ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?

The roots of HTW started in late 2014, with the full band coming together in early 2015.  I took us a while to get the line up fully established. We are still playing with the original line up.

ITN Magazine: Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?

Juan and I had meet years before when we played a show together in bands we were previously in, but we did not know each other very well.  One night we were talking, and somehow it came up that I played lap steel. Juan’s eyes lite up. Juan was also one of the few people I knew who shared my love of the band U.S. Christmas.  Juan had some skeletons of songs that he had been working on, and he suggested that we get together and jam sometime. We had practice spaces in the same building, so I brought over my lap steel and we jammed on what Juan had.  We decided to get together a second time, and that we were both really stoked on what we were coming up with, and we decided we wanted to create a full band. We started auditioning drummers and Ryan was asked to join. Next it took us a while to find the right bass player, I am not sure why it was so hard, I expect finding a competent player with the time and desire who was into the music just added up to being challenging.  We were searching for a while, and finally asked Cory if he might be interested, and he was way into the music. He came out to play with us and joined the band. Finally, Juan suggested that we have his friend Nate who he played with in his other band, Tigers On Opium, to play Moog and auxiliary percussion. I was a bit skeptical about adding a fifth member to the band, but my concerns were quickly assuaged as Nate knew intuitively the sonic frosting that would finish our proverbial cake. 

ITN Magazine: How long after you formed was it until you played your first live show?

We played our first show opening up for Lord Dying with Usenea and RIP at an event called Black Sunday that was a marketplace for dark and alternative brands and music but on by a local clothing designer and boutique clothing shop Altar, on November 22nd, 2015.  It was an incredible experience for our first show.

ITN Magazine: What are your memories of the performance?

The show was at a local Eagle’s Hall Lodge, and I remember it being mostly a DIY affair, as it was not at a proper venue.  There were a ton of really cool vendor items, jewelry, clothing, art, and there were many cool people to talk to. I had never seen RIP before, and they were a crushing band, but they had not yet developed the state performance they are now known for.  Usnea performed and the power and emotion of their set catapulted them to one of my favorite bands in Portland. And Lord Dying destroyed, though I had seen them a few times before and I knew what to expect.

ITN Magazine: How would you categorize the style of the band?

This is always a hard one for me.  Ever band I have even been in seems to not fit in neatly with a particular genre or scene, sharing some elements, but never quite fitting in neatly.  Hound The Wolves certainly falls in the category as well. Of course there is a lap steel that is hardly a traditional rock instrument, let alone metal, seeing much more use in country, blues, and hawaian styles.  There also is liberal use of delay and dynamics. We were described as psych metal by one of the early music editors who reviewed us, and it seems to fit what we do, a combination of psychedelic and metal. 

ITN Magazine: What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?

We want to convey the interplay between man and nature, of life and death and how they are intricately tied together and inseparable.  The universe is both a predictable and mysterious place, with order and structure hidden in plain sight.

ITN Magazine: Who are your influences and how have they shaped your bands sound?

As mentioned earlier, U.S. Christmas was one of the first influences on the band.  Their sound influenced us in using a less is more approach, not attempting to write short and accessible music, but to write music that speaks to us personally and allow us to creative expression.

Some of my other music influences that reflect on Hound The Wolves are Ancestors and Black Math Horseman.  Both bands bring some other elements in addition to USX with minimalism and dynamics. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about direct relationships between influences and the music I make.  What actually happens is that I listen to the music that speaks to me in certain ways, and that music is absorbed through my sensibilities and tastes, and somehow that bubbles back up into the music I create.  It isn;t really intentional or conscious, it is just something that occurs

ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about your latest album what are the listeners in store for with this release ?

Our latest release is a split with the portland band Glasghote.  Our tracks stand in stark contrast to the sludge metal that Glasghote creates.  Our song Godhead is one of the two opus’, along with Masquerade on our 2018 release Camera Obscura (https://houndthewolves.bandcamp.com/track/masquerade-3), that we created and recorded in our original recording session.  This song is a three part song with a heavy part bookended by two more subtle sections.  The other song on the split is called Live Through The Day, Run Through The Night, and showcases another side of Hound The Wolves that has been hinted at but not really showcased, and that is songs that have more Americana influences, and are surely less heavy, but share lyrical themes.

ITN Magazine: Where did you (sic.)record your latest release at?

We initially tracked drums, bass, and guitars at a studio called Magic Closet that was owned by Ian Watts of Ape Machine, engineered by Jeanot Lewis-Rolland, owner of JLR studios.  Further vocal tracking, lap steel, and Moog where tracked at JLR Studios, an Jeanot mixed the album at JLR studios. Ryan Foster of Foster Mastering mastered these new tracks. This was the same session where we recorded the songs on Camera Obscura. 

ITN Magazine: Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record?

Being a new band on a small budget, we did not have the funds to hire a dedicated producer, Juan and I shared a vision of the music, and along with Jeanot, we discussed the goals of the project, our vision, and filled the traditional producer role ourselves.  Jeanot really helped us a lot with ideas and techniques we used in production of these tracks.

ITN Magazine: Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?

Typically yes, though we are open.  Generally, songs start out as some basic idea, a riff, a chord progression, and then we get together, and the song gets built up.  This has tended to work best in recent times with smaller groups. It is difficult to start the writing process with lap steel and moog, so generally, some basic rhythmic structure is created and arranged, and any lead lines and Moog are added on top of that.  Everyone writes their own parts, but we do discuss particular parts and make suggestions. This has been a great experience as often these types of discussion can be taken personally by musicians and conflict can arise, but everyone is open to considering other perspectives without taking it personally.

ITN Magazine: How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?

Like with any band, playing together has tightened our musical connection with each other.  We are all musicians that play in other projects, so even if we can’t get together for a few weeks, we come back and are pretty solid right out of the gate.  What had really changed is that we write more music together now than the first set of songs, and it we have been experimenting with some new structures. We do not use the same structure, there is no verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge etc. type fo writing, so each song is unique in how it is put together.  These techniques keep the writing exciting and interesting to us as musicians and allows us to express ourselves creatively.

ITN Magazine: Favorite memory from a show you’ve played or a place you’ve traveled to?

One of my favorite shows was when we played a music festival in Oregon out in the gourge called Buddystock.  Buddy has an apple orchard with a house with a large deck facing to the NW. The bands play on his deck with a view of the Gorge.  Hound The Wolves played as the sun was setting, and it was just an incredible time of day and place to play a show, outside, with the sun setting behind thee crowd.  It was also a really great group of people and bands playing and just generally a lot of fun.

ITN Magazine: Favorite song of yours you’ve written?

I don’t know, that is like asking a parent who their favorite child is, it seems wrong to pick a favorite.  I still look at Masquerade as our opus, it is a sonic adventure, taking the listener on a journey.

ITN Magazine: Favorite song of yours that you like to play live?

I love playing all our songs live, and I don’t think there is one song that is more fun to play than the others.  It would be a hard to pick one, though I do enjoy playing Godhead live a lot.  There really aren’t any of our songs that I don’t enjoy playing live.

ITN Magazine: Where do you draw the inspiration for the songs you write?

Well this is a nebulous and hard to pinpoint where inspiration comes from.  I know that I can not force it. I can’t sit down and say to myself, I am going to write a song.  I can try, but inevitably, the results are not satisfying to me. The writing that I like best seems to come out of nowhere, to just materialize itself when it is ready.  I can’t force it to happen, I just have to be receptive to when it does happen.

ITN Magazine: How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?

Lyrics when you can understand them in the music has to be important, as they tend to be the final part of a song, what you are listening to the singer say as the ride on top of a bands music.  So they are important, and I really like the lyrics that Juan writes for our music.

ITN Magazine: What are your current tour plans, if any?

Full tours are very difficult for the band financially right now.  Many of our members do not get paid when they don’t work, and as you may know, it is difficult for a tour to even break even on the level we are at right now, let alone provide income replacement to members.  It is also hard to hold down regular jobs if you are touring at the sort of frequence that it seems necessary in order to establish a regular income. That being said, we are playing a release show for the split 8/8 at the Substation in Seattle with Glasghote, DANGG and Dark Mystic Woods, and we would like to play more shows regionally.  If we had some way to make a tour profitable for the band, it would certainly could change things. I hope that one day we will be able to do more tours and make the economics more manageable for the band members.

ITN Magazine: Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?

The stage is dark, the lights low, and a layer of fog enshrouds the stage.  Bones are prominently displayed in art pieces around the stage, with a symbol in the background, while projected images similar to the videos we have released are displayed.  A sound scape of nature sounds mixed with strange and unfamiliar noises plays lowly in the background. A single figure comes onto stage, ringing a single bell. The rest of the band comes on stage, ring sets of bells, as chants and incantations are repeated.  The bells and sounds build until everything falls away, and a guitar and lap steel line engage in a weaving pattern of synchronicity and first song begins. We continue to take participants on a journey through our set.

ITN Magazine: Getting radio airplay and support is important for a any band, What is your view on that?

Terrestrial radio is much less important for a band like ours.  Believe me, I have tried, but I have heard that we do not fit the stations format, and the long songs we write do not lend themselves to traditional radio.  However, streaming radio and spotify playlist have become much more important, though are more fractured in nature, often boasting far fewer listeners than traditional radio.  This is why we appreciate those streaming radio stations that do support us by playing our music, such as The Horde show on Broken Neck Radio. 

ITN Magazine: Do you see as we do that most local radio rarely support the up and coming new bands and even more local bands just starting out?

We are lucky here in that we have XRAY, KPSU (Portland State University Radio), and KBOO (Community Radio) here in Portland.  That being said, the way to get played is to get your music in the hands of the right DJ. The commercial radio stations generally don’t support local bands, but then again, most of the people who would be fans of these bands don’t listen to these stations, and the people that do may not be the target audience.  There have been times when some local radio stations had shows playing local bands, but they haven’t lasted, for reasons I am not privy to.

ITN Magazine: What do you think of the music industry right now?

It is the best of times and the worst of times.  Everyone has the ability to market their music directly to the public, musical instruments and the tools of the trade have never been cheaper and more accessible.  You can record an album and have very professional sounding results for a fraction of the cost that it once took. On the downside, there are more bands than even, and culturally younger generations are used to getting music free on YouTube and Spotify.  Record sales are way down in total unit volume, and a successful band who is getting a lot of attention may sell 3-4k records a year. It seems that for most bands, you have to put in a ton of work in time and money, and perhaps in 10 years you may be able to squeak out a modest living for the band members.  I don’t know of any musicians in town that can exclusively make their living off of just making music in a band. While there are exceptions to the rule, it seems that it is very difficult to make a living in music these days. Maybe it was always this way. Additionally, it seems every time you turn around as a band someone wants to take a cut of the modest revenue that you do generate as an artist.  But because so many people have such a strong desire to be creative and create art regardless of whether it is financially successful, it would seem that there will be a never ending stream of people trying to scratch out a living in music.

ITN Magazine: Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

Yes it is always difficult, the challenges are many and and constant.  From talking to my friends that have various levels of success, one thing I can say is the hustle never ends.  No matter how many records you have put out, you always have to be looking forward and promoting yourself. Most bands are looking up to the next level in the industry, trying to figure out what the next step is.  We really just want to focus on making the music we want, recording it, and performing it, and for these activities to generate enough revenue so that we do not have to constantly have to spend our own money to move the band forward.  Maintaining enthusiasm for being in a the band and all that that entails under the strain of these constant challenges is probably the biggest obstacle, but for people like me, you don’t really have a choice. I tried to stop about 15 years ago, and I was miserable, I felt like there was a hole in my life that could only be filled by creating music.

ITN Magazine: Tell us about your thoughts on your local music scene?

We have a rather amazing local scene in Portland, with so many bands of various genres that it boggles the mind.  The breadth of styles and expressions is huge, and the metal scene is one of the most vibrant. Of course this creates challenges since the economic pressures in town are squeezing those of lesser means, and clubs have been closing at an alarming rate, making planning out 5 or 6 months important if you want to play with the best bands at the proper venues. 

ITN Magazine: Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?

I guess that depends on what you consider up and coming.  Obviously Glasghote, who we are releasing a split with, and WILL, who is playing with us at the August 2nd release show at Tonic Lounge.  YOB is my favorite “local” band, Usnea and Sol being other highlights for me. Other bands that I really like are Young Hunter, Flood Peak, Hair Puller, Holy Grove, Dark Numbers, Troll, and Freebase Hyperspace.  Really, I could go on, there are so many great bands in town.

ITN Magazine: How has Social Networking (Facebook,Twitter, etc.) impacted your band?

It seems social networking is everything these days, it is where people are these days, particularly for the metal scene that gets mostly ignored by the local alternative publications here in Portland.  Social media is an important way for us to connect with fans of our music.

ITN Magazine: Where can our readers find you on the web?

We have a web site www.houndthewolves.com that links to all of our social media, and we are on all the major social media platforms, so readers can follow us on their platform of choice.  You can find out music on bandcamp, of which I am a big fan, or all the major streaming platforms, Spotify, Apple, etc.

ITN Magazine: What equipment is the band using and do you have any endorsements currently?

Some of our members have endorsements, but general we have no pursued endorsements.  Juan plays both Gibson and Fender guitars, and uses a Marshal head and cabinet, I use a Fender Deluxe Studio lap steel and a Rivera M100 head and cabinet.  Nate uses a Moog, Corey uses a Peavey head and ampeg 6X10 cabinet.

ITN Magazine: Thanks for answering these questions. Do you have any last comments for our readers? 

Please support the musicians who’s music you enjoy.  It is very important to most smaller bands, even one sale means a lot to smaller bands.  If you can’t afford to buy things, then showing your support through social media, including talking about the music you like, sharing, commenting, and interacting with an artists is hugely helpful to bands.  Even a small show of support or a kind word can be the fuel a musician needs to keep creating. Thank you for taking an interest in Hound The Wolves and giving me the opportunity to talk about the band and my perspective, I hope that your readers find it interesting.