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This interview was featured in the 6 May 1996 issue of Music Week.
With acts such as The Wildhearts, Terrorvision and Shed Seven now breaching the charts, predictions of a summer of melodic British rock do not appear fanciful.
And Epic's Honeycrack are set to be among the frontrunners.
If the favourable reception they received while supporting Alanis Morissette on her sell-out tour can be taken as a reliable gauge, then Honeycrack's debut album should catapult them to prominence. A brace of singles has already been released and a month-long residency at London's Splash Club further raised their profile.
Yet Honeycrack do not fit comfortably into any of the brackets which bands are currently grouped in. They are neither Britpop, Britrock nor punk, but an amalgam of musical influences as diverse as their backgrounds.
At the band's creative hub are Willie Dowling, Mark McRae and CJ, formerly of The Wildhearts, a connection that has raised expectations but also been something of a burden for Honeycrack. "If you were to write down the individual characteristics of everyone in Honeycrack - ethnically, we're from totally different backgrounds; politically and philosophically we're very different; and musically, we have enormously varied tastes - you would think that this band cannot work together," Dowling says. "I suspect this is also our greatest strength, because one of the most important factors you can have in any band, and particularly a band of this nature, is the idea of tolerance. Conflict ultimately achieves very little, or at least it doesn't in our environment ."
Such musical diversity allied to the punk ethic that has served the likes of The Wildhearts so well is essential to Honeycrack's appeal. It also has its disadvantages, as Dowling readily acknowledges.
"We are in an interesting position," he says, "because, as we anticipated, we are walking a tightrope. On occasions we are perceived as being a rock group or as a punk group or being viewed as Britpop. We've had comparisons with everything from Metallica and Motorhead to The Beatles and The Beach Boys. There is just an uncertainty at the moment. The NME and Melody Maker are still not sure whether they should be covering us. Similarly, the rock papers are probably thinking, 'They're a bit poppy'. Most of the press we've had has been pretty good, but it is teetering on the brink of uncertainty."
Dowling and CJ are adamant that Honeycrack bear little resemblance to The Wildhearts et al, but there is one aspect common to all the acts currently enjoying chart success with guitars as their core musical medium: songs. "The era of the song is upon us," Dowling says. "For me, that is the greatest thing, because before I'm interested in a group or a riff or a particular philosophy, I want to hear it in the context of a song.
"All of these bands share that and it's certainly something that we aspire to. We're interested in the songs, not the fashion content or style that they come delivered in."
Prozaic certainly lends weight to that belief. It contains 13 songs of abundant wit and variety that form a collection to satisfy the broadest of musical tastes. Hints of reggae mingle with yobbish riffs while the fulsome vocal performances are a delight.
"We've made a well-rounded album," beams CJ. Dowling agrees, "It does all the things I'd bullshitted it should do. It actually takes you on various little journeys; each song has something to say. Very few have a direct, repetitive feature, although there are a couple of themes that are similar. But each song stands up on its own."
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