That’s the sound of Houston’s bittersweet dream pop

There are days when you wake up and are struck by melancholy. Like when you dream of being a kid again. Then you open your eyes and realize that you are several years older. You are gripped by a sadness that doesn’t hurt. It’s almost pleasant. It’s a bittersweet feeling that comes automatically to me, for example, with some songs by the Smashing Pumpkins or Sparklehorse. Pieces of the soundtrack of a past life, got under your skin. Connected to the memories you know well, this music makes you feel safe. Here you are, jaundice From the first listen it left me with that feeling of bittersweet melancholy that makes me feel good. The Houstonians hit the ground running with their first Italian-language song, which was released on April 6 of last year. A captivating bass. Keyboards that draw dream pop atmospheres and a battery that doesn’t lack a comma with these snare drum hits in the right place: less is more. And again perfectly fitting guitar riffs, which lead to an instrumental finale with funky flair: With other sounds he would have been up to mischief in discos at the end of the 70s, on the sound carpet a distant, indefinite singing, shoegaze echoes that stick to the head. And it’s no coincidence that Jennifer Gentle’s Marco Fasolo took the trouble to produce the song. The Houstones, a two-album, Switzerland-based band, consists of Saul Savarino (vocals, guitar), Joel Pfister (drums), Maurizio Cuomo (bass) and Serena Maggini (keyboards and vocals). We asked the frontman some questions, Saul.

Ittero is your first song in Italian. Why this turning point?

“It was more than a turning point, it was an experiment. We tried to find out if we were able to write melodies that we like with Italian lyrics. Of course it’s very difficult to “make it sound”, also because our music genre is usually married to the sounds of English. Singing in your native language gives you the opportunity to take full advantage of the words. The first thing an Italian-speaking listener notices when listening to a song written in their language is the lyrics, only then comes the music. If the lyrics are bad, there is no sound, the song will be a failure. In this case I believe there was an astral conjunction that gave a beautiful song, also beautiful lyrics that speak of loss, rebirth and relation to context ».

The song turns into dreamy pop atmospheres with an important keyboard soundtrack. Start a new course for the Houstones?

“The line-up change has certainly had a major impact on the band’s sound. Where we used to be “guitar oriented”, the instruments are now balanced with Serena’s entry into the keyboards and vocals line-up. In general, we were also tired of building up the whole composition on the guitar. If you write the songs all together in the studio you will certainly have a slower writing process, but the songs are more original and we feel more connected to them, even different than we expected. That sense of awe gives us a lot of energy to move forward with a band celebrating their tenth anniversary this year. If we hadn’t always strived for change, I don’t think we would have lasted very long as a group. Always changing to never change, right? ».

How did the collaboration with an artist of Marco Fasolo’s caliber come about?

“I write to everyone all the time, in the sense of anyone I find interesting or useful for our band, always looking for information, advice, quotes, etc. I contacted Joe Barresi, Chris Goss, Steve Albini or Matteo Colliva and received warm replies. Chris Goss, for example, took the time to listen to us and it was a great honor, but he specifically told me that the way he worked would cost too much money to work with. Distraught, looking at our almost empty “band box”, I wrote to Marco Fasolo from Jennifer Gentle (producer of Verdena, Bud Spencer Blues Explosion, I hate my village) with the idea of ​​asking his advice on who to go with someone find someone who will help us with the artistic production of the songs. I figured he would pass me the contact of his assistant or someone within our reach and instead, after listening to us, he offered to be the producer himself. Our work has always been self-produced and this “self-learning” slows down and lengthens production times enormously. Working with an experienced artist like Marco Fasolo, we completed the recordings in a short time and were able to discuss the songs with him. It was the most professional thing we’ve ever done and it was really rewarding to see him at work. We learned a lot from him and we also had a lot of fun together».

Are you working on a new record? Do you think about writing more songs in Italian?

“Yup, jaundice it was released on April 6th and is the first of four singles that anticipate our third album. The next single will be released on May 25th and, like the others, will be made in close artistic connection with Ambra Guidotti’s lo-fi style videos (the one by jaundice is at the end of this article, ed.). Given the enthusiasm that this single in Italian inspires, there will certainly be other songs in our language, but the distinguishing factor is always the same: if the song sounds good in Italian, that will be our choice, otherwise not ».

When can we hear you live?

«Of course we planned a tour to promote the album. In June there will be an appointment in Lugano to “break in” the production of the live.

What are your musical influences during this time?

“That’s a tough question. Of course we have very different influences within the band, but that’s a big plus for us. I can tell you what’s on my Spotify: I’m currently listening to a lot of Alt-J, Sofsky, Mark Lanegan, Deftones, Perturbator, Kavinsky For the last few years it’s been almost impossible for me to say what influences our songs come in. We’re a band that started from alternative rock and then went into stoner rock and somehow we always come up with some sounds back there, although I think the musical genre classification is now obsolete. Are we an alternative rock band? Not exactly. Are we stoners? I wouldn’t say. Are we pop? I hope not”.

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