Honne’s Warm On A Cold Night might be the most comfortable record of the year. Not because it’s safe but because it’s like a warm blanket as it wraps itself around you with mellow chords and familiar funks that are likely to tap away at your heart. Even though it’s their debut record there’s an old soul within both of them that makes you feel as if you’ve dusted their record off and given it another spin 10 years later.
The band is made up of James Hatch and Andy Clutterbuck. James is the producer and Andy is the singer. They formed back in 2014 and have since had two successful EPs and now a debut album, steadily growing their audience with each. If you’re a triple j listener you’ve likely heard Someone Like You with fellow Brit Izzy Bizu cop a few spins lately. It’s looking like it will be their biggest single to date and open a whole new bunch of fans to the smooth sounds of Honne.
We jumped on the phone with the duo just days after the release of Warm On A Cold Night to chat about the record and also find out which one brings the funk to the table.
How are you feeling about the album now it’s been out for a few days?
Andy: It’s so nice to finally get the album out. Some songs that people have heard already but some new material as well. It’s really really nice that people are loving it and sending us a lot of love. It’s a really nice feeling.
What did you do on release day? Did you sit and scroll Twitter or go out and celebrate?
James: We were on Twitter the whole day. We spent a 15 hour day on Twitter.
Feeling mostly good about it?
James: Yeah. We tried to reply. Everyone was so nice and we tried to be very responsive on Twitter because it felt wrong when people were showing so much love and not getting anything back. It was a mammoth task trying to reply in some form to everybody. You’d do 10 and then have 20 back.
How are you guys with social media? There are some artists that hate it and others that are absolute dynamos.
James: We’re getting better at replying to people. It’s a weird one just because it does take up a surprising amount of time.
Andy: We’ve written the album and we’ve released and it we’re touring a lot at the moment so there’s a lot of time where we’re in a van or waiting at an airport so we’ve got a bit of time to do stuff. When you’re writing the album and you feel like you should be tweeting but really you’re sat at a computer trying to write songs and come up with something creative you don’t want to be like, “hey, check out my breakfast”.
Going back to touring, how much did that help bring the album together? Did you try out many of the songs live?
Andy: It’s funny actually we only tried a couple. There was a song called good together that we’ve been playing live for a good couple of months. It was never a question of whether that was going to go on the album because the first time we played it people were singing back by the second chorus. It was kinda crazy how well people responded to that song live. It’s been weird because we’ve had to go into a rehearsal studio and learn all the new songs so we can play them for when the album comes out and they’re sounding really good.
When you first started Honne was the plan to release a few EPs and then move onto the album or is that just how it worked out?
Andy: Yeah it was the plan. We could’ve put the album out earlier just cos the songs were there but we felt we needed to introduce ourselves and build a bit of a foundation and obviously build a fanbase so that when the album came there was a reaction to it.
James: I think we’re not the kind of band who were gonna release three singles and by the second or third one they were gonna be smash hits and then we’d drop an album and people would listen to four or five tracks off the album. We wanted to be an album band and have a strong foundation for that.
Andy: Also, because we spent a good year or more writing we also had a whole load of songs that wouldn’t have made the album but were good enough to put out. A lot of the songs on the EPs before would’ve just been wasted if we’d put an album out and that was it. We would’ve had a whole load of song we wouldn’t have wanted to put on a second album and they would’ve disappeared.
James: To be honest even now we have enough songs to put out a second album and still have some left over.
How do you choose what to put on the album? Do you sit there with a big whiteboard killing your darlings?
James: Yeah but then the next day you wake up and you’re like, oh good why did I get rid of that one. It’s so hard because it’s all about the album being a bit of a journey and not being one tempo or one feel and keeping it fresh so it’s not always about what you think might be a selection of your best songs. It needs to be songs that are cool and add a bit of flavour.
The album is really cohesive but it moves through different styles. One of the really distinctive moments though is when Izzy Bizu jumps on for Someone That Loves You. What was the process behind choosing to get a female vocalist?
Andy: It wasn’t really a choice. We saw Izzy mention that she’d been listening to us so we tweeted her and asked if she wanted to come over and write a track. It was the most chilled out day just writing this song and eating pizza. Within a matter of hours we’d written the whole song with Izzy. It was great. She’s a real talent and such a pleasure to work with.
That song is burning up down here on triple j. Was there ever a tug of war between you and Izzy about whose album it was going to end up on?
James: I think it’s on her deluxe but she’s working on her own stuff. She’s got plenty going on. It sounds kind of like a whole new song rather than an Izzy Bizu track.
Was that process of collaborating with someone else foreign for you guys?
Andy: We’ve done a few bits here and there. It’s quite nice we quite like it. It takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to work in a slightly different way and has you thinking about stuff you wouldn’t have done. We’ll do some more collaborating in the future for sure particularly on the next album.
One of the great things about the record is it’s a melting pot of different genres. Do you guys both have similar influences?
James: We’re both pretty similar. I guess maybe I’m more funky funky. I’m a bit more of a Michael Jackson kind of guy and Andy brings a bit more of the smooth chords, Someone That Loves You - moody, bendy sorts. I’m the awkward jolty one.
Are there ever arguments about funking a track up and down?
James: No, we both like the smoothness and the funk.
Andy: No, sometimes I’ll be egging the funk on.
Words by the interns' Sam Murphy.