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House of Large Sizes:
Indie Rock Survivors

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: November 6, 2002

House of Large Sizes
w/ The Holy Ghost, Fromanhole
Saturday, Nov. 9
9 p.m., $7
Sokol Underground

13th & Martha

At a fragile time in music history when you're lucky if a band stays together for 16 months, House of Large Sizes has managed to keep it going for 16 years.

Anyone who grew up in the Midwest with even a fleeting knowledge of local punk knows about the Iowa-based trio. The band has been playing the rock circuit since before grunge raised its flannel head, and rode the wave long after it was tattered to bits, all the while staying true to its post-punk sound.

"I wanted to be in a band that played a lot," said guitarist/vocalist Dave Deibler. "Our heroes were the Minute Men -- bands that were real bands and not studio projects."

Deibler got his wish, but it's been a life with more downs than ups, he said. "The best part is playing a great show in front of a crowd where no one knows you," he said. "The worst part is the breakdowns. Twice we've been stranded in the same room in the same motel in Spokane while our van was being repaired at the same dealership. It gets surreal. This isn't the kind of lifestyle that's going to work for everyone."



These days, Deibler, 39, says hanging out with his wife, House of Large Sizes (HOLS) bassist Barb Schlif, in their home 15 miles west of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is more appealing than the hours spent on the interstate driving between gigs. After years of having more friends on the road than at home, the couple have put down roots in their rural community, opening a boutique a few years ago called The Mohair Pear that sells vintage and retro clothing, new and used vinyl, hair dye and other accoutrements of the rock-and-roll lifestyle.

But with a new self-titled CD just released on Boulder's What Are Records? label, the band is once again headed out on the road, with Omaha's Sokol Underground squarely in their sites Nov. 9. The recording marks a rebirth for a band that's gone from Midwest obscurity to major label obscurity and back to Midwest obscurity.

Founded in September 1986, HOLS garnered a strong regional following due to constant touring and their incendiary live shows. When Nirvana broke big in the early '90s, Columbia Records signed the band as part of the major-label feeding frenzy for indie acts. My Ass-Kicking Life was released on the label in 1994, but HOLS relationship with Columbia never took and the band quickly found itself back in indie status, releasing 1997's Glass Cockpit on then-Lincoln-based Ismist Records before finding a home at What Are Records?


"I don't cringe when I listen to this one -- I think anyone who has been in a band knows what I'm talking about."



"If you want it to be perfect, you'll never finish the record. If you're too careful, you'll never write a song."


Their new one is quite possibly the best CD they've ever made. Fans of the band will immediately recognize their trademark post-punk, angular crunch -- a sound that gets them compared to countless bands that they actually predate. But rarely has HOLS sounded so fine-tuned, aggressive and just down-right angry. On tracks like the bass-driven scorcher "Fine Time" and the power-chord heavy "The History of Camouflage," HOLS sounds like a warped hybrid of classic X and Surfer Rosa-era Pixies, complete with white-knuckled guitar riffs, king-Kong-sized breaks and spit-in-your face vocals.

Deibler says their eponymous release is their first record that he doesn't feel uncomfortable hearing again. "I don't usually listen to our CDs after they're done," he said, "but I don't cringe when I listen to this one -- I think anyone who has been in a band knows what I'm talking about."

In addition to new drummer Brent Hanson, Deibler credits a more-confident -- if not rushed -- songwriting style that strips everything down to its core. "All the songs on this one were written really quickly because we wanted to get it out before going on tour with Frank Black last year," he said. "We didn't have a chance to second-guess ourselves and as a result, the melodies are stronger. If you want it to be perfect, you'll never finish the record. If you're too careful, you'll never write a song."

Sage words from a veteran who's seen it all, though Deibler says he doesn't give advice to young bands. "Any good band won't listen to you anyway," he said. "Young bands today are too careerist. They have lawyers and publishers and stuff before they've even paid their dues. We could have been more business-aware when we started, but we didn't think the music we played would be successful."

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Published in The Omaha Weekly Nov. 6, 2002. Copyright 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.