The folk-rock band hasn't wasted any time since forming one year ago.
Small-town Indiana’s Houndmouth makes the kind of music you’d imagine railroad workers humming and Southern front porch dwellers whistling. Their folk-rock music has a rhythm to it, whether it's a slow, respectable sway, or loud chants and foot-stomping. Tonight, they play Circle Bar in New Orleans with Mahayla.
The young band is about to turn one year old, but what it has accomplished in one year proves age might really be just a number after all. “This is the first time any of us have ever been on tour,” says guitarist and vocalist Matt Myers, who laughs on the phone that they’re all becoming “borderline insane” riding in their van. With an appearance at the 2012 CMJ Music Marathon in New York happening next week and the possibility of a U.K. tour next year, Myers is “totally blown away” by how quickly plans have unfolded for the group.
Formed in November 2011, Myers said the band went from really having no idea what to do to packing a Louisville venue and catching the public’s attention. “We’d been practicing," he says. "We had a show coming up at a local venue. We hadn’t played a live show before. We didn’t know how we were going to be live, but we thought we needed to put some music out online so people could hear what they were coming to see. We recorded ‘Penitentiary’, put it out, and a blog started writing about it. Then there were people at the venue that night, which was crazy.” Bands need the Internet nowadays, Myers acknowledges. “It’s so hard to just go out, play, and get a bunch of fans.”
Houndmouth released a self-titled EP a few months later on Rough Trade Records after recording the four tracks in drummer Shane Cody’s house. It was an experience, Myers said, and the D.I.Y. recording process left its marks. “In ‘Penitentiary,’ it gets out of tune, or out of key, at the very end,” Myers says. “We don’t know how that happened, but it’s nice. I’ve always liked that. It does sound very lo-fi, but that’s what we listen to. We listen to late ‘60s, early ‘70s bands.”
The song serves as the EP’s opener, and its lyrics mention taking a train to Houston. The following track is actually titled “Houston Train,” but Myers says this wasn’t planned. The recurring theme of going places, running away only to come home again, happened entirely by accident. “Everybody writes lyrics,” he says. “Usually, depending on who’s singing the song, that’s who wrote the words and probably most of the music. I know there’s only four songs on the EP, but we all take lead at some point. I didn’t think the songs would mesh this well, coming from four separate brains. The similar lyrics still blow my mind.”
Music for Myers began with his high school cover band. “‘What would we cover? 'Old Love’ by Eric Clapton. That was a great one,” he says. “And there’s Hendrix, You’ve got to do it. ‘Mustang Sally’ was the worst. When did that become the new ‘Free Bird’?”