“There’s nothing you can really hide in a two piece, especially live,” says Suck The Honey frontman Lucas Frazier. “When it comes down to it, a good song is a good song.”
Good songs are what Suck The Honey specialise in. Formed late last year in Cincinnati by Frazier and drummer Jake Grove, the band only played their first show in November. But debut album All Hail Having Failed is as solid a collection of snarling rockers and melancholy ballads as anything you’ll hear this year.
From the disturbed folk of album opener Love The Best — which sounds like the kind of thing Kurt Cobain might have written in the wake of Nirvana’s haunting cover of Where Did You Sleep Last Night? — to the furious, sinister rocker Bite Yr Tongue, it’s an album filled with violence and tension.
It’s also an collection that never loses sight of melody at the expense of the dynamics. They Want Meat would be a throwaway thrash it weren’t attached to the kind of chorus The Buzzcocks used to write, while the title track is a swaggering, bible-black beast of a song. Throw into the mix Frazier’s voice, which has the sneering tone of a midwestern Johnny Rotten but soars when required, and you’ve got something that’s more than just another guitar-drums duo churning out fat riffs without much thought as to where the rest of the song is going.
“I don’t know if any rock’n’roll act can really, truly be unique anymore,” says Grove. “We are all playing things we’ve heard someone else do, and that’s what’s inspired us. What makes Suck the Honey different is dynamics, lyrics, and a live show that leaves nothing on the table. We will make an audience believe there is a five-piece band with volume and then drop it down to a whisper in an instant. Look to our album title, and you’ll understand the mindset of our lyrics and we completely embrace that. With live shows the goal is for us to be ready to pass out or throw up by the last tune.”
How did the two of you meet up?
Jake: We originally hooked up in our old band, Pop Goes The Evil. I had seen Lucas’s previous band’s last performance and was floored with his stage presence. When I heard through a friend that PGTE was quietly looking for a drummer I harassed him with my previous recordings until he gave me an audition. We’ve been together ever since for better and worse.
How would you describe yourselves to an alien?
Lucas: Hey, Alien. We are what’s known as “dudes”. We use these devices called “instruments” and our bodies to convey our “feelings” via loud sounds. You should try it sometime. Please don’t destroy our planet.
Why are there so many two-piece bands around at the moment?
Lucas: I think popular music has gotten to the point where the formulaic over-produced approach is getting more and more obvious every day. It would seem the resurgence of the two piece rock band comes from a desire to strip away all the excess. Maybe you can add to that and make it better, but I’d rather write a better song than an okay one I feel needs something else to make it reach its full potential.
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It’s sounds to us like there’s a punky, British influence in your music. What’s going on there?
Lucas: I’m glad you said that. I think one of the hardest things for a musician to do is describe their music to someone else and be satisfied with their description. I believe the sound and style of the songs we write comes from a lifetime of listening to music and drawing from what we’ve loved whether it be a conscious act or not. HOWEVER, to actually answer your question. I, in particular, am a huge fan of early Sabbath, Marc Bolan, Arctic Monkeys, and most recently Royal Blood. I also play Orange amps which is a classic British tone. Love it.
All Hail Having Failed is available to pre-order from Bandcamp. Limited edition vinyl pressings will be available from Romanus Records on September 30. Suck The Honey play the WTF Festival at Discher Park, Horicon, Wisconsin on September 16, and are holding an album launch party with Brother O’ Brother at MOTR in Cincinnati on September 23.