Introducing: Two Houses

By Samarth Kanal

Two Houses play catching, uplifting pop-punk from Chicago, and Ryan Smith (bass) is here to take us through the band’s roots, influences and aspirations.

“Dave (drums) and I met at an orientation when one of us remarked at how we thought this kid was a dork because he said his favorite band was The Mars Volta. We got high that night and listened to music in Dave’s dorm.”, Ryan explains, in an honest manner which reflects his song-writing in a slightly roundabout sort of way.

“We met Mike later that week at a party. Mike (guitar) was drunk and babbling about Fugazi.”, Ryan continues. “Dave and I figured we would befriend him. We hung out for a long time, drinking cheap beer and getting to know each other. I don’t know when someone finally said we should start a band, but it seemed like it was only a matter of time from the beginning.”

That’s a really sweet way to describe the roots of a band and it’s undeniably important to have solid chemistry. Their influences and heroes do vary; Ryan goes on to explain their shared tastes: “As a unit, I would say our biggest influences are The Replacements, Jawbreaker, Against Me!, Superchunk, Big Star, Thin Lizzy, The Hold Steady, The Clash, Too Many Daves, Archers of Loaf, and Dinosaur Jr.”

“We moved into a house in Avondale right off the freeway and practiced in the basement. We were distracted by our new-found love of alcohol and only managed to write and record a 5 song demo during our year together and play some very awful, very drunk shows, but we agreed on the name Two Houses.”

Writing music isn’t an easy task, and Ryan does know that – it’s a collaborative effort for Two Houses, and Mike Boren never seems to be content with his songwriting: “Mike will have a part for a song, [then] Dave and I will come up with our own parts then take stabs at coming up with the missing pieces. Then we will continue to play that for weeks while Mike constantly re-drafts the song’s lyrics. Finally when we’re about to record it, Mike will say fuck it and re-write all of the lyrics one last time.”

Lyrically speaking, Two Houses evoke feelings of nostalgia and melancholy – Mike’s words read like poetry, but they’re backed up by a lightly distorted guitar and solid drumming which gives everything a garage-punk tinged sound.

Finally, Ryan talked about the band’s future with a whole load of aspirations. “We want to keep doing this band in a way that is sustainable. It has already proven that it can be a very cool means for us to travel, see parts of the country that we wouldn’t otherwise see and meet amazing people we wouldn’t otherwise have met. We want to take that further: tour everywhere, play festivals, go to other countries, play great shows and to write a great full length.”

“We’ve all made sacrifices to do this but it has almost always been fun. We know the alternative and we’ve had jobs that we don’t like. Hell, we’ve kept jobs that we don’t like just to keep doing this. This is the only thing we feel truly ourselves doing and what the hell else are we really going to do”, Ryan explains with emotion that’s almost tangible. There’s no guessing when a full length will make it’s way to us but a new EP is more than welcome.

Evidently, this Chicago trio derive a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction from what they do – Ryan ends by reiterating just that: “We’ve always just been trying to make the kind of music we want to hear. We’re going to keep doing that.”


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