I was forged in the fire...now the fire it burns in me.
The year was 2002. The three members of House of Heroes stood on the side of a lonely desert road, watching as their van spit black smoke into the night air, gasping its last breath. They were stranded 3000 miles from home with no transoprtation, no money, thier first national tour in ashes. It was at that moment that they had a choice to make: They could surrender to reason, knowing that there was no logical way their band could survive after thousands of dollars of debt, no van, and deflated morale. Or they could use the incident as fuel.
I was forged in the fire..now the fire it burns in me.
These lyrics, from the song “You Are the Judas of the Cheerleading Squad” summarize the sentiments of their new album Say No More, and the attitude of a band that has survived trial to come out stronger on the other side.
Lead Vocalist Tim Skipper explains: “We thought we were done after that first tour. When we got home we took two weeks off from doing anything that had to do with the band. When those two weeks were over we got back together to re-evaluate our motivations, our reasons for doing this. I thought we were done. What we found was that we had more motivation to make music than ever before. We had to take two years off of the road, so we just stayed focused, and wrote and wrote. That was the best time as a band we have ever had before or since, and the memory of that chapter of our band reminds us how much this music means to us.”
House of Heroes is a three piece unit from Columbus, Ohio, that is committed to being more than the sum of its parts. They are a band that is about life-changing music. Not scene. Not genre. Not contrived reactions from crowds. They don’t want to sound like something else or be like anyone else. This band wants to win over people because of the music they write and the emotions they invoke, period.
When referencing Say No More, think modern rock. Foo-fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Queens of the Stone Age. Then add a little classic rock to the substance. Queen, Rush, the Police. Soaring harmonies and soft falsettoes, with a contrast between driving, straight-foward rock moments and wide-open, epic breaks. The guitar tone is not thick and over compressed, but fuzzy and raw. There is a three-dimensional quality to all of it that is more than just verses and choruses. It isn’t riff-rock, and it isn’t indie, though there a pieces of each. And It isn’t radio rock, though you could hear it getting played. These are dynamic rock songs with purpose and instrumentation. You can’t quite place any one part of it, but it resonates like it’s familiar. Except it’s not.
“In Columbus, you get ridiculed if you don’t sound unique. Musician’s aren’t afraid to not sell records in this town. I remember when we played our first shows we got nailed over and over again until we forced ourselves to become something our own. Now, as amazing as it sounds, we want to write music that not only moves people, but produces a change in attitude in people. We want to show people that there’s something greater than playing rock n’ roll for the sake of rock n’ roll or partying or considering yourself better than the average guy who works a nine to five,” says Skipper.
There is a commitment to artistry here that goes beyond the norm today. Say No More is a record where every single note is placed there only if it can be pulled off live. They want their persona to take a back seat to their sound, their fashion to take a back seat to their substance. Musicians who are playing for-gasp!-the music? Yes.
“We want to stay as far away from ‘hype-core’ as possible. You know those bands that contrive crowd reaction with chants, claps, and fist-pumping? We want people to react to the music themselves, or not react at all. We don’t want people to be distracted by just performance. If this sounds lofty, then so be it. When I think of bands who have affected real change..either The Clash or U2 or The Police, I don’t imagine them having to make the crowd have a good time. Their songs do that for them. And if we don’t accomplish this then at least we’ll know we did what we loved the way we felt we should.”
The lyrical content hints at social commentary and spirtuality, without being overbearing in the presentation; HOH has a found a way to pour out their hearts in the words without sounding contrived. Lyricist/Bassist AJ Babcock is the words behind Tim skipper’s voice. On the aforementioned “You Are The Judas of the Cheerleadinng Squad” the words surge with inspiration. Get out your ghosts. teach them to sing. Every drop that comes down from above washes you clean. When it rains live in the stream. I’ve slept in the belly of the beast, now I sleep under your wing. On “Buckets for Bullet Wounds,” the hopelessness of life without God is confronted: There are no handshakes only hand guns, only earth quakes. buckets for bullet wounds, there are no churches only prisons, only senators. Finally, Babcock takes a look at the hurting outside of our nation, specifically Eastern Africa. He rebukes our apathy towards those in need on “Invisible Hook”:You want a genocide? We can avert our eyes tonight.If you keep us entertained we'll over look your blood stained hands. Money for gasoline is money for vaccine. Give us a guiding light, give us a hope in the night.
Fresh off a huge national tour with Reliant K and MXPX, a brand new record on shelves, and a rejuvinated perspective, House of Heroes is poised to make a run at the industry elites. But instead of focusing on sales goals and hype, this triio just wants to do what they love on their own terms. It’s a lofty ideal, but then again isn’t playing music in general right now?
“After the great van death, we got back to such a time of innocence. We got back to making this more than business, more than just three guys playing instruments. That was our wilderness, and the lessons we have learned about motivation have stayed with us. Now, we just want to see the Holy Spirit coming off our strings every time we strum. We just want to create an atmosphere of community that is inspired by music that comes form above, not music that is just about ourselves.”