All those who know me very well can imagine I would've accepted without demur a deepening with a band steadily rooted to the most important early 90's UK metal acts, also bearer of some worthy inputs. Here's the report with the inheritors of My Dying Bride and Confessor's mainman
(Answers by guitar player and vocalist Andy Clarke)
-Did you have other bands before HFC?
Yeah, had a few things over the years. Me and Chris (drummer) had been jamming together since we were 15 years old, more of a death metal thing going on. Only managed the one gig, but we practiced religiously once a week for over 5 years. After which Jason, Paul and Stuart came aboard to form the first formation of the HFC saga. It was a very valuable period I think as it allowed Chris and I to develop as song writers without inflicting dreadful demo tapes on the world!!
-Why did Jason part from you?
To be honest we weren't 100% clear on that. It was a bit of a shock to the band as a whole. We were right bang in the middle of recording the vocals on "The Darkest Pinnacle of Light" when he left. Basically he felt he couldn't get any vocal lines he was happy with and it spiraled out of control to the point where he was totally dis-illusioned with the band overall. I think realistically we knew he wasn't happy, but we are all really close friends and didn't want the band to change. A pity he was a great singer for us, and a fantastic front man. In hind sight though, he should have left earlier as the band had moved on so much since he left. Like I said a pity, but we're much happier now, a lot more focused and the band has become fun again, rather than hard work which it was turning into.
-How did you manage with the first gigs without him?
Really well surprisingly! We were really worried about the whole situation we were in. It's a big transition when your front man quits. He was a pure singer, whereas I play guitar also, so I didn't have the same freedom for moving around the crowd and jumping about etc. The fans had come to expect a certain level of excitement from our live shows, and we were worried that would be lost without Jason. Thankfully we haven't, I'm not sure how we have got away with it, but the fans still love the band and we are still renowned as a great live act. I think at the end of the day the songs are being translated better as a 3 piece and people pay that little more attention to the music now. Some folks prefer the new vocal as well, my delivery of words is a little clearer than Jason's and people really get off on that as they are more in tune with the meaning of the songs. Overall the first few gigs were blinding and no-one ever came up and said to us, not bad but you were better with Jason on vocals. Thankfully!! I would have died if that had have been the case.
-Did you ever sing before as a main vocalist? And did you consequently have to take any lessons?
As I said earlier, when Chris and I first started our death metal thing I was the singer for that, but it was a guttural thing. When I started singing for HFC I had to do the clean style so I had to adapt. No lessons as yet! I always enjoyed singing and used to mess around with an acoustic and a 4 track many moons ago, so it wasn't alien to me. Took a while learning to play guitar and sing at the same time again!!!
-Honestly, why did you decide to have that raw 80's production? Lack of resources or a deep feeling to bring back that gone spirit? (which wouldn't be a bad idea, BTW).
I'll not lie, we are constricted financially so there was only going to be a certain level we could take TDPOL to. That said, we were in compete control of the sound as we produced the disc ourselves so I think at the end of the day we wanted it to sound the way it does. It's the only release so far I feel that really translates the band live onto a recorded format. I'm not a massive fan of overly produced Cd's, I hate triggered drums, all dynamic is lost. I didn't want an 80's sound so to speak, but I wanted the dynamic in volume and tone that older recordings had which have now been lost in modern technology. Cause and effect I guess part of me did want to bring back an 80's vibe cause that's mostly the era of music I listen to!!
-Why did you sign with Rundown? Didn't you get other offers after your third demo-CD?
Again, to be honest the labels weren't exactly beating the door down! I wanted a release out asap, especially cause Jason had left, I needed to keep the band motivated and moving forward. Rundown Records was in the right place at the right time, so it all made sense.
-Your style is still a bit unripe, and needs smoothing,for ex. there are some abrupt changes which might be more effectively and smoothly assorted in my opinion. Do you believe a better production and mixing could've helped?
Our style tends to confuse a lot of people anyway, you hear abrupt changes, other people hear something else. I do think a better production would help the listener decide what is really going on. I suppose we'll not know to the next album comes out!
-Any clips available to download?
Yes certainly. There are clips on www.honeyforchrist.com Also with the whole MySpace.com phenomena we had to keep up, so there are 2 full tracks on there for download, www.myspace.com/honeyforchrist. It's all free so get in there!
-What are your musical influences and what influences Andy when writing a lyric?
Musically we have too many influences!!! Personally I'm a massive My Dying Bride fan, Anathema, Katatonia, In Flames, PJ Harvey, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, varies a lot. Chris is a big early death metal fan, Deicide, Nile plus he loves Dream Theatre, Living Sacrifice, Slipknot, Dearly Beheaded, Pantera and the like. Paul is a bit more of a true metal head, he's well into Judas Priest, Celtic Frost, Venom, Misfits, COC, Down, Slayer, Iron Maiden. He's also into a bit of punk as well. In regards to my lyrics, I can only write about things around me, mostly people. All my lyrics are based on actual experience, a lot from my own personal experience, or those around me. The other guys in the band have an impact on my writing as well. The shit that happens to them effects me and becomes included in my words. Jason leaving had an impact too. Basically it's all real human emotion from what I've seen and felt. Kinda veers more on the negative side of life mostly though, can be a bit depressing really!
-What are your main jobs? Is it hard to find gigs in northern Ireland? Is the scene better now? Are there groupies in northern Ireland?
Chris can't work due to long term illness (lucky bastard!), Paul works as a fork lift driver in a warehouse, I drive a lorry 6 nights a week. gigs in NI are pretty easy to come by, we are close friends with The Distortion Project who arrange the majority of local gigs. It's a pretty close-knit metal community over here, most bands are happy to help the other bands out. NI is a small place though, so it's easy to over-saturate the market so to speak. Yeah, there are groupies everywhere!! NI is no different!!! (That's a good piece of news, I thought real groupies were only left in California...note of Markus).
Line-up on this record:
Official sites: www.honeyforchrist.com
Long Way Down & Rising (demo-CD - 1999)
The Art of Self Abuse and Soul Erosion (demo-CD - 2000)
Forging Iron Will (demo-CD - 2002)
The Darkest Pinnacle of Light (MCD - 2005)