Best Pop-Punk Band: Honeychain
FALLING JAMES | MAY 14, 2019 | 9:00AM
If Honeychain ever make it big — a not unlikely possibility considering how catchy their pop-punk songs are — critics will inevitably describe their popularity as an overnight success.
The L.A. trio have drawn increasing attention in the past two years following the recent release of several energetic singles and their 2017 debut album, Crushed, produced by The Muffs’ Kim Shattuck. But the group's roots actually extend back to early 2013, when Honeychain's first recording, the Futura EP, was released. At the time, Honeychain was a one-woman project, with Hillary Burton singing and playing guitar, drums, bass and piano.
"When Kim heard my EP, she's the one who said, 'You should put together a live band to play these songs,' " Burton recalls by phone from her home in Valencia. "We were friends. She was my producer, my mentor, somebody I'd bounce ideas off of. She was at our first show and then became the producer for Crushed."
Like The Muffs, Honeychain slams together power-pop hooks and harmonies with a relentless punk-rock attack. Burton doesn’t necessarily mind when her group is compared to The Muffs. "First and foremost, I think of Kim as a songwriter. Her breadth of songwriting is immense," Burton says. "I think we have similar influences. We both have melodic-pop sensibilities against aggressive-sounding guitars."
The two hit it off so well musically that Burton was invited to join
Shattuck's ongoing revival of the late Paula Pierce's riotous '80s garage-rock band The Pandoras. "They needed a drummer for a tour of Europe in fall 2015," Burton says. "I said, 'I love you guys, so this will be a lot of fun.' I learned a ton of songs." Last year, the duo combined forces as The Grumblers and released "I'm a Sweet Girl," a fuzzed-out pop-rock tune in which they chimed in with sugary harmonies and sarcastic lyrics: "I'm a sweet girl, but I wanna kill all the plastic pop stars."
Honeychain's first show was in May 2013 at the old Chinatown club Roberto's, but the group went through a couple changes before Burton found her ideal lineup with bassist/backup vocalist Andre Tusques (ex–Silver Needle) and drummer Loye Aubrey Jr. (Meka Leka Hi’s). While the band’s Ramones-style pop-punk might seem straightforward on the recent singles "Great Big World" and "289," Aubrey Jr. and Tusques play Burton's deceptively simple songs with finesse and intensity, making Honeychain a true power trio.
Given Burton's own musical prowess and dexterity on several instruments, was it difficult for her to adapt when Honeychain evolved from an autonomous, one-person project into a full band? "There are things I'm super-particular about. I am pretty selfish when I have an idea," Burton admits. "But the level of musicianship of Andre and Loye inspires me in a different way. Because I’m a drummer too, I can communicate what I’m ooking for. Loye will make these drum rolls that stop me in my tracks. Now this opens up new things for me when I’m thinking about song structures. When I'm playing guitar, I’m thinking a lot about the drums as well. We all collaborate together on the final structure. It gives the guys the freedom to really add on their unique take on the song."
Although Burton writes most of the band's originals, Honeychain occasionally remake such unexpected songs as Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Happy House," which they released with a guitar-heavy arrangement as a single in May last year. "I've loved that song forever," she says. In the summer, Spanish label Jarama 45RPM Recs. will put out a new Honeychain song, "Go Away," backed with their version of Material Issue's “Goin' Through Your Purse," which was played by Rodney Bingenheimer on his final broadcast of the Rodney on the Roq show. "We wanted to do justice to it," Burton says about the Material Issue cover. "We wanted two completely different covers that we could put our stamp on."
Burton says that the band are in the midst of working on their next album at Honeychain Studios, which is where the "Great Big World" single was recorded. "It's basically just a room in my house," she admits. "I'm kind of a control freak. I learned how to master and mix. I got a little mad scientist about it. I don't watch television; I don't have these things that suck my
time. I found that my limitation is being able to describe a sound to producers and engineers. I don't know the terminology, but I know what I want to hear."
She ultimately found that it was easier to build her own studio from scratch and teach herself how to work the recording equipment than it was to learn the jargon of studio engineers. "Doing it myself kind of makes up for my lack of knowledge," Burton says. "I'm learning how as I go."
Her father is a guitarist who taught her how to play, but she started as a drummer. "I was literally listening to Gina Schock on headphones and playing along," says Burton, who was born in Anaheim and raised in Long Beach. "I love The Go-Go’s, Blondie, Patsy Cline. A lot of my musical influences were formed by radio, like all the bands I would sneak under my pillow when listening to Rodney on the Roq. I love honky-tonk to punk rock." While still in high school, Burton was part of The Mozells, a garage-rock band who used to play at the Cavern Club in Hollywood. "It was the era when you could take a cassette tape to Rodney," she says.
Burton stopped playing publicly for a long time — "I was more bedroom writing," she remembers — until she performed with Lisa Mychols in the power-pop band Nushu from 2007 to 2010. "Lisa was my best friend in high school. We put out a couple records. We had some stuff on 90210, The Real World and Rock Band for Xbox 360." Her experience with Nushu emboldened her to start recording her own music as Honeychain. While many of Burton’s songs delve into the universal themes of love and jealousy, she took a different perspective in "Violet," from Crushed. "There are parts that are autobiographical, but I tried to put myself in someone else's head. Violet is a beaten-down character. We can all see people around us who are broken down. There are a lot of things we can relate to."
In "Bombs Away," Burton issues a less-than-subtle warning to somebody bothering her: "My left hook, your glass chin, if you keep coming around again." "There's certainly strong imagery that comes through in my songs," she says. "I wanted to convey 'Don’t mess with me.' " She's just as hard on herself as she is on an errant lover in "Great Big World." "It was sort of self-deprecating," she says about the relatively contemplative midtempo song. "You're so dumb and desperate that you're enamored with somebody, but you realize you screwed up."
Burton reverses typical rock & roll gender roles on the 2018 single "289." Instead of waiting by the side of the road for a man to give her a ride, Burton prefers to be in the driver’s seat. "I do love riding motorcycles. I love having a Ducati and the adrenaline rush," she explains. "I used to have a 1965 Ford Falcon Futura convertible, red on red; it had a 289 V8 engine. There's nothing sexier than saying, 'Hey, come into my convertible.'
the hooks come at you non-stop
honeychain, Futura: This one takes a trip to 1979 and wraps Blondie, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, The Go-Go’s and countless other kindred spirits from back in that day around Hillary Burton’s capable hands. The sound nevertheless always remains contemporary. The hooks on this five-song EP come at you non-stop, often launched by pummeling percussion, driving bass and equally hammering guitars.Pop that goes crunch Aug 31 2013
No. 37 on Jack Rabid's top 40 (The Bigtakeover, issue 72)
Jun 5, 2013 | The Big Takeover |
- Even without her Nushu partner Lisa Mychols, Hillary Burton has no problem upholding the brilliant joy, boisterous bubble, and churning power-pop perspiration of the L.A. fab femme duo’s Hula LP (2010) and last year’s Joystick covers EP. Like Joystick only self-penned, her solo FUTURA might be better titled Past; the influences of the early, when-they-were-good Bangs/Bangles, The Muffs, Wednesday Week, and ’60s radio pop still ruled the roost, but with these kind of melodic flurries, meaty riffs, and girl-group drama lyrics, the old dog formula feels forever, not forgotten. Within the cascading voices of the closing “Than You,” there’s even a click in Burton’s voice that compares satisfactorily with Sandie Shaw and Cilla Black, an apprehensive vulnerability/hurt providing catchy contrast to the thicker guitars and crash cymbals bursting like 4th of July sparklers behind her resigned, “No one ever seems to be better for me/Than you. And her jubilant hooks throughout, like the clever kiss-off standout “[You’re] Easy to Forget,” cling like glue traps. More, more, more! (honeychainmusic.com) " - Jack Rabid, Big Takeover Magazine
FUTURA review by Something Else!
Recorded early in the year, Futura was initially intended to be a solo effort by Hillary Burton, who garnered accolades as one-half of the Southern California based Nushu, which also included Lisa Mychols. But shortly after the project was completed, honeychain ballooned into a full-blown band.
A five-track EP, Futura (www.honeychainmusic.com) is a power pop connoisseur’s passport to utopia. Boasting a thick and compact sound, the disc rocks like an earthquake to a vibrant rhythm charge.
Fired by sugar-ingested energy, cuts such as “Two Fools,” “Easy To Forget,” “The All-About-Me Girl” and “Lucky One” (featuring Lauren Doran and Christina Ownby on harmonies) kick the listener in the head and in the gut first time around. Buzzing guitars intertwined with hills of hooks and fresh and fluid vocals make the songs immediately memorable. The final tune on the record, “Than You” is performed at a slower tempo, but still retains a fetching edge.
All songs, which speak of challenging relationships in a most emphatic manner, were written by Hillary. She further sings lead on all the tracks and plays all the instruments, allowing Futura to share her numerous talents.
Forceful, lively and pop rocking to the core, here’s a disc sure to satisfy those appreciative of a good beat. Shades of the Ramones, Blondie, and the Knack regularly rise up through the grooves, but the attitude and delivery of the songs rest in the present.
The only problem with Futura is that it’s only an EP, giving us just a quick earful of greatness. But that will soon change, as we can certainly expect more cool stuff from Honeychain in the days to come. Utterly excellent!
a power pop force to be reckoned with
- honeychain is the current project helmed by the multi-talented Hillary Burton, late of the L.A.-based power pop outfit Nushu. On "Futura," honeychain's debut 5-songer, Burton steps out and handles everything (vocals, guitar, bass, drums and piano) herself, save for backing vox on one song. In lesser hands, this DIY approach could have come off as little more than a stilted vanity project, but Burton's instrumental and vocal prowess, the spirited performances, and her uniformly excellent tunes all gloriously transcend the stereotypical "one woman band" label and prove her to be a power pop force to be reckoned with. (Sound-wise, it's not unlike the Go-Go's hanging out in the garage with the Muffs, with the Ramones looking on approvingly.) Each of the five tunes of "Futura" is a hook-filled treat, with the sugar-sweet melodies, spiky guitars and brisk pace of "Easy to Forget" and "Lucky One" sitting nicely alongside moodier numbers such as the romantic "Two Fools" and the deeply personal "Than You," which is highlighted by an explosive, swirling chorus. The leadoff track, "The All-About-Me-Girl," pulls off the difficult feat of sounding simultaneously sing-songy and tough, with Burton's grinding guitar and insistent kick drum helping to power the aural kiss-off. "Futura" is an outstanding first step for Hillary Burton and honeychain, and definitely leaves the listener wanting more. John M. Borack
Highly Recommended by Powerpopaholic
- honeychain “Futura”EP
honeychain is the solo project of Hillary Burton from the band Nushu, and the first thing you notice is the fuzzier and heavier guitar sound of “The All-About-Me Girl.” Burton’s clean mutli-tracked vocals keep the melody together and make it closer to the rock of Jana Peri or Joan Jett, without the growl. “Easy To Forget” is a highlight as the melody here really sticks, and the fast paced rhythm and climbing baseline hooks you. “Two Fools” is a catchy break-up tune with some great minor chord shifts that keep you wanting more, thankfully one slower tempo song, “Than You” allows us to catch our breath and ends in an echoing finale. Overall an excellent EP that proves Hillary’s sweet vocal can deliver rock and roll spice.
Written on February 26, 2013 by powerpopaholic in Highly Recommended by Powerpopaholic, Power Pop Review
Feb 22, 2013 | Kenosha News |
- honeychain, “FUTURA” (Honeychain Music) www.honeychainmusic.com If you’d handed me this CD and told me that Belinda Carlisle from 1982 had time traveled to 2004 to record with Green Day, who were on a break from recording “American Idiot,” I’d have believed you. Though Honeychain is now a full-fledged band, at the time these tracks were laid down, it was multi-instrumentalist Hillary Burton’s solo effort. This CD’s first single, “The All-About-Me Girl,” is already making inroads on the radio. Legendary L.A. disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer has seen fit to spin it on his influential KROQ show. Burton serves up four slices of unforgettable power pop, before ending this EP with the somber “Than You,” which proves to be the aural equivalent of every heartbreak John Hughes ever filmed. Wonderful.
FUTURA review by Shockpop!
Jan 22, 2013 | Shockpop! |
- Shades of Shangri-Las! Torn from the past and brought with loving care into the present ... "honeychain" adds that satisfying crunch of power (pop) chords and vocal panache that the "futura" of the genre demands!
"honeychain" is the new solo project of multi-talented singer/songwriter Hillary Burton!
"Futura" is a rollicking good time from start to finish! Excellent cure for those gloomy days of Winter ... What you need is a healthy dose of California sun in the shape of "honeychain"!
You guys should be hugging this honeychain EP like a well-loved teddy bear
Jan 20, 2013 | Pure Pop |
- You guys should be hugging this honeychain EP like a well-loved teddy bear. It's that good. "The All-About-Me Girl" and "Easy to Forget" simply slay me, they're such good pop songs, expertly played and sung. And the closer, the anthemic "Than You," is a strong case for playing this EP out to full-length status