An interview with Tiny Little Houses

We think it goes without saying that out of the many, many artists we’ve covered, few have captured us at the core of our essence like Tiny Little Houses. As a very busy (and exciting) 2015 came to a close, we had a nice chat with Caleb Karvountzis, lead singer and primary songwriter for the band. We cannot encourage you enough to head over to the band’s bandcamp page to pick up everything the Australian quartet has in the catalogue so far. And here’s hoping for an even bigger 2016 for Tiny Little Houses.

It seems like 2015 has been a good year for you all. How are you guys handling the recent changes you’re experiencing?

2015 has been a big year for us indeed; we’ve been super busy with a lot of things behind the scenes as well as playing a fair amount of shows. Things have gotten easier for us in some ways now that we have label support through Ivy League, and our awesome manager Ash Sambrooks from Higher Plains has taken over a lot of the administrative work which was killing Sean (Mullins) and I. It’s certainly been strange having people we don’t know come to our shows and pay money for our music.

One thing about your music is that it feels very personal and story driven. Does the inspiration actually come from certain experiences, or does it tend to be more observational?

The songs on You tore out my heart mostly are all quite personal. My song writing in general has a lot of observations of friends and the people I meet. There is a wealth of inspiration for songwriting out there if you can empathise with others, so although much of what I write are things I’ve personally dealt with, not all the songs are completely my own experiences.

We’ve read about your inspirations and saw the list of songs on Purple Sneakers, but we’re curious if there’s anything that’s jumped out to you all as stand-outs for 2015 releases.

This year has had some great releases, some of my favourites were My Own Pet Radio’s Goodlum, Crepes Cold Summers, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s Talk Tight, Noire’s Baby Blue, and Alpine’s Yuck.

To me, “Soon We Won’t Exist” starts off really zoomed in and then starts panning out to these larger stories and soundscapes. What’s the approach to songwriting like for you all? Or do you have a particular plan (i.e., do you start more nuanced or from a particular angle or let it flow?)

“Soon We Won’t Exist” was a really nice song to write; there’s something in the construct of those words which I can see start off personal and continue to grow more and more abstract. For that song I was trying to channel Jeff Mangum who uses a lot of word pictures that continue to unfold as the story is told. In terms of most of my writing, if I feel inspired with a line which I think says something in a unique way, I’ll just sit down and play until hopefully something ok comes out. Hemingway wrote that “There’s nothing to writing; all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” and I think that’s the best way to write a song as well. Once I have the basic elements for the song, I’ll take it to the other boys, and we all work on and arrange it until we think we’ve found its identity. We’re really trying to make sure all our songs have a strong identity and that the soundscapes really match the lyrics and convey the essence of the words.

The scene in Australia seems killer right now. Are there any bands or artists down there you’re excited about?

I’m excited about so many bands in the Australian music scene. To name a few: Hollow Everdaze, who are working on a new album, Crepes, Tired Lion, My Own Pet Radio, The Creases, Horror My Friend, Yeevs, Spookyland, The Outdoor Type, Totally Mild, Lucian Blombkamp, and Good Morning.

Related to Australia, it often feels like they’re detached when it comes to being looked at in the broader scope of a global music presence. Do you think it’s harder to gain a worldwide audience coming from the continent?

Absolutely, we are detached, but I think it’s mostly due to us not having the population that many parts of the world enjoy, which means we are limited in our reach. The state of California has the population of Australia, so I’m sure it’s easier to build a fanbase in the States. That being said we have Triple J which does a pretty great job at supporting local talent and has influence Australia wide. The isolation also keeps us less influenced by other countries, and it’s allowed us to develop elements of our own ‘Australian Sound’ whatever that is.

As a dog lover, the video for “Every Man Knows His Plague…” gets me every time. How did that concept come about?

Jordan Bond, who directed that film clip, is our drummer’s (Clancy Bond’s) brother. He came up with the idea, and we loved it as soon as he told us about it. He has worked on two clips for us and is super talented, so we just let him run with whatever idea he has.

So what will 2016 hold for you guys?

We are looking to record an album at some point next year, for the next few months we will be writing and demoing. Hopefully we will at least have a single out in the first half of the year with a few of our own shows, as well as some possible festival spots. I’m really excited to get some new material out because our EP was recorded in January, so it feels like we’ve been sitting on those songs for a long time!

28.12.2015 / By Joey Smith