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Like the best bands that take cues from the past—Wilco and Dr. Dog, Whitney and Kevin Morby—Honyock combines the aesthetic of a bygone, sundrenched past with songwriting that’s as distinctive as it is memorable. Their debut album, El Castillo, makes the case for rock n’ roll’s continued relevancy in the modern era, without being overly precious about its past.
“Patron” for example, features a dusty, retro aesthetic—a sun-faded roadside hotel, a cactus’s long shadow. It’s hard not to hear Elvis Costello or Roy Orbison in this opening track. At the same time, though, neither artist could have written this personal, pensive song. “It kind of came out of this persistent pattern in my life of being intimate with drug abuse and drug abusers,” Spencer says. “Those people can be the sweetest friends you’ve ever met, but they disappear a lot too. You have this dual emotion of ‘I would do anything to help you’ while admonishing them for their own lack of will.”
It’s this thoughtful approach that attracted the attention of veteran musician David Vandervelde, who would end up producing El Castillo. “We were recording our canon of material, like 30 or so songs, onto four-track cassette tape and dubbing over it in GarageBand,” Spencer says. These demos were passed around until they, by chance, ended up in Vandervelde’s hands.
As soon as he heard the demos, Vandervelde offered to record the full-length with Honyock—and at New Monkey Studio, which Elliott Smith owned and recorded at in the years before he died. “Yeah, this record we spent two years trying to record we re-recorded in, like, five days,” Mason laughs. Vandervelde was able to transform the band’s lo-fi intentions into something more authentic, more honest, more real. “He really took us under his wing. We learned a lot about how to make a real record, very quickly,” Spencer says.
Honyock is Spencer Hoffman, Mason Hoffman, Tyler Wolter, and Christian “Sunshine” Meinke. As old friends from the neighborhood, these four brothers (of both blood and water) share a musical chemistry that is hard to ignore. Fresh from under the wing of Father John Misty’s David Vandervelde, Honyock is taking El Castillo, their psychedelic, peyote-tonk debut LP, to clubs across America this summer.
El Castillo just came out July 20th on Friendship Fever records.
”The surreality with which they paint their music – audible in the classic, and surprisingly dynamic, psychedelic guitar distortions – is combined with an unexpected edge that is impossible to get enough of.”. -The Deli SF
Trinity Ridout is a young writer and musician. She attends City Honors High School, the Just Buffalo Writing Center, and Community Music School. Her work is inspired by her strong feelings toward environmental activism, and focuses on the relationship between humanity and nature.