House of Heroes
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House of Heroes Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and House of Heroes lyrics)
House of Heroes Biography
Sometimes a severe setback can warrant the greatest evolutionary leap for a band, and in House of Heroes' case, an unannounced series of roadblocks led to members' most expressive and ambitious musical direction to date. As teenagers in the then titled band No Tagbacks, the trio was living the ideal artist's lifestyle- making records, touring constantly and building up a grassroots fan base. But when label troubles set in, vehicles started breaking down and punkish pop no longer conveyed the thoughts on members' mind, a change was certainly in order.
"I look back at our early days and see these wide eyed kids with dreams of being in a rock band just going for it," notes bassist A.J. Babcock, also the group's primary lyricist. "We were really naive back then and I don't think we realized all that went into making this work, but getting out there and trying it for ourselves only brought us closer together and refined our vision of what we've become."
After a serious degree of soul searching, an investigation of other sonic opportunities and all out surrender of the situation to their Maker, the gang reconvened as House of Heroes (a name picked to avoid the childish contexts of its original incarnation) and basically started from scratch. What first started as a new batch of demos and then some road testing turned into the independent album What You Want Is Now in 2003. The embrace of that record by its faithful, plus the buzz circulating around the industry, eventually led to the courtship of the Gotee Records family.
Despite the interest, there would be an eight month stalemate due to previous record label red tape before HOH would officially dot the Gotee line. For a band that was used to the pace of touring and keeping tabs on their audience at all times, the wait was truly tortuous, but it also carved out the free time needed to wholeheartedly invest in the writing of its 2005 debut.
"On one hand we were angry and frustrated that we couldn't officially move forward and were tied up by some legal troubles," Babcock explains. "But we also knew having the time to spend on the material would really help us come of age and write our most progressive and well thought out effort to date."
Whether fans of their one time adolescent institution or those just jumping on board for the first time, the twelve track disc is stacked with striking guitar riffs ("Fast Enough," "Buckets") surging melodies ("Metaphor," "Friday Night") and assaulting rhythms ("Serial Sleepers," "Suicide Baby"). The outpouring is equally infectious as it is inventive, calling on a wide pool of influences while carving out an adventurous niche of its own.
"Our base of what's inspired the record is wide, from the likes of Jimmy Eat World or Weezer as far as the beat goes, to the more technical aspects of old school Rush or Muse in more modern contexts," Babcock believes. "We like to think of it as a modern rock base with a slightly progressive feel, especially in the case of the epic 'Angels In Top Hats.'"
Topically the album's premises are just as expansive with an open hearted account of doubt, frustration and confusion, coupled with hope, healing and satisfaction. Unlike some acts that contrive their ideas around the hot trends being talked about on MTV's TRL or bubble gum radio, every single reference on the record spawns from the sources that sing them.
"Throughout the waiting and writing process, it caused us to be really honest with ourselves and dig deep into the problems faced along the way," continues Babcock. "The result is a back and fourth battle between darkness and light, sometimes revolving around loneliness or turning away from the Truth, and other times getting back on the right track. I suppose we could've sugar coated everything to make it squeaky clean, especially since honesty isn't always pretty in all of its forms. We felt like being that open with our social/spiritual commentary would also be one of our biggest contributions to our audience."
Such a commitment to quality on both ends stems from the threesome's immovable commitment to integrity, a trait sometimes discarded in glow of fame or the attraction of making money. Clearly the group could've easily sold out to a watered down recipe of mass appeal or stuck with the safe subjects hoping to scan more records, but sticking to its guns is sure to earn respect in the long run.
"As Christians, we're called to be creative people and called to do something different from the rest of the world," deduces Babcock. "I think that's generally overlooked sometimes in Christian circles where a band comes out just to be the cleaner version of a hit in the mainstream. There's definitely shining exceptions that go in new and creative directions and that's the category we'd like to be grouped in. House of Heroes has a voice of its own and we're committed to our call of doing something different."