By: Sheena Lyonnais
September 14, 2007
California’s retro inspired rockers Honeycut said goodbye to rock and roll and instead instigated their own genre of rock and dance at their Canadian debut at Toronto’s Virgin Festival last weekend. Their blend of disco rock and hip hop drew influences from blues, the early British mod invasion and 70s denim bellbottoms in a fashion that had the audience simultaneously bopping and head banging.
There’s something refreshing about a band so innovative and unique even the band members aren’t entirely sure how to describe their sound. Equipped without any guitars, a somewhat space-like bass sound, a drum machine, a break dancing keyboardist and arguably the most engaging front man in contemporary rock and roll, Honeycut chose to describe themselves in terms of desserts rather than genres, perhaps speaking volumes to their personality.
“We’re like an Oreo cookie dipped inside a big old batch of peanut butter, thrown into a garbage can full of salsa with whipped cream all sprayed on the top, a cherry twist, a piece of lemon twist and that’s pretty much it,” joked singer Bart Davenport.
All kidding aside, the mosaic that is Honeycut is simply addicting. Davenport lures the audience in with his uncanny stage presence and dance moves that have previously been compared to the likes of Mick Jagger. Despite their unusual lineup, Honeycut’s music is undeniably awesome and the industry has taken notice.
Although better suited for an iPod advertisement, their song Exodus Honey is currently featured on a commercial for the new iMacs. England has also taken a liking to the band, so much so that both a single and the album will be released there before it is even debuted in their neighbours to the north.
“The actual line up of instruments that we play our songs with and this type of song writing with this instrumentation isn’t really being done by anyone else,” Davenport said.
Perhaps this is directly related to their unusual influences and Davenport’s atypical musical debut. He attended Malcolm X grade school in Berkeley, California as a child and performed in a choir comprised primarily of black students, introducing him to rhythm and blues. As a teenager he became interested in the British mod movement, imitating and appropriating both their sound and stage moves into his personal style.
The dance moves are part of the appeal. Drawing inspiration from reruns of What’s Happening and Soul Train, Iggy Pop, Tom Jones and even Fred Astaire, Davenport has learned to use his movements to command the stage.
If the European audience responds well to the single Shadows, a UK tour may be in order. Following that the band hopes to return to Canada, potentially as early as January and possibly at the Mod Club.
Although akin to their native warmer Californian weather, bassist Etienne de Rocher said they will embrace poutine and snowstorms for their Canadian fans.
“We will brave the cold for you Canada,” he said.
A Canadian release date for the album has not yet been set, but to temporarily satisfy your retro rock cravings check out their Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/honeycutmusic .