Houndmouth’s New Album Is A Stripped Down Ode To The Midwest

Oct 25, 2021 at 6:35 pm
Houndmouth's "Good For You" comes out in November.
Houndmouth's "Good For You" comes out in November.

Folksy alt-blues band Houndmouth are soon to release Good For You, their first album in several years, on Nov. 5. The New Albany natives wrote the album’s pastiche-heavy tracks inside an old house over the course of the pandemic, and now they’re ready to share their work with fans.

LEO sat down with guitarist/vocalist Matt Myers to discuss how the album came to be and what to expect on the band’s upcoming tour, which hits Louisville on Nov. 24 at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

LEO: What sets this album apart from your previous ones?

Matt Myers: Well, we took our time, and this album was a bit different because we stripped everything down. We made this album in The Green House, which is where I'm at now. It's in New Albany, because we were a little burnt out on studios. Our producer Brad came in, and we were like, 'Can we make an album here?' And we just all settled in and made it. 

I just like the way the songs came out. A lot of time was taken writing them, and it was matched in the recording process, getting the right tones and frequencies and stripping everything down, making sure everything fit and could serve the melody.

A lot of this album is about stories and storytelling. Which of the stories has the most significance to you, and why?

Well, I think "Good For You" and "Make it to Midnight" are special to me because [the album is] reminiscing about the Midwest, just being in the Midwest and what comes with that.

During the songwriting process, there's a lot of things you work through mentally. It's kind of therapeutic, though detachment is a big role in it, because when you're writing it, you really have to sit and be with yourself and be in the moment and stay true to yourself. 

So, what's it like to create and release music during a pandemic? What's the last year and a half been like for you?

It's been pretty great, actually. I liked the pandemic for myself, personally. When you tour for so long, and so much, it becomes really monotonous, and it's almost habitual. When you are forced to stop and just sit with yourself, it helped me question, do I still want to do this? Do I still want to do this for a living? 

And, inevitably, the answer is yes. But it made me readjust and pivot to remember why I was doing it in the first place, which is also why I liked making the album here, because it’s where we started and where we grew up making music. So we can just take a deep breath and come back to why we're doing this, make everything very intentional, and have a better outlook as to why.

 You said you were questioning whether this was something you wanted to be doing. What would you be doing if not creating music?

I haven't thought about that much. It's funny, there's not really a set career path you wanna just hop into. My hobby’s always been writing music and making sounds, so there’s no other path for me.

 The album is a lot about escapism. What is escapism for you?

When you're playing a show, it's losing yourself. Escapism is in being on this planet, but without realizing that you're here. But a lot of times, I'll do that; I’ve found that I’ll play video games, and I'll play poker and lose myself. But it's always like, you gotta come back. 

Video games are kind of nasty, because they take a toll on you. [Playing video games] doesn't do anything for your mind. It's not fulfilling. But that's why I love music, because there's something to show at the end of the day [and] share with people. It's not just self-serving.

I have to ask – what games?

I've been playing [NBA] 2K [games] for a long time, and I play Call of Duty occasionally. It's just a nice way to completely check out and also stay focused. But it has been like a habitual thing. It’s like a drug, y’know?

Your songs have been on quite a few TV shows. What's your dream appearance that you'd want one of your songs to make on a TV show or movie?

I've been watching “Succession,” and the third season just came out. That'd be cool. I mean, HBO is just putting out the jams, so I'd shoot for an HBO show. [laughs]

One of your most popular songs at the moment, a pre-release from the new album, is "Las Vegas." Why don't you have a tour date in Las Vegas?

Las Vegas is kind of a strange place for bands like us to tour. Usually people are doing residencies there. But yeah, I would love to go to Vegas. 

We actually did a show in Vegas once. We were in a conference room in a hotel. It was weird to begin with, and it was really sterile like a conference room is. There was no decoration or anything. It was an industry show, and the people serving drinks were from Cirque du Soleil. They were riding around on unicycles and those big bikes, but in a conference room with no decor to back up their outfits, so it was just really strange.

That sounds so weird. You should write a song about that! 

I know, right?

But speaking of places that do have decor, at least, tell me more about The Green House. 

The Green House is a Federal-style building. It's a glorified shotgun house –– a two-story building with big tall ceilings. It’s got all the original decor from the 1800s up to when [drummer] Shane's [Cody] grandparents left. Everything here is nice wood, mahogany, what have you, and chandeliers. It’s just an optimal place to hang out; it's just a place where you want to be.

That's also why I wanted to do the record here, because of the tall ceilings for tones. Some rooms have carpet to get a little bit more dead sound, and we’ve used another completely empty room to get a more roomy sound.

Of all the songs that you wrote there, which one was the easiest to write or came the most naturally, and which one was the hardest or took the longest?

The easiest one was "Cool Jam." We were all setting up to record the first day. And then we just kind of wrote that while we were setting up, so that was super easy. 

I would say the hardest, or the one that took the most time to write was "Good For You," just because I wanted the lines to be right. The song doesn't really have a super finite meaning. It's kind of ambiguous and all over the place, so I had to hone in on what words I wanted and what picture needed to be painted. It was a collaborative effort. I remember bringing all these lines up, and then we'd have sit-downs, and we'd just change little things.

What other tour city besides Louisville are you looking forward to the most?

I really like the Midwest, and we're doing some Midwest stuff. I'm excited to go to Ohio, especially during fall, winter. It kind of sucks touring through winter, but there's just something about the Midwest in the cold that's home.

What can the fans most look forward to from this tour?

We cared for the songs, and I enjoy playing them a bunch still. We've been sitting on them for two years now, and I can still pick up the guitar and play it. I just like playing [the songs.] They're super easy to get into, and I feel like it would just be a nice shared experience, playing some songs for some people.

So once the tour is over next year, what are your plans looking like –– another album? Another tour? What're you thinking?

I'm gonna keep writing. I always say that, but it's hard because when a thing is done and it's tangible, you get the gratification and complacency. So I'll probably chill.

I'm gonna keep the writing process going, and then when another deadline comes up, I'll get that urge and push to fight through it.

You can buy tickets to Houndmouth’s Old Forester’s Paristown Hall show here. Pre-order “Good For You” on their website.

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