Meet The Cute Boys Behind this Independent, 'Dreampunk' Band
Honduras‘ sound may be hard to label—swaths of Mancunian guitars, fuzzy vocals, and heady drums signal to all sorts of post-punk, garage, and indie rock bands—but their infectiousness is not. The interplay between Tyson Moore and Paul Lizarraga’s guitar and bass lines drive through the mix like nails, and are hammered home by Josh Wehle’s breakneck drumming. And while Patrick Phillips’ half-sung, half-spoken lyrics can hint at depression, they’re delivered with a wink and a smile, an assurance that it’s all in good fun.
This fun-loving attitude bleeds into their performances. Opening for alt-rock duo The Helio Sequence, their set at Baby’s All Right last month looked to be polite: the bar lights weren’t fully dimmed; the crowd, a mix of cool dads and patchwork teens, was still trickling in; and their set was pushed up to a decidedly-not-punk 8PM time slot. But, by the end of the 30-minute set, those drawbacks were all afterthoughts—the band members, and the audience, were absolutely drenched in sweat. Toe-tapping just didn’t suffice.
Legitimized by the success of friends and frequent tourmates Sunflower Bean, Honduras seems poised for a breakout. They’re afforded an amount of creative control that’s hard to come by in 2016, self-releasing their latest EP, Gathering Rust, and touring sans label. Even the band’s music videos are created in-house, fueled by Wehle and collaborator Danny Dwyer’s creative vision. Since its inception five years ago, Honduras has continuously redefined their sound, eventually establishing their own genre tag, “dreampunk,” that’s defined by hazy guitars that cut through the clouds. I caught up with Honduras at Lucky Dog in Williamsburg to talk about band names, Elvis impersonators, and why a fully-loaded sock drawer is essential.
I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but where does the band’s name come from?
Patrick Phillips: When the band was starting, I walked the Williamsburg Bridge a lot into Manhattan to get to work. There’s this graffiti along the bridge near the Lower East Side that goes downward and says “Honduras.” And just that word and the graffiti stuck with me when it came time to pick a name. The graffiti is still on the bridge. It’s kind of nice to walk past it and know that’s where the name comes from.
So you picked it mostly because of the sound of the word?
PP: I kind of wanted an abstract name of an unfamiliar place. To make a new meaning from that, by adding a sound and aesthetic.
“For us, choosing the country, we didn’t want any negativity. The name has started conversations about why it was called that, but basically I just wanted it to be an abstract term.”
So one of my favorite rock bands was Women. And then, after they broke up, some members went on to form Viet Cong, and there was huge controversy about their name. They’re not women, they’re not from Vietnam. You all are not Honduran. Do you have any thoughts on that type of controversy?
PP: If you’re gonna have that conversation, you’re gonna talk about bands like Joy Division, which was a Nazi sex camp. You’re gonna talk about Gang of Four, which was a Chinese Communist party rebel force. And then the name Viet Cong—those are all names that could be offensive. For us, choosing the country, we didn’t want any negativity. The name has started conversations about why it was called that, but basically I just wanted it to be an abstract term. It made sense to call it a place that we weren’t familiar [with], so that people could come to ask why and figure it out for themselves. And it’s cool that the name has allowed people of Honduran descent, particularly teenagers from the Bushwick area, to come to our shows and connect with us because of that.
Your sound has been compared to rock bands from the late ’90s and early 2000s, and, when I’ve traveled to Latin America, there seems to be more of a market for rock with that nostalgic appeal.
PP: Definitely. For us, starting out, one of the main bands that we were really into was a garage rock band from Peru called Los Saicos. They’ve got a record called Wild Teen Punk from Peru 1965, and that was a huge basis for our band. Liking them, seeing the “Honduras” graffiti, and being inspired by that music.
Cool. I didn’t mean to grill you with that question.
PP: No, no—we should answer those questions.
Tyson Moore: It’s actually good to talk about our name, because we get a lot of positive response from people from Honduras. Like randomly, on Twitter, someone will just be like, “I found you because of the name.” But we’ve also gotten random negative comments, people just not understanding. So it’s nice to be able to try and explain ourselves from our point of view, and not just have this disconnect.
What was the concept behind the “Hollywood” music video?
Josh Wehle: I like the eerie old Hollywood aesthetic. What it means to be a celebrity, these sort of idolized figures, and just contrasting that with the shittiest open mic you could imagine. It was an amazing production because these dudes are professional impersonators. Finding them alone was a one-month process of weeding out the people who were clearly murderers, or the ones who wanted five grand for a day of work. I couldn’t be happier with who we found. It was really fun to play with how surreal we could make it.
PP: Two days after we shot “Hollywood,” the character that played Elvis showed up to one of our shows with his girlfriend in normal person attire. It was cool to meet him at the show. He busted through the security. He didn’t give two fucks.
JW: Like he snuck backstage somehow. I’m sure he said to security, “I’m Elvis.” I showed him a really rough cut of the video, and he teared up. He really had an emotional reaction. He held me by the shoulders and was like, “Thank you.” And then he disappeared forever.
The “Paralyzed” music video also takes place in one location. The lighting in both videos is very eerie.
JW: Yeah, we went to this weird sex hotel in New Jersey. That place was dark. They charged by the hour.
Was it still running?
JW: Oh yeah. We were considering whether or not we should tell them that we were going to film, because that’s a slippery slope. So we opened the door and around 15 of us filed in, shut the door, and didn’t leave for 12 hours until the video was over. And, peeping through the windows and stuff, you saw shady businessmen pulling up. Girls walking from room to room to room to room. Just horrible. But… amazing set. Overall, great experience.
Do you have another video planned for the EP?
JW: Yeah, we’re going to do one for “That Old Feeling.”
You’re drumming up ideas?
JW: [Nods] Drumming up ideas.
TM: We haven’t heard anything yet.
JW: That’s how it works. That’s what I did when I worked for Fool’s Gold Records, so I have a nice background in video. It’s fun to combine all my interests.
PP: And it’s fun to have control over our videos. To have that ability to fully execute it. We don’t have to hire people, or ask a friend to do it, we can just do it from beginning to end. It’s our own vision. We’re kind of that way in a lot of ways. We did our own website. We self-released our EP. We’re going on a tour right now without a record label. It’s cool in 2016 to have so much creative control over your art.
Pat, I saw you made a list for the best fashion looks in NYC. So what drives your look? What are you wearing?
PP: Well, I got this button-up for three dollars in Evansville, Illinois. I mean, I have my own individual style, but I also have a girlfriend who is a stylist. She definitely gives me some things that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
But I don’t know how I got picked for Time Out’s list. Like, this t-shirt I’m wearing was left by Paulie in the van. I didn’t know whose shirt it was, and I was smelling it at work yesterday. It had this… man musk that’s not mine. And I thought, maybe this is what it feels like dating a man. [Shrugs] I didn’t mind it.
Paul Lizarraga: That band grime.
Any fashion tips?
JW: Extra socks. Oh my God. Gearing up for this June tour: one pair of pants, one t-shirt, duffel bag of socks.
I heard the difference between a kid and a man is going from being upset that you got socks as a gift to being overjoyed.
JW: I mean, we put socks on our tour rider. We spent a long of time curating the list. Whiskey, blah blah blah, and then, in all caps, “SOCKS”… No one gave us a single pack, man.
Stay tuned to Milk for more musical fashion tips.