anything for themselves because they’re too scared to fail. That’s really what it’s about. Haters gonna hate. Really, who cares?”
House vs. Hurricane is touring in August with Confession and In Hearts Wake:
10/8 Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury, WA 18+
11/8: Amplifier Bar, Perth, WA 18+
12/8: HQ, Leederville, WA A/A
17/8: Pakenham Hall, Pakenham, VIC A/A
18/8: Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS U18 (Day Show)
18/8: Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS 18+ (Evening Show)
22/8: The Plantation Hotel, Coffs Harbour, NSW 18 +
23/8: The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW 18+
24/8: The Loft, Newcastle, NSW A/A
25/8: Blacktown Masonic Hall, Sydney NSW A/A
26/8: Unanderra Youth Centre, Wollongong, NSW A/A
29/8: The Basement, Canberra, ACT 18+
30/8: The Bended Elbow, Geelong, VIC A/A
31/8: Ferntree Gully Hotel, Ferntree Gully, VIC 18+
1/9: The Pier Live, Frankston, VIC
1/9: The Pier Live, Frankston, VIC A/A