HoneyTrash is a three-piece band based in Boulder, Colorado. Their debut EP, titled “Suit & Tie”, was released on March 18, 2014 and is reviewed below (also featured is an interview with each member of the band). “Suit & Tie”, in their own words, “delivers a distinct, genuine sound that reflects the bittersweet qualities of strength, accomplishment, and loss”.
‘Suit & Tie’ opens HoneyTrash’s EP of the same name with a raw, relaxed vibe. The drums, while incredibly basic, are steady, the distorted guitar in the chorus enhancing the song’s mood in a positive direction. The bass play on ‘Suit & Tie’ (and on the entire EP) is outstanding, with lots of smooth runs, great tone, and stellar placement in the mix. The guitar’s performance and tone is pretty solid overall and grows on the listener from start to finish. I was surprised at how meager the choruses were vocally, as no harmonies or group vocals were included. The addition of other instruments or noises could have certainly been added to enhance the sound. The vocal performance in the first verse could certainly be better; the vocals are very shoddy, and very rarely is the singer on pitch. This is a major issue, as the instrumentalists are right on with their performances and are held back by the poor vocal performance. ‘Hooray’ began right away with no intro, a solid transition from the previous track. The vocals are better here than the previous track, as they stay much more on pitch. There is a very raw, natural feel to the whole track and the story line is easy to follow. A “down” chorus is prevalent throughout the song, with a clean, riffing guitar, and simple bass lines. The instruments pick back up each time the song heads back into the verses. The drums are basic again, changing randomly without any set pattern at times. The bridge is interesting, spicing things up with the addition of a few clashing, dissonant notes; while these notes are forced against each other, the result is surprisingly a positive one. After the third chorus, the bridge repeats, this time with different lyrics and a somewhat different melody (this is more or less how the track ends). The song (and the whole album) features extremely low vocals for a female. I would have expected a much different sound from a female-fronted band; this would have worked better if the vocals were performed spectacularly, but as stated, this was simply not the case. ‘Wicked Woman’ begins similarly to the previous track; while the lyrics the personal, unfortunately the vocal performance reverted back to that of the first song (off-pitch). The guitar and bass are right on, albeit very simple (guitar), the drums again simple (yet foundational and well-played), which makes the poor vocal performance that much more obvious and painful. The chorus lyrics are repetitive and do nothing to further the song’s story line or mood at all. The chorus also contains the first group vocals we’ve heard throughout the EP, yet them seem way too ambient and far back in the mix to matter. The riffing from the guitar is excellent, the instrument play being the highlight of this track and the others on the EP. Absolutely zero high notes are reached vocally, the vocals not ambitious at all, staying in a lower octave throughout the entire song (and album, in fact) leaving so much to be desired. ‘Hey You’ was gritty, the vocals almost Robert Plant-like and thankfully much more on pitch in the verses than on any other section of the EP. The guitar is aggressive, and there is a lot of attitude here (which is what many of the other tracks lacked). The chorus vocals were again error-prone, the lyrics strange and abnormal; what I don’t understand is why the verse vocals were so impressive here, yet begin to falter the second the chorus arrives. There are certainly highlights to this album (the instrument play and tone), yet there were also mistakes that should have been corrected in pre-production. While the simplistic nature of the songs play to the band’s advantage, it doesn’t change the fact that the songs are, when broken down, incredibly basic. The guitarist and bassist can certainly be proud about their work on these tunes, yet it may be time for these members of HoneyTrash to find a drummer and vocalist who can keep up with their skills both production and performance-wise.
Could you give us some insight into the band’s formation? How did you all meet and begin creating and performing together?
“HoneyTrash has humble beginnings. The band was formed by guitar player Ric Miller and vocalist Sierra Ramirez. The two met through work, and after a few conversations about music and creativity, they discovered a mutual interest in classical blues rock. Miller and Ramirez listened to classics like R.L. Burnside, Son House, Junior Kimbrough (and of course The Beatles and The Rolling Stones), as well as modern artists like The Black Keys, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Maps & Atlases. The two began talking music, and the concept of HoneyTrash was formed. Miller and Ramirez began writing songs, completing scratch tracks, and generally laughing a lot. In the early days of HoneyTrash, Miller wrote and recorded guitar, bass, and mixed drum tracks. Ramirez has no musical track record, and focused on developing her vocal and lyrical abilities to compliment Miller’s tenured musical sound. After about six months, the duo realized that if HoneyTrash were to ever become a reality and true project, other artists needed to contribute. They posted an ad on Craigslist for a drummer, believing that a drummer was the foundation of time and melody that the band needed. After several unsuccessful auditions, HoneyTrash met Scott Hill, a life-long musician that had a new drum set and was eager to contribute. After two practices, Hill looked at HoneyTrash and smiled. “you know, at heart I am a bass player.” Miller, without missing a beat, replied “play the f*ckin’ bass then!” HoneyTrash began intensely writing and recording at Scott Hill Studio, and the “Suit & Tie” EP flowed naturally (from then on). HoneyTrash is still actively pursuing a drummer, as the drums on the EP were a session musician performing a one-time gig. They are excited to recruit the newest member of HoneyTrash so that the band can fully perform live.”
Who are your biggest musical influences? Why do these artists inspire you?
“As mentioned previously, HoneyTrash was originally inspired by classic, simple blues music. After listening, again and again, to the greatest blues and rock artists, the band noticed a simple theme, a missing puzzle piece. Many of the great classics speak of heartbreak and wrong-doings, but all from a man’s perspective (granted there are a few females that should be mentioned here such as Bonnie Raitt, Billie Holiday, and Janis Joplin, to name a small few). HoneyTrash aimed to provide a classic female voice that captures the heartbreaks of humanity that are so accurately showcased in classic blues and rock. While HoneyTrash began as a throwback to classic rock and blues, the band has found a sound that is unique, modern, and somehow classically new. Interestingly, many listeners cannot tell the gender of the lead vocalist. “That is exactly the point”, says Ramirez emphatically. “Heartbreak, confusion, and suffering are not gender specific. I know that I have a low voice, and every time someone thinks that the vocals are sung by a man, it reminds me of the larger vision of this band.” HoneyTrash thrives to share the musical representation of hard times beyond class, age, or gender, ensuring the music resounds with everyone in the audience.”
What life experiences and events inspired the writing and recording of your album “Suit & Tie”?
Scott Hill: “I was very inspired by the interaction of Sierra and Ric. They had an established sound and were serious about the HoneyTrash project. When I first began playing and writing with Ric, the music just started flowing. When the three of us began playing on a regular basis, I knew that this was a band that demanded, and exhibited, a lot of effort. As a bass player it was refreshing to have established music that I could play with, and that I had guidance with and could take wherever I wanted. Ric and I started with bare bones (musically), and worked together to build the full sound that is the HoneyTrash “Suit & Tie” EP. I am very excited to have a drummer contribute to this band, as a fourth musician will change the sound of the bass significantly.”
Ric Miller: “HoneyTrash is what I hear in my head, incessantly, all day long. I wish that I had a concise answer to what has influenced me, but honestly, it has just been in my nature for a very long time. I have always felt a connection with North Mississippi Delta blues. I know that HoneyTrash may not follow this genre at first listen, but every guitar riff I play is rooted in the philosophy of this particular style of music. HoneyTrash began with the very simple idea of chord progressions: chord progressions that get lower and lower, signifying a kind of sadness and strength as the sound gets darker and darker. Most importantly, when we first started HoneyTrash, I wanted to f*cking rock, I wanted to perform, and I wanted to create music that was raw and genuine. I feel that we recorded songs that would sound like HoneyTrash playing live: simple, no gimmicks, and something our audience is able to relate to.”
Sierra Ramirez: “I have always been a writer. I write for a living; I have endless notebooks filled with sh*tty poetry and forgotten songs. When Ric encouraged my vocals, I saw an open door. I had this chance to bring my writings to life, to give myself a voice, and to explore a new media. I fell in love with HoneyTrash when I started writing this malicious character (a woman who is haunted by her past, full of suffering and disbelief, but still has the strength to not only flaunt her insecurities and misgivings, but also point a finger at the perpetrator). HoneyTrash inspired me to forget the faults of relationships and admit that every single person carries a great deal of pain with them. HoneyTrash gives me the opportunity to express how stunted I am and how this directly correlates with the men I have been with. I find the sound gives me a medium to release (those feelings) which is very inspiring.”
What can you tell us about the music scene of Boulder, Colorado?
“We have not been too involved in the live performance of the Boulder music community, as HoneyTrash has been focused on recording this first EP. However, Boulder has a rich music scene, as demonstrated by the West Water Outlaws and a great Denver band, Fiction is Fun. HoneyTrash is fresh to the music scene in Boulder, and we hope that we will be taken under the wings of some great local artists. No one in Boulder knows us (something we hope will be remedied by more performances, once we find a drummer), yet HoneyTrash is enthusiastic about breaking into the local music scene, and we are confident that our music will be well-received not only by fans but also by other local bands.”