House of Hats Hang On to Harmony in “Close to Me”

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House of Hats is a band based in Brighton, England, whose debut album, This Love, was released last month. With interesting lyrics, acoustic arrangements and a mellow mood, I’ve been keeping it handy ever since. The appealing harmonies are the band’s calling card, although the more I listen, the more I’m pulled into the narratives.

For example, “Close to Me” is a lonesome song any traveler can relate to. Alex Gigante, who handles guitars, piano and vocals in the band, told CMT Edge, “I wrote the song about a long-term girlfriend I was with. She used to volunteer at an orphanage in Thailand helping look after the kids. She would go several times a year and sometimes was away for over a month.

“I respected, supported and admired what she was doing, but the selfish part of me wanted to be close to her,” he added. “I was fortunate enough to be able to play the song to her many times.”

The four-piece band is comprised of Gigante and his brother, Roberto (bass, percussion), as well as Al-Anoud “Noddy” Al-Omran (acoustic guitar, piano, vocals) and James Kuszewski (vocals, ukulele). They recorded the song in the small spare bedroom of Alex Gigante’s apartment.

When it’s suggested the listener can almost hear a sense of motion in the song, Gigante quipped, “It was real cramped in there, especially when all four of us were in there together. Maybe the motion in the arrangement you hear comes from us wanting to escape out of there!”

Asked how House of Hats compares to other bands the musicians have played in, Gigante replied, “First and foremost, the relationship we have with each other. I think the most important lesson we have all learnt from past bands is that the nature of the people involved can make such a huge difference for the good or bad. It’s hard to find musicians you not only click with musically but can spend your life with. With House of Hats, for the first time for all of us, I think we have found a place we all feel we belong.”

He continued, “The second thing is the vocals. The first time I experienced singing with Noddy and James, I was overwhelmed with the sound. I had always been involved in bands with at least two vocalists but never had that feeling. The tone when our voices are together and the way our natural voices blend still gets me now when we are jamming new ideas.”

Check out House of Hats’ “Close to Me.”

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