Interviewer – Julie Ink-Slinger
Upon releasing their debut EP, single ‘Eye To Eye’ became one of the most played Australian songs of the 2016 summer on Triple J. The band are working on their debut album with producer Jack Moffitt (The Preatures) and mixer Doug Boehm (Girls, Guided By Voices, Dune Rats) which is expected to drop mid 2017.
Julie caught up with the boys recently and asked them some searching questions.
Congratulations guys on Wild Honey becoming one of the more than 150 artists performing at the BIGSOUND Festival in Brisbane from the 5th to the 8th of September. How excited are you to perform at such a big occasion?
I’m really looking forward to coming up and Wild Honey being a part of Bigsound. Don’t often get the chance to see that many bands in the one place over 3 nights either. The music conference aspect of the event looks great, it’s a chance to chat with some people behind some of the records I’ve loved over the past few years.
Wild Honey was formed in Sydney in 2015. Can you describe how bands evolve from being just an idea to an actual band that writes, records and performs music?
Well, they evolve if you put a whole lot of energy and time into driving that. Unless you are fortunate enough to have someone else driving a project and you can sit back. Writing and recording is different for every band. I was just writing songs for myself which turned into a body of work worthy of playing live, so I did my best to put together a great band.
The band has experienced several line-up changes since forming in 2015. What kind of effect did these line-up changes have on the band?
Line-up changes happen when things don’t happen quick for the band. Being in a band is a commitment to something greater than its tangible attributes. You gotta suspend disbelief in several ways. Firstly, you’ve got to dream that your stuff’s worth hearing and that people would want to hear it. Secondly, you’ve got to believe that all the sacrifices you make to be in a band are worth making. All the free time you give up, all the hours in a van on a highway, all the events you miss cos you’ve got band commitments. It’s a bargain you continue to weigh up, and everyone’s sense of value is different. I miss the guys we’ve played with, and I’m grateful for the time they gave to the band.
You released your self-titled debut EP in 2016 and your single, “Eye to Eye” was on high rotation during the 2015/2016 summer of Triple J, leading to supporting bands such as The Delta Riggs, The Belligerents and The Hinds. Wild Honey went on to play 60 shows across Australia. Given the positive endorsements by Triple J, other bands, and audiences, was 2016 a time in the band’s development where you realised you had a bright future in music?
I guess it was the time where we started receiving rather than sending out emails. Triple J is still so influential in the industry that its tough work without their support. They got behind our first single ‘Eye to Eye’ which helped us get off the ground. But even then we had friends in bands cautioning us that Triple J support can come and go. And since then, we haven’t had any luck with them supporting our music. It doesn’t seem to be a great time to be writing lyric focused songs on guitars, that focus has definitely moved to the girls.
Thom, how did you manage to write and record most of your EP in your Bondi bedroom? Were you guys a bit squashed and claustrophobic or did it help solidify the band’s rapport?
It was only me so there was plenty of room. My gf wasn’t too thrilled at times I’m sure. The drums were played by a friend I used to play in another band with. We recorded those over in Manlyvale at one of the Midnight Oil guys studio. Recording the rest of the album afterwards at home was a learning curve because I’d never used Logic before.
Your next single, “Pull It Together” has been described as sounding like the love child of T-Rex and The Mama’s and the Papa’s. Do you agree with that interpretation?
Pull It Together came out last year, must be an outdated bio somewhere in our pages. That was our first single recorded as a band and I don’t mind that interpretation. Our next single is Messed Up, it comes out Monday 28th August. Its more acoustic driven like much of the record.
How did it feel to be handpicked by Jet to open for them at Taronga Zoo in February of this year?
A bit surreal, I remember seeing them on Rage when I was in school. They were all pretty nice guys and it was special playing the Zoo. We were grateful to the crowd paying attention, especially our dads haha.
When I grew up a million years ago, Sydney was a hub of live music. I would pore over Thursday’s Gig Guide to see what bands were playing. Outfit choice was easy, what was difficult was weighing up whether to see INXS or The Hoodoo Gurus. In the early 1990s, however, pokies were introduced into pubs and Sydney’s once thriving live music scene was significantly diminished. These days, Melbourne’s live music scene is flourishing and you considered moving to Melbourne. A two-part question: First, are you still contemplating the move or have you decided to remain in Sydney? Secondly, what is your view on Sydney’s lacklustre music scene for bands and fans?
I envy your youth; the gig culture was definitely better then. I would have loved to have seen the Go-Betweens, The Triffids, Mental as Anything, Died Pretty, The Church… All those great bands. I’m actually moving to Brisbane next year. I can’t afford to stay in Sydney at the moment, and I’m heading back to Uni at QUT. That’s not to say Sydney’s dead. There’s plenty of bands like DMA’s keeping the flame alight in the inner west.
Congratulations on the release of your latest single, “Break Away”, which is the first track from your upcoming debut full-length album. Along with “Break Away”, are you and your bandmates enthusiastic about the new material that will make up the rest of the album?
It’s been a long road to make this album. At this point I’m just grateful to everyone who’s played a hand in its creation. The songs are all autobiographical, they’re mostly about things we all have to go through; loved ones passing away, battling addictions of one type or another, daydreaming of better times, and the frustrations of modern day life. I’m proud of the record as a musical body of work, I don’t hold any illusions about its commercial potential.
The song “Break Away” reminds me of “Groundhog Day”, where we eat, sleep, commute, work, home, and repeat, ad infinitum, which is dull and disheartening. Thom, you have said that the song was inspired by your Nan’s death which triggered the realisation that you don’t want to work the rest of your life in a job that you find dreary and monotonous, just to earn a living. You wanted more out of life which meant the pursuit of a career in music. Given the economic uncertainty of working musicians, what are some of the major factors that compel Wild Honey to remain motivated, optimistic and to keep moving forward?
My motivation to write songs and play guitar hasn’t changed. But my optimism at the possibility of music paying my bills has. I never had that expectation, but I was optimistic about it. Break Away wasn’t just about playing music for me, it was about taking control of my own path. For one thing, it meant working a dozen different jobs before deciding to go back to university. Things that keep me going might be a kind word from another musician, or a great turnout at an out of town gig, but mostly it’s the support of the other guys in the band.
In addition to the release of your debut album later in the year, you have launched your own record label, Spillway Records. You created the label to give a voice to artists that might not otherwise be heard. How rewarding will it be to sign fledgling artists, support their growth as musicians and help them realise their full potential?
I’ve started Spillway as an attempt to provide another platform for artists to release their music, review music they love, and hopefully draw some profit from to keep afloat. I hope for it to become an artist driven community platform with a love of music at the heart.
I was quite amused by the following anecdote: When Julian Sudek left the band, you replaced him with guitarist Adam Della-Grotta because you saw him at a party and he was snappily dressed. You thought he epitomised what the ideal Wild Honey audience member would look like. At first sight, you couldn’t have known he played guitar. Consequently, this situation reminds me of the Sex Pistols where Sid was asked to join the band, without even picking up a guitar. In my view, Sid was chosen, primarily, because of his black spiky hair and perpetual scowl and how he attracted men and women to Sex Pistols gigs. How were the rest of the Wild Honey bandmates chosen to join the band?
I was introduced to all the guys in the band through mutual friends except Sam. I found Sam playing bass in another band on unearthed and thought he was great. Adam is still a snappy dresser but he’s in the band cos he’s a top bloke and a great guitarist. Thom joined the band on Keys originally and moved to drums down the line.
After the release of your debut album later in the year, do you have plans to tour across Australia?
Yeah we’re touring the east coast in September in support of our new single Messed Up, and later in the year to support our record coming out in November.
Finally, if any of you had the chance to perform on stage with any artist, alive or dead, who might it be and why?
I would love to have played guitar for one of my favourite bands. I never particularly wanted to be a singer, it just turned out that way. Maybe to have played with David Crosby when he was recording/touring If I could Only Remember My Name. That was a very cool time in music.
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