Interview with vocalist Josh Gilbert | By Doug Nunnally
On Sept. 25, Blood & Ink Records released Time Spent, the debut record from melodic hardcore band Household. While recording a debut is never easy, for Household, the obstacles they faced along the way were enough to sideline any band. Luckily for the Minneapolis quintet, they were able to clear their hurdles handily, and came out of the journey as a far better band with an even more unique sound.
Household—composed of vocalist Joshua Gilbert, guitarists Nathanael and Abigail Olson, bassist Josh Czech, and drummer Matthew Anthony—formed in 2013 and quickly made a reputation for themselves with intense musicality and stellar compositions. The band’s first EP, With or Without You, was a great starting point for the band, who saw their reputation quickly surpass Minnesota and seep into the national consciousness. Fiercely unapologetic and bursting with energy, everything was looking up as they set out to record their first full-length album. But the band suddenly found themselves in an unbelievably tough situation.
Gilbert developed vocal polyps that made his singing style—one which most songs were built around—seemingly impossible. The band made the gutsy call to stay on pace with the album and record it with a completely new vocal style, one that needed to be created in under a month. “It was hard, and I wouldn’t say I’ve totally figured out the new way,” Gilbert admits. “What I do know is that the new record is a lot easier and healthier for me to perform. Luckily, I had a little keyboard with me on tour, so I was able to write vocal melodies to what was previously just screaming.”
To help with the transition, Gilbert sought out Melissa Cross in New York, a vocal instructor with plenty of experience helping singers cope with vocal polyps. Luckily, the singer was able to avoid surgery and focus all his energy on a new sound, easing the transition for the band who had spent an intense 18 months cultivating their trademark sound. “There was a lot of doubt about it,” Gilbert states, “but the transition has been very well received so far. Better than we ever could have expected, really. It was lucky that this transition came at a time when our new stuff had a melody to it, so I could sing a bit more pure and it comes across the same. There’s still some harshness to it, though, because naturally, we want to be an aggressive band.”
Even without the vocal change, Time Spent has a remarkably different sound than the band’s first EP. “We wrote the EP in a basement when we had never played shows and we were just kids trying to write metal,” Gilbert admits. “The new album comes from a year and a half of touring, meeting people, and having shows in our basements. I would say a good portion of the album is written in tribute to that first year, especially in relation to Minneapolis. It’s a thank you to that year of learning, being accepted as a younger local band, and being able to grow.”
Household’s growth was most integral when making Time Spent, which was cultivated behind-the-scenes by famed producer Jay Maas. “Jay was awesome and he’s top of the line for what we were trying to do,” Gilbert gushes. “He made things go smoothly despite all the changes, and he really knew where to direct things even when we didn’t.” Gilbert felt comfortable with Maas producing. When the band was unsure about trying new styles and experimenting with new tones, they received complete support from Maas, who always encourages bands to be as bold and original as possible. For Gilbert himself, Maas was an important part of trying to create a new vocal style. “I’m really happy with how the vocal transition sounds on the record, and I think a lot of it has to do with Jay,” he says. “I know it ended up being different and weird compared to what a lot of other bands are doing, but I was really happy with how [the vocals] ended up, and how Jay was able to mesh the vocals without adding a lot of compression or layering. It comes off very raw, which was important for the transition.”
Lyrically, Time Spent matches the limbo the band found themselves in when the news of Gilbert’s vocal polyps hit. It’s a reflective and introspective record that encapsulates the band’s recent struggles and musical growth, and it’s a stark departure from the lyrical content of the first EP. “With or Without You was very much, ‘This is what we believe and why,’” Gilbert describes. “Time Spent has a lot more to do with searching and asking questions. I know that sounds vague, but we really wanted a record that shows that it’s okay to be in a place of wonder and curiosity. It doesn’t change anything. It’s important, as humans, to seek out curiosity and come to a place of understanding. The album is about finding contentment with asking questions and not necessarily getting the answers you want.”
Time Spent perfectly showcases that contentment and satisfaction. More importantly, it establishes them as a premier band in the hardcore scene, and one who will surely wow fans and critics alike for years to come.