Interview: House & Home on One Year of Their Debut Album, Live Music Returning, and "Empty Handed"
Photo by Michelle Mead
As someone who spent their formative years listening to and loving pop-punk, it can be hard for me to find a band under that umbrella that really amazes me lately considering how many bands in this genre I'm already familiar with; enter Richmond, Virginia alternative powerhouses House & Home. Their sound, though aligned with pop-punk, is incredibly unique and holds your attention, spanning multiple genres and perhaps even helping listeners to expand their own tastes as well.
This month, I was lucky enough to get to (virtually) sit down with the band and ask them a few questions about where they've been, what they're doing now, and where they're going in the future. The interview can be found below!
Hi! Thank you so much for doing this. Could you introduce yourself to the readers?
House & Home is Pat (he/him, guitar/vocals) Joey (he/him, guitar/vocals) Collin (he/him, bass) and Matt (he/him, drums).
I've been playing "Empty Handed" and "Cathedral" in the car with my mom a lot lately, and every single time she asks "who is this?" and when I say "House & Home" she always laughs. Your heavy pop-punk/alternative sound doesn't exactly match up with a design/lifestyle magazine, and it does make me laugh too when I think about it. How did the band name come to be? Was the contrast between the name and your sound purposeful?
Joey: When we first started House & Home, choosing our name seemed to be the most daunting and impossible task ever. We went through name after name after name until we had about three or four ideas that we liked.
The first significant time I heard the term “house and home” used was actually in a Green Day song, but I remember my mom used to tell me I’d “eat my parents out of house and home.” I’ve always been very imaginative and had a visual mind so when I was a kid and I heard my mom say this I would literally visualize myself eating the actual fucking house, like taking a bite out of a door or some drywall, so it always gave me a chuckle. It even sometimes still does when I hear people say it or when I talk about the band.
While thinking up this name for the band I was completely oblivious to the fact that
House & Home was already a major home and garden publication, therefore i was also completely oblivious as to how hard it would be to find the band on search engines, find the band on social media without a direct link, or to (more recently) buy a domain name for a website.
As far as a contrast between our name and our sound, I've never really considered it. However, now that it's been pointed out, I chuckled a bit while reading this question.
When our band started, our songs sounded a bit different then they do now, and by the time we had named the band we had actually only written one song together, that song being "Drone." Pat and Matt had jammed quite a bit before I came into the picture, and they had written two of the songs from our first EP.
Since we started playing together we've never considered ourselves within any genre, we've always just written songs that sound exciting to us. Whether we're called a pop-punk band or alternative or emo, we don't really care...I care a little bit actually, I hate it when people call us a pop-punk band. (laughs) The only thing we really try to do is what we want to do at the time. Our next record might be covered in synthesizers for all I know.
Speaking of "Empty Handed", I think that the lyrical content in it is certainly impactful, but it does leave a lot up to the listener to interpret. I know that you talked a little bit about what the song is about on Instagram on release day, could you go a little more in-depth on what specifically inspired you to write it or what some of the lyrics are about?
The song was written after the prior year of shit pretty much completely hitting the fan in terms of the entire world. During that time, we did what we could to listen and learn and align ourselves with the Black Lives Matter movement, go to protests, and educate ourselves on issues we don’t necessarily face on a day-to-day basis. It was something that was really important to all of us.
With all that being said, we figured the last thing the world needs is a song written by straight white dudes giving their opinion on systematic oppression and inequality. The song is more about the fact that the past year, in a way, sort of thrust our privilege into the spotlight for us.
We do our best to be pretty socially aware and progressive people, but tragedies and atrocities occurred over the past year that made it impossible to ignore just how huge the difference in our experience is as opposed to that of women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. It’s about coming to terms with your own ignorance and your own privilege and doing everything you can to educate yourself and do what you can to be an ally, rather than ignore what’s so obviously wrong.
"Empty Handed" was your first release since "Find Sense. Feel Love. Make Light.", your debut full-length. It's been a little over a year since you dropped that first album, and I still see people discovering it and praising it on social media pretty often. Are you still as happy with the record as you were when it came out? Is there anything you'd change about the album looking back on it?
The fact that people are still discovering it and getting into now is absolutely nuts. We’re super grateful. All of us can agree that the record is one of the best things we’ve ever done, and we poured everything we have into it. That fact has not changed and it’s still pretty surreal to think about.
When you care so much about something you’ve made, it’s natural to pick out little nuances that you’d like to change and notice little things that you would’ve omitted or wish you would’ve added as time goes on, but the process of writing and recording it was more than any of us could’ve asked for. The fact that it’s still impacting people now is insane.
What's your favorite song from your debut album, and why? Has the song or reasoning changed in the year or so since release day?
Pat: “Heatseeker.” Something about that song and the way the dynamic fluctuates so hard between soft and twinkly to driving and aggressive just hits so hard.
Joey: My favorite is “Make Light.” On top of being the brain behind the title of the record and the three songs that make up the name, I had been sitting on the guitar part in this song for close to six years and never used it for anything. I wrote it during a pretty tough time, and the fact that it turned into one of the most unique songs on the record is really special.
Collin: I love “Burn”. It just hits different, and really stands out from the rest of the record. I'm most excited to play “Cathedral” live, though.
Matt: My favorite has almost always been “Find Sense.” This is probably the song that changed the most from the original demo, and the groove is definitely what drives the entire song.
I'm known within my little circle for being late to the House & Home hype train and only listening to "Find Sense. Feel Love. Make Light." for the first time pretty recently. Are there any bands/albums that your friends got on you for being late to the party with? Are there any artists that are super popular now that you can't quite get into?
Being in this band has definitely widened all of our musical tastes. There are for sure certain artists that we can’t really get into, but I think the main things is the fact that making our own music in the capacity that we do has kind of given us perspective on how to appreciate songs for what they are, even if they’re not our favorite.
I think all of us are kinda iffy on the new Machine Gun Kelly stuff, no hate though. Joey will say he doesn’t really “get” Hot Mulligan, Pat had been sleeping on Touche Amore until late last year, the list goes on. There’s a whole lot of different tastes and opinions with us, for sure.
Along those same lines, what one or two songs would you recommend to someone who has never listened to your band before?
“Empty Handed” for sure! Other than that, “Drone” and “Wander” are both pretty catchy and easy-to-digest songs for people that have never heard of us. We hope those songs are kind of gateways to dive into the rest of our stuff.
With COVID-19 cases starting to decrease and vaccination numbers starting to increase, the live music landscape is starting to look a lot less bleak. Is there anything in particular you're looking forward to about playing shows again?
Everything. Playing live is the biggest reason we do this. We haven’t played a show since the album came out, meaning most of these songs have never been played in front of an audience.
We have no clue what to expect, but we have high hopes. There’s a crazy amount of energy for us just practicing these songs, so playing them at shows after all this time is going to be overwhelming in the best way.
Continuing from that last question, what bands/artists do you want to see as fans when you start to go to shows again? Are there any bands/artists you want to tour with or festivals you want to play as a band?
If we get going we’re going to forget people, but off the bat, Nominee, Keep Flying, and Suntitle are all bands we’re huge fans of, and have been lucky enough to play with a bunch of times. It’s safe to say we’ll be back on stage with them again ASAP.
Thank you so much again for chatting with me today? Is there anything else you'd like to add?
We’ll keep it short and sweet! We just want to let everyone know we will be on the road again before the end of the year, we will play an absolutely ridiculous show in Richmond before the end of the year, and it means the absolute world that everyone has stuck with us through all this. The support and the love has been so much more than we could have ever expected and we’re really grateful for all of you.
Once again, huge thanks to House & Home for doing this with me. If you're not already listening to them, now is the perfect time to dive into their discography and familiarize yourself with them before they're back on tour later this year.
The band's most recent single "Empty Handed" is available wherever you listen to music, and my full review of the track can be found here. The track is also included on our May 2021 playlist, which you can find on the site here and listen to on Spotify here.
If you'd like to support House & Home, their merch is available to order online via the band's site as well as through Open Your Ears Records. You can follow them on Twitter @HouseAndHomeRVA, Instagram @HouseAndHomeVA, and Facebook @HouseAndHomeBand.
Feel free to let me know who you'd like to see me interview next by tweeting me @JENSESSlON! Be sure to follow the blog on Instagram @StrawberrySkiesBlog, Twitter @StrawbSkiesBlog, and Facebook @StrawberrySkiesBlog to be the first to know when the next interview is published.