• UO Music: Off the Road with Honduras

    This winter, Honduras toured with Sunflower Bean—a band that mixes heavy stoner Black Sabbath rock with the lo-fi drone of DIIV. On top of that, the band’s newest music video for “Hollywood,” which is one of its catchier songs, features dead celebrities performing at a karaoke dive bar in a cleaner-cut version of a David Lynch scene. 

    All of their videos are kind of dark, to be honest, including “Paralyzed”—which has a hazy blackout motel scene with Julia Cumming (Sunflower Bean’s lead singer and bassist—the two bands tend to come in a pack). To top it off, the guys wear all black and the lead singer has a neck tattoo. So when we met up with them one afternoon in Austin on the back patio of Stay Gold bar while some muddy-sounding rock band was playing in the dark inside, we were surprised by their sunny demeanor. 

    It’s sometimes hard to be impressed by new rock bands. Anyone can put on a black jacket and an image, but not everyone can get on stage and blow you away like Honduras does.

    Five hours after our patio meeting, we watched as the four guys took the stage at Barracuda for a Part Time Punks showcase, which featured other bands with names like Ritual Howls and Sextile. Lead singer Pat Phillips and guitarist Tyson Moore are natural performers who first started playing together over four years ago when they lived in Missouri. Neither are the type to stop to check that every hair is in place after a particularly intense solo. You can hear drummer Josh Wehle’s steady hands on their recordings—and we’d suggest you check out their latest, Gathering Rust—but watching his live direction is even more impressive. Paul Lizarraga—one of the most seasoned of the group after his three-year stint in the Brooklyn surf-rock band The Denzels—plays the old school way, with his bass hanging as low as his head. 

    We talked to Honduras about how they’re adjusting to life on the road, what it’s like to leave everything on the stage, and what going home feels like after months of that.
    Photos by CJ Harvey

    You guys just released Gathering Rust March 3rd, while you were on the road. Why do you think it’s so important for a band to tour behind a new record release?

    Josh Wehle: I mean the Internet is one thing, but just to really connect with people and develop relationships is so important. 
    Pat Phillips: It’s also really cool just to have someone hear your stuff online and then come to a show and you’re able to bring whatever they think of you to life. We really take pride in our live shows, so it’s nice to have that back and forth between experience and assumption, and hopefully have the peak of that be in a live  setting—to just make it as intense as possible.

    Your live show is definitely intense. How does performing like that make you feel after the fact?
    JW: There was this Guardian article that I read last week about what the highs of a show can do to your body, and how coming down from that is just a huge mental and emotional process in and of itself. Literally, the chemistry changes and you can get really bummed out once that high is not sustained. 

    Right, and then you head back to the van for hours of quiet time and driving. What is that contrast like?  
    PP: Honestly, the van feels like a safe zone where we get into the groove of going to the next city. Paul’s reading Tolstoy, we’re listening to a podcast, Josh is doing some social media work on his computer. Tyson got this van over Christmas and it almost feels like home, a really comfortable place because we’re so used to it. 

    So all of that van time doesn’t make you feel insane? 
    JW: It’s surprisingly the least crazy part of all of this. Everyone even knows where they sit. Also just watching the country change as you drive by is really cool. Driving through Louisiana yesterday and seeing the swamps and sunsets, you have this magic moment where you’re just like, “Fuck, this is really incredible.” It’s all just moments strung together. 
    PP: I love being in a van. Tyson and I are originally from Missouri and what you do for Spring Break in Missouri is drive down to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, so we’re so used to those midwest family car trips. I feel very comfortable. I like mellowing out and getting really interested in a record or a book. 

    Tyson, can you talk a little bit about how you and Pat started playing music together back in Missouri?
    Tyson Moore: Pat and I have known each other since kindergarten. We each had our own high school bands and then I played in his band for a while. I moved to Chicago for audio school and he moved to New York around the same time, but we stayed in touch, sending demos and collaborating. After awhile I felt like I needed a change and wanted to get back to playing live music, so I picked up for New York to start a band with Pat.

    How did the rest of the band come together?

    JW: I moved to New York the day after my high school graduation, when I was like, "Okay, time to do this shit." Pat was my first roommate when I lived there and we went back and forth [playing music] but never really had an official band. We started playing with a different bassist but the rest of the guys knew Paul forever and then we just kind of shifted into this lineup.  

    Paul, is that how it felt for you—a natural shift?
    PL: Yes. The band I was in, The Denzels, had gotten to the point where everybody wanted to do different music that wasn't surfy, shoegaze pop. In 2011, it seemed like every band was doing some form of that stuff, so I was itching to do something different. I knew Honduras through the tight-knit music community in Bushwick. I'd run into those guys all the time at a Bushwick dive bar I tend at called Alaska—and they just so happened to need a bass player at the same time my band was splitting up.

    What advice would you give a band going out on their first long tour?

    PP: Pack so many socks. Whatever you think, pack 20 more pairs of socks. Sunflower Bean has socks on their rider. When we get to that point, no dips… just like, disposable socks. 

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