House of Blue Leaves: 12 months later

by Hayden Eller

Much has changed for Alessandro Sondi DeCaro and Joe Giordano, the duo performing as House of Blue Leaves, in the past 12 months. “We almost decided to call House of Blue Leaves quits exactly a year ago,” said Sondi DeCaro, thoughtfully.

Having played in bands separately during their time as high school students in Seattle (“I played in a pop punk band called “Noches Nacht” for almost five years, and Joe played in a band called “Struck Red”), the two were familiar with one another before their individual decisions to attend Western. This made the choice to write/perform together an easy one after Giordano joined Sondi DeCaro in Bellingham in 2014, and the two wasted little time prepping their initial release, Charmed Existence.

“(With Charmed Existence) we had about a week and half to write the record and then immediately jump into the studio for just four days or recording,” Sondi DeCaro said.

Yet this initial eagerness was met by little to no response from the local music scene, he added. “In the beginning it was very hard for us, no one seemed to really take us too seriously (we performed as a two-piece with a computer playing bass backtracks), and opportunities and connections were hard for us to come by.”

Following the addition of Andrew Chan (live guitar) and Dylan Hall (live bass) in January 2016 – rounding out the band’s current four-piece lineup – the group finally began to see the response they’d hoped for. “As time progressed we began to grow as friends and solidified a great lineup for the band and began writing new music that translated better live and began playing some of the best shows we have ever played here in Bellingham.”

Met with this recent success was a feeling that the group needed to share a new group of songs with their exponentially expanding audience – songs that they felt were a better representation of their tastes and preferences as musicians. Sondi DeCaro and Giordano (who have written and performed all the instrumentation on each House of Blue Leaves release) were quick to get in touch with Johnny Goss, the engineer/producer behind Charmed Existence.

“I got in touch with Johnny Goss by simply shooting him an email one day after hearing an album he produced called It’s Alive by the band La Luz. He responded immediately and we got to work shortly after and now we have built a cool relationship with him and have had him produce both of our records now,” Sondi DeCaro said.

While the individuals involved with the studio side of House of Blue Leaves have stayed the same between the Charmed Existence sessions and the recording of the band’s upcoming full length Nu Cacophony, Sondi DeCaro and Giordano were careful to budget in time they didn’t have when recording their debut. “This time around we were able to take four or five months to write this record and shape what we wanted the overall sound to be – we had the luxury of testing out many of the songs on the record at live shows and just seeing how audience members would react was an essential guiding factor in the making of this record,” Sondi DeCaro said.

House of Blue Leaves had hoped to tour the East Coast this Fall, they have decided to put those plans on hold in favor of opportunities that have become available here in the PNW. They are in the initial stages of planning music videos for “Gloom” and “Delirium” (the first two singles released from Nu-Cacophoy), but also haven’t ruled out a return to the studio in the coming months. “We already in the very early process of thinking about tracking a few new songs in the near future for a small release of some sort. Every release we will put out will be quite different from the last and that’s the most exciting part.”

Sondi DeCaro added that recent comparisons to New Jersey natives Thursday have been a pleasant surprise. “Thursday, to me, are one of the most important bands of the last 20 years or so. They blended everything from goth, emo, shoegaze, hardcore, and pop in a very effortless way and that’s something that we hope we could one day do with the sound of this band over time.”

Twelve months ago House of Blues Leaves almost came to an end, and now they feel unstoppable.

House of Blue Leaves’ sophomore full length Nu Cacophony will be available Aug. 18. Follow the band’s updates at facebook.com/basementghost.

Published in the August 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine