Lunacy and apiculture...


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 Also with the whole phenomena we had to keep up, so there are 2 full tracks on there for download, 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).

-Were your parents musicians as well?
No, not at all. My folks are more sport driven, although my dad is an enormous music fan, Dire Straits, Crosby Stills, Pink Floyd etc. Some of which I have subsequently got into myself! I think Chris's dad used to play guitar a bit, but no direct musical genetics for any of us!

-Who were the best acts you played with live and who'd you like to play with one day?
For me, My Dying Bride was the best, great band, my fave! I'd love to play with Motley Crue, I reckon that would be a blast, plus they're heroes of mine anyway! Not sure what the other 2 guys would think of this though!

-Do you prefer a club or a festival?
I prefer a club everytime. It's more personal, I love playing when the crowd is really in your face, close to the band sharing the sweat, volume the whole heap!! I love it!

-What would you do if you lost your voice on stage? Would you interrupt the show or play instrumentally till the end?
I think if I lost my voice on stage we would continue instrumentally to the end. If I lost if before a show, we would have to cancel.

-What countries did you play in and where did you have the best responses live and zine-wise?
Unfortunately we haven't managed to play outside Ireland and the UK. Done a lot of shows in N. Ireland and the South, and quite a bit in England, but that's it. Finances constrain the European ventures I'm afraid. Although there is talk of European dates next year, time will tell. Live, best response, probably the first time we play anywhere. People never really know what we are gonna be like, so it's nice to see faces change once I start to sing and we all get our heads down on stage!!! Playing England the first time was great, watching a crowd head bang to a band not from their country and not knowing a single tune and loving it! Zine wise, it really varies. The Greek and Italian seem to really get the band, the same with Portugal. This time the USA have been more into us, the Amercian mags have never really been a fan of HFC over time. The Germans are hit and miss too, some really like it, some really don't! I like the fact that with the latest release people tend to look at it with a predominantly positive view or the complete reverse. HFC are a band you either like or you don't, there's no real middle ground. I think a lot of the better bands around are met with that scenario.

-Is it possible to see you in Italy or do we have to expect long?
I would love to say definitely, but that would be lies. We are still mostly self financed and self contained, all contacts are ones we have made and have no management or tour organizers etc. we organize all our own tours and promotion. That said we became good friends with English doom band The Prophecy. They tour Europe a lot and we have talked about coming along with them in future European ventures which would be fucking fantastic, but we'll have to see.

-What are your next plans for 2006?
Well, there's not much of it left, and we've been pretty busy this year already. We have The Prophecy coming over this week for a Northern Ireland tour which I arranged, just a few dates but it should be great! That aside, just concentrate on new material and refining our sound some more.

-What is your goal for the band in the next 3 years?
We HAVE to get into Europe, most of our Cd sales are still UK based, which is great but I feel HFC would appeal to the European metal fans more than the USA so to speak. So we will tour Europe hopefully next year, but definitely in the next 3! We also need a full album which we're in the process of writing. I have a lyrical concept in mind already and am working on it all the time. It's a slow process, we're very critical of our stuff, and don't wanna just churn out anything just to have an album, it has to be to a certain standard that all 3 of us are happy with.

-Andy, a heap of thanks for this clarifying conversation! Don't hesitate to use all the place you need to add something important to the fans or those who don't know you yet!
Thanks a million for your support! We really appreciate it. I think we have covered everything! I hope I haven't gone on too much! Basically to those who haven't listened to Honey For Christ come and take a look at out website or myspace and check out some tunes, it's for real metal fans who love their music honest and real, born from a passion for metal and what it represents, emotion, passion, honesty, aggression, despair, something most people don't understand. You won't like it if you're not into your music 100%, it's not an easy listen.

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - August 10th 2006

Line-up on this record:
Chris, d.
Paul, b.
Andy, g./v.

Official sites:

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)