LA-based alternative pop-punk inspired rock band SØUNDHOOSE is a band that stresses the importance of mental health, calling it their #1 priority. Comprised of Brandon Smith (lead singer/guitar), Jeremy Bauer (bass), and Paul Burns (drums), what you see is what you get with these guys. Genuine in their mission as a band, their lyrics, love for their fans, and their mission of shunning the stigma surrounding mental health, they have created a safe community for their fans to release their depression and anxiety, whether that be at shows or with them simply reaching out to the band. SØUNDHOOSE embodies the raw power of punk, melodic pop sensibilities, and the angst-ridden restlessness of icons like Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Blink 182. The band has performed at some of the most iconic music venues including Whiskey A Go Go, The Viper Room, Molly Malone’s, and The Mint and has been featured on The Songwriter Show Podcast, Heavy Music Interviews, The Other Side Reviews , Existential Magazine, Illustrate Magazine, LAWeekly, Highwire Magazines , Sinusoidal Music and more. They also made their debut appearance on CBS’s Sounds of the Underground in the fall of 2022.
Smith formed SØUNDHOOSE in 2018 while in school at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis. Living alone and away from his family, the musical project was a creative way for him to journal what he was going through in an effort to support his mental health. He released his first album, Mr Bad Luck, and EP, Into The Wild, while at the Institute, and upon going back and listening to the albums, can see how much the band has improved with their more recent material. He moved back home to LA right before Covid hit and the ensuing shutdowns occurred, giving him no excuse but to focus on making new music. He released Quarantine Psycho in 2021, which was less reserved and released a bit more anger and frustration than his previous releases, embracing more of the “be who you are and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks” mentality he has said had clicked for him during that time. After meeting Paul and Jeremy at a party for a mutual friend, they instantly bonded after realizing that they have almost identical musical influences, feeling an instant chemistry after jamming some covers together. 2 1/2 years in the making, SØUNDHOOSE will be releasing their new album Craniotomy in March, their first album as a band. “This album is intended to reassure people that they aren’t alone, be proud of who you are, and never let anyone tell you how to live,” says Smith. “It’s been great because we know that we’re releasing something we’re proud of, and we also know that we never limit ourselves to what this band can or will do. Everything we’ve been doing recently is different and we go for it.” The band will play their album release show at Whiskey A Go-Go on March 15th, which will be, says Bauer, their “best show to date!”. You can purchase tickets to their album release show HERE. With plans to tour and grow their fanbase, make sure to follow these guys via the links below to stay up-to-date on all news, music, and tour dates!
What can the three of you tell me about your younger years and what led you towards a path in music?
Brandon – I spent the majority of my younger years playing hockey competitively, so I got a very late start in actually playing music. I was given a guitar around age 11. None of my family knew how to play, so it was something I had to teach myself during the little free time I had. I began to go to more and more shows for fun and it just became something I couldn’t live without.
Paul – I spent my younger years playing sports. By the time I hit the age 15, my folks introduced me to music and that’s where I immediately fell in love with it and never looked back. I always knew I was going to be a drummer when I grew up because it fit my personality really well.
Jeremy-I grew up playing sports, basketball being one of my all time favorites. I also, like every kid in the public school system, played recorder in elementary school. The next 2 years, I joined the school band playing clarinet. I was always told I was good, but never enjoyed it. In 5th grade, I went to a local music store with some friends after school. Everyone picked up a guitar, but I picked up a bass. And from that moment I felt a serious connection to the bass. Fast forward to the summer going into high school, I went to New York to visit my grandparents. Tryouts for the basketball team were held the day I got back from my trip and all the kids were acquainted from a week-long summer program, therefore I didn’t make the team. That next summer, I started playing and writing music with my good friend. I would pluck away on the low strings of my sister’s old acoustic guitar and eventually my dad bought me a used bass because he knew how much I wanted to play. 14 years, 7 basses, countless shows played, and a degree later, I haven’t looked back. The rest is history.
With such an emphasis in your music on mental health and trying to ease the stigma, in what ways does music help your mental health? Has writing and playing music always been a way for you guys to work through mental health struggles you’ve gone through in your lives?
Brandon – I’m very blessed with a supportive family, but there are certain things that you just don’t want to share with family or friends. So instead of bottling it up, I usually write down how something made me feel so I can capture that feeling. This way I know how to handle it in case it happens again. It’s a therapeutic way of recognizing my emotions and how to deal with them in a positive and productive way, especially for someone who doesn’t really like to show their emotions.
Paul – For me personally yes. Music has always been an escape for me and definitely helps through my own personal mental depression. It’s always kept me in place. I want others to know that we’re here for others that are in need of help as well. That’s why we do this.
Jeremy– Music has always been there for me. Whether I want to dance or cry, scream or sit silently. There’s always a time and place for music. Whenever I’m feeling I need help and don’t know where to go, I end up going to my instrument and just playing. The freedom to play brings me pure bliss that is indescribable. Every time I go on stage, every ounce of me gets poured out onto that stage and all my focus and energy is right there, and I hope our friends and fans feel the same way at our shows. I will never take for granted the opportunity I have to perform music and do what I love.
Brandon- You formed SØUNDHOOSE in 2018 while in school at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis. What can you tell me about attending the Institute and your decision to start making music and start the band/project?
Brandon – Being a sound mixer/editor was always my plan if hockey didn’t work out and while I was getting both my degrees in sound, I lived alone and away from family. Going back to the mental health aspect of it, SØUNDHOOSE literally began as a way for me to journal what I was going through in a creative way. I got bored only playing other people’s music constantly and I wanted to channel a place in my mind I might have been afraid to go to in the past. At first, I hadn’t thought about releasing music publicly because it was mainly used as a musical journal for me. I showed a couple friends some of the early songs I made, and it helped them with certain things they were dealing with, so I thought I’d try and help as many people as I could.
What can you tell me about those early days and your first album and EP, ‘Mr Bad Luck’ and ‘Into The Wild’ respectively, both of which you recorded at the Institute?
Brandon – Honestly, when I go back and listen to both of those projects, the first thing I notice is how the quality of what we released up to this point has changed so drastically and improved. Each mix got better and better, I learned more about the process, and just consistently improved. We’re constantly improving and that is what I’m most proud of. I loathe complacency and being stagnant. I see what used to be a naive, yet passionate artist who just wanted to play music, turn into someone who realizes they can take all that, and still make a difference. You can see it in the writing, hear it in the mixing, and when we perform, you can tell there’s no place we’d rather be.
You went home to LA right before the covid pandemic hit and things were shutting down and have said that quarantine gave you no excuses but to focus on making more music and following the career path you really wanted to follow, rather than making excuses for not writing more music right away. What can you tell me about that time for you and what you feel you would have done otherwise, had you not had the chance to focus on music?
Brandon – When I left Minnesota, I had every intention of working in the film industry as a sound mixer/foley artist or anything sound related for film. Covid completely ruined that, and I had to find a way to make money but didn’t want to get a job that had nothing to do with what I went to school for. I was very stubborn, but adamant about what I wanted. The only thing I could find was working in a rehearsal studio, because bands were still prepping for when Covid would end. I had to be surrounded by that because I would’ve gone insane at the house with nothing to do. I don’t play video games, rarely watch tv, and all my time is spent either mixing shows, or making music. I don’t do anything else, so I can honestly say I have zero clue what else I would’ve done.
You released ‘Quarantine Psycho’ in 2021, which was less reserved and released a bit more anger and frustration than your first album and EP. Do you feel the album embraced more of the “be who you are and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks” mentality you have said has clicked for you in the past couple of years? Do you feel it showcased your progression as an artist?
Brandon – I don’t 100% remember the exact moment, but there was a revelation or understanding that I finally came to. It was that if you are 100% honest and true to who you are through the good and bad, you’ll never regret anything. I don’t want to try and bs the world with lyrics that are fake, and I want to always be completely authentic. That was a time where I was angry with everything going on in the world, my situation, my relationship that had just ended, and writing a happy go lucky record would’ve been ridiculous. Sometimes life isn’t always pretty, and that time was no different. Also you’re never going to please everyone, so we write music that helps us, with the hope that it helps others.
How did Jeremy and Paul come to join the band? What has it been like to go from making music on your own to having band mates? Was it always your goal to recruit a bassist and drummer once you got back to LA or was that just how things progressed?
Brandon – I knew I had to wait until I came back to LA to find bandmates. I had a close friend who’s also a drummer and mutual friend of Paul and Jeremy’s, but he was way too busy to join. I met Paul and Jeremy at a party for this mutual friend, and we instantly bonded after realizing that we have almost identical musical influences. We jammed a bunch of covers and it was instant chemistry. These guys add an element to these songs that I just couldn’t do on my own. The process has gotten easier with them and it’s much more enjoyable making music. They’re both extremely creative, energetic, gifted, passionate, and far more talented than myself.
What do you guys love most about playing music together? What do you like to do outside of music?
Brandon – I could never be a one man band, nor would I ever want to be. There is a certain chemistry that the 3 of us have that is hard to explain. Paul is an absolute maniac on the drums, going 110 mph the whole show. I’ve legit seen him play so hard he’s gotten sick from exhaustion and the dude’s vegan, and definitely not out of shape. Jeremy is our rock that is the yin and yang keeping us together rhythmically, and anytime that something is slightly off, he knows how to fix it. Anytime there’s something missing, usually he knows what it is and has ideas on how to make it go from a good song to a great song. The best part is that we all get along outside of playing and making music. We genuinely have fun with one another and it doesn’t matter what we do or where we are, we know how to have a good time.
Paul – It brings us together as one unit. Music is one of the main reasons I’m still living. We have a great chemistry with one another and it’s hard to explain why but I think it’s because we all share the same passion. We take this very seriously and don’t tend to have a plan b. Outside of music, we like to go out and enjoy each other’s company. That’s what a family is all about.
Jeremy – I don’t know what they’re talking about; we don’t like each other at all… I think the 3 of us each bring a special ingredient to the SØUNDHOOSE stew that helps us sound the way we do. On top of that we hold each other accountable; we know when it’s time for business and when we can have fun. And we have plenty of fun. I truly think that’s what keeps us going. If we weren’t having fun doing what we’re doing with people we enjoy being around, why would we still be doing it? (PS I guess I like these guys…).
In focusing so much on spotlighting mental health and that it’s ok to struggle and need help, what kinds of strides do you feel have been made in mental health awareness and easing the stigma attached to it, and what do you feel still needs to be done? Are there any organizations near and dear to your hearts that you feel are doing good work in mental health?
Brandon – The sad truth is that there haven’t been enough. I have seen several movies and shows elude to the idea that seeking therapy is helpful, which is great and completely true. However, the main issue is that not enough people are taking action. These actions aren’t limited to donating or seeing a therapist, but these actions can be something as simple as checking in on a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time, giving a stranger a hug, sticking up for someone, listening to them without giving advice. Some people legit just need to be heard and either no one is willing to listen to them, or they can’t afford to pay someone to do it for them. We donate to the JED foundation as much as we can, and a portion of our merch sales always goes to them. They work with supporting teens struggling and they are often the ones we see struggling the most.
Jeremy – There have been some strides made, but it feels like we’re just getting started. I’m excited to say that there is now a 3-digit hotline for suicide & crisis in the USA; if you are able, dial or text 988 to talk to someone today! This shows the importance and growth of mental health awareness, but it also starts at the ground level with all of us. We can check in on our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers. This is all something that we all can do and we should definitely do more. It costs exactly $0.00 to reach out. Mental health is definitely at the forefront of things we believe in creating awareness of, and we will continue to help in any way we think of.
What can you tell me about the community you guys have created where fans can openly release their depression and anxiety to unite in music? In your goal to help them feel supported, how have they done the same for you? How would you describe the connection you have with your fans?
Brandon – Our fans know that no one will be judged, ridiculed, hurt or abused, and are safe and welcomed at all of our shows. We’re a family and encourage them to engage with us as much as they want, share things with us, ask us questions, tell us about their problems and just be themselves. Our fans do enough by supporting what we do. We’ve received certain messages that have brought me to tears because there’s times we don’t feel like we’re making a huge impact, and then that one message or story comes in and just completely reassures us of why we’re here. They learn our lyrics, come to shows, wear clothing with our band name on it…What more could I possibly ask of them? They give us everything I can possibly ask for, and they know without a doubt that we will do everything we can to be there for one another.
Paul – Our fans are welcome no matter what. In this community there’s no room for hate, judging or bigotry. We’re all in this together to help one another. We’re always here to listen.
Jeremy – I’m honored to say that the impact that we’ve had on our fans has come back to us in such a humbling way. We read through every message, we listen to every story, and we invite everyone to be themselves around us. And without a doubt, I can see people letting go of all their problems because they feel they have a way to express themselves. I’m so happy that we have created a safe space for our people to wholeheartedly be themselves. That, in turn, is the ultimate gift.
You will be releasing your new album Craniotomy in March, an album you have said was 2 1/2 years in the making! What can you tell me about the making of the album and the overarching message you hope listeners take away from it? What was it like making music together, being your first album together as a band?
Brandon – Extremely liberating, yet demanding. We work so damn hard to put out the best possible art we can. There’s something about making something that can’t be destroyed and can have the potential to stand the test of time and make an impact long after you’re gone. The biggest thing that plagued me over this process was I wanted to be able to listen to this album from start to finish, and enjoy every song on it. There are albums where certain songs on there are “skippable” and I didn’t want that. I like meeting deadlines, but I don’t like rushing things at the risk of ruining a good idea. This album is intended to reassure people that they aren’t alone, be proud of who you are, and never let anyone tell you how to live. It’s been great because we know that we’re releasing something we’re proud of, and we also know that we never limit ourselves to what this band can or will do. Everything we’ve been doing recently is different and we go for it.
Paul – To put it in short perspective, we’ve been busting our asses off to make this happen and we’re beyond excited to finally release it.
Jeremy – 2 ½ years might sound like a lot on paper, but when you really break it down, it’s even more than that. When it comes to the production of this album, we did everything. This album was different, in that not only was this the first full length collaboration between the 3 of us, but we also expanded the sound in so many ways. Brandon is a genius when it comes to audio, but I personally felt like I brought some of my electronic production skill into this project, along with some pretty sweet basslines of course. The fans only see the tip of the iceberg, which ultimately is Craniotomy. What they don’t see are the songwriting sessions, the recording sessions, the virtually countless hours of working to get these songs sounding exactly how we want them. That doesn’t even include getting these songs prepared for an epic rocking show. We hold ourselves to a certain standard and we want this to be the very best. We are so proud of Craniotomy and the messages we talk about in the music, and we hope you will too.
You guys released “Phobia”, the final single from the album before its release, in November of last year, which proclaims that having fears, or phobias, is a way of life and part of being human. Are there specific fears you guys have had that you had to overcome that we’re holding you back?
Brandon – The dumbest “phobia” I have is snakes. I freak out and it’s no joke that I’d rather be held at gunpoint. As for phobias that I deal with daily? Claustrophobia, Atychiphobia, and Decidophobia are probably the big 3. I have a hard time sitting in the backseat of cars and get really hot in tight spaces. I have anxiety for sure because I’m constantly worried about regret, making the wrong choice, not knowing if there was something more I could’ve done, you know? There’s a bunch of thoughts like that which I dwell on constantly and I’m not sure if I’ve overcome any of these phobias, but writing these songs, has definitely helped with some of them.
Paul – My phobia has always been failure after putting the work into something I hope to accomplish. I hate the feeling of being let down and disappointed. It’s the absolute worst feeling in my personal opinion.
Jeremy – Believe it or not, I’ve had serious Glossophobia my whole life. So to me, it’s extremely ironic that not only do I love being on stage and performing, but I proudly sing quite a bit on this specific song, “Phobia”. I used to fear talking to people I didn’t know, giving a presentation in school, or ordering food at a restaurant. I flunked out of a public speaking course in college because my anxiety wouldn’t let me show up to class on presentation days. Over time, whether it’s playing on stage and having a microphone in front of you, or working events and guest services, you sort of start just feeling more comfortable with it and yourself. Nowadays, I don’t have those same nerves I used to. I bask in the moment and thoroughly enjoy talking to a group of people I don’t know. I’ve learned so much about myself and others through conquering this phobia of mine, and I’m proud of the strides I’ve made.
What can you tell me about the making of the music video for “Phobia”? Do you have more music videos in the works?
Brandon – We have at least 2 that we plan to make during the first half of this year for sure but won’t reveal which ones. The “Phobia” music video was something where we wanted to let out all of our frustration and anger and it just felt right. It was very therapeutic and we gave it all for that video the same way we would with a live show. Todd Hopkins did a great job filming it and we’re proud of how it turned out.
Paul – Lots of fun.
Jeremy – We had the idea to do the video for “Phobia” in a breakroom because the song feels really aggressive, but it was also a great way for us to actually let loose and fully take all of our frustrations out on objects with no consequence. We had so much fun making that video. We hope you enjoy it too! We are looking forward to more videos coming out in the next year as we have some fun ideas that we can’t wait to share with you, just not quite yet 😉
You have your album release show on March 15th at Whisky A Go-Go! What are you most looking forward to with the show? Aside from the show, what’s next for you?
Brandon – There’s so many things that we do behind the scenes that people don’t see; things that take a LOT of time, effort, money, planning, all that. This show will be a result of all those things people don’t see. Most sets are usually 30 mins but we’re headlining which is special because our fans will get a full experience, the way it was designed to be. We really need to tour and that’s the only thing on my mind aside from increasing the band’s fan base.
Paul – Making it one of the best nights of our lives to remember. I wanna look back at this moment and be able to say we put on a kick ass performance. The thing to look forward to after this is definitely to go on tour and keep building a SØUNDHOOSE family community. Keep networking and putting in the hard work to achieve our dreams.
Jeremy – What I’m most excited about for this show is going to be seeing and hearing the reaction from all our fans, friends, and family. The 3 of us are the only ones who have seen and been a part of this whole process from front to back, so it will be beyond exciting to see the culmination of all our very hard work put out into the world. We always try to plan for an epic show, but I can confidently say the Whisky on March 15th is going to be the best SØUNDHOOSE show to date. Our collective goal moving forward beyond this show is to continue to promote the album, by way of touring, playing more shows in other areas, and continuing to spread the SØUNDHOOSE message around the world.