It was just after 7pm Friday, November 18th when we arrived at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD. The Holy White Hounds had just come off of sound check and were socializing in the center of the venue. Their tour manager, Cole, escorted us past security and introduced us to the band consisting of vocalist and lead guitarist Brenton Dean, bassist Ambrose Lupercal, drummer Seth Luloff, and guitarist James Manson. It was pretty crowded and noisy, so we found our way out back by their tour van for our interview.
Rock Documented: So I looked at a lot of your other interviews and I noticed people asked you questions, when you get the standard ones too much, you start making up your own answers. Just letting you know, that’s perfectly acceptable for this, so let’s start with the name. What’s the story behind Holy White Hounds?
James: Ah, the story behind the name, well, this is weird for me to tell.
Brenton: That you had a stroke? It’s not that weird.
James: Yea, well, it feels weird when I talk about it still. Does anyone else want to take that one?
Brenton: One day, me and James went to the Iowa State Fair. That’s where we’re from. We’re from Iowa. And, you know the butter cow? So James, we thought he was having a stroke. He passed out from too many, do you guys know what Jenkem is? Well, he was doing some pretty hard stuff and we were walking around and I was trying…he’s a big guy, hard for me to hold up. He passed out right in front of the butter cow. At the Iowa State Fair they have a butter cow and it’s…basically a statue made of butter. It’s the color of butter, and he passed out right at his feet. And he wakes up and he sees this thing and he thought he went to heaven. And he was so high he thought it was a dog. He says holy white hounds I went to heaven. That’s where it came from.
RD: The intro to Ghost Arm, who actually (Brenton- I killed that one) who says Holy White Hounds?
Brenton: Lindsey Lohan.
RD: Is there a story behind that?
Brenton: Well, if you pay her twenty bucks she’ll say something into an iPhone for you at the bar.
RD: The tour so far, how’s it going with The Pretty Reckless? You get to hang out with them? Socialize with them?
Brenton: A little bit, yea. They’ve been really kind to us. I really like them and watching Taylor take the stage and just rip into that vocal every night. Actually, you know and that’s the other thing. Taylor gets a lot of attention, rightfully so, for being such a fantastic vocalist but I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the harmonies and to Ben, their guitar player, and naturally I play guitar. I pay a lot of attention to a guitar player and a singer. And his harmonies are so on point they’ve been a really fun band to be out with.
Ambrose: They’ve been super nice…not really distant or anything, just like come up and talk to us afterward, before, shoot the shit. I dunno, it’s nice it’s a really good fit.
RD: Biggest influences? Individually? As a group?
Brenton: We’ll have to go individually. I think, unless we just wanna go Britney Spears on that one. Cause Britney Spears shaving her head was the most punk rock thing we’ve every seen in our whole life. True. I once saw, I don’t know if its considered a meme, but it’s like Britney shaving her head, and it says punk’s not dead. Couldn’t agree more.
Ambrose: And that rhymes too.
Brenton: And it rhymes, wait, does it?
Ambrose: Britney Shaving her head, punk’s not dead.
Brenton: Ah, ok, yea. But, if you want to know influences, let’s go this way.
Ambrose: I listen to, I don’t really play like him, but I listen to Mark Hoppus. Getting started, Death From Above, Jesse Keeler-he’s awesome. Jack Lawrence from The Dead Weather and what’s that other band he’s in, The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs. All good bass players, I like that stuff. And Pharrell.
Seth: Yea, The Raconteurs was a good one, I would’ve said the same. I used to listen to a lot of pop-rock of the 2000s era. Like some Chicago bands- Treaty of Paris, what was another Chicago band?
James: The band Chicago is pretty incredible too.
Seth: Chicago is pretty fucking incredible too; I actually grew up listen to a lot of the older stuff like Chicago, Beatles, Beach Boys, all that stuff, my dad…
Brenton: He’s older than he looks. Haha.
Seth: My dad, you know, I always listen to what he and my mom had. My mom and I used to have a Herman’s Hermits cassette. Still love Herman’s Hermits to this day.
Brenton: Seth is 57 years old, even though he doesn’t look it.
Seth: There’s a lot of stuff man, everything from hip-hop to anything but country really. Unless it’s like old Willie Nelson stuff, in which case it’s all right with me but…
James: I drank the Kool-Aid pretty much up until I hit puberty. Like when he said Britney spears, I actually did listen to that.
Brenton: I think we all drank Kool-Aid until puberty dude; it tastes good.
James: Well, I actually still drink Kool-Aid. Then I started to listen to punk rock stuff, really liked the band NOFX. I don’t think Steely Dan is a pretentious band either, I think they’re good.
Brenton: I like to listen to jingles on commercials, like “stomach pain, back pain, diarrhea, headaches.” What do they call the pink Pepto Bismol, that’s got a great jingle. Subway, I know they’ve had their faults lately, clearly still a great jingle. That 5-dollar foot long song- incredible. In Iowa we have our grocery store is called Hy-Vee and…[in harmony], “shop Hy-Vee where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle”. That’s a great one, and then there’s you know, “come see the softer side of Sears” and that’s the kind of shit I want to write, you know I want to cash in. So, I’ve been listening to a lot of that.
RD: And, what’s playing in the tour bus right now?
James: The van?
Brenton: Yea, that’s the first answer. Jim James just came out with a new record and I haven’t heard it yet and so did Billy Talent and those are two. I really like My Morning Jacket, obviously Jim James’ side project. So that’s what playing tonight on the way to Niagara, cause that’s where we head next. So, we’re gonna listen to Jim James and Billy Talent’s new record. [To band] if you guys didn’t know yet, that’s what we’re listening to.
RD: Individually or as a group, what’s the best memory so far, of being on tour?
Brenton: We have the greatest fights. Just we fight, like fist fight, like bare knuckle boxing style. Usually it’s just you never know who’s going to come out on top. Cause we love to sucker punch. That’s our favorite thing. So, like James is the biggest guy we got, you sucker punch that son of a bitch right away.
James: You go down like a ton of bricks.
Brenton: Gotta, otherwise, you don’t know. You can’t leave James standing for too long or he might catch you.
Ambrose: I got locked in a green room once. That was fun. It was in Jersey. We got locked in a green room the three of us. Seth was smart and figured out the door. We didn’t and they had to basically call the fire department and Jaws of Life that thing open. I mean, it felt like 3 hours, and we drank like it was about 3 hours, but there was a couple bottles in there and it was probably only about 20 minutes so, when we got we got of there were was just like “what the hell?” It was a good time.
Brenton: All my favorite memories are of Ambrose getting hurt. It’s crazy. He’s had some really harsh spills.
Ambrose: It was at the beginning of The Cult Tour. We were running through a parking lot and I, count my lucky stars, even though I can’t see any, I biffed it and should’ve probably lost all my teeth but somehow I just cut up my ear and stuff. One time me and James were walking back from a bar in Boston and we got to reveling and swaying and went down like a heap of bricks.
Brenton: Right into somebody’s car. Sorry about the dents.
James: That first one I laughed so hard I actually pissed my pants. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. And then later on the tour I drank my own piss for the first time so. That’s a lot of firsts, all involving urine, for me.
Brenton: And he was on shrooms at the time so he really shot to the moon.
RD: Guilty pleasures?
Brenton: Sex because we’re all very religious. And every time we have it we just have this terrible guilt trip.
Ambrose: “God why?” That’s a literally what we say. Pixie sticks. Up the nose. It’s the best sugar high, ever.
Brenton: Again, straight to the moon. And we drink our own piss after we do it.
Ambrose: Call them pissy sticks. [laughter]
Brenton: Musically, I assume you mean?
RD: It doesn’t have to be, just in general.
Brenton: My mind goes straight to music, and a lot of the stuff that like when I. . .you know how like the first record that you really like, is like the one you got right before you go on vacation with your parents when you’re a kid? And you listen to it in the back seat all the time?
RD: John Mellencamp for me.
Brenton: Right, well, for me it gets a little worse [laughter] for me it was like Sugar Ray’s 1459 and I don’t feel guilty, but I do recognize the poppiness of the whole thing and also the Backstreet Boys, I got that one, and Smash Mouth’s Astrolounge. And I still stand by some of those songs. I think some of those are great. So, that might be a guilty pleasure I suppose. Because I believe in guilty pleasures. And all the people out there who say like, “man, you should never feel guilty.” Nah, that’s what keeps the world going, guilt and greed.
James: I’d say probably Tom Jones.
Brenton: What’s new? He doesn’t like saying that naughty word
RD: How about some advice. Young artists, young musicians, they look up to you. Any advice for them?
Ambrose: Do it with you friends. If you don’t it’s ten times harder.
James: Kill your heroes man, we’re not that great. Assuming that we’re anybody’s hero ever. Do your own thing.
Brenton: Know that being in a band is also a lot of work. It might even be more work than it is fun a lot of times and it’s just like…that’s a weird realization sometimes. There’s like, unless you enjoy the aspect of maybe feeling a little whorey sometimes, you know. People say, the phrase, what’s the phrase? Unashamed…shameless self-promoter. They say shameless self-promoter. But that’s not because, the person who is so shameless in their self-promoting they actually do feel shame in it if they’re like a real rock band. So, a little bit of shame goes a long way.
RD: Sparkle Sparkle, where did that come from?
Ambrose: That was just…
Brenton: Isn’t it obvious?
Ambrose: Yeah…where’s the sun come from, I dunno? How do magnets work? It was something I said one day, just drunkenly and it went away for like a couple months then it kinda became this, I don’t know the right word for it, rallying cry, pep talk like, go out there and sparkle sparkle guys.
Brenton: Which is weird because he doesn’t even drink.
Ambrose: Yea, no I don’t drink at all, ever. I love you mom.
Brenton: Not a sip.
RD: In writing the album, do you guys work together, someone who writes the music, someone who writes the lyrics?
Brenton: Sparkle Sparkle was mostly me and ‘Brose because that’s where the band was at in that phase. But right now we’re writing a ton of shit together. In my opinion, that’s all there is to look forward to. The world’s burning but we are awesome.
Wait, this is a recorded interview, right? I never said that. You get in trouble for saying stuff like that, you got to be careful. People don’t know you’re joking. [grumbles] I’M JOKING…
The guys of Holy White Hounds were very friendly and down-to-earth. We wrapped up the interview and headed back into the venue just as the opening act was taking the stage.
Holy White Hounds took the stage a little before 9pm after Them Evils out of Orange County, CA finished warming up the crowd. Lead singer Brenton Dean was donned in a Donald Duck tee and bassist James Manson was sporting a bare chest and a fur vest, which apparently he had just bought the night before. Holy White Hounds reigned in the crowd with the first killer guitar riffs of “Black Lust”. Their set included singles “Switchblade” and “Blind” off of their first studio album Sparkle Sparkle that debuted in May. Throughout the performance, Brenton was enthusiastic and interactive with the audience. He was very appreciative of the opportunity to play for the crowd and get a few laughs on the side. The rest of the set included “Ghost Arm”, “Catmondu”, and “In Your Skin”. They played hard and were full of energy. Overall, they excelled at their self-proclaimed job- to make the crowd sufficiently horney for the main act.
Holy White Hounds are currently touring with The Pretty Reckless on their “Who You Selling For” tour until December 6th. Following that they will begin touring with The Struts. If you get a chance, I would highly recommend catching the guys at one of the following dates: