For some of us there’s satisfaction in our melancholy; there’s an inexplicable solace in the heartache of it all. It might sound sad for those who don’t understand it, but Howth understands, and they make glum sound lovely, if not enchanting.
Howth, and their self-titled *debut, is the second album from Carl Creighton and Blake Luley who released 11 North in 2010 under Creighton’s name. Part New Jersey and part Minnesota, the two lads converged in New York City, melded their musical experiences and influences and created, well, for lack of a better phrase mellifluous fusion. With lyrics that are raw, candid and heavy with emotion, Howth’s album is sentimental and exquisitely drawn from the intimate life of primary singer/songwriter, Creighton.
We spoke to the gentlemen about Twitter, dream tour buddies, and Lil Wayne… because everyone is on a Lil Wayne kick these days.
SICK OF THE RADIO: Is it safe to assume you got the name of your band from the town in Ireland, or is there another story behind it?
Carl: Well, there’s a little bit more to the story, but not much. I had this trip planned for Paris and Ireland a couple years ago to get away from things for a while, like my job that was ending and a relationship that was doing the same. Only my boyfriend hijacked my flight to Paris as a last ditch effort that didn’t work out, so the Ireland part was the only few days I had to myself. And being out on the cliffs of Howth over Dublin Bay was the most independent I’ve ever felt. So for me, our band name reflects our not having to live up to anything and being separate from everything. Plus I want us to get big enough to play a show there someday.
SICK OF THE RADIO: You guys do melancholy so well- is there an equal partnership in writing those gorgeously heart-wrenching lyrics, or is one of you the more somber soul?
Blake: Carl writes the songs, so I suppose he is the somber soul. He’s really quite silly IRL (in real life) though.
Carl: Yeah, I’m a sad sack, what can I say. But you should hear Blake’s Toytrain stuff, it’s brilliant and cathartic. And I think we’re both a bit neurotic, which comes out in our songs too.
SICK OF THE RADIO: You guys just joined Twitter. What do you think of it so far in regards to marketing yourselves and getting your music out there?
Blake: I was on Twitter for a while just as myself, and it has served as a really good way to get the Howth stuff out there. The main example being that I took a chance and tweeted the Antlers and told them to check it out. I figured they wouldn’t bother, but they did and then they tweeted about it (which led to a lot of new people downloading the album). I really hate the word “tweet”. The internet is a crazy thing in general, and overall it freaks me out how reliant we are upon it and how overpowering it is. I used to think the theory of technological singularity was crazy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity), but I’m starting to think it’s actually gonna happen. I’m very anti-cyborg.
Carl: Yeah, I don’t even know how to accept Blake’s twitter invitation to my twitter. Or whatever. But apparently it’s good for the reasons Blake pointed out.
SICK OF THE RADIO: As a former resident of 7th & C, I completely adore the song “7A;” and that isn’t the only one full of New York references. Of all the cities you’ve seen so far would you say New York gives you the most inspiration or is there someplace else?
Carl: It really depends on where I’m living at the time I guess. It took about 3 years of living in New York before I felt comfortable enough to write anything about it. Now I’m writing songs about little towns in the Midwest, like Brookings, SD, where my brother is trapped and Grand Marais in northern Minnesota, which I’ve never been to but I’ve heard is nice. And the name is just very lyrical to me. But the songs on Howth were basically just places I hung out at. Like 7A. (note: 7A is a restaurant in New York’s Alphabet City)
SICK OF THE RADIO: Any bizarre pre-show or after-show habits? At least ones you’d like to admit to without blushing too much.
Blake: We’ve only played two shows as Howth because we live so far away from each other, so not really yet. Carl and I have played these and some other songs with different sets of people under a few different names a few years back before Carl moved though. I think whiskey helps calm my nerves before playing a show, but too much and I can’t really play all that well.
Carl: I usually rock out to some classic rock in my car.
SICK OF THE RADIO: If you were to tour tomorrow, ideally, who’d you like to join you on the road? This is in your dream world, so go crazy- dead ones will be accepted.
Blake: I’d be really into touring with Simon and Garfunkel, but only if we were around in the ’70′s. I wouldn’t want to be a part of some reunion tour. Also, I think touring with Lil Wayne would be a whole lot of fun. That would have to be in a world where mainstream hip-hop and weird folk music are played on the same stage. Mainly, I think I just want to hang out with Lil Wayne.
Carl: PJ Harvey, though she might think I’m annoying and not want to talk to me because she’s so cool. Bob Dylan. I think probably the coolest person and most impressive musician would be Bill Callahan, because his songwriting is so great but he seems like he’d actually talk to me too. Maybe.
SICK OF THE RADIO: What bands have influenced you most through out your lives, both musically and otherwise?
Blake: I have a few bands that no matter how my musical preferences change I still can always rely on. I’d say Sigur Ros is the main one. I’ve loved them since I first heard about them when I was in high school. Bjork is the same way for me. In high school I had a bit of an infatuation with her.
Carl: Tori Amos and Rufus Wainwright inspired me to play piano and write songs in general growing up. Then when I got lazy and wanted to be able to write songs from my bed, I learned guitar and found inspiration in Leonard Cohen and Elliott Smith. The Beatles somewhere in there too.
SICK OF THE RADIO: What’s next on your roster? Touring this summer, perhaps?
Blake: Um, I won’t be in the country over the summer. So, no summer tour. That’d be awesome though. We are planning on playing next year’s CMJ festival in New York, and seeing where things go from there as far as live shows. It’s too early to really say much more than that. We are starting recording on our second album now, but with our busy schedules and the fact that we change the songs so much it probably won’t be done for another year. I personally prefer recording to playing live, but playing live is how people find out about your music. I prefer the trial and error of recording, which doesn’t really pan out in the live setting. I could see myself getting into playing live at some point though.
Carl: Yeah, Blake and I are starting the second Howth album. Just finishing up the writing and then getting tracks over to Blake so we can continue our long distance relationship. I also have this band Wasted Education here in Minneapolis. We’ll be playing shows and recording our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concept album soon. And probably some frisbee golf with my brother.
* Right now you can grab Howth’s digital album from Bandcamp for “name your price.” As of April 1st, they’ll have to start charging as it will be up on iTunes, so hop on over there now while you can, name your price and nab the goods.
By: Amanda Chatel