Interview: metalcore powerhouse GLASS HOUSES discuss the process and meaningful themes behind new singles LI(F)E, SUN BLEACHED BONES and BLED.
Today we are catching up with metalcore act GLASS HOUSES hailing from Fargo, North Dakota and lining up Josh Haider, Mark Sands, Tanner Leier, Robert Whiteside and Lucas Wiggins. The band has been making waves since its debut with full-length Wellspring out in 2016 via InVogue Records.
After introducing the band and discussing single LOST CHOICES back in 2018, we are now teaming up again with Glass Houses to explore in depth the details and the process behind new singles LI(F)E, SUN BLEACHED BONES and new release BLED unleashed on January 17th, 2020.
The band took some time out of their busy schedule to sit down and talk with us about the journey since their debut record, the lyrical inspirations and songwriting process behind their new singles. We also discussed the current metalcore scene, their upcoming live dates as a part of Bad Omen’s Dethrone Killed And Born Again tour 2020 and a few Q&A about dreams and future plans.
- Hello guys, I’m catching up with you once more after discussing single LOST CHOICES dating back to 2018. So before sharing the details of your most recent singles one by one, let’s talk about Glass Houses’ journey since you debuted on the scene in 2016 with critically acclaimed record WELLBEING.
Josh – The journey’s been great. We’ve had the opportunity to travel and meet tons of new people and friends in the process of supporting music that we’re very proud of.
- LOST CHOICES was rooted into your signature sound, by giving it an arena rock twist, also having a clean guitar section and a heavy influence from Linkin Park. With this in mind, let’s discuss how the songwriting and creative process has changed for single LI(F)E.
Tanner – We did that very intentionally with Lost Choices because we really wanted to incorporate one of the main bands that inspired us as kids and who’s music is timeless, which is Linkin Park as you stated. For Li(F)e we co-wrote with Josh from We Came As Romans because we wanted to have an outside perspective from someone who we respect in the industry and who could help add a new element that we hadn’t previously done. I really like how a lot of the clean guitar turned out in it and the song as a whole is a good example of how sometimes less is more. There’s nothing too crazy happening instrumentally, which allows room for it to breathe for the vocals and melody.
- I’ve been recently watching a video interview with Josh about the topic approached for the lyrical contents of LI(F)E. Those have been approached from a personal point of view, so I would love to discuss this any further with you.
Josh – Thanks for checking out the interview! I always like not note when we play the song live that it’s interesting writing a song concerning my own fear of death where, as expressed in our earlier work, I didn’t want to live at all. It’s tough to say if I ever truly wanted to take my own life but I believe I just didn’t want to exist at all. I just wanted it to all go away, just give up and fade I guess. I used to have trouble sleeping and I believe that’s a symptom of a restless mind. I spent most of my time convincing myself I was moving in the right direction when in fact I wasn’t half as sure as I wanted to believe. I just had a lot of anxiety surrounding my future and current situation. One day I decided I wanted to stop feeling sorry for myself and attempt to move in any direction, for better or worse. I had spent too long afraid to follow a singular path for fear that I was closing off other paths for good. The truth is, yes, I did close those other paths, but we need to accept that the only constant in life is change. We can sit still for the rest of our lives, afraid to change, or we can say fuck it and take a plunge. Whatever the consequences may be, they are yours. They’re the story that comprises who you are. Once I started living this way, I actually started becoming terrified to die. So I always like to mention the beauty I find there. In the fact that I once wanted to die but I took control of my fears and now I will do anything in my power to contest death.
- What was the general writing and creative process approached for SUN BLEACHED BONES?
Josh – Sun Bleached Bones is one of those songs that blew me away as soon as I heard the demo of the instrumentals. I immediately fell in love with its stand-out rock sound and how front and center the bass lines are. I really challenged myself lyrically here. A lot of what I write comes from a place of vulnerability. I tend to write the stuff I’m the happiest with when I feel the lowest. I hate to use the word “sexy” but that’s the only vibe I could take away from this song. As someone who believes in sexual liberation and the negative consequences of making something inherently natural into something taboo, I knew this song had to be about sex.
- What is the message that GLASS HOUSES wish to spread with the lyrical inspiration of this song?
Josh – One thing I have hated about western culture my entire life is how much we embrace violence but how much we shun sex. Almost every organized religion wants to suppress sexual desire. We raise children with the same shame embedded in ourselves and the cycle continues. Just the fact that nudity is censored much more than violence subconsciously tells us to be ashamed of our own bodies. Because of this we grow up unequipped with nearly any knowledge of reproductive health. Then there are misogynistic attitudes toward women and hateful perspectives of LGBT members of our society based around sexual shaming. We will never close these divides until we address our own sociological conditioning. This is a vast topic but to summarize the meaning of the song, Sun Bleached Bones is about sexual liberation. We play with the idea of an angelic-like choir singing, “I’m not innocent, I’m not good, my heart is a church ready to burn.” Embracing that if to break away from suppression we are dubbed evil, then we will gladly wear the title.
- On January 17th, 2020 you came out of the block in sparkling fashion with a blistering new single called BLED. So let’s share as many details as you wish about the writing process approached for it and what features set it apart from your previous releases.
Josh – As diverse as some of our personal musical tastes are, i think we all love the occasional ass-beater. A song that makes us want to stomp through the fucking stage when we play it. We wanted to write something short and sweet but I was dealing with a lot in my personal life at the time so I knew it shouldn’t just be directionless hate being casted. I knew the song had to be about something that needed to be heard.
Listen to Glass Houses – Bled:
- Bled is about a very meaningful theme: physical abusers. Let’s discuss in depth the lyrical inspiration for this song too.
Josh – One of my favorite quotes goes, “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” It’s about accountability. Something abusers never own up to. I knew this was something I needed more people to hear. Something that could make victims understand that their voice is just as strong as it’s ever been, regardless of how they have been made to feel. Something to tell predators that they are accountable for their actions. I am incredibly proud of those finding the strength to stand up to their abusers. We’re rooting them out one by one. We’re moving in the right direction.
- I got a difficult question for you now. Nowadays many mainstream bands are drastically changing their sound for whatever reasons. How important is it to evolve beyond metalcore or how important is it to stick to your signature sound?
Josh – I wouldn’t say we will ever evolve beyond any genre. Genres are just boxes anyway. They’re a matter of convenience. It’s easier to designate something with a genre than it is to describe every specific aspect of their art. I do understand that it’s easier from an outside perspective but when you’re the one creating the music, you just create. People can call it whatever they want. That being said, we have influences in sub-genres of metal and hardcore. We also have influences in pop and punk. As long as we are making something that we believe in and enjoy, I hope that our fans will feel the same way. That all being said, I like heavy music far too much to ever betray our current sound. If we don’t have drop-tuned guitars or aren’t utilizing some form of extended-vocal-technique, then we might as well change our name because that just wouldn’t be Glass Houses anymore.
- What’s important when it comes to having or not having a breakdown in a track? A lot of bands just kind of toss them in.
Josh – I don’t believe in adding something just because you feel it’s necessary. I’ve heard plenty of heavy songs with some half-thought-out chorus tossed in just to appeal to a larger audience. I think it betrays the song. If it’s a heavy song, let it be a heavy song. However, if you can write a great chorus and it comes together well, then by all means, add the chorus. Same goes for breakdowns. If we had a soft song, a breakdown would make no sense. There is more of a method to songwriting than a lot of people see. Personally, I can tell immediately when a part doesn’t belong in a song, Then again, I enjoy music that can follow a structure to give an appropriate emotional response throughout. It’s almost like pacing a story. You know, setup, confrontation, resolution, etc. I want to feel like I just got kicked in the face when a breakdown hits. In order for that to happen, it needs to be in the right place. If you can’t find that place, then I’d rather there be no breakdown than a bad one.
- You’re joining Bad Omen’s Dethrone Killed And Born Again tour 2020 along with Bloodline, Oh, Sleeper and Thousand Below. How do you prepare for those shows and what gets you amped up?
Josh – Sharing a stage with great bands always helps. It gives you a standard to live up to. I never want us to settle for “Okay”. I want us to keep climbing and make each show better than the night before. A good tour makes for good energy and that affects everyone in a positive way.
- If you had the opportunity to tour with 3 mainstream metalcore bands who would you tour with?
Josh – Oh man, I always overthink these things. It’s always tough because some bands I love but I don’t think touring with them would help our band too much. Imagine if we toured with Bring Me The Horizon. Huge crowds every night but some teen girls who are there to hear Follow You and Mother Tongue aren’t really gonna fuck with us when we play songs like Bled and Flatwoods. I think we’d do well with bands like Ice Nine Kills, We Came As Romans, and maybe Crown the Empire.
- If you had the opportunity to feature 3 metalcore musicians for new materials who would you pick?
Josh – Ethan from TPIY for some guest bass. Colin from Slaves for some more bass, and Aaron Gillespie playing bass. One song with that much bass, We’d be the most powerful band in the world.
- Presumably those new singles will be part of an upcoming sophomore album which details have not been disclosed yet. Now that we know you have many surprises in store, what else do Glass Houses have planned for the rest of 2020? Any sneak peeks on a new album, anticipations, shows or revelations you can share with us.
Josh – We are currently sitting on my favorite songs we have ever made. I want everyone to hear them and I want to play them live as much as we can. Our plan is to keep releasing music, keep playing shows, and keep moving forward.
Thank you for your time guys and having a chat with SICK AND SOUND. All the best for your upcoming shows. We are keeping Glass Houses on our radar and will catch up with you on tour!
Josh – Thanks for talking to us!
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