Hi Ryan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Just trying to make it out of 2016 alive. It’s been a rough year for everyone.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Oh No?”
Sure thing. What would you like to know?
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
At the time, a heart-wrenching breakup with someone I loved very much and an uncertainty as to what my future of music making looked like. I wanted to encapsulate those feelings in a song that, on the surface, didn’t vibe that way at all. Pop music!
Can you tell us more about the video?
It was all very accidental. I had a simple idea for Yuumi where she’d be dancing on the beach in Santa Monica in her skeleton suit. I texted her husband Tomoki to please shoot it whenever they had time and send it over. Keep it low key and casual. I was just gonna use it as a promo short on Instagram to push pre-orders and promote our upcoming album release. When they sent me some raw footage, it looked amazing and I figured, what the hell, and sent a whole shot list for them to tackle. Tomoki has a really good eye so I trusted that he’d do something cool. It was a combination of wanting to be surprised by how they shot everything based on just my list, and also not feeling up for the commute from the east side to the beach. I edited the footage, blew out the colors, and then passed it off to my bass player, Kevin, who shot and worked in all the green-screen subtitles and alien dancing. It was a true band collaboration.
The single comes off your new album Use Your Delusion – what’s the story behind the title?
[My guitar player] Cyrus hated the song when I first played it for him, and when I brought in a rough demo he was all, “Oh No! Not this one again!”
How was the recording and writing process?
The recording process was efficient. Cyrus is a master at pushing me forward and we communicate very well. The writing process always kinda sucks. It takes me a long time to write songs. I’m not a musical savant.
What was it like to work with King Cyrus King and how did that relationship develop?
It was a dream. It developed very quickly. We both love working with people who check their creative egos at the door.
How much did he influence the album?
He works very fast and records even faster. I didn’t dwell too much on things that, in the past, I probably would’ve agonized over. He’s also a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist, so tracking ideas moved quickly. All those searing guitar solos, juicy bass-lines, etc. on the album are pure Cyrus magic.
How much room did you have to experiment on this record?
Every record is an experiment. Honestly. It’s an experiment in “can I get this done without quitting first?” Verdict is still out.
Would you call this a direct follow up to your previous project or a total departure?
Sure. It definitely was made in the same area code that I wanted to go with the next Man Man album. At the heart of it all, unless you have someone else writing the songs, lyrics and singing the tunes I can’t escape who I am or what I sound like. You have to be true to yourself, no matter how delusional that self may be.
You brought some very special guests on the record—did you handpick them based on a few particular elements you were looking for or did they randomly start showing up?
Combination. I was in a short film with Mary [Winstead] that my buddy Justin Calton directed called “So It Goes.” I wrote a song for her to sing and have a brief cameo in the piece. The minute I heard her voice, it was no brainer. She lends a wonderful sweetness to the album. With Shannon & the Clams, I’ve always been a fan so I wanted to bring her in for a few tunes. Joe [Plummer] is one of my best friends, and just so happens to be a Mister Heavenly bandmate and killer drummer so it made sense to have him come in and play. He was initially only going to jam on a couple tunes, but he ended up tracking on everything and that’s just the kind of great guy he is. Same with Jon Daly and Casey [Butler] who play sax all over the record.
What did they bring to the table?
Years of perfection, honed to a silent assassin’s skill level. It was really important for me to not only have a talented, interesting diversity of musicians on this record, but also people who are good humans. I’ll take that over a technical impresario any day. I’m just fortunate enough to know people who can do both. They are out there, folks!
What aspect of delusion did you get to explore in this material?
Having a career in music making in this day and age is pure delusion.
What else is happening next in Honus Honus’ world?
The next Honus Honus album is already in the works!
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