Flash back to Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival 2013. I’d hotfooted down to Mainstay Rock Bar to catch the end of Bella Clava’s set, but by the time I found a place to park and hit the club, the notes of the band’s last song were hanging in the air.
While chatting up the band during load-out, I spotted Honeyspiders vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Harrison, who had opened for Bella Clava and was actually putting up the band for the night.
I’d heard the handful of tracks Honeyspiders had posted and was dutifully impressed, so I mentioned to Jeremy I was interested in doing a story on the band. He smiled, furrowed his brow slightly and said, to my bemused amazement, “No, we’re not ready.”
Fast forward to mid-December 2014: The Cincinnati Entertainment Award nominations are announced and it’s hardly a surprise to see Honeyspiders in the New Artist of the Year and Rock categories. I smile and think to myself, “I guess you’re ready now.”
When reminded of that exchange, Jeremy and his guitarist brother Chris both laugh, but resolutely stand behind that thoughtful and (gasp!) mature decision.
“Yeah, we weren’t ready,” Jeremy says over tacos at Django’s in Northside. “We had a lot of things set up but not everything completely figured out.”
“And now to be nominated, it’s humbling for sure,” Chris says. “We do this because we enjoy it. It feels good to be nominated with the caliber of bands that are out there. Winning would be the cherry on the cake. At first, it was a whole different mentality. That’s the thing about taking your time. Now we’re ready. The songs have developed a lot more and we feel 100 percent better about it.”
In the transition from their former band, Banderas, to Honeyspiders, the Harrisons made several fundamental changes to their musical foundation. Although they’re still playing concussive Hard Rock with a gritty melodicism, they’ve layered in many nuanced shades that would have been steamrolled in Banderas.
“With Banderas, everything was always on 10,” Jeremy says. “People had other influences and they wanted to explore that and everybody’s spreading out. Eventually it just was not fun.”
“It did lose some spark,” Chris says. “We were writing in the band practice setting [with Banderas], with like six members. That’s six strong opinions. It got to a point where our styles were changing.”
“[Honeyspiders] started off as a songwriting thing for Chris and I,” Jeremy says. “The old band just felt like a pair of shoes that were too small. A lot of time was spent figuring out what this was.”
So far, Honeyspiders’ studio output has been relatively sparse, consisting of a handful of tantalizingly crunchy tracks including the two latest, the thunderous “New Blooms” and the Stoogeian tribal jangle of “Sweet.” With last year’s addition of drummer Kamal Hiresh (Mixtapes/Small Time Crooks/Vito Emmanuel) and the recent installment of veteran Louisville, Ky., bassist Cole Walsh-Davis, Honeyspiders are ready to complete work on a long-anticipated full-length recording.
“We made a busy fall for ourselves; prior to that, we were just doing a show every month and a half, trying to get a fan base and see what we’re hitting,” Chris says. “And also writing. You can have 10 songs, but are all 10 going on the record? We wanted to make an album for ourselves, one that we’re really proud of. We looked at the arrangement of how we wanted our record and we were missing something. We want to make a collective record that works for us, and now we have all that stuff. We only have to record five songs in the studio and the release will be ready.”
Although Honeyspiders lineup has fluctuated slightly (Jeremy notes, “We keep it loose …”), the one constant has been the idea of doing things when they feel right and not when it might be most advantageous to do them.
“Since I’ve joined, it’s how we want to do it, at our own pace,” Hiresh says. “We’re not trying to make a name or build a career. We have fun doing this and we’re going to do it how we want, with no pressure outside the band. The end goal in our heads is not ‘We’ve got to get signed and tour’; it’s ‘When are we going to play our next show? Because it’s a lot of fun.’ No one has delusions of grandeur here.”
“What is ‘making it,’ exactly? ‘Making it’ is doing what you want, and as long as you’re happy, that’s fucking ‘making it,’ ” Chris says. “We met Kamal through Alex (Nauth) from Foxy Shazam and we just clicked. It was like we knew him for years. He comes from the same idea, the same school of, ‘This is fun, this isn’t a competition.’ This isn’t about who’s got a bigger dick in the scene. If we do the stuff we want, exactly the way we want to do it, the universe is going to work. If you push and push, you’re agitating. You’ve got to be patient.”
Patience pays off for true arachnids and it certainly seems to be working for Honeyspiders.
The band’s CEA nominations tee up a year that will see their music featured in an upcoming independent horror movie called, appropriately enough, Honeyspider, as well as the release of their debut full-length.
What comes after that? You’ll just have to touch the web and see for yourself.
For more on HONEYSPIDERS, visit honeyspiders.com.