Photo credit: Frankie Elliot @fronk.pictures
Honeybadger is comprised of a young vibrant trio featuring Eddy Widdows (lead singer, guitar) brother Joe Widdows (drums) and savvy bass player Luca Brett-Smith.
Their cleverly animated music video, Hyaline lends a modern approach to their sound.
Here’s our latest interview with the band talkin’ bout their generation of music & games:
1) How would you describe the sound of Honeybadger?
The Nirvana comparisons are probably the most common particularly with Eddy's haircut!
Joking aside, the strong chemistry in the Honeybadger family lends to our high energy mix of punk and grunge that speaks to the frustration facing us as a generation. We would say we make rock music with heavy punk and grunge influence. We make tunes to lose yourself to, whether on the road or in the moshpit - we always keep the energy levels set high. We write songs to jam out to and our ethos is about not taking things too seriously and having some fun with it! We've crafted a wild and heavy sound for a three piece, with distorted guitars and bass that drive the harmonies and lightning drumming that propels you right to your feet!
2) Who or what influences you and your band's writing?
Nirvana is definitely a big one for us as mentioned earlier but we also take heavy influence from early Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, White Stripes and Slaves who were all ever present during our youth. As we've matured, we've begun to listen to more and more different types of music, in particular Joe (the drummer) and I are big reggae and dub fans. While perhaps not directly influenced by this, we all have a range of genres we listen to such as jungle/drum & bass, rap and soul (amongst many others) which definitely have some smaller influence than our more obvious rock counterparts. One of this is an (as of yet) unreleased track where Joe raps most of the second verse, so I like to think we take the best bits from everywhere and try and see what fits with the Honeybadger sound.
3) How do you see the role of music in video games both as a gamer and from an artist perspective?
For us obviously music is important in any media we consume, but particularly in games it can completely change the experience and the emotions felt when playing. It's often the thrilling games with fast energy and heavier music that tend to pull us in more by creating excitement that keeps us locked in. It's crucial to building whatever atmosphere the game is trying to create, but we feel it's something people can underplay in terms of its importance within the gaming space. For example, I guarantee anyone reading and interested in video games can think right now of their favourite soundtrack or theme from their favourite game/s, or within their favourite memories of different games. Sound is incredibly important in placing you into the world of the game, and when the quality of the music or sound effects is poor it can drag you out of the experience way quicker than poor graphics can, in my opinion at least. It's so important in creating that suspension of reality and immersing yourself into the game and the world.
4) The Honeybadger animated music video for Hyaline is brilliant! What led to the inspiration?
Well originally, we were going to film a music video in the Brighton area but due to the lockdown in 2020 we had to decide to either fully animate or scrap it for the foreseeable future as we couldn't meet each other or the director of the project due to the restrictions. We knew we wanted at least part of it animated but we were excited when the artist, our good friend Tristan Flear, offered to animate the whole thing. It took nearly a year to complete and was totally worth it - watching it grow frame by frame was a magical process for sure and we can't be more grateful to Tristan. At Honeybadger we really appreciate the other arts and we try to reflect this with our single art so far where each time we have commissioned something from a local artist. Art is at its best when it transcends a singular medium to create a better experience, like how music supports the visual aspects of film or games to create an experience you wouldn't get without it and we try to take that approach with our releases where we can. We also love supporting our friends and working together to inspire each other in our respective art forms and make the experience of creating art more enjoyable. It's also about supporting your fellow creators financially as we're all struggling out here!
Check out the Official music video, Hyaline here:
5) What kind of games are you drawn to and tell us some of your fav videogame soundtracks, vintage and current!
I (Luca) tend to play story or single player games which usually have more of a focus on atmosphere and setting and therefore more thought put into the sound design than your typical multiplayer shooter, for example. My favourite game soundtrack might have to be for the Zelda series and specifically Twilight Princess - it was one of my first games growing up and the game is rich with a feeling of adventure and curiosity that keeps you pushing on to the next dungeon or area. The orchestral soundtrack takes you on an emotional journey that perfectly captures the themes of darkness and despair not often present in Zelda games up to that point, as well as the sense of freedom gained from exploring the different landscapes. Another classic are the Fallout games which often feature a post war 50s Americana theme accompanied by blues and swing jazz pieces from that era. In particular New Vegas is notable for its dedication to the Vegas setting, with one of its radio stations hosted by "Mr. New Vegas" voiced by Wayne Newton the popular Vegas performer also known as "Mr. Las Vegas" - his performance lends a certain air of authenticity gained from someone who has experience in showbiz especially of that time. The tracks help bring you into this alternate history where culture as we know it essentially halted leaving only remnants of the old world. Tracks such as "Blue Moon" by Frank Sinatra and "Johnny Guitar" by Peggy Lee create a sense of awe exploring the decrepit ruins of the Mojave Desert and a certain sense of unease when traversing the seedy, dingy casinos of New Vegas.
Joe & Eddy - We're both drawn to high focus high energy games, starting way back with Jak and Daxter X on PS2 and Mario Supercharged Football on the Wii. These both had soundtracks full of punk, hard rock and metal tunes that get your adrenaline going and make victory that much sweeter! We're also both big fans of the FIFA series (Luca included) but more recently we feel the soundtrack has been becoming more and more mainstream and predictable. The songs these days don't match that high energy vibe anymore and instead they pander to the widest possible audience.
6) As a live performance artist, would you ever consider a virtual concert and how can the video games space take live music forward in light of the new landscape? Are we there yet?
We're always excited to explore new ways to perform as artists, and I think that virtual gigs definitely have their place in the music ecosystem. I don't think it will become a replacement for live events by any means, but it could be a great way to explore lots of new music in one setting. For example, with a music festival that streams online you could have several stages simultaneously running so people can flick through and find something they like without having to trek across a field or spend insane amounts of money on booze! I think it will work best as a discovery tool for artists as a more casual listening experience but we still have a way to go. The biggest events so far have been held on Fortnite, which meant that the whole phenomenon takes a backseat as a piece of special bonus content when compared to the primary focus of the Battle Royale mode. There's no denying the popularity of that event, but there's a reason it has not become a regular fixture in the Fortnite space so I would like to see an event where the true focus is on a virtual experience detailing a wide range of acts. But as a promoter I would potentially consider the cost of a virtual concert as I don't believe you could charge nearly as much with live events - though many production costs may be saved anyway so it could all balance out.
7) What are some games that do a good job of curating music?
The recent release Cyberpunk 2077 was lambasted (justifiably) for a variety of reasons after its janky release but something I feel got overshadowed was its approach to music. As well as an amazing OST that fits with the cyberpunk theme, they also decided to hire lots of different artists across several genres to make a track for the game, with some of the bigger names included as characters in the game with optional side quests you can interact with. I thought this really worked as it meant that the artists got to create a unique and interesting track that they feel fits in this universe which is way more engaging than picking a song for a licensed soundtrack (nothing wrong with that though!), and the consumers got to experience a well-rounded soundtrack that fit the game's themes perfectly and had some really good songs on it to boot! It gives the artist creative freedom to make something that's a part of a bigger cohesive world/project and gives the game a wider reach when these different artists all bring the game to their various audiences. Hearing a track written for the game world of Cyberpunk whilst playing creates a completely new experience for me - it just feels so natural when hearing tracks designed for the world of Night City and better than if we had (for example) a random West Coast rap tune that spoke of Compton and Long Beach and other places that wouldn't exist in the game. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking licensed tracks, for example the games in the GTA series are a great example of song licensing across a variety of genres that provide a brilliant range of tracks for everyone to experience while still keeping to the whole gangster aesthetic - but there's just something more special about a song written specifically for the game. And again, it increases the range of artists used - most GTA V radio songs these days are chart toppers and fairly safe picks, whereas Cyberpunk took a risk in creating new songs using a few big-name artists as well as many more underground artists that are just as talented and again create that unique product.
8) Tell us about your new single
This one is a blinder that we wrote in only a couple of sessions and we're so excited for everyone to hear it. Like we mentioned earlier Honeybadger is all about the energy and we were trying to write something that speeds you along at breakneck pace - and we think it does just that. Following up in a similar vein to our last single "Take Me Away" we wanted to write more tunes that have that electric energy that get the crowd going for our live shows - and it sure delivers on that front.
9) What can video games do to stay fresh with the music?
Video games need to more actively engage musicians and artists in the music space to create better experiences for the consumer. Whether it be licensing new and exciting tracks or commissioning new ones for your game it's important to include the smaller artists as well as your familiar favourites to really expand on the sounds we hear in games today. Using obvious tracks used in 100s of other games certainly works but lends to a certain tackiness when thrown up against games who clearly take great care in curating the soundtrack of a game. And no one wants to hear a popular track that's just been recycled into a mainstream game for the sake of ease - devs need to visualise what themes/genres they're going for and seek out the unique artists who can bring their game to life.
Honeybadger’s next gig will be in London at the The Beehive – Bow
More info and purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/underground-sound-presents-the-beehive-tickets-367451145267?aff=Honeybadger
And via Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/571679817650059 .
Honeybadger’s new track, Change Your Mind drops on October 7th and will be available on all streaming platforms and available to purchase on the iTunes store.
Produced by Paul Winstanley. @paulwinaudio
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