I'd be surprised if you haven't seen Houndmouth live yet, dear reader. They've played about every venue in the regional area and blew up South By Southwest more than once. But if you somehow have not (and are willing to drive a bit) you can fix that tonight. The New Albany roots rockers will kick off their winter tour with a show at the Bluebird in support of their record From the Hills Below the City.
NUVO: You guys formed in New Albany but moved across the river to Louisville when your band started picking up. Do you consider yourselves a product of the New Albany or Louisville scene?
Katie Toupin: We really claim New Albany, Ind., but at the same time, we owe a lot to Louisville and the support that they've given us from the very beginning. We would consider ourself from New Albany but adopted by Louisville.
NUVO: Houndmouth has been touring a bit crazily in the last year or so in support of this album. Do you know how many dates you played in 2013?
Toupin: I wish I did! I just counted a month or two ago. IT was insane. We just got off a two-month break which was well-needed to recover from all of that. We were gone the majority of the year. We didn't do too many tours that were like a month and a half at a time. It was more [on tour] for three weeks, then home for a week. Then off for three more weeks and home for a week. That was kind of our entire year. Three or four weeks out, week home. It was a really fun year. We did a lot of the major festivals. We did Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival; it was a big whirlwind.
NUVO: Have you adopted a tour home? A place you look forward to going back to?
Toupin: Yeah, we're going back to Newport Folk Festival this year, which was absolutely one of my favorite experiences of the entire year last year. I think that the coolest part has been befriending a lot of the bands that we listen to and the bands that inspire us and seeing those guys again at festivals. That's the cool part for us, seeing somebody you know and hanging out with them. Because you're stuck with the same people every single day on regular dates, so that's the great thing about festivals. And Newport, that's going to be one of the ones where a lot of [artists] we have acquaintances are at.
NUVO: My official audience theory is, "When in doubt, stand in front of the keyboardist." Personally, I think it's the most entertaining and interesting person to observe. Do you have a certain place or position that you're drawn to? The keyboardist, because that's what you play yourself? Or a guitarist, drummer, something totally different.
Toupin: I mean, for me, being behind the keyboard can be a bit of a struggle because you're glued to the keyboard and can't more around the stage, so you have to create a performance within two square feet. I feel like that's a challenge, to be entertaining while you do that.
What I look for in other bands ... I have to be honest, there's very few bands that keep my attention for an entire show. But I really like to watch a band's energy together. That's the hardest thing to find. A lot of bands, even bands where I like they're records, it's just one person, or two people [being energetic]. And there's nothing wrong with a band that the main person is the energy. If it's compelling enough, then you watch it. But that's what I look for in a live performance, the energy.
NUVO: I think I've seen you twice at the Bluebird - opening for Lucero and Murder by Death. I love that club in Bloomington.
Toupin: ... I know that Matt, when he was 21, he went and saw Gillian [Welch] at the Bluebird. And from that time, when we were a local nothing band before Houndmouth, that was our dream. To play something like the Bluebird. It really is a special venue for us to play."