Horrible Houses, which is largely the work of Daniel Johnnson, released two albums in 2012, Family Tapes Vol. 1 and Family Tapes Vol. 2. If I had to attach a label to it, I’d call it lo-fi garage pop, but Daniel offered “naive garage,” which fits the bill nicely. In any case, Horrible Houses plays music that’s catchy as hell and stays with you long after you play it. Family Tapes Vol. 1 includes a cover of “Bullet Proof Nothing” by Simply Saucer, which lists Paul McCartney on bass. I asked Daniel about that and he explained, “Well technically McCartney is playing bass on bullet proof nothing. I sampled the bass from “The Ballad of John and Yoko” to help record my own skewed version of the Simply Saucer (best band ever) song.”
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Where are you from and what’s the music scene like there? What sort of venues do you play at?
Daniel Johnsson: I reside in a little town in the middle of Sweden, there is no music scene here whatsoever, well, except for me. There might be some old man playing fiddle in a barn somewhere, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I grew up here, moved around a bit, drifted, became severely depressed, moved back and underwent therapy. It was during this time I started writing songs. Me and a friend of mine recorded the first Horrible Houses songs in an abandoned bunker just outside of town, heavily influenced by the band Simply Saucer. The early, noisy stuff – “Haunted Rivers Family Tapes”, “Tired of Hippies”, “Parking lot Kisses” etc. are all recorded there. We’ve never played a proper venue, just small festival gigs in the woods.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: How long has Horrible Houses been around and how would you describe your music?
Daniel Johnsson: Well Horrible Houses (started off as Haunted Heads) been around since sometime in 2011, March or April perhaps. I’d say there’s at least two sides to Horrible Houses; there’s the lengthy and often improvised jams – “Tempel of Ash Ra” “Cajun Werewolf” to name a few, which I really love doing. And the pop-oriented stuff. To be honest, I really don’t know how to write a proper pop song, with hooks and all that stuff I mean, I just enjoy writing riffs. But if one has to label it, I’d say “Naive Garage” sounds about right. I guess all I’m really trying to do (on a good day) is to sound like my heroes.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: You had a prolific 2012. What new releases do you have in the works? You mentioned Family Tapes Vol. 3. When will you be releasing that?
Daniel Johnsson: Yes, I’m currently working on finishing Family Tapes Vol. 3. I’ve been “finished” with it about two or three times now but new songs keep popping up, even thought about binning it and start fresh but hopefully that won’t happen, I would probably regret that later on(!). And I don’t know yet, on which label or what format it’ll be released. All I know is that it’s gonna be out this year, if I can finish it that is.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Is the cassette your medium of choice?
Daniel Johnsson: Well in a way I guess it is. The labels – “Zeon Light Kassett” and “Happenin’ Records” (both who I can’t thank enough for taking their time to release my songs, I love ’em both) are cassette-based labels. And I think my songs fit quite nicely on a cassette… they are quite worn-out to begin with and after being put on a cassette they become even more so. And I like worn-out stuff – pants, guitars, records and most of all: tapes. But I’m not exactly allergic to vinyl either!