Chris Cox of Hound (Brisbane) talks about new LP, sound influences and music journey

With an 80s post-punk influence and other sub-genres, Hound brings to mind the likes of bands such as The Cure and Sonic Youth. It’s been a whirlwind for the Brisbane-based band with the recent release of their debut album, Dying In The Sun and also having done a couple of shows around Australia last month. Through it all, it’s been a constant balancing act for the band, juggling adult responsibilities while also keeping and maintaining their passion for music. Frontman and guitarist, Chris Cox took the time to talk to us about the new album, how the band shaped their sound and what he has learnt so far that has kept him and his band mates in the game.

You’ve recently released your debut album called Dying In The Sun. What was the story behind the title?

It’s kind of literal in a sense of living in Brisbane I guess. It’s like a song that we wrote and I just read The Stranger by Albert Camus and I think that has a bit to do with it as well; a little bit existential. Beyond that, it sounded cool.

I find it interesting that the album artwork has a guy wearing a suit of armour under the sun. Was the album artwork created before or after naming the album?

Well, I mean it was before but it was up to William [Balthes] who actually kind of in a way inspired the band’s name as well because he, in our circle of friends is known as the ‘Hound’ cause he’s just this sort of maniac. He’s been our guiding light throughout the whole idea of the band in the first place and we kind of liked the certainty of a guy in an exe-cutely, open-sealed suit of armour and we did all that before we even recorded the album because it was sort of a funny idea.

So with this being your first album release, what have you learnt so far from its creative process?

I mean, it’s quite extensive. I’ve been playing in bands for quite a while so I’m used to the whole idea of the process of recording, mixing, mastering – all of that. I guess it’s more or less of something that we really enjoyed doing. I think my favourite part of being in a band is actually writing and recording music. We’ve learnt to pace ourselves in the process and not rush it.

Would you say that you guys paced yourselves when it came to making the debut album or did you know exactly what you wanted to do with it, which made it a quick process?

Well, a lot of it was forced by the money that we had available to put into it as well and this allowed us to take our time. Pacing ourselves has allowed us to play some shows and put that money back into recording. I guess the only frustrating thing about that is by the time you come around to releasing, you’ve already written another handful of songs that you’re really psyched about. The writing process never really ends so it feels like the stuff you recorded is always kind of half a step behind where your mind is at.

Assuming that you guys all have day jobs, how do you find the time to actually meet up and go, “Okay, this is the day we’re gonna meet up and write music”? I know it’s probably a hectic schedule to make ends meet.

It is like a Catch 22. It was easy for a while in a sense that I lived with Tom [Butler], the drummer. I lived with him for a few years and that’s kind of how we started the band – just jamming in our living room. And then we all actually moved into a house together so we were able to jam out in the shed so that made it really easy. As far as work goes, that is a constant struggle as well. When I graduated from uni two years ago, it was hard to find work that allowed you to go, “Oh, I’m gonna tour for two weeks” and still have said job by the time you’d come back. Now, I freelance, which means I’m working but I’m also at home. I’ve managed to finally reconcile all the different elements in this lifestyle.

Seeing as Hound resonates a post-punk sound, what originally inspired the band to make music under this genre?

I was really into hardcore punk like Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat and then in the house that we were living in, we always shared music and we started getting into 80s stuff like The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy. We also got into bands like Sonic Youth and Elliot Smith – just a lot of bands from that sort of style of music really opened up my mind to different ways of writing, which was essentially something that was still punk. It was the kind of music that blew me away because it was something I’ve never really listened to until a few years ago; I kind of got obsessed with it and wanted to explore it further. We’re also influenced by The Fall and I’m also a really big fan of Neil Young. It’s not like we specifically go out to try and re-create the genre of post-punk; it really is a combination of influences. I guess it’s quite honest in that way and we just like what we like.

I saw your Facebook page and it had like four genres listed in the genre section and then I had a listen to your music and I found that it was a mixture of other things like punk and alternative. It’s good that you have such a diverse sound in your band.

I guess it’s just the product of having a lot of influences. I could go on for days but I guess the thing you kind of take from that is trying to identify your own sound and refine that so people can know your band. One of the influencing bands who actually brought us all together was Fugazi so that was probably our biggest, unifying band.

Of course with post-punk there’s a sense of release in emotions on both instrumentation and lyrics. Would you say it’s been a cathartic process developing these songs?

I would say so because at the time, when I was feeling down and out, I really wanted to strip away from a lot of complexity and basically write simple songs and not agonise over things too much. In that way, it was cathartic because I guess it was a reaction to everything that was kind of shitty at the time.

What I find in most bands is that music is a sort of release for them when it comes to hardships and challenges that life throws along the way. Would you say that the creative process of making music has been therapeutic or is it more towards playing these songs live?

When I’m writing or if I have an inspirational moment, I record a demo of it. I’m writing a song as I’m recording it and I would say that is therapeutic; but everything beyond that is fun when you’re playing [live] but it’s also a lot of work. You just kind of keep reminding yourself that you’re in it for the fun, which is true – there’d be no point otherwise. I mean, the therapeutic part really only comes in the initial creative part for me and the rest is just trying to pull it together into something that works.

Following up on that, being in a band takes a lot of commitment and passion to stay in the game of the music industry. It’s a challenge to keep going and there are things that don’t go as planned. Would you say that the band have dealt with change really well or is it something you’re all slowly getting used to?

It’s a very democratic band in a sense that we all have a say in what we’re doing and I guess the thing about the music industry is that I think everyone kind of uses a relatively traditional model. I think people are still trying to understand what to do with it. I guess partly holding off on things and waiting on a demand to come to you as opposed to trying to follow that traditional model of trying to get signed, printing out a thousand CDs etc works on its own accord. We’re still working that one out but I think a lot of people are trying to find out the best way to distribute music. It’s a constant learning process; not really something I have one answer to.

Has there ever been a point where you felt pressured to finish something or do you guys just go with the flow?

The only pressure would come from a date that we set ourselves and if we didn’t apply that pressure to ourselves, then nothing would ever get done. The reason to being in a band is to put out music because you get too caught up on thinking about all the stuff around it. Last night, we had a couple of drinks and we just spent the night writing music and that’s pretty much what we like doing.

So seeing as Hound has been a band for three years – bands such as The Cure and Joy Division had a huge influence on the post-punk scene and still do for many people. What mark do you want to leave when it comes to people first coming across your music?

The Cure have been around since ’76 and Joy Division was pretty short-lived. I guess we want people to identify with Australian elements to our music as well – in a sense, the Australian version of all those bands. I guess that kind of get’s reinforced by a laid-back attitude than like the complete meal of all The Cure albums. I want someone to listen to our music and enjoy it and feel some sort of energy by it. Also, to think of it as creative but also finds that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

You’ve done a couple of tours with DZ Deathrays, The Love Junkies and Drunk Mums. Has it been difficult to make the transition from recording to playing songs live to an audience?

It’s actually more difficult to get the songs you play live into a recording. Playing live – all the stuff that goes well live is what we’re most focused on getting right. Recording and trying to capture the way we sound live, I would say is the difficult part. Playing live is easy because it’s largely depending on how the room feels but at the end of the day, we don’t spend that much time recording; we spend a lot of time rehearsing so the live part is second-nature.

What has been your highlights so far when it comes to touring?

You travel so far in Australia to play that if you don’t enjoy the times in-between playing then you’re not gonna enjoy it at all. When we went to Sydney and Wollongong, we drove essentially 24 hours to play two half-hour sets. If you don’t enjoy the actual process of travelling and hanging out with your mates, then it’ll be very difficult for you.

Being in the local scene right now, what has been the most rewarding aspect when it comes to being in a band that has potential to grow?

Getting a bit of kudos from your friends is probably the most rewarding thing. It’s a bit of encouragement and keeps you going but beyond that – meeting other bands, meeting other people and meeting as many legends as possible, makes it even more rewarding.


Dying In The Sun is available now. You can also stream the album here

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