Tiny Little Houses begin 2018 with a bang, releasing their debut album, Idiot Proverbs. MICHAEL D HOLLICK caught up with band founder and singer/guitarist Caleb Karvountzis to discuss the recording process, his New Year’s Eve and what makes him want to write songs.
How was your Christmas and New Year?
Yeah, it was really good. We played a show in Sydney on the 29th as part of the Los Paradise Festival, which was really cool, and then I headed to the country to spend New Year’s with my girlfriend and her family at their place. It was very relaxing to get away for a bit.
And did you get some good presents?
I actually don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t give any gifts and don’t receive any gifts, just for religious reasons. It can be a handy card to play if I ever do forget a ‘special occasion’ (laughs).
What was it like recording your first album?
It was just so good to get these songs down. We had attempted to record an album in 2016 but that ended up being an EP as the songs we bought in just didn’t fit with what we already had. This time around, we went in with seventeen songs , including those songs that were left off the EP. And we were able to get all the songs down in 10 days, as we record fairly quickly, but once again, those same songs didn’t make it.
Did you like being in the studio?
Oh yeah. I actually like recording more than playing live, like I really enjoy creating and coming up with new things. And the experience was really good, we made our own studio this time around, setting up all our gear in a house that we rented. The location was beautiful, it was in the mountains and while we were there it was really rainy and cold so we had the fire going the whole time and it made for a really cosy, creative sort of space.
And you have honed in on quite a rocky sound for this record compared to your EPs. Did you find that ‘sound’ in the studio or was that something you were doing with your new songs?
I think it was a bit of both. There was a definite sound that I wanted to go for with this record, and in terms of what we have put out so far, the last EP was getting close to that point. I really wanted it to be quite diverse, some rockier songs and some gentler songs and I think we managed that.
How does the songwriting process play out for the band?
What I normally do is get a riff or a bunch of chords that I have been playing over and over again, and I’ll get my phone out and press record, or it may be something that one of the boys have given me that I really like, and I will just muck around with that for a couple of days and when I’m feeling inspired I’ll just sit down and start going through turns of phrases or things that are in my head. And more or less that is the impetus for a song.
Is that how all the songs were written?
Well, not all. Take the song Garbage Bin for example, that just came out pretty much as how it has ended up. Like, I came up with the main structure and body of the song, and of course there were a few words here and there that didn’t fit or weren’t quite quick enough, and they’re the parts that I spend the most time going over and ironing out. And for me, that’s the fun bit, I really love doing that, twisting words that shouldn’t work but they really do, and that is this is the part of song-writing that really interests me, and you can became quite obsessive about it.
So, the lyrics are as important to you as the music?
Yes, to be honest, that’s usually why I write a song. The song will have one line, and this is not to say that I haven’t written, or continue to write, cliched stuff, but I do think that as a songwriter it is important that you come up with something that everybody has said before, but you say it in a slightly different way, a way that is unique to you.
Like for me, I don’t want to write a love song that just says “oh, I miss you” when you can say that same thing in a hundred thousand different ways, and perhaps came away with something truly creative and unique that has your own stamp on it. That’s what I like to think I’m trying to do as a songwriter. And going forward, that is definitely something I want to be conscious of and very aware of, as it’s not something I have done in the past.
What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I am really excited to get this record out and go on tour as that will be really fun. We’re friends with the other bands that are on this tour, so it’s great to have other talented bands on the line up, and also to have people you love hanging out with around with you and sharing in this experience.
As for the rest of the year, I am just going to take it as it comes. And that has been something that has come to me in the past few years. I’ve been blessed just to get where I am now, and the rest is the cherry on top.