Glasgow five-piece Home$lice discuss debut album Howdy
We catch up with three members of Glasgow five-piece Home$lice at the 13th Note ahead of their debut album release this month
"I've been wanting to call a band Home$lice since I was in school, since like primary seven or something like that," explains Home$lice guitarist Scott Whitehill, over a pint at Glasgow's 13th Note bar. "Me and Josh [McDowall, vocals] loathed the name for so long," interjects bassist Scott Reid. "We wanted to [be called] The Hunks. We thought that was hilarious as a name." Whitehill continues, "I thought it would be funny if it had a dollar sign in it, aesthetically. Because I wrote it down, and it just looks pure shite without a dollar sign!"
With the intricacies of the band's name now cleared up, we move on to a discussion about Home$lice's forthcoming album Howdy. McDowall, Reid and Whitehill – along with drummer Joseph Cardle and guitarist Alex Porteous – formed the group in 2015, and their EP Young Creatives was recorded at Green Door Studio and released last year. For Howdy, the five-piece went back into Green Door and have emerged with a seven-track debut record that, stylistically, draws on the guitar-driven sounds of bands like The Smiths, Pixies, and New Order, overlaid with McDowall's raw vocals and lyrics that confront the "inevitable departure of youth."
Tracks like Real Lyf contrast an upbeat, jangly melody with McDowall's plaintive vocal; with a chorus that laments 'Is this real life?' it's clear that there's an existential undercurrent to Howdy hidden behind the band's self-deprecating humour. "It's definitely a form of release, I suppose," McDowall agrees. "Most of the stuff on the album is about getting older. I'm trying not to sound bitter, but I'm just trying to talk about the stupid things I did when I was younger, I guess. I'm not trying to directly attack anybody, it's more directed at myself." He pauses, then wonders aloud, "I don't know, does it sound like I'm pissed off about getting old?"
"You're like an old man shouting at a cloud," replies Reid, as the three bandmates burst into laughter.
Another track that deals with self-reflection is the swinging indie-rock gem Sick, which they tell us was "the first song we ever wrote." The song appears on the album, alongside their newer material, with the three concurring that it stands as a benchmark of their songwriting. "It still kind of fits with everything we play now," says Whitehill, to nods of agreement.
The Home$lice songwriting process is a democratic one. As Whitehill explains, "everyone writes their own parts. Alex and I write the initial chords and lead guitar parts and get the ball rolling, and then everyone just does their own bits on top. In the studio, usually me and Alex will come in with the most basic of things, literally just a verse and a chorus. And then as a band we'll arrange it."
A group firmly rooted in Glasgow's music scene, the album references the city lyrically and is also indebted to Glasgow's rich musical heritage. "I like that it's small, and I like that it's quite condensed in terms of there's a lot on offer in a small space," McDowall muses of his hometown. "I just think it's a lovely place, I think it's really nice." Reid jumps in with, "but the weather's shite!" The vocalist protests, saying "I like the weather!" Reid concedes that "it's nice making summery tunes to a mad backdrop of grey."
"It just looks pure shite without a dollar sign!" - Scott Whitehill
McDowall, Reid and Whitehill collectively cite bands like Alex Harvey, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Orange Juice and The Pastels as homegrown influences. In terms of their contemporaries, they all namecheck fellow Glasgow-based five-piece LYLO as a current source of inspiration. "Listening to them and looking at how they break stuff down and change it around, in terms of tempo and stuff like that, definitely had an influence on what we've been doing just now," confirms Reid.
McDowall also speaks of the influence of The Amazing Snakeheads: "That was really a big thing for Glasgow bands. People believed it was possible [to be successful], because they didn't really have a reputation here – it just shows that if you're good enough, it can happen." Reid agrees: "We definitely take inspiration from them, not sound-wise, but just kind of pushing yourself to do different stuff, or go for it a wee bit more."
"It makes it nice to be in a Glasgow band, and feel like you're making some sort of contribution to what's come before you," sums up McDowall. With the release of Howdy, Home$lice add their name to the long list of bands who are carrying on that legacy and continuing to shape the city's fertile music landscape.
Howdy is released on 13 Apr via Spiral Oh
Home$lice play The Poetry Club, Glasgow, 13 Apr