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Seattle sweetness

By Anne Gardner
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday Feb 1, 2002

Honey Tongue returns to entertain UA crowds

They're back and better than ever.

After a canceled Sept. 11 show, the Seattle-based band Honey Tongue is back on campus, having recently played on the UA Mall.

Steve Gutbub, general manager of O'Malleys on Fourth, 247 N. Fourth Ave., where the band plays tonight, said he is excited to have Honey Tongue back.

"They opened for Warsaw, and I was really impressed by them," Gutbub said. "I talked to Jen Ayers (the lead singer for Honey Tongue), and I said they could come back in the spring."

A fairly new band, Honey Tongue was formed in 2000 when each of the four member's original projects broke up. The current lineup consists of Ayers on vocals and keyboard, Graham McNeill on guitar, Sam Larson on bass and vocals and Darnton Lewis on drums.

"Jen and I were in a groove-based project called Fudora, which broke up because some people were more comfortable in the local setting," McNeill said. "Touring the country was a similar goal for me and Jen. Sam Larson was in a band called First Time Tomorrow, which had broken up for similar reasons and we collided."

Lewis joined Honey Tongue almost immediately.

"We liked that he was a really solid rock drummer," McNeill said. "He was exactly what we were looking for."

Honey Tongue describes its music as "a little melting pot," a style they say is difficult to put into words.

"Our influences don't necessarily describe our music - everyone had a different influence," McNeill said. "There's a lot of groove, a lot of rock and some elemental blues, but it's hard to describe."

Ayers and McNeill are the main songwriters.

"Our lyrics are meaningful. We have something to say," Ayers said. "I'm moved by the things in the world around me."

A major event that has helped shape Honey Tongue's music is the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, the day the band was scheduled to play a show on campus.

"A lot of our music is so applicable to what happened even before Sept. 11," Ayers said. "It's a little overwhelming to realize that a lot of our music responded to what we felt about it."

Ayers said being on the road with the band has helped give her a clearer perspective about what is important.

"People want to take their minds off these things, but they want to feel, too," Ayers said. "We have a responsibility as artists to help people during a time like this."

Since its formation, the band has been touring nationwide for almost a year. The members of Honey Tongue said they believe holding back on recording and opting to tour instead has been a wise choice.

"Bands tend to rush in and then they get better over time," McNeill said. "Touring has allowed us to take more chances and to solidify us before we release an album."

The band worked together with noted producer Brett Eliason (Pearl Jam, Mad Season, Neil Young) to release a self-titled EP with four songs. Its music has received play worldwide and has garnered it the title of one of the Top 10 Indie Bands of 2001 ( as well as a nod for Best New Artist of 2000 from the Seattle Area Music Awards. The band was also selected over 800 bands for a year-long sponsorship from Corona Beer.

Honey Tongue is scheduled to play at O'Malleys tonight at 10.


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