Dental As Anything

18 July 2012 | 7:15 am | Lochlan Watt

"One of us went up and was like, ‘Hey, we’re in a band from Australia, we’re recording an album, and we were wondering if we could use your portrait for our album’. She was like, ‘Umm... yeah, okay’. She was a bit weirded out, but it was cool.”

Formed in 2006, House Vs. Hurricane's notoriety skyrocketed in 2008 upon the release of their acclaimed Forfeiture EP, and their winning of a national battle of the bands competition by the name of FATE. Combining post-hardcore and metalcore sounds with thick layers of synth, the band had arrived just in time to help lead the Australian wave of a sound that was getting massive internationally. In 2010 the debut album Perspectives was released to mixed reviews, with even some members of the band going public with their disappointment in the final product. The rhythm section had already endured many changes, and 2011 saw keyboardist Joey Fragione and vocalist Chris Dicker both depart, leaving McLerie and fellow guitarist Chris Shaw as the only remaining original members.

Moving on from this was something that stood to either make or break the group – the end result being the newly-released Crooked Teeth, an album that confidently smashes through the insecurities of moving on with a meaner, leaner, tighter and more urgent sound. While there's still a synth presence, it has been applied in smaller doses, and Dan Casey of Adelaide's Nazarite Vow has confidently stepped up to the vocal platform.

Perspectives didn't really work out the way we wanted it to, but you know we still had to release it,” says McLerie matter of factly. “This album, after the end of the touring cycle for the last album when Chris our old singer left, I personally was like, 'I'm not sure if I still want to do this'. It was a really weird transitional period. Chris was one of the founding members of the band. We were only going to continue if we could get someone equally as good or better than Chris. When Dan said he was going to come on board, we were all stoked, and it fuelled the fire again to do Crooked Teeth.”

The slick singer tells how things came together at the last minute. “From when we finished Perspectives it was kind of like a year-and-a-half where we were struggling – we didn't know what sound we wanted to go for, and everything we were doing we weren't all stoked on. We kind of only wrote Crooked Teeth in the last six months before we did it, or even less than that I think. Four of the songs that are on the album we wrote less than a month before we left. It kind of all happened really quickly at the end, and it was so much better for that. It just all felt right. I think the pressure of once you book dates and a studio and stuff, you're kind of like, 'Okay, well we need to get this done', and you push a bit harder.”

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Headed into writing without members who previously played key roles in the process, where was the band's headspace at in terms of where they wanted the sound to go?

“We kind of just...really focused on what kind of songs we wanted to write before we wrote them. We tried to make a conscious effort to make the type of songs that we wanted to write. We didn't just see what came out and went with it... we thought about it, and tried to push ourselves in the right direction. We kind of had a thing for this album that we just wanted it to be memorable, because we felt that Perspectives was a bit monotone throughout the album, and we wanted to have a bit more dynamic, so we just tried to make sure we incorporated that in the songwriting.”

In terms of the reduction in synth, McLerie comments that, “there's always going to be people that want you to sound like your old stuff, and we knew that that would happen, and we were fine with it, because overall we were happier. We're super stoked on the album – it's my favorite thing that we've ever done as a band, by far, so I kind of don't really care that much. We're happy, and the music that we wrote is our band, and we recorded it, and it's us – so this is House Vs. Hurricane, it doesn't matter what happened in the past. If you like it, you like it. If you don't you don't. We're not here to try and please everybody or every one of our old fans. We're just writing stuff that we like.”

House Vs. Hurricane spent six weeks in New Jersey, USA, recording with Machine – a man who has worked on albums by the likes of Lamb Of God, Suicide Silence, Four Year Strong, and of course the smash hit Youngbloods by fellow Australians and former keyboard-toters The Amity Affliction.

“Obviously we'd heard albums he'd done in the past,” McLerie says of their decision. “We'd heard Youngbloods, and the step up... I think he must have played a pretty crucial role in that album in terms of structuring songs, and having a real producer's input on it. Like a real producer – someone that actually sits down with the songs and says, 'I think we could do this here, or put a pre-chorus here', and just stuff like that. He really helped us a lot in terms of structuring songs. Everything he suggested we were like, 'Man, why didn't we think of that?'. It was really interesting having someone's perspective on the band, who wasn't in the band, but we still respected really highly. All of his opinions were rad – spot on.”

The album's artwork is immediately odd – a black and white portrait of an unknown African-American woman is not something one would expect to see on any heavy band's cover, McLerie giving the opinion that, “a lot of the artwork that bands use, especially in this genre, in this area of music, it's so stale and everything has been done. We just kind of felt like going somewhere totally different with it, and doing something really out of the box.

“We had our photographer with us the whole time we were in New York, and we had this idea of using portraits throughout the artwork, and using the album title with the crooked teeth and stuff and slapping the big graffiti-esque thing over the top. We were just having lunch at this little vegetarian sandwich thing at Soho, and these girls were sitting next to us, and we were like, 'Man she has such a crazy, interesting face'. We were talking about them while we were sitting about two meters away, and we were like, 'Why don't we just ask them? What's she going to do, say no, and then we'll say 'Oh, that's cool.' One of us went up and was like, 'Hey, we're in a band from Australia, we're recording an album, and we were wondering if we could use your portrait for our album'. She was like, 'Umm... yeah, okay'. She was a bit weirded out, but it was cool.”