Melbourne’s House Vs. Hurricane are now well established as one of Australia’s biggest hardcore/metal bands. They didn’t get there without a lot of hardwork, establishing a recognisable and unique sound and supporting it with near constant touring. They now have 2008’s Forfeiture EP and their 2010 debut album, Perspectives under their belt and are currently writing the follow-up. Vocalist Chris Dicker spoke to me about writing new material, the departure of long-term keyboardist Joey Fragione and where you can find the best coffee in Melbourne.
You have Push Over coming up on the 13th of March, the band also played there in 2009. Who are you looking forward to seeing the most on the line-up? What makes you keep coming back to play at the event?
It’s a well-run event. The staff at Push Over are usually a bunch of younger volunteers, which is rad and they take care of everything. You just need to rock up and play, and that’s certainly a nice change from the world we’re used to. I’m pretty keen to see our friends in Break Even hit the stage again. It’s been a while.
Perspectives ended up being mixed in Australia instead of the US with Brian McTernan as originally planned. Were you happy with the final mix? Do you think it’s likely the next album will be recorded/mixed in Australia or overseas?
Our experience with Brian was a learning curve more than anything else. We had every intention of having it mixed in Baltimore, but as the end of our time there drew near, we realised we’d be lucky to even finish tracking. So many things went wrong over those six weeks, but I think it was an unimaginably invaluable experience in hindsight. Perspectives didn’t come out how we had planned, and I feel as if we feel short on we were trying to achieve with the production on that record. As for the next one, we’re still throwing ideas around as to who we’d like to work with. Ultimately, it depends on what the record sounds like as a whole, and who we feel would be most suited to help us grasp the sound we want to achieve. We’ve a few people in mind, both here and overseas, so I guess we’ll just see how it plays out.
What were the differences in musical opinion that led to keyboardist Joey Fragione’s departure? Do you know if he is still playing music or involved with other projects?
I’m still in regular contact with Joey, and I think for a friendship of almost eight years it deserves to be kept alive, despite the fact we live in different cities. I don’t really want to go into that side of things, everything I wanted to make public, I did in our press release. Furthermore than that, I think the rest belongs to the people involved. These kind of things have a tendency to be misinterpreted, or misunderstood as people imply their own meanings onto it, and I’d rather avoid that all together. I know Joey has a huge ambition to move into writing scores for film, and is taking steps towards that end. If you’ve shot a film recently, hit him up. He’ll kill it.
You’ve said the band will remain a five-piece after Joey’s departure. How does this affect live shows? Is one of the core five members doing double duties and playing keys live, or are you getting someone to fill-in on keys live?
We’re continuing as a five piece, without a keyboard player. We felt that we couldn’t fill Joey’s shoes musically, so at pushover and on this up-coming tour with Your Demise, we’ll be running Joey’s parts from a sample pad. Sam’s played to a click for quite some time, so this is the simplest and easiest transition we could muster.
Joey played a major role in writing Perspectives. Who is stepping up into his place in terms of song-writing and who is writing the keyboard/electronic parts in the new material?
Joey certainly had a lot to do with the songs on Perspectives, equally as much as Chris Shaw (Guitar) did. Chris had written our EP, almost in its entirety alone (bar of course the keyboards and vocals), so I guess a lot of that strain has been placed on him once more. Although, we are approaching this next record with a much different style of writing. A friend of ours has given us a permanent space to leave our gear set up, and come and go as we please, so the songs we’ve written thus far we’ve written from scratch together. For the first time, we’ve had the ability to jam whenever we want, and following this tour in March, we’ll be doing nothing except writing until the record is ready to be recorded.
Talk about your experiences playing live across Europe with Heights and Flood of Red. How was the band received overseas?
Hands down, it was the best thing we’ve ever done together. Those two bands are both incredible bands, and some of the most hospitable people I’ve met. I’m content in knowing I’ve made some life-long friends from that tour, and the minute we can get back to Europe, we will. The shows we very much hit and miss. Some shows we’re incredible, people knew the band and the words, other shows, we played to literally 15 people. But you can expect nothing more when going somewhere for the first time, particularly, in countries that speak no English. Hopefully we made an impression on some people, and next time we go, our shows will be a little busier.
How was your last minute show with Heights at Lilydale Baptist Church recently?
I literally found out about the show at 2pm. It was ridiculous! Certain over excited members of my band managed to tee it up so we could jump on the show, and to be honest, it was the most laid-back set I think we’ve ever done. We took requests for god sake. It was so good to see the boys from Heights, and we all went out after the show and caught up.
The band said you’ve got a new song in the works to be released in March. Is that still on track, set a date yet? Will it be included on the LP also or just a stand alone release?
We’re still working on this. We had two songs completely written and ready to be recorded, before we decided to scrap them and start again. We’re good like that. We’re hoping we can get it together and put out a new song by the end of March, but it all depends on when the song is actually ready. Not sure if it’ll be on the record just yet. Although, we’re about to begin filming some of our album writing footage, and hopefully we’ll be able to share that online soon.
How many songs have you guys written for the new album? How is it progressing?
We’ve got two full songs that we’re still pulling apart, and another half-finished that we started from scratch together. I think we’re more motivated as a band than we have been in many years, all super excited by the idea of doing a new record, and I feel as if these songs are to be a lot more crafted than anything we’ve done previously.
Perspectives had longer and more progressive songs than the EP, are you continuing in that vein? What style and direction are you taking with writing the new material?
We made the decision that we’re not to pick a direction and go with it. We’re just going to write songs that are relevant to us right now, that represent where we are musically with one another. Judging by what’s come out so far, the songs seem to be a lot more focused on specific melodies or vocal sections, as opposed to have several conflicting lead lines as we have in the past. I hate describing my own music, so I’m just gonna let you do it when we release some jams.
The lyrics in HvH seem to focus on positivity, is this deliberate choice or just a product of the song-writers’ outlook? Do you think a positive mindset is necessary to achieve what you do in life?
As the primary songwriter, I think positivity is essential in almost every facet of our lives. Some of my favorite bands sing from a place of such anger and frustration, and I feel that’s entirely relatable. In short, a frustration with the way things are, and by the looks of it, the way we’re headed as a species. In saying that, I feel unless we can look to the future with the sense that it’s entirely in our hands, rather than a feeling of dread, doom or despair, then that’s the only way we can even incite positive change. I mean, we are the change. It’s completely on us as to which way we move forward.
On Twitter you discussed a possible US tour. Can you elaborate on anything with that, even if it’s just possibilities you’ve being throwing around (length of tour, locations)?
I really can’t speculate. We’re looking at making the trek over sometime this year after our record is finished, but I can’t really say much more.
If you could play with any musician or band, dead or alive, who would it be?
Kurt Cobain or Jeff Buckley.
Last time Dylan spoke to KYS, he said the band had been listening to a lot of Black Sabbath. Do you guys get into other 60’s and 70’s rock, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix etc.?
Oh yeah, you’ve gotta love the classics. I’m a huge Sabbath fan, and Nirvana have been getting a huge revival of late. Obviously that’s 90’s but nevertheless. If you can’t appreciate where the music came from, it’s birth, then how can you attempt to understand where it’s going? We still love a lot of the old stuff and have a lot to learn from it, the structures, the recordings. They have such a different feel, so much more organic. They certainly don’t make music like they used to.
A few quick questions to wrap up:
What’s your favourite Aussie band at the moment?
The Broderick, if they ever actually do another record.
Is there one musical style or artist who you wish would just go away?
Where is the best coffee in Melbourne?
Do you still get nervous before shows?
Sometimes, but it’s good for you.
What is the best movie you’ve seen recently?
A Scanner Darkly.
Any parting words for the wonderful people of the internet?
Turn off your computer and television and read a book.
House Vs. Hurricane on Facebook.
Catch them live tomorrow (Sunday) at Push Over at Abbotsford Convent, or at their Corner show in Melbourne, Sat 19th of March. I’ll be heading to both shows, see you there!
Originally posted by yours truly at Kill Your Stereo, as I’m contributing at KYS now.