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Interview with Willie and CJ following their show with Skunk Anansie in Southampton. Photos by Neil Lloyd.
It is less than a year since CJ was fired from the Wildhearts and his new band Honeycrack, formed with sometime Wildheart Willie Dowling, have their debut single available and are embarking on their first major tour supporting Skunk Anansie for a week and then headlining some of the small circuit clubs.
The single, 'King Of Misery' starts the performance, dragging interested people from the bar. It is noticeable that as the set progresses the number of people paying attention increases as does the applause at the end of each song. CJ and Willie handle the lead vocals and guitars, ably assisted by Steve Williams on drums, Pete Clarke on bass and former Rub Ultra guitarist Mark McRae who all add backing vocals.
Much to the disappointment of some of the music press, Honeycrack are no baby Wildhearts, their sound is familiar, sparkling pop music reminiscent of the Beatles and with harmonies the Beach Boys would be proud of, with, at times rocking guitars and at others a reggae drop-beat. The songs exhibit pop sensibilities with an underlying dark side. Honeycrack are probably the most exciting and certainly the best new band in this country. A large section of the crowd was won over as the singles and t-shirts sold very well after the show.
Twenty or so minutes after the set, I meet up with CJ and Willie to get the lowdown on Honeycrack.
CJ starts with a brief history of the band. "Willie and I got on great in the Wildhearts. He talked me into recording some demos after I was ousted from the Wildhearts, we formed the band and after about seven months we signed with Epic."
The deal with Epic is worldwide, what made you chose to sign with them?
Willie - "Their enthusiasm was unparalleled, I think it is unique for both CJ and I to work with a company that understands what a band is trying to do."
So what is it that you are doing?
Willie - "We are marrying the sweetest and purest of pop music, which is what both CJ and I love, to something ugly with a bit of drive behind it. Hence you have a band with three guitars and the potential to be very raucous, combined with a five-part harmony, which you rarely find in any band these days."
CJ - "All of our favourite bands all mashed up, and it comes out like us!"
Why has the release of first single, 'King Of Misery' been so low key?
Willie takes this up, "The last thing we needed was posters announcing our arrival as new messiahs. It is a far better idea to let us develop a fanbase before going on to the next level."
CJ - "It is unusual for a major label to take this approach, we back it all the way. Everyone was expecting hype. The whole idea of this is to build an identity of our own, not to use our pasts as a building block."
What does the near future hold?
CJ - "We have the album recorded, we are going to take some time to see whatcan be improved, if anything!"
Willie - "We have sixteen songs recorded. Assuming everything goes well, there will be another single around autumn time followed by the album in late autumn, when the time is right."
Before all that however Honeycrack will be at the Phoenix Festival and the single 'King Of Misery' is in independent record stores now.
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