I saw about 100 new British bands live this year and I always spend loads of time online trying to find the best up-and-coming bands, and I have to say, without a doubt, this London band are the best new band I discovered this year and easily one of the best new bands in all of the UK.
Honey Lung are four dreamy, grungey shoegazers whose latest single, “Sophomore” came out in early May and it’s so impressive and well-composed that I was actually convinced that I’d accidentally clicked on a classic 90’s band’s song when I first heard it. Let me tell you: these guys definitely know their way around a guitar riff.
To be clear, they’re not just good for their age (they’re all in their early 20’s) and they’re not just good for their early stage of being in a band, these guys already have stronger songs, a more unique, complete sound, and more talent than a typical, well-established band.
Honey Lung formed out of the ashes of their lead singer, Jamie Batten’s former band: a heavy shoegaze/psych band called Flood. Once they became Honey Lung, they spent about a year writing and rehearsing without playing any gigs, in order to hone their craft. In that process, they also had a few lineup changes and after playing just their third gig, they were signed by London’s RYP Recordings.
Last year, Honey Lung released their debut EP, Kind Of Alone, a near perfect first release which featured five tracks and showcased both the heavier and more delicate sides of the band’s sound. There’s the face-melting sound of “Perfect V”, the fuzzy, melodic “End Of Time”, the (despite the name) beautifully tender and heartstring-tugging “Dirt”, the lyrically anxious, insecure “Something”, and a song called “Real Reason”, which is the closest they come to a ballad on this EP, but even this one has a killer guitar solo too.
When talking to Dork Magazine about the band’s future recordings, Jamie said, “We’re doing some pretty weird stuff. There’s a flute on the next track, and we’re thinking of getting a synth player. We’re going to be getting a lot of new gear. It’ll still be guitary, riffy and groovy, just with some different sounds. We’re not getting bored, but there are limitations to just having two guitars. It’s going to get pretty interesting.”
“We tend to play the songs that are energetic and translate very well live,” he continued, “but we’re still trying to figure out how to translate the quiet, more obscure and more intimate stuff live. We’re doing more Sparklehorse, Elliot Smith, Alex G kind of DIY lo-fi thing.”
Since their debut EP and their new single “Sophomore”, they also performed a live version of a song called “Stuttering Mind”, a track they played for Sofar London and it’s definitely the softest thing they’ve put out thus far and it may be what Jamie was referring to, in terms of the band’s efforts to translate their more quiet, intimate songs into a live setting.
Honey Lung are Jamie Batten (lead vocals, guitar), Omri Covo (drums), Charlie Gardener (guitar), and Dave Sherry (bass). I was able to talk to Jamie about the band’s sound, their recording process, their influences, their ambitions, and more. Read the full interview below.
How long has the band been together and how did you guys form?
Jamie: The band has been together for around two years. The lineup has changed a little since we first started. Originally, we formed out of another band called Flood and we met Omri, our drummer, online and our original bassist, Jacob, I met at college.
At what age did you all start playing music?
Jamie: I started playing music at 8 years old and I’d say the rest of us started playing music sometime between the ages 8 and 13.
Were there any particular bands or records that made you want to play in a band?
Jamie: Records like Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins and Yuck’s first record were big influences alongside bands like My Bloody Valentine.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever seen as a fan and why?
Jamie: I don’t know, too many to name. Arcade Fire at Earl’s Court was pretty amazing. They just know how to take you on a bit of a journey, the amount of instruments they have live is like watching some kind of orchestral thing.
How did the name Honey Lung come about?
Jamie: Every band needs a name.
Your sound reminds me of a few different bands: Inheaven, The Wytches, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Nirvana, etc. Who are some of your favorite bands and influences?
Jamie: Bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Jesus And Mary Chain, and Kurt Vile.
In terms of genres, I’d describe your sound as a combination of alternative rock, shoegaze, grunge, and dream pop. How do you describe your music to people?
Jamie: Rock, nah, just kidding. That’s probably a good summation. I’d probably say describe it as a culmination of those things.
There are lots of moments in your songs that can only be described as crazy explosions of noise and face-melting guitars (“Perfect V” and “End Of Time”), but then you have songs like “Real Reason” and “Stuttering Mind” that are much more calm. Do you guys have a favorite song of yours or a song that you feel like really accurately represents the band?
Jamie: I think “Oh So Real” is quite an accurate representation of us, in terms of the crazy riff based groove that is a recurring motif within the song. It’s pretty melodic and emotional and I think that if we were to reduce it to a single song, that one would offer a good introduction to us.
All of your recordings have such a great sound. Were any of your releases recorded in a studio or were they homemade?
Jamie: So far, we’ve recorded everything over at RYP in Rayners Lane, in London. We’ve been working with Michael Smith, who’s worked with people like Wolf Alice.
I love the aesthetic of all your album artwork and music videos. They really go hand in hand with your sound. Did you make any of the videos or artwork yourselves?
Jamie: We made the video for “End Of Time” and I made the video for a demo of “Something”, shot on a handheld camera and pieced together.
What’s your songwriting process? Do you all chip in on music and lyrics?
Jamie: Generally, I write the songs in the bare bone form and then I take it to the band and it evolves from there. We don’t have a set formula for songwriting, it’s always changing. Recently, I have been writing at home and recording demos there too.
A lot of common themes seem to arise from your lyrics: introspection, daydreaming, love, anxiety, existentialism, etc. Do you consciously think about what you’re trying to convey when you’re writing lyrics or is it just natural?
Jamie: Stream of consciousness, really. It’s just really honest.
Your single “Sophomore” came out a few months ago. When can fans expect the next release?
Jamie: We’re working on a number of songs, but we’re taking our time with those and we’ll release them when they’re ready. Keep an eye on us is probably the best answer!
Are there any new bands that you think people should know about?
Are there any long-term goals that you have as a band?
Jamie: Making a full length album and touring with bands we love and maybe some headline tours in the future.
At would point would you consider the band to be successful?
Jamie: I don’t think we ever arrive, it’s always a process.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Jamie: We have a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes which we’re not talking about just yet, but there’s a lot on the horizon.
Hopefully these guys will come tour the states soon, but in the meantime, you can find out more on Honey Lung by checking out their links below: