Signing Story: Houndmouth

houndFEATDate Signed: March 2012
Label: Rough Trade
Type of Music: Americana
Band Members: Matt Myers, guitar; Zak Appleby, bass; Katie Toupin, keyboards; Shane Cody, drums.
Management: Chris Thomas / [email protected]
Booking: NA
Legal: NA
Publicity: Ray Padgett / Shore Fire, 718-522-7171, [email protected]
Web: http://houndmouth.com
A&R: Geoff Travis / [email protected]Jeannette Lee / [email protected]

As an unknown Americana band from New Albany, IA, there aren’t many opportunities beyond gigs in Louisville, KY, yet that isolation can be an advantage. “It’s a blessing to live in a smaller city,” insists Houndmouth’s keyboardist, Katie Toupin. “In Nashville, you might never get heard.”

Still, reaching the masses would be impossible without the Internet, so the plucky four-piece uploaded one of their songs. The tune generated buzz and subsequent interest from booking agent Matt Hickey, who showed up at their SXSW gig with Geoff Travis, founder of England’s venerable indie, Rough Trade, along with co-owner Jeannette Lee. Remarkably, the band had only been together for three months.

The next day they played San Jose, CA, where Travis introduced himself to the unsuspecting musicians. He expressed interest, but the quartet was wary, especially since they were also entertaining other labels’ overtures. Since they’d already recorded a self-titled EP debut without outside funding, the group proposed a one-off deal as a sort of trial run.

Considering Houndmouth’s self-sufficient nature, a major wasn’t the right path. Their interactions with the indie label’s staff, as well as their roster, made the decision to stick with Rough Trade an obvious one. The deal is for two albums with an option for a third.

While Toupin insists the Internet is a great way to get started, she urges caution. “Putting a track out and getting it to people who will listen is an important way to use the Internet,” she states, recalling Rough Trade eventually instructed them to stop uploading songs. “There are [artists] who will give away their whole album for free and then tour to make money, and that’s totally acceptable. There are just different ways to go about it.”

Houndmouth’s Rough Trade debut LP, From the Hills, Below the City, is out now.

–Andy Kaufmann