On Saturday March 22, 2014 the first annual Self Help Festival took place in San Bernardino, California. The two-stage event hosted just shy of 20 bands, all of whom gave fantastic performances under the hot California sun. With half-mile-long lines wrapped around the NOS Event Center for all hours of the day, the Self Help Fest clearly made the top of everyone’s to-do list that day. Hosted by A Day to Remember, who headlined the event, the Self Help Fest featured performances by some of the most prevalent and influential bands of this music scene. Bring Me the Horizon, Of Mice & Men, and the Word Alive owned the outdoor stage while Memphis May Fire, Issues, and letlive all captivated the sea of kids inside. Overall, an overwhelming amount of fans came to support the Self Help Fest, and after all, what better medication can one find in life other than music?
The Self Help Fest included the entire lineup from the Unconditional Tour. Beartooth, The Word Alive, A Skylit Drive and Memphis May Fire all brought their respective heaviness to the Self Help stages and commanded audiences in a frenzy of circle pits, mosh pits, and crowd surfing. However, Hands Like Houses, also on bill of The Unconditional Tour, brought a whole new sound and energy to the Self Help outdoor stage. Being one of the only bands without any screaming leaves audiences, at first, a little hesitant as to what to do with themselves.
No circle pits? No breakdowns? Can I crowd surf to this?
Yes. Yes you can.
The amount of talent resonating from the six Australians completely changes the vibe of entire festival. The unbelievably crisp vocals of front man Trenton Woodley complimented by the playful keyboard and the hypnotizing guitar create a half-hour-long ethereal experience unmatched by any other band on that stage. And although the crowd may struggle a little bit when presented with such an exquisite sensation, something Hands Like Houses has learned to expect, the audience becomes nonetheless impressed with the theorized grooviness coming from the speakers. Judging from the fact that bassist Joel Tyrrell’s smile never fades throughout the set, everyone has a good time.
Alongside other Australian imports like Tonight Alive and Northlane, Hands Like Houses has enjoyed prominent success here in America, including their first ever Headlining U.S. tour this May. The band’s second album Unimagine (2013), released this past summer, helped to further boost the band’s popularity as they enjoyed their first run on the Vans Warped Tour. Hands Like Houses has recently participated in their first ever Punk Goes album with their cover of “Torn” on Punk Goes 90s Volume II, set to release April 1st. Any fool to miss out on their exceptional take on the 90s classic should be scolded repeatedly. As guitarist Alex Pearson playfully explains, “Torn” is “the best song ever,” and who could argue with such a bold statement? Originally made famous by another Australian native, Natalie Imbruglia, the cover will hopefully bring even more attention to the impeccable talent of Hands Like Houses.
During the delightful chaos of the Self Help Fest, Substream sat down with the two guitarists of Hands Like Houses, Alex Pearson and Matt Cooper, to discuss their tour experience this spring and to talk about a few serious topics, like noodling and Cooper’s burnt feet.
Substream Magazine: What did it mean for Hands Like Houses to play the Self Help Fest?
Alex: Considering the lineup I just think it’s awesome to play with such prestigious bands. Plus playing festivals like this in California, that’s always a really nice thing to do.
SM: Do you prefer playing outside festivals or indoor venues?
Alex: I literally used to loathe playing outdoors more than anything in the world, and then we did Warped Tour and I never wanted to play inside again. It sort of took me back to Warped Tour and I felt really nostalgic.
Cooper: I couldn’t be more opposite. I love indoor shows. They’re more intimate. But the thing with outdoor shows is the stage is just so much bigger.
Alex: Plus Coops burned his feet today.
Cooper: My feet are currently damaged from the floor of the stage. I was trying to stand in the shadows of random things on stage and then afterwards my feet had huge blood blisters. Make that mistake once… and that was it.
SM: How has the Unconditional Tour been?
Alex: It’s an awesome tour.
Cooper: Legendary dudes.
Alex: All the bands are phenomenal as musicians and as general people in life. We’re having a great time. There’s a little too much snow for my liking, but besides that it’s great.
SM: Since Hands Like Houses is less heavy than a lot of the bands on this tour, how have the crowds been?
Alex: There have been a lot of people come up to us afterwards and say ‘Look, I have never heard of you guys before, but that was pretty sick.’
Cooper: I feel like a lot of people watch us and don’t know what to do… which is fine because hopefully that means they just sit there and listen to us, which is all we want. At the end of the day, we play to a big audience and that’s amazing.
SM: Is it a little discerning that people don’t really know how to react to your music?
Alex: We’ll do a little bit more conducting in the future. Maybe this is a little bit of a learning curve because a lot of the frontmen kind of command what’s going on.
Cooper: The thing with these tours is the other bands are so heavy and their crowds are so mobile, the energy emanating from the crowd is so vivid and then we go on and it’s a bit bizarre to not have that energy. But as long as they’re listening, that’s rad. It’s just a different vibe.
Review, top photo and interview by Alice Carson