Honduras Talk Opening for Blur, Bartending + The DIY Brooklyn Music Scene
The excitement surrounding Blur's return to New York City for the first time in 15 years is practically uncontainable amongst Britpop fans.
But, it's not just the fans who are excited: The band that is sharing the stage with Blur at the Converse Rubber Tracks Live showcase tonight (May 1) is thrilled and ready to wow the crowd with their gritty rock sounds.
Composed of guitarists and singers Pat Phillips and Tyson Moore, bassist Paul Lizarraga and drummer Josh Wehle, the Brooklyn rockers have been causing a buzz with their two recent EPs -- Morality Cuts and Break -- and are gearing up to release their full-length album, Rituals, in September. Inspired by everything from new wave and krautrock to the CBGB generation and the DIY Brooklyn music scene, Honduras have taken their time to hone in their sound and go from recording their first EP at the Rubber Tracks studio to opening for Blur at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Honduras sat down with Diffuser at the Converse Rubber Tracks before the gig to talk about Brooklyn's influence on the band, the best cure for a hangover, their feelings about being Blur's opening act and who's been calling them for tickets. Check out our exclusive conversation below:
Let's start at the very beginning. What are your first musical memories?
Pat Phillips: Probably when I was like four, my dad had a two-seater car. Me and my sister would ride in it. I would have to sit in the back area without a seat, and I would lay against the speaker. And that was the first time I heard the Cure, Sonic Youth, Tom Petty. That's my first musical memory.
Tyson Moore: I have a terrible memory. But I do remember road trips, and my favorite album as a kid was Beach Boys' Greatest Hits on CD. I listened to that a lot.
Paul Lizarraga: My first memory was probably my mom singing lullabies when I'd go to sleep. Not really rock and roll [everyone laughs], but that was my first actual memory of music.
Josh Wehle: Well, I have a brother who's a bit older, and I just remember being in diapers and stuff and being in our basement and he had this musical equipment set up. He had drums, guitars and bass. The reason I'm on guitars is because of him. I just remember being down there and having all his friends just trash the place and play the loudest craziest music. And instead of being in a sandbox, I was just smashing on s--- as a two-year-old. So I think that definitely did it.
How did the band get together?
Phillips: I guess me and Tyson started making music together in high school. And then we lived in different cities, but we just kept in touch and made music via the internet and tracks and stuff. Then he was in Chicago and then ended up meeting up with me in New York …
Moore: About four years ago.
Phillips: Probably four years ago. I played with Josh and his brother. He was still in high school [then]. And Paulie has been around the Brooklyn music scene.
Moore: When Paulie joined up with us a year and a half ago, it really defined our sound. It kind of completed us. We had a friend who was playing bass, but he wasn't that into it. But I feel like we just got more serious once the four of us were all connected. But yeah, I moved here to meet [Pat] with the goal of starting a band in Brooklyn, doing it DIY and start from the bottom up -- so it's cool.
What's the story behind the band name? I read that you guys have never actually been there, but you've had people from there contact you.
Phillips: I just used to walk the Williamsburg Bridge a lot …
Moore: When we were really broke because we had to walk everywhere.
Phillips: Yeah, and there's this graffiti going from the Lower East Side toward Brooklyn and goes into this steep incline. And it just says, "Honduras Honduras Honduras," like five times all the way up the bridge. And I would just see that every day walking back to Brooklyn. I had been gone for four months. And when I got back and it was around the time we were starting the band, I went for a walk along the bridge for the first time in a long time, and I knew we were going to need to think of band names. It just kind of really caught my attention. And yeah, I threw that name out, and it kind of stuck. It's a place, but it's really us creating a sound. It's not a geographic, specific location.
But would you guys be up for playing a show there one day?
All: Yeah, yeah!
Moore: We actually had gotten contacted before by a girl who's kind of involved in an underground scene there, and she said we could crash with her and stuff. We just had to buy the plane tickets.
Phillips: And Paulie's gotta sort out his passport but yeah.
Moore: I'd be into that even though it would be a little risky.
Phillips: It's just really interesting to see the feedback from the people in Honduras gaining an interest because of the band name. It's a bit unexpected, but it's just been a really cool and rewarding experience and has let us meet people who we wouldn't meet otherwise.
You guys released an EP last year -- what are your plans for a full-length?
Moore: So last year, in February, we released a five-song EP called Morality Cuts, and we did another three-song EP in September. It's called Break. Then we recorded our full-length in November and finished it up in January. It's called Rituals, and it will be out in September of this year. It kind of sucks that it took this long to get it out, but it's just label stuff, you know? But we released the first single for it already, and it's called "Paralyzed."
Phillips: We're just excited to get that out because it's the material we're playing right now.
Before you even got on the bill for the Converse Rubber Tracks show with Blur, you guys have been getting a lot of buzz. What does it feel like starting from scratch and then getting to this point?
Phillips: I was just very enthralled by the DIY Brooklyn punk scene when I was going to shows at Shea Stadium like six or seven years ago. And I just saw bands start from there and then just the opportunity to start a band from the ground up in New York. We're playing big shows. I mean we're playing with Blur tomorrow, and we've never been on a tour for more than two weeks.
Moore: So So Glos are the biggest example of that, they're just the epitome. They're [a band] we look up to for sure with the way they've done it.
Phillips: Brooklyn or just [New York City] in general creates these opportunities to play lots of good shows and allows you to keep honing your craft. And then once the buzz really starts happening, it just spreads from New York. Then you're set up for a tour that's more legit, and your name is going to be out there more.
Lizarraga: And living in Brooklyn gave us opportunities like Converse and introduced us to a lot of different people who have been a really big help for us. It's really been like a family and gave us opportunities like SXSW and [the Blur] show.
Phillips: I think you could have done this like five years ago in Bushwick in our basement, making noise all the time. But I don't think you could do that now -- five years later. Everyone's being priced out. So that's always worrying me about the DIY community and music scene because I don't know where the hell a 20-year-old kid with a s---ty job could move and then start a band in his room, you know? I don't know. It's just getting a little expensive for that to happen, but fortunately we came together at a time where we could still do it.
Lizarraga: Especially being bartenders -- me and Pat are bartenders -- and seeing the changing in the crowds as time has gone by. Before you'd see friends and homies and now it's just like more of a different crew going in, which is good.
How did you end up getting booked to open for Blur?
Moore: Well, we started our relationship with Converse when we recorded our first EP here [at the studio]. And we just stayed in touch with them. We did an in-store show.
Wehle: It's just been a really fortunate relationship we've had.
Moore: And as we've gotten better, we've gotten some great opportunities. At SXSW, we played the Converse + Thrasher [Magazine Death Match 2015] show, which was huge for us.
Wehle: It's been cool. I think ever since we recorded our first song at Rubber Tracks, it's felt like we're part of the family.
Moore: So as far as the Blur show goes, [Converse] pitched us for it [as being one of the bands to have recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks], and Blur selected us, which is crazy. And we can’t be more excited.
How did you react when you first heard you'd be opening the show?
Moore: It was a really funny group message thread.
Wehle: We got an email that sort of started like five steps ahead. It was like, "What is your stage plot," which is usually what you answer before you're about to load in or if you have to figure out what amp they have.
Moore: It was very mysterious.
Wehle: We just told them, "Here, it's very basic. It is what it is." Like everything worked in reverse up until the moment we found out what was actually happening so we cleared all our schedules. Then we wake up and get an email from our manager, and it's like, "Don't tell anyone. Oh by the way, you're opening for Blur on Friday." And even now, I want to pretend I'm playing a wedding [on Friday], some sort of backyard picnic. I don't want to believe that it's a Blur show. It's just too much. The older brother that I was talking about who got me into everything, Blur is his favorite, favorite band. I've just kind of been … I don't know. It seems crazy still.
Lizarraga: I'm a '90s kid so I was huge into NME and Britpop and always into Blur. They haven't played in New York City in 15 years so it's definitely a privilege. It's exciting.
Phillips: We got a lot of texts from people we haven't talked to in years. [Laughs] Paulie had a good one from an ex-girlfriend.
Lizarraga: I had one from a girl I dated for like two weeks in 2011. [Everyone laughs] It's like, "Hey, do you have a spot on your list?" And I'm like ... no response.
If you could help Blur with their setlist, what song would you make sure they play?
Wehle: I would love to hear "Ambulence," I'm a big fan of that song.
Lizarraga: There's no way I could say no to that first wave of Britpop stuff they put out.
Phillips: There's a lot of songs on 13, "Coffee & TV," in particular.
Moore: And they have to play "Song 2" because their fans just go crazy.
Wehle: Yeah, I've been watching a lot of their full concerts on YouTube, and it's incredible to see the crowd response. It's like [snaps] from the first note, people just know. They're that band, you know? So it's going to be really electric and very, very intense.
Phillips: Yeah, because people who love Blur, they really love Blur. They have that kind of fan base. So we're just going to try to keep it short and sweet.
Switching gears just a bit, in previous interviews, for some reason you talk about being hungover a lot. Do you have a good hangover cure?
Phillips: Who said that? Paulie? [Laughs] Um, coffee, V-8 juice, orange juice, water with lemon juice and bitters.
Wow. You have that down to a science.
Phillips: [Laughs] Sorry, yeah, bartender science.
Lizarraga: I just gruel it out and have soda water or seltzer. I think being a bartender is an extra step, on top of being a musician, on how to get your s--- together.
Besides the new album, curing hangovers and opening for Blur, what are Honduras' plans for 2015?
Phillips: We'll be playing some local festivals, the Gigawatts Festival and Bushwick Open Studios. We're sticking around New York for the summer, trying to make some new material, play some shows. But then we'll start touring heavily in the fall, especially when the record comes out.
After performing Converse Rubber Tracks Live on Friday (May 1), Honduras will also be playing with Twin Peaks at Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 2 and the Studio at Webster Hall on May 8. You can stay up-to-date with everything happening in their world at their official website.
About Converse Rubber Tracks
Converse Rubber Tracks is a state-of-the-art recording studio that opened on July 13, 2011 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The studio provides emerging artists with the incredible opportunity to record music in a high-quality studio at no cost.
To learn more about Converse Rubber Tracks and Converse Rubber Tracks Live, visit the studio's official website.