Let's talk about Honne. Over nearly four years ago, the duo of Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher were making bloody loud names for themselves with a string of sizzling releases - an electro-pop diamond that played to the arenas and pulled everyone closer to sing together as loud as possible.
Soulful, jazzy, bursting with pop goodness, it’s a combination that caught on rapidly - playing huge venues not only across the UK but the world, and now they’re back with the next statement of intent in the form of second album ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’.
Taking everything bonafide big-time from their debut and cranking it up to a whole ‘nother level - drenched in swaggering arena goodness and setting up show in your mind in a matter of moments. Big choruses, infectious swoons and more, it’s a combination that has made Honne one of those acts that could get bigger and bigger, with a sound primed for the here and now.
To get the lowdown on their ace new album, and the chaotic few years that followed their emergence into the world - we had a chat with them both on a warm sunny day. Perfect weather, we’d say.
Chaps, it’s great to have you back! How does it feel having a second album together and about to embark on a whole new chapter for Honne?
Andy: It feels good, a lot of artists get it where you put out a first album, and things are flowing really nicely, and then there’s a little gap where you go away for a bit, and you come back to see if anyone still cares.
James: Putting ‘Day 1’ out was a huge relief. An enormous relief, in fact.
You’ve had a pretty chaotic few years, what was it like coming off the back of your debut album (‘Warm On A Cold Night’) to see that reaction? You must have a story or two in the locker?
Andy: We had a pretty crazy time in South Korea. We got asked to play the Seoul Jazz Festival, which we agreed to do and we played on the Friday night just before the headline slot. That in itself was a big one for us, and then a couple of weeks before, they asked us, ‘Look, something’s happened, the headline act on Saturday has pulled out and has an injury - so can you play your slot on Friday and then play headline slot on Saturday too?’ Jamiroquai pulled out, and we did like a 30-second riff to make up for it - that was surreal.
Looking back on that album musically, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do next?
Andy: We’re very proud of our first album, it was a huge moment for us to release it but we always knew we could do better and had more to give.
James: The first album, our limitations were almost a good thing in order to make a unified piece of work. That’s what made the album special, but it was always something we knew we could develop on greatly which is very exciting.
Andy: Even before the first album, we like made a point to talk about what we wanted it to be like, and we did the same with the second album. Things evolve, and things change, but it's kinda ended up as we discussed. We knew we wanted to develop in some way but have that sentiment that Honne has had from the start, and I think we’ve achieved that quite well.
‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ feels like an ambitious album, taking everything you’ve done before and really going for it. Did you take inspiration from the reactions you saw live, and wanted to build on that - especially if you see it going down so well?
Andy: You do have to write songs according to that. We’ve always had the aim to write music that is accessible to a large group of people but still have a quirkiness to it.
James: We never record stuff clean cut. We try and ensure everything we do has a character and warmth to it and that’s probably bad for us because it doesn't fit on radio easily. Like a little bit too far for radio, but still poppy! We deal with the pressure quite well too, we've realised that we do it for the people who listen to it but at the end of the day it is for us. We write the music we want to write and hope to god people like it.
This time around, you’ve worked with a lot more people on the album - Tom Misch, Georgia, Anna Of The North, Nana Rouges amongst others. Was there a particular reason for that?
Andy: It was quite nice and refreshing to go into a studio with others, but also daunting because you’re sharing your vision and lyrics with people. What was important to us was that we didn't want to limit ourselves to just us two, when we could make a better album by working with other people.
Seeing shows like Brixton Academy on the horizon and a huge world tour across, well, the world - that must be amazing. Do you feel like you keep growing and growing?
Andy: When you’re in it it feels so gradual, definitely at the start, it was a massive shock that anyone cared. We thought what we'd written was special, but we never had blogs writing about us or any big players, so that was exciting. It felt like baby steps at all times, and now we’re excited about the next stage. It’s amazing to see the growth in it.
James: Like Brixton Academy at the end of the year, that’s been a dream since I was a teenager - the place all bands want to play. It’s going to be quite something.
There's going to be quite a buzz with this album; it must be surreal thinking back on the journey that’s led to here?
Andy: In a weird way, nothing’s changed - things have just moved on, I mean we’re already talking about the third album.
James: We’re pretty painfully down to earth. I’m still surprised when people actually turn up to gigs - I still don’t think we’re in a big band. Low expectations, expect the worse but hope for the best, eh?!
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Honne's album 'Love Me / Love Me Not' is out now.
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