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HONEYCRACK - Interview
Phoenix 1996

Interview with CJ and Willie, originally from the Phoenix Festival website. Honeycrack appeared on the main stage on Sunday 21 July.

Let's not mess around. The sound they make is a crunching hybrid of teeth-edge guitars and textured pop. They operate according to a manual that takes in The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and about 65 names besides. So fine is their attention to detail that they will talk for hours about the beauty of five-part harmonies. Their music is endowed with the power to turn heads in an instant.

Their name, incidentally, is Honeycrack. They coalesced around the twin leadership of guitarists CJ and Willie Dowling, who recruited drummer Hugo Degenhardt, bassist Pete Clarke and guitarist Mark McRae last year - before unwittingly creating masses of record company interest. Small wonder. CJ had just split from the The Wildhearts, esteemed purveyors of a similarly incendiary variety of music that had begun to sprint into the charts at alarmingly regular intervals.

The separation, in case anyone was wondering, was entirely founded on personal differences between CJ and singer Ginger. Having escaped, and been contacted by Willie (once an associate Wildheart) with a view to resummit their relationship, he discovered that the pairing was nothing other than inspired. You can tell listening to him.

"It's like coming out of hell and walking into the light," CJ enthuses. "I know I sound like a hippy fuckwit, but it's true. I'd introduce these people to my dogs."

And is he confident of escaping the shadow of his former colleagues?

"I think I have escaped it. Really. And once people hear the album or see us play live, they'll know that's true. This is a new band, and we've all worked really hard to get here. You know, I won't be losing any sleep about chart positions..."

Having realised that they'd stumbled upon perfect chemistry, the group handed the A&R cyclone over to their lawyers, and begun searching for a name. It took a while, inevitably.

"We busked around for weeks on end," says Willie. "We thought 'what we should be doing here is marrying up the notion of something sweet and something dreadfully hard'. It's kind of how we summed up the sound we were making: the harmonies were very sweet, but we had this bone-crunching guitar sound. We toyed with Sugar Smacks and all kinds of different ones, but Honeycrack just stuck. And yeah, I know it has a sexual connotation, but that really wasn't the intention."

Enough, anyway. Honeycrack's debut single is King Of Misery, an insane ride through an array of influences that's charging along at frightening velocity one minute, only to slip into something approach psychedelia the next. It's majestic, in a word; and the essence of its beauty probably lies in those oft-mentioned harmonies.

"You don't see anyone else doing them, really," says Willie, " and on the occasions when you do , it tends to be very staid and dull looking: you se people glued to their microphones with their finger in their ears. We wanted to wipe all that away - still be visually exciting and retain all the energy of a rock band; but have the pop sensibility of someone like The Beach Boys."

They've succeeded - and though they're reluctant to proclaim their own excellence, they really shouldn't be so bashful. Honeycrack, quite simply are brilliant. Only a deaf retard would disagree.

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