Playing before a hometown crowd is usually stressful for drummer and vocalist Shane Cody ’05 of the band Houndmouth. There’s the added pressure of performing before lifelong friends and family — and having lots of friends reaching out to get tickets.
Last week’s debut Waterfront Wednesday show was different. It was the first Waterfront Wednesday free live concert at Louisville’s Waterfront park since 2019, so fans – a record-breaking, estimated 20,000-plus — and the band alike were excited for the event.
“That was kind of a celebration for everybody, the first Waterfront Wednesday back, a local band’s
playing, and we get to be a part of it,” Cody said. “Everybody had a lot of pent up energy. It was wonderful to see that many people turn out and have such a good time.”
It wasn’t Houndmouth’s first live show since the start of the pandemic, but it was the first before its new tour and upcoming album release, planned for this fall. The band has played a few live shows in Texas and South Carolina as well as a few “awkward” drive-in concerts, so having a full slate of destinations feels good, Cody said.
He does have mixed feelings about getting back on their road, he said. He was happy to have time at home with his wife, Taylor, and their 2-year-old son, Fox, and he especially enjoyed the additional time to write and record music. As he prepares for the tour launch with an Aug. 14 River Rodeo music festival in New Braunfels, Texas, he is looking forward to a slate of live performances and “seeing people smile and be happy” as well as the traveling itself. Having been a part of Houndmouth for nearly a decade now, he’s familiar with the venues and the staff with whom the band will work. But he’s not so keen on sleeping on the bus anymore.
“It gets easier and harder (to travel on tour) as I’m getting older,” he said, noting that sleeping in a bunk was easier when the band first started traveling. “My bed (at home) is too comfortable now.”
Cody said he is excited to start performing the band’s new album. Houndmouth debuted two of its new songs at least week’s performance and more will come in about a month. This album shows the progression of band and its music.
First, there’s the new record label, Dualtone Records, a company that initially sought to sign the band initially. Houndmouth ended up signing with Rough Trade Records out of London and then Warner Bros. for a year, a major label Cody said was more controlling of the band’s work. Now, they are more free to define their sound, which is a “mutt” of Americana, Indie, and blues music.
Secondly, Cody had more of a hand in its recording, drawing on his associate’s degree in recording engineering. It’s a process he enjoys, “starting with choosing which mic to put on what instrument, the whole signal flow; you can just approach it any way,” he said. The band has always recorded its own demo records, but now that he has improved his skills, Cody feels more confident to record the band’s new songs, a creative process he enjoys as much as songwriting.
“Anything is possible (in the recording process), sometimes just making something sound bad intentionally, or playing glass bottles for percussion or just anything,” he said. “I like to just get weird.”
Houndmouth has other Providence connections. Jessica (Sweets) Appleby ’04 is married to bandmate Zak Appleby, and Chris Thomas ’06 is the band’s manager while his brother, Drew Thomas ’10, handles digital design and more for the band.