Track By Track: Hands Like Houses, "Ground Dweller"

HANDS LIKE HOUSES vocalist Trenton Todd Woodley takes us through the band's new album for Rise Records, Ground Dweller.

This song is about growing up–being taught to stay grounded while reaching for your dreams, so that you're stronger and able to keep pushing for them even when you're knocked down. Musically it was the first song in which we really started to experiment with vibraphones and more “traditional” instrument sounds mixed in with the synths and electronic drums we'd been using prior.

“Don't Look Now, I'm Being Followed. Act Normal.”
“Act Normal” is about finding yourself somewhere you've never been before, physically or emotionally. Plenty of times I've found myself unsure what to do next. This song's taken on more meaning as the band has pushed further and further past what we ever really expected to do.

“This Ain't No Place For Animals”
This was the first song we released from Ground Dweller, back in 2010. It's about the way people interact, with all our brokenness in between. People fight, people collide and you try and figure out what is wrong–with you or with the world around you. It's one of the heavier songs on the album, and one of our favourites to play live.

“Spineless Crow”
“Spineless Crow” explores building and breaking relationships, becoming jaded and the mixed up feelings that sometimes come with love. It's probably the most experimental and erratic song on the album, but then again that supports the theme in the lyrics. There are big orchestral parts and lots of contrast.

“Starving to Death In The Belly Of A Whale”
We all say things we wish we could take back, and this song is a retrospective look at the damage we do when saying things out of anger–both to ourselves and the people we care about. It's short, sweet and loud–the flowing, fast and hyper-intense drums are the standout of this track.

“A Clown And His Pipe”
This song is about expressing yourself under pressure, when you can't find the right words to say what you want, how you want and when you need to. “Clown” is all about the vocals, layered harmonies, call and response parts and group vocals, but the music is a great mix of heavy, dirty and open space.


“A Definition Of Not Leaving”
“Not Leaving” is my favourite. It's about love, how it's sometimes selfish but in the end it's the being with someone who means the world to you and not letting go that counts. Stand still and let it warm you, fill you and become a part of you. It's a dreamy, passionate electronic track with lots of electric pianos, organs, grand reverbs and layers of sound.

“Lion Skin”
“Lion Skin” is about the place between awake and asleep when something is heavy on your mind, and your dreams and imaginations are at their most vivid and you wander, half-asleep and half-awake. I guess it's more about the image and emotion than the story–that's how I prefer to write. I think this will be one of our enduring favourites, it's big, it's grand, it flows and it's fun to play live. It's going to stay with us for a very long time, I feel.

“One Hundred”
Definitely the oldest song on the album; we wrote this about four years ago and I think it shows. We included it as a throwback to people that have been with us since we formed. It's about the thrill of falling in love with someone and the excitement of not knowing where it might go.

This song is the heaviest on Ground Dweller. We really enjoyed the challenge of making a “brutal” song fit with the rest of the album, while using sampled instruments and rhythmic vocals. It's about making time for the people that mean the most to you–“undiscovered hours to keep you in.” I love the image of clock making; it's becoming a lost art in a digital world, and lost arts are always a tragedy. Time is something that is always moving, always changing, and living the life we do, it's always taking you away from a “normal” life.

“The Sower”
“The Sower” is about the responsibility that comes with being in love with someone–you're accountable for two hearts, two minds and two people's happiness. Music takes you away from home for long periods of time so it's a lot to take on and something you can never take for granted. You become a part of someone else and it's the most amazing thing in the world, but it doesn't come easily. Musically this song was actually completed as an acoustic track before it became full band and I really like the way that influenced the flow of the song. alt