HipInDetroit- When I saw you, there were quite a few of you playing. How many are there and how did you all meet? How long have you been together?
James- We got together in the summer of 2010. I had a bunch of demos on deck that we weren't using in my previous band, James and the Rainbros, so my buddy (and ex-bassist) Ben Sturley recruited his favorite players from Wayne State's jazz program and we started rehearsing with them in the tiny attic of my Hamtramck flat. Now our lineup is Stephen Boegehold on drums, Matt Callaway on guitar, Jeff Cuny on bass, and Taylor Pierson on keys.
HipInDetroit: You guys played with a few hip hop/rap bands when I saw you recently, but that is not exactly what you sound like. You guys were a bit different. Can you describe the type of music House Phone does?
James- Well in this group I started approaching the song writing more like a producer than i had previously.... layering elements, dropping things out, building to climax then break down. So I think that kinda lends itself to a hip hop aesthetic. Then we spent some time performing as hip hop collective cold men young's backing band, where the guys were interpreting their beats into a live arrangement and i think that helped push us into the sound we have today.
HipInDetroit- I know you guys have a few EP's out, I bought one when I saw you! How was it putting those together?
James- The first EP (House Phone EP) was done super fast cause we just set up a bunch of mics in our studio at the Russell Industrial and played live. We recorded like 10 or 12 songs and I thought those 3 (Field Trip, Compartments, and Monarch Heart) came out the best so we got some CD's made. The second EP (Field Trip EP) was more produced. We did live drum and bass, and if I remember correctly some keyboard stuff, too, but then spent some time layering additional keys, guitar, and vocals on top. Plus those were mostly songs that I wrote with the new band in mind instead of just getting their take on my old demos. At that point we had just got some bread from Metro Times after winning the battle of the bands that they had hosted so we got some 7" singles made that had two of the tracks off the EP. Then the last EP (Gift Catalog EP) was prob our most produced effort to date. I had just ended a relationship and all the songs were about that. I wrote it pretty quick in the weeks following and I wanted to get it recorded and out on the internet fast before I got too self conscious about it. Then after we put it out, new fortune records expressed some interest in putting out a 7" split with us and hip hop duo Passalacqua. So we ended up using the closer track from Gift Catalog called Crayons on that vinyl. Also, this new tape label called Checker's Records Collective hit me up and ended up making a deluxe edition type tape of gift catalog that features the EP on one side and then a bunch of alternative versions and demos of the songs on the B side.
HipInDetroit- I read on your website that you were lucky enough to make it to Good Morning America with your old band, The Rainbros. How crazy was that? Did you get to meet anyone cool?
James- We were on Good Morning America in the sense that the anchor mentioned us. We weren't physically there. In 2006, we had this stop motion animation music video for a song called children of the universe. So we entered it in this contest Youtube was throwing called Youtube Underground. It got really popular and we ended up becoming finalists in that contest but we didn't win. Shortly after the contest, this A+R guy from Atlantic called me and we kept sending him tracks we were working on for a couple months. I totally thought we were gonna be famous but nothing ever worked out and eventually he stopped calling or returning my calls so that was a bummer haha.
HipInDetroit- One thing we like to ask everyone we interview is what are some of your favorite places in Detroit? Favorite venue, restaurant, bar, etc.?
James- I dunno if I have a favorite bar or venue. I like the Old Miami as a venue. It's a good size and has decent sound. I feel like I've been spending quite a bit of time there as of recently. The Lager House is a good venue/bar... love the staff. Of course the Magic Stick is a staple and the lounge side venue upstairs is nice when you want pro sound for a smaller show.
HipInDetroit- What's next for House Phone? Any shows coming up?
James- We're playing at the Pike Room (inside the Crofoot) in Pontiac on April 19th with our friends Phantasmagoria, opening for Dada Trash Collage. And after that we're taking a break for a month or two to record a new thing. Hopefully we'll be dropping this new shit by the beginning of the summer.
Well, there you have it! Unfortunately we won't be able to make it to their show on April 19, but I highly recommend checking them out! They are a lot of fun and really good live. As well as Phantasmagoria. Should be a great show! Doors are at 7:30 and tickets are only $7 and can be purchased here.
Check out their sweet video for 'Me and My Machine':
After catching them at their show, make sure to keep an eye out for new stuff from House Phone this summer!