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Interview by Shane Richmond for Livewire 945.
Venue: A kitchen in the Norwich Arts Centre.
Date: 24 October 1995
Participants: Shane Richmond, CJ and Mark (who, since we are in a kitchen, spends most of the interview eating cake and therefore says very little).
SR: Tell me a bit about how the band got together.
CJ: Well, I was in a band called the Wildhearts, and I got kicked out of them about 16 months ago. Willie played on both Wildhearts albums and he did the last Wildhearts tour I did and we got on really well. I've known Willie for a while - about 8 or 9 years and we noticed that we had similar tastes in music. . . a lot of pop stuff, punk stuff, reggae, stuff like that and when I was out of the Wildhearts he approached me about forming a band. At first I was a bit hesitant, I didn't know whether I wanted to give up music or join another band, and basically we did some demos together and had a long legal battle with my record company, trying to get out of that contract, we formed the band over a period of about 8 months, we signed to Epic in February this year, we've had one limited edition single out and our first proper single came out yesterday.
SR: What did it feel like when you knew you had something, a feeling amongst the band?
CJ: It was a relief for me because I'd been doing the Wildhearts for five and a half years, and I thought that was at least another 5 or 6 years ahead of me, and it was very strange - one minute we were doing Top of the Pops and playing the Forum, and the next minute I was on the dole and didn't have a band around me. It was a relief when we originally finished those demos, knowing that we might have something, and once we'd done our first tours it was great.
SR: So why the name Honeycrack? This is two questions really, why the name, and how would you describe the band, since I know you think the name partly describes the band anyway.
CJ: Basically it describes the sound of the band; honey is the lush vocals, we've got a lot of harmony vocals, everyone sings in the band and there are very few spots in our songs where there isn't harmonising going on. And crack is just cos it's the guitars, it's an edgy guitar sound, there's three guitar players so there's going to be a lot of guitars in our music. It's not vulgar, it's nothing to do with sex, it's just the way we look at ourselves.
SR: The single 'Sitting at Home' came out yesterday, what's it about?
CJ: I like where I live, I feel relaxed going out in clubs but there's nothing better than getting truly wrecked at home, you can crawl to your bed it's only down the corridor or up the stairs, whatever. I used to get accused of being boring because I like to spend time at home. There is nothing wrong with chilling out in your own place, you can eat, you can be naked, I've got a girlfriend, what's wrong with wanting to go home and spend time with your girlfriend when you've been touring for three months? And it's just saying don't listen to people out there, if you spend a lot of time at home it's not a crime there's a lot of things I like doing at home which I wouldn't get away with on the streets or in a club. It's cool to hang out where you live, it's cool to hang out in a club.
SR: With the Wildhearts the songs on the singles weren't just fillers, a lot of bands just bung out fillers on the b sides, is there the same attitude with this band?
CJ: Yeah! A band writes a set amount of songs for an album, and then they go "oh shit! What are we gonna do for the b-sides?" and then they've got to come up with songs straight away, but with the Wildhearts there were so many songs written and recorded that we didn't have this attitude that we'd write 16 good tracks and 10 bad tracks so they could be b sides. It's the same in this band, there's three songwriters in the band hopefully there'll be five songwriters before the year is out, and the re's an endless supply of songs and we don't sit down and write 'b-sides,' A song's a song.
SR: The last song on the CD single is a cover of the Beatles song 'Hey Bulldog.' Why that song rather than any other Beatles song?
CJ: Because it's an obscure track. It was used on the soundtrack of Yellow Submarine and I think it was on a compilation album as well. When people are covering Beatles songs they tend to go for the well known songs and we didn't want to do a well known song. It's nice when a lot of people come up to us and say, because they're not familiar with the track, "that really sounds like the Beatles". Well, it is the Beatles.
SR: You've really absorbed it into your style, it does sound like a Honeycrack song.
CJ: There's so many bands influenced by the Beatles and they're one of our influences but it's not just the Beatles, we draw stuff right from 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s music. One minute we could be playing something very punky and then go into to a funky sort of beat, then into reggae and then back into something a lot heavier, we're mixing all these styles together. Yeah, there is this strain which refers back to the Beatles, but it could be Squeeze as well, many bands with just tunes and harmonies and good little riffs.
SR: What about the contemporary music scene?
CJ: My favourite bands are bands like the Cardiacs, Bad Brains and Descendants and a lot of obscure bands. It's regardless of what scene they are, if a band's good I don't look at the label they come with, if a band's good it doesn't matter whether it's pop, reggae, bangra, hip hop, it doesn't matter. If it's good, it's good.
SR: Some reviews of the single have written you off as "another rock band." Do bands get a hard time because of their label?
CJ: I wouldn't say we are typically like a rock band. Once people see us, forget about the past, forget about what other members have done, once they see us they'll realise that we're not a straight down the line rock band. We're not Bad News, and once they hear our songs... I think there's more pop running through us than rock, some of the harmonies are cheesy! I think it's too early for people to say we're a pop band or we're a rock band. Kerrang called us "Britpower," it's far too early to put those sort of labels on us, we're part of no scene; we're not part of the rock scene, I don't think there is a rock scene in this country, we're nothing to do with the Britpop thing which is practically over anyway. We're just a band. We're there, we're new.
SR: What about plans after the single? Is there an album ready?
CJ: The album's been ready for...since March.
Mark: Since April... April, March, that'll do!
CJ: What are we gonna do, Mark?
Mark: Well you probably know more than me. When I finally do say something, it's wrong! Since March, April when we recorded the album, well basically due to our record company's advice, they've told us that next year - February time, will be the best time for us to get it released so we're looking for that to be the release time and for three? Four singles to be released off the album.
SR: Is there a title for the album as yet?
CJ: Not at the moment, February's a long way offand we can take our time with stuff like that. It's nice to think that while we're waiting for the album to come out we can be touring constantly, just to build up a bit of a following.
SR: Without going into details on the Wildhearts thing, one comment I saw in some articles was that Ginger had a problem with there being more than one songwriter in the band....
CJ: No, there was only one songwriter in the band, Ginger wrote all the songs....
SR: Is that what led to the split? Did you have a desire to write songs?
CJ: No, I didn't have a problem with Ginger writing the songs, it was err... They were good songs, it doesn't matter who writes the songs as long as they're good, who cares? Me and Ginger didn't get on, it was nothing to do with the music, it was a personal thing and now that I'm out of the band at least I can talk to the guy and we seem to get on better. But, it's no big deal, trust me, it's no big deal.
SR: What's it like in this band, having a lot of songwriters, you say you aim to have five, is that difficult?
CJ: No, it makes for a pleasant atmosphere, everyone gets on really well. There's no competition between individual members, there's noone seeking the highest point on the stage or anything like that, and we're all friends and we're encouraging everyone to write in the band and everyone to be involved in everything from covers to names of albums, to the way our videos look, the way our pictures look, what we do on stage, everyone is encouraged to contribute to it.
Mark: And everyone does. I've got to say it's a breath of fresh air for me, after being in a selection of bands where there' s always been an overhanging negative vibe running through the band. Sometimes it's contributed to the actual creative element ofthe band and made it slightly stronger but I think we're all past that sort of stage where we need to feed off negative energy to create, it's no longer something that's of concern for any of us.
CJ: Believe me, this is as chilled as it gets. It's mellow, the whole vibe is very mellow.
SR: Tell me a bit about touring? How long have you been on the road?
CJ: This tour we're on at the moment ends on the 20th November and we will have done forty shows. It's pretty remarkable, just look at the size of the UK, it's so small but the whole idea is to get us out playing lots of places, just get the band known, as long as a just a couple of people are talking about us in different towns round the country that's all we need just to get a buzz going from the ground. We're signed to Epic records, we could've plastered the place with posters, we could've had videos and all sorts of... hype, basically, but the record company don't wanna do it that way, we don't wanna do it that way. We're being seen as a band that's constantly on tour and that's what we are.
SR: How has the band developed while you've been playing live?
Mark: It's been a natural progression. A lot of bands that go out and tour for a couple of tours a year, they're going to get better because they're doing it.
CJ: The thing is, we all enjoy playing, we all love playing live and it is the reason why we're in bands. Playing live you see the real band, anyone can look good in a picture, anyone can look good in a video. There are ways, if you're not capable of playing your instrument, there are ways to make you sound great on an album, but this band, people hear our singles and they say 'are you going to reproduce this live?' they come and see us and they see that it is reproduced live. Everything's done by ourselves and we really enjoy it and the vibe comes across. The audience, we've had a few hecklers and that, but most people just leave the place feeling good and I don't want them to go home and feel depressed or to want to start jacking up or something like that... as long as they dance to our music we're doing something good and people are leaving the place all vibed up and they want to go home and make love to their partners and get wrecked and eat good food, that's cool.
SR: So the band vibe is very much word of mouth support, building it from the ground up.
CJ: Yeah, it's all about a buzz. And they only way you can get a buzz going is by going out there and taking it to people, you can't expect them to come knocking at your door. And that's basically what we're doing.
Copyright - Shane Richmond & Livewire 945AM (1995)
Original Broadcast: Sunday 29th October 1995, Livewire 945, University of East Anglia, Norwich. Rebroadcast: Sunday l9th May 1996, Livewire 945. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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