Interview: Humming House Ready to Share Road-Tested Tunes on New Album
Nashville-based folk-Americana band Humming House have been together for about five years now, and they have two albums to their name, but their upcoming disc Revelries is unique because it will be the first studio record to include all of the band's members from start to finish.
Justin Wade Tam, a songwriter and one of Humming House's vocalists, brought his friends, acoustic bass player Ben Jones and mandolin player Josh Wolak, together in 2011 to record some of his songs; those sessions became the band's 2012 self-titled debut album. In 2013, fiddler Bobby Chase and vocalist Leslie Rodriguez joined the trio to complete Humming House's lineup, and as a five-member group, they've toured extensively and released a live album but never worked on a studio record, until now.
"After we recorded our first record, we kind of had to figure out how to be a band," Tam tells The Boot. "As a result, the songs for this record kind of came about as the band was coming into its own ... so it's much more of a reflection of the band as a whole than the first record is."
Revelries is also a reflection of Humming House's extensive time on the road, from the single, "Great Divide," to the track featuring the lyrics from which the album takes its name, "Carry On."
"I think ["Great Divide"] is kind of emblematic of the record," Tam says. "It's kind of about us going west to Colorado [on the 2013 Fall Forward Tour], but also that exhilaration and anxiety of doing music." The music video for the tune (which is available to watch below) features footage gathered throughout that tour, mixed with shots of the band.
"Carry On," which Tam calls "kind of a deeper track," also "captures a lot of that, a lot of our road stories." The genesis of the song is four or five years old, Tam says, but it became the tune it is now after some help from Wolak.
"I showed it to him, and he really dug it, but it wasn't quite right, so he took it and really re-worked it," Tam says. "There's a lot of stories like that. "Great Divide," Ben and I wrote that together."
That collaborative process is emblematic of Revelries as a whole. The disc was produced by Mitch Dane and mixed by Vance Powell, both of whom worked on Humming House's first album, and it only features one outside musician.
"It was cool because it sort of showcased everybody's multi-instrumental skills," Tam says. "It really gives everybody a nice voice."
Tam adds that he was especially excited to feature Rodriguez, the band's lone female member, on lead vocals for the first time.
"She's an incredible singer," he says, "and a big part of the live show."
The band tried out Revelries' songs while out on tour, so "the arrangements were all pretty much set," Tam says, by the time they got into the studio, and "we knew what we wanted to do when we got there."
"In the live setting, we'd often get feedback that the first album didn't feel like it really reflected the joy and fun of our live shows," Tam continues, "so we decided with this record to try and really capture that, so we hope that we did."
Revelries is due out on March 24 and is available for pre-order on iTunes. Humming House will spend much of the next couple months out on the road, including four shows at SXSW 2015; a complete list of dates is available on their website.
Listen to Humming House, "Great Divide":
Humming House, Revelries Track Listing:
1. "Run With Me"
2. "Great Divide"
3. "Fly On (Forever Is Better With You)"
4. "Nuts, Bolts, and Screws"
5. "Hitch Hike"
6. "This Hell Where We Belong"
7. "Freight Train"
8. "I am a Bird"
9. "The Love That We've Made"
10. "Carry On"
10 More Artists to Watch in 2015