HOW??? emerges as a dynamic fusion of Americana roots intertwined with the sharp elegance of English glam-rock energy, punctuated by elements of indie and surf rock. In their latest single, "How???", the band navigates themes of home and transformation, a journey that mirrors their own evolution from the DIY ethos of their previous project, Paperhaus, to the expansive soundscapes of their forthcoming album. Spearheaded by musicians Alex Tebeleff and Matthew Dowling, HOW??? embraces influences ranging from the iconic songcraft of Bob Dylan to the electronic explorations of Bjork, crafting a sound that feels both timeless and forward-thinking. Their upcoming west coast tour, alongside the imminent release of their debut self-produced album, signals a new chapter for the band as they redefine the boundaries of Americana electronica. 

How did the band form?

 The band came out of the end of our previous project, Paperhaus. We had been good friends for years, but didn't actually collaborate until he joined the band around 2014. As that project came to a natural close around 2018, we started experimenting in the studio with new songs and a very different approach compared to our previous project. For How??? LP1, the studio was used as an instrument first and foremost, while Paperhaus had always been a band that tracked live and used the studio to push the sound later. 

What are your previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?

I played in Paperhaus for over a decade. We put out many EP's and two full lengths while touring quite a bit, and hosting a house venue during that time as well. Matt joined for the second album and the last few years of touring. Matt had a project for many years called Deleted Scenes, also based in DC. Matt plays solo as Swoll, and I perform under my name sometimes, but usually I play solo as Gold.fix with a more experimental electronic approach on my modular synth system.

First concert that you ever went to? 

First concert was probably Raffi! But the first concert I really consciously remember caring about and influencing me was the HFS Christmas Nutcracker show in 2002 DC when I was in high school. This was the actual lineup from what I remember: The Distillers, The Vines, New Found Glory, Zwan, Queens of The Stone Age, James Brown, Boxcar Racer and Coldplay. Wild night. Really not a fan of most of those bands, but seeing Queens of The Stone Age at their peak and the GOAT James Brown on the same night is definitely something I will never forget. The rafters almost broke during JB! Coldplay was the one that surprised me the most. I was a big Radiohead fan and viewed Coldplay as a watered-down version to say the least (I think fairly). But they were quite impressive live in those very early days, much more interesting than the records, especially after the first one. Those three acts all had undeniable power in their live show I hadn't experienced before.

What's your writing process like?

Well there are many different approaches depending on the context. How??? usually brings songs to the table first, and then uses the studio to reimagine them in lots of different ways. Our first single "How???" started as a pretty straightforward Americana kind of tune on acoustic guitar. But as we went on adding synths, drum machines, processing things, taking things out in unusual places, it became something completely different. It started more Townes Van Zandt, but to me ended up a lot more like Roxy Music.

What other artists or songs inspire your music? 

 David Bowie was a consistent influence on the making of How???, and each of his eras influenced different songs in different ways. The opening self-titled track on our album "How???" for example, I can hear how the Ziggy era and like minded projects like T. Rex and Roxy Music really influenced the production and mix. Bjork was someone we kept looking to, she's a genius producer and songwriter who is also very open to try anything and see where it takes her. Boards of Canada was a big sonic reference point to try different things as well. For example using more low end in the reverb than traditionally would be considered "correct" in a mix to create an otherworldly effect, almost like an instrument or the mix is outdoors at points. Cate Le Bon is probably our biggest contemporary songwriting influence. She's always willing to try something new, every record she does sounds fresh and interesting. A rare true surrealist in the modern world. How??? definitely prizes the unconscious over the conscious mind in every aspect of the creative process.

What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be its own thing?

We definitely do not think live should be identical to the record. Seems pretty boring to me. I love how Animal Collective or Bob Dylan is so open to completely transforming the music live, sometimes to the point where it's almost unrecognizable to the original recording. We don't go that far right now, but I think it's important to be fearless and open to it in that way. For us, the challenge is simply taking this studio-created music and translating it live in a way that we're happy with. Right now we're really happy doing it as a two-piece with samplers, synths, guitar, and bass depending on what the track needs. Slowly, we're starting to use the sampler more and more to essentially remix ourselves live, while adding whatever else is important on top. 

What has your touring experience been like? Best shows? Worst shows?

 Touring is always a crazy thing. We've both played to nobody in the middle of nowhere and also headlined sold-out 1000 cap rooms with our projects. Touring isn't for everyone, but I find it has been one of the most enriching parts of my life. Getting to see the country and occasionally other countries and learn how people live differently in surprising ways. That perspective is life-changing and invaluable! Our favorite shows together was probably the album release for Paperhaus' first album headlining the 9:30 Club. Very memorable night at a special spot. Opening for Rare Essence at the DC SXSW showcase in 2015 was also pretty surreal and special.

What's up next for the band?

Next up is the release of our first album on 4/26 and an April West Coast tour. We'll be heading to the East Coast in the summer for some dates, and then we have a second album almost done as well to finish up the rest of the year. Hopefully How??? LP2 will be coming your way in 2025! 

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