Black Houses
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Black Houses

Band Rock Alternative


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From the same city that birthed such raucous, mold-breaking bands like TAD, Nirvana, and Soundgarden, comes Black Houses, a pounding, guitar-driven hard rock trio looking to revive the unpredictable, passionate genre that was tainted in the infamous downfall of Seattle’s best known music era.

Because, as we all know, after bands like Nirvana and Mudhoney shattered trends, they also, inadvertently, ended up creating one. “Grunge” became a Seventeen magazine fashion spread (literally), and in the city of Seattle, where it all began, the term was quickly greeted with an eye roll. Sadly, nearly everything remotely representing hard and heavy rock went down with it.

Black Houses—comprised of Christiaan Morris on guitar and vocals, Sage Gatzke on bass, and Patrick Taylor on drums—know as well as anyone what kind of assumptions can be made about a band boasting a big-riff sound. Especially one who cites such legendary and notorious Northwest acts as inspiration.

“If you’re a ‘rock band,’ you’re considered a Nascar fan,” singer Morris says with a laugh. “But we came from a more punk and indie background—listening to stuff like Cursive and Fugazi. We just want to bring back credibility with bands that sound like this. Somewhere, too many assholes bastardized it and made it mullet rock. It’s not cool.”

Despite the genre already being overrun by laughable acts such as Creed, Nickleback, and Puddle of Mudd, Black Houses aren’t afraid to leap into the heavy rock pool to do their forefathers justice. They prove you can, in fact, be a rock band with a nod to a classic sound (and come from the city of Seattle) without being the butt of the joke.

And they’re bringing a few new things to the table as well.

“When I was a kid, some of the first records I ever bought were Master of Puppets by Metallica and Bedtime For Democracy by the Dead Kennedys,” Morris says. “I remember loving the music on Master of Puppets but the lyrics were retarded. And the lyrics on Bedtime was awesome. I thought ‘Why can’t someone put these two things together?’ That’s somewhat the basis of Black Houses. We’re trying to have the best of both worlds—or what I think is the best, anyway.”

Since making their debut on the Seattle music scene in 2009, they’ve played the Bamboozle festival, gone on a West Coast tour with Fall of Troy, and shared the stage with other Seattle notables like Aiden, Schoolyard Heroes, Kane Hodder, and Patrol.

They also found time to record their debut full-length, Fury (out April 2010), with Seattle-based producer Matt Bayles. Having worked with bands like Murder City Devils, Mastodon, and Isis, Bayles was the perfect choice—he was able to cleanly produce their heavy rock sound while maintaining Black Houses’ intensity and integrity.

Give Fury a listen—be sure to check out the songs “Perfect,” laced with drilling basslines and metal-tinged guitar riffs, and “Death In a Shoebox,” an even darker track with furious drumming and a catchy (but still heavy) chorus.

“The concept [behind Black Houses] was to be a heavy riff rock band—play the stuff I grew up listening to,” says Morris. “Just straight up heavy rock.”

And as someone who misses the uncomplicated and forgotten genre, I say amen to that.

-Megan Seling