Meet: Leeds post-punks Household Dogs

Intrigued as we were by the beguiling and atmopspheric ‘Ain’t no Heaven’, We decided to investigate Leed’s Household Dogs. Forming in 2018, they’ve been mixing up elements of alt-rock, alternative rock, post punk and a nod towards Americana, all delivered with a darkness of touch and keen sense of drama with their lyrics. We spoke to lead vocalist and guitarist Declan to find out more.

Hello, thanks for talking to us – can you introduce Household Dogs to us? Who’s in the band, and what sort of music do you make?

I’m Declan, I sing and play guitar. We also have Alex on guitar and pedal steel, Ross on more guitars, Matt on bass and Josh with drums and percussion. 

Our music has always been surprisingly hard to define for me. I’ve never been sure what it is, it just is and it is always changing. If I was pushed for genre I’d say post punk but that could mean one of a thousand things. 

How did you meet and was there a catalyst to becoming a band? What sort of music were you all into at that time, and has that created a sort of DNA of the music you make now?

Matt and I have known each other for years, we went to school and university together. We had been in separate bands for years but never really played together, as time wore on collaboration became the obvious choice. Since the beginning we’ve had a few different line ups, people come and go as weights shift in their lives. It wasn’t until Josh came in to play drums, that everything solidified. He used to play in another band with Alex and Ross, it seemed the logical conclusion to rope them in when we found ourselves looking for more members. As I said, there have been a few changes in who is playing what over the years but we all have the same basic need to play music, it’s just good that we have found each other to do so.

We have always had different taste and that’s something that defines our music. That melting pot created by taste means everyone has as different input into the sound but the DNA of our music isn’t down to the music solely. I think it’s the shared vision that is the underlying theme. We all know what we want to do artistically. We are pushing to tell a storey, to create an image through the music and to do something exciting. I think that’s the DNA of it all.

Weird times – how are you and how are you coping?

It is indeed a strange time to be alive. I never thought it would be a situation like this to bring life to a grinding halt, but it seems as if it is here to stay for some time. The hardest part has been cancelling our tour. For us, playing live is everything, it is almost spiritual, it gives us the opportunity to reach out to people so having that taken away is annoying but we are all well and as long as people are safe then we’ll survive. 

Have you managed to keep in touch with eachother and has anything creative come out of the process so far. 

We keep in touch. This lockdown hasn’t been a holiday for us as of yet, we video call once or twice a week and we write. 

I think working together remotely has changed the creative process for us. We’ve had to change our approach. It’s strange to not be able rehearse or write in person but I think something good will come from it all.

How do you like to write – is it a collective effort or is there certain people who do certain things? How do you put it all together?

For us, it’s an evolutionary process. It always begins with a core idea. That idea could be a melody, a chord structure or a near finished song. That idea is bought to a rehearsal and we start work. At this point it really is a collective process, a series of trial and error writing sessions in which we try to organise it all. When it’s finished musically, I’ll take it away and write the lyrics. From time to time I’ll already have some notes or a poem that fits, others it is about using language to reflect the music.

Once the song feels like it’s there, we play it. Playing new songs at shows is as much as part of the songwriting process as the initial idea. It’s the proving ground. When we are happy with its delivery we record it. We are very lucky to have Matt, our bassist record and produce everything. That kind of control over our art means so much when it is so personal. We rely on textures and ambience to help us paint the picture so recording is really about crafting it sonically. 

Sometimes the whole thing can be like pulling teeth, others it’s a breeze. There isn’t one way to write a song. You have to work to capture what you’re really after. It isn’t going to come to you but if you seek it out it’s there.

We really like Ain’t no Heaven – tell us what it about?

Thank you, that means a lot to us. There is always an element of ‘will people get it?’ when we release music.

‘Ain’t No Heaven’ has been in existence for a while. Originally, it came from a stream of consciousness I typed into my phone on the way into work. Crawling to work at 6am seemed to get me going creatively at the time. After I took it home and tried to work on the basics, then we hammered it out together in our basement. It was relatively painless. Almost as if it was pre-determined.

It was definitely the most exciting recording project we have done yet. It was all recorded at a Leeds venue over a few days. The space and the equipment meant we could push the sound of the record. We were even lucky enough to include a Steinway piano even if it is cloaked in guitars.

Lyrically, it is semi-autobiographical but just in a descriptive sense. I only ever really want people to see what I see so that is what I attempt to do. I could say it means a thousand things, but that’s overdone. It is what it is. If it means something to you then I’m happy.

And how can we get hold of it?

It is on all of the usual streaming sites or you can buy the download on Bandcamp. 

Is it taken from a larger release? An EP or album that’s forthcoming? Can you let us know a bit about that?

It isn’t and we don’t have concrete plans to release a larger body of work. I can feel that an EP or album could be close by but for the moment, until we have songs that work together then we are happy to roll out a few more singles. They lend themselves to a little more flexibility and experimentation.

Difficult one to answer, but when this is all over – what plans do you have for the rest of the year?

We want to get back out on tour. It has been hard on missing it out on the live shows, but we are working to reschedule dates. It will most likely fall in October as long as this situation permits. There will be another single at least and there is talk of a record store day release, but we shall see. At the moment, we are just happy writing some new songs.

Keep a close eye on Household Dogs, they’re coming for you, and once they bite, they might never let go.

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