This week NUVO writer Grant Catton profiles Household Guns, an Indy-based alternativ-rock band getting ready to head into the studio to cut their second album this spring.
Who: Household Guns are Shawn Woolfolk (guitar and vocals), Ben Masbaum (bass and vocals), and Dave Hall (drums).
Where: Based in Indianapolis, however Masbaum is the only native Hoosier. Woolfolk is from L.A. and Hall is from the streets of Pittsburgh, Pa.
When: Formed in the Spring of 2010.
Sound: Their debut album, Mano y Monarch (2010), is all over the place in terms of genre, but the tag ‘lo-fi’ seems to best encompass this band’s smoothly paced, moody, far-out vibe that relies on slow, rolling bass lines, repeating guitar riffs, and spacey sound effects underneath Woolfolk’s haunting falsetto. Live, however, they take on a more hard rock, in your face, vibe with lots of muscular riffs, piercing guitar solos, and drums which thunder with punk attitude.
Background: Though the band is only two years old, both Woolfolk and Masbaum are well steeped in the Indy music community. Woolfolk works for local recording label Joyful Noise Records and used to play with local acts We Are Hex, A Caesar Holiday, and Little Boots and Drusilla. Bassist Masbaum has played with Lafcadio, A Caesar Holiday—where he met Woolfolk—and currently works with Large Bee as well. This band is so well-connected they actually helped put together a secret concert called Incest Fest back in 2006 for musicians who were in two or more local bands.
Why You Need To Listen: The recent departure of guitarist Andy Rittenhouse left Household Guns as a trio for much of 2011. However they are in the midst of integrating keyboardist John Muylle (formerly of Everthus the Deadbeats) into the fold and are preparing for a studio stint this spring to cut a new album. The band is already full with Woolfolk’s lead-guitar chops, Masbaum’s bass, and Hall’s dynamite drumming, but the addition of Muylle brings a level of precision and classical music training that Masbaum says has already helped the band get better as a whole.
“As learned as (Muylle) is—with his musical theory background—he challenges us to step up our game,” Masbaum said. With that going for them, Woolfolk says he expects the new album to be much more of a defining work for the band than Mano y Monarch, which was “"sort of a hodgepodge of ideas".” After they get done recording, Woolfolk says they plan to go on a tour that will likely include a date in Brooklyn, N.Y. where they’ve already been invited to play a gig.
It seems like the stars are in line for Household Guns to create an incredible album. They’ve got the depth of musical talent and, with two years and an album under their belts, they’ve had time to mature as a band. Furthermore, the addition of a keyboardist should allow them to fully realize the kind of spacey alternative sound that marked their album.
Key Tracks from Mano y Monarch: “So Far” — Woolfolk’s falsetto is at its eerie best in this spacey synth-ballad.
“Primrose Path“ — this wonderfully layered lo-fi gem has a great acoustic riff that evokes the sentimental brightness of fond memories.
Interestingly Enough: Woolfolk’s father, Andrew, played saxophone in the legendary soul group Earth, Wind & Fire, and as a teenager he auditioned as a guitarist for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also, despite the name, none of the band's members are gun aficionados, nor do they actually have any household guns.
Listen to "Primrose Path."