Melbourne’s Tiny Little Houses have existed in one fashion or another since 2011. Originally a bedroom project for songwriter Caleb Karvountzis, it quickly grew into a four-piece band. Throughout the past four years, they’ve played around their native Australia on the back of a few sporadically released demos to tide fans over. The band finally found a label to call home just two weeks ago when they signed to Ivy League Records. Now, they’re finally set to release their debut EP, Tore Out My Heart, on October 30th.
The four-track EP is short in length but packed densely with harrowing emotions. Karvountzis weaves woeful tales of heartbreak with jangly guitar chords and snappy rhythms. Opener “Soon We Won’t Exist” captures the quirky arrangements of Neutral Milk Hotel with more clarity and earnest vocals. The guitar lines on lead single “Easy” effortlessly recreate the atmosphere of a first date on a summer night, throwing a wrench in the beauty with Karvountzis realizing the relationship is going nowhere. That push and pull of pained lyrics and serene melodies permeates brilliantly throughout the record.
Stream the EP in full below ahead of its release date.
Consequence of Sound caught up with Karvountzis to talk about the project’s evolution and the existential crises that led to the EP’s creation. He also spoke about growing up with folk records, his defeatist perspectives, and making the jump to the band’s new label.
You’ve been a band since 2011, but this is your first official release. What spurred you to finally make the leap, and why did it take four years to come together?
I started Tiny Little Houses as a solo project in 2011 as a way to share some rough demos anonymously with the Internet. It wasn’t something I took seriously for a long time, but I had some interest early on which gave me hope that what I was writing was worth something. After I met my guitarist Sean Mullins, we played with a rotating lineup of friends, but nothing ever stuck long enough to warrant putting the necessary time, money and effort into our music. It wasn’t till 2014 when Sean and I felt like we had a good bunch of songs ready to go that we booked in studio time to record one single with our producer Steven Schram and recruited Al and Clancy. Since the release of that track, things have kept gathering momentum so we went back to studio early this year and recorded the rest of this EP.
Speaking of making the leap, you’ve finally found a label home with Ivy League! Congrats! It’s been just a few weeks (days?) since the deal, but how have you found working with them? Why did you decided to sign with Ivy League over other potential interested parties?
Thank you! Yeah we are really excited to start working with Ivy League. As you’ve said we’ve only just signed to them, but we love their team and have been big fans of the bands on their roster for a long time.
You’ve mentioned in the past that the record is about “love and loss during an existential crisis.” Was this based off of a specific experience you had, anything you could share with us?
Over the last few years I’ve become far more interested in religion, philosophy, and literature, and I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from these sources which deal with life, death, and love. Obviously, I’m of an age (24) where a great deal of change has occurred recently with the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Naturally, this has led to pondering on those existential question we all eventually have to face. Throw in some experience with love and loss and you’ve got a lot of material to write about.
Many of your songs titles have nihilistic undertones like “Soon We Won’t Exist” or “Every Man Knows His Plague; And You Are Mine”, yet your melodies and instrumentation feel much livelier. How intentional or thought out was that contrast, and why did you go that route?
I don’t intend to write with such a contrast between music and lyrics, however it’s certainly something that we’ve all noticed in the band and I am aware that it is becoming part of my style of songwriting. I’m more inclined to write lyrics that are more defeatist or pessimistic. I’d love to be able to write happier songs, but honestly it’s difficult to achieve without a song turning sappy. Then again no one in the band has all that depressive personalities, which is probably reflected by the polarity of the melodies and instrumentation to my lyrics.
Ostensibly, you’re labeled a folk act, but you blend plenty of indie rock elements into your songs. Which way do you see yourself leaning more? If you could tell record stores where to slot the EP, where would you put it?
I grew up listening to a lot more folk music than rock music, which I think has left an impression on my songwriting. Although now I’d say we are a rock band, I still write with the emphasis on stories first over guitar riffs. Even sonically, all the tracks on this EP have a blend of acoustic guitar and folk elements. My favorite bands straddled this line between folk and rock and that always appealed to me, but I do feel like our newer material is becoming heavier. This EP belongs in the rock section of a record store for sure.
Finally, do you have any Stateside plans in the works you can share with readers over here?
We would love to make it over to the states sometime soon! It’s so hard for Australian bands to get across to the US due to the expense of traveling, but we are definitely aiming to play sometime over there in the next year or two.