Words by David C. Obenour
Pop punk isn’t known for frills or wordiness, so Houseghost’s bio of “Dayton lo-fi punk. Brother and sister fronted. Halloween all year round.” does a pretty great job of encapsulating who they are. The fact that this is Kayla Hamby’s first band is pretty surprising though, given how well she nails the vocals both lead and support. But then you realize she spent years watching big brother Nick play in a number of other fun and great punk bands. It works better than it has any right to for a debut only a couple of years past their first basement practice, but maybe there is something to be said for family ties.
Off Shelf: It’s such an odd time, so before I get into it – how have you all been keeping up everything from quarantine to much needed social unrest shaking everything around us?
Nick Hamby: Things have been crazy. I’ve been holding up just fine just from the sheer hecticness of my life. I’m thankful we were able to finish this record and get it out into the world. As for the social unrest, I feel like America is at a breaking point which adds to the stress of life right now. But that is a whole different conversation entirely.
Kayla Hamby: It’s definitely been an intense year. With everything going on I think a lot of people can start struggling creatively. During quarantine it was easy to just waste away the days. I’m really thankful that we got to focus that excess energy by writing new music together.
OS: Up on your Facebook page, your first practice was only a couple of years back, but a lot can change for a band in those first years. How do you think you’ve evolved since then?
KH: For me, I think the biggest change has been confidence. I would have never thought that one day I would be singing and playing an instrument in a band. The first time we played a show I was scared to death. I still get nervous before we play, but now I think it is more fun than anything else!
NH: We’ve obviously gotten better. The band started as a recording project for me and Kayla, but once we added Tyler it felt like a real band. This is Kayla’s first band so she’s always coming up with things that I never would’ve thought of. It’s a really interesting dynamic.
OS: You all obviously enjoy Halloween and revel in the imagery that comes with it. I want to ask a couple of questions about that, first – what did Halloween mean to you growing up?
NH: Halloween was always really important to me growing up. I had a very active imagination as a child so I had a lot of fun with Halloween. I was always very interested in spooky stories and supernatural paranormal stuff. Plus Autumn is my absolute favorite season. I love everything about it.
KH: I was actually not a big fan of Halloween growing up. I remember getting scared really easily as a kid trick-or-treating. I’ve definitely come to enjoy it a lot more as an adult. Now I like watching, reading, and learning more about spooky things.
OS: Halloween goes through weird levels of acceptance with our age – trick or treating as a kid, not “being cool” in high school, then becoming less and less of a drunken party from college on out. What does it mean to you now and how do you think you appreciate it differently?
KH: I really enjoy Halloween now. I think Halloween is a holiday where people get to be over the top and express themselves in ways that they might not be able to on a regular basis. Halloween deals with concepts people can be uncertain about, like death, ghosts, and the unexplained. It’s great to celebrate these things instead of being afraid of them.
NH: Halloween was never “not cool” to me. I don’t think I ever went through that phase. Nowadays, being older, yes it does feel differently. But I think all holidays feel different when you’re older. To me, the entire month of October is Halloween. The leaves, the decorations, the feeling in the air… it’s really comfortable to me. It feels like home. It’s actually the feeling I was trying to portray in our song, “Turn to Dust”. It’s kind of about becoming one with the spirit of autumn or Halloween or something to that effect.
OS: When you decided you wanted to do a band with your sibling was Halloween an immediate choice for inspiration?
NH: Sort of. I had this specific idea for a punk band that was occult themed. Kind of witchy or something. It was originally just going to be a solo project but then I had the idea to ask Kayla to play bass and it kind of took off from there. I don’t know if what we evolved into is exactly what I had in mind originally but here we are. [laughs]
KH: To be honest, I don’t think either of us expected it to turn it into an actual band. People liked it a lot more than we anticipated.
OS: How do you all get along as family in a band? Are the dynamics any different from other bands and bandmates you’ve had?
KH: Nick and I get along really well. He is very encouraging when it comes to writing lyrics or coming up with melodies. Since I was a little kid, I remember going to Nick’s shows and listening to his music. I always thought it was so cool. It’s really fun to be able to be a part of that now.
NH: I think we are much nicer to each other than any other band I’ve ever been in. [laughs]
OS: The traded vocals are great. How do you generally determine those parts? Do you write for each other or bring in your own songs for the ones you lead?
NH: Yeah, typically I sing the songs I write and Kayla sings the songs she writes. There’s usually not much discussion about it. We usually work on all the music together. Sometimes we both help each other out with lyrics here and there, but if I’m singing a song, I wrote it and the same for Kayla.
OS: Micah Carli of Hawthorne Heights did production for the album. How do you think his involvement shaped the album’s sound?
NH: Micah is amazing. a true professional. I’ve recorded with him a bunch of times and he always does a fantastic job. He doesn’t settle for mediocrity, he’ll tell you if your take sucked. [laughs] But seriously I learn something new every single time I’m in the studio with him.
KH: Micah was really fun to record with. He offered a lot of great ideas to make things sound better. I really appreciated his honesty and his excitement to make something really cool.
OS: Now that your first album is about to get out there, what are you excited about for Houseghost going forward?
NH: Well, I’m very excited to see how this album is received. I really hope people like it. Other than that, I just want to start working on a new record and evolving as a band. I’m not sure what will happen next.
KH: I am so excited for people to get to listen to something that we worked so hard on. I am genuinely really happy with the way the album turned out. I can’t wait to hear what people think about it! Someday, hopefully soon, I look forward to getting to play some of our new songs at a live show.