Face to face with House Above The Sun

house above the sun

Good music is always there to be discovered by you. November 9 saw the release of the EP which can make your autumn evenings much better and warmer as that was exactly the day when House Above The Sun presented their debut self-titled EP – a gentle, pastel, impressive four-track affair of folk rock tracks. Rock Britain talks to the band’s singer and guitarist Jim Moreton about their debut.

– What inspired you to start recording the EP?

– The songs were there and we thought they were worth putting out. ‘Footsteps’ and ‘Dangerous Thing To Love’ are perhaps our best so far, or we think so at least. We also wanted to show a different side of our sound and songwriting from our first EP ‘Childhood Home’, which apart from the title track was a mostly blues rock and grungy sound. Over the past 2 years our sound and instrumentation has evolved quite a bit. Our folk rock and country influences have become more apparent, and Ariel now has a bigger role vocally as well as playing acoustic rhythm guitar, so this EP reflects that a lot more than our first record.

– What was the starting point of writing this EP which set the ball rolling? What did the songs start revolving around?

– I wrote the songs myself, mostly towards the end of 2013 and early 2014. I remember writing ‘Footsteps’, which I began in my sister-in-law’s living room on a Christmas trip to Canada and started as a fairly child-like acoustic guitar instrumental in the vein of Gillian Welch or Neil Young. I found the words a few weeks later and it became one of our favourites to play. I suppose that was the starting point of the new EP.

– What were your thoughts/feelings when the EP was finished?

– We were happy with the sound and thought the overall performances and sounds we captured were an improvement on our last. The songs suited our voices better too we thought, and it was completed relatively quickly without many overdubs so it still felt fresh when it was completed. This time we also had a separate engineer (Charles ‘Chicky’ Reeves) to do the mastering, which really gave the EP a new edge and really enhanced the dynamics of the playing.

– What were the most memorable moments while recording the EP?

– I remember the track ‘(He’s still) My Flesh & Blood’ going really smoothly and thinking we got a really good groove going for that one. We recorded the guitar, bass and drums live and nailed it in 2 or 3 takes. It’s nice when that happens. I remember Ariel singing ‘Love’s Ugly Twin’ and how it really brought out the beauty of her voice. Her third harmony part in the final chorus was created last minute in the studio and gave a great lift to the end of the song.   

– What were the biggest challenges while working at the EP?

– ‘Footsteps’ was a lot harder to record than expected. The intro had to feel relaxed and the song naturally likes to speed up a little as it gets towards the end, so there was no way it could have been simply recorded to a click track. That would have killed it. So we just had to spend more time on that one. It’s not perfect but it’s the closest we could get in the time we had. That’s maybe the biggest challenge with any recording-just doing the best you can under the pressure of limited time, knowing what matters most, and not being too perfectionist.

– How does the EP reflect your philosophy as a band?

– Hopefully people will find the songs uplifting yet not cheesy. I think it’s sunnier sounding than our last EP, both musically and lyrically.  Recording and playing live are obviously different disciplines but for us we want some of this live energy to be captured in the studio. It’s disappointing to me when I’ve enjoyed hearing a band live and then heard their record and found it too dry and/or overproduced. Though it depends on the style of music of course. I’m really happy that the EP hasn’t been made too loudly and that you can feel the dynamic lifts, and that we mostly captured the sounds we wanted in the room without the need for lots of post-production. 

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