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HONHEEHONHEE: Tearing up the stage with a new name

Posted by Christine / October 20, 2010

Picture_31_2.jpgIf you missed out earlier this month, HONHEEHONHEE will be playing at Le Gainzbar next Thursday night, October 28th. And even better -- it's going to be a Halloween costume party celebrating the launch of their new single. Fans wearing costumes will get a free CD with entry.

But the band has been active this fall, too. On October 2nd, I shambled my little music-lovin' bones down to 3 Minots to see HONHEEHONHEE play an invigoratingly jovial POP Montreal set, rife with old favorites and a few unexpected new tunes.

As an avid fan of phonoaesthetics, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the band formerly known as This Invention Matters had decided to change their name to the playfully postmodern, phonically driven name HONHEEHONHEE. I came to realize that this was not only a new name, but also a new band entirely.

"We had a personnel change just over a year ago," said Greg Halpin. "We began writing different sounding songs in a different way than before. At the time we weren't really thinking about it, we were just excited, but after a year went by we realized the band was different so we decided to make it official."

There's no objective way to pronounce their name, and the band light-heartedly refers to it as "the sound French squirrels make." However, the common pronunciation seems to be "Honey Honey." Personally, I enjoy the name because it vaguely reminds me of the Houyhnhnms from Gulliver's Travels, a book I seem to have covered over and over again throughout my career as a penniless student (though now, all I can recall of what is arguably Swift's best work are my pitifully poor attempts to grasp the proper spelling of Houyhnhnm which always and inevitably resulted in a panicked flurry of a garbled Hs on English exams).

All in all a rather ghastly butchering of the delicate ebb and flow of that phonic masterpiece. Come on, say it out loud. Houyhnhnm. And, so much now the same delight in the word HONHEEHONHEE. It heaves out of the throat like the laboured sigh of an expanding and compressing vintage accordion; its warm sound hushed with the weathering blow of time. Come on, say it out loud. HONHEEHONHEE.

The band performed in jaunty tie-dye shirts, which they later threw into the crowd as tokens of appreciation. Much like the youthful pop of color in their choice of apparel, HONHEEHONHEE's cheerful brand of indie rock permeated the venue, prompting a head bobbing, hand clapping, and foot tapping good time.

HONHEEHONHEE also bestowed a handful of new songs upon the audience. These songs seem to be heavier on the keys with an overall fuller sound, deviating from their folk vibe, and favoring instead ambient and new wave flourishes. Specifically, the new tunes featured rolling drums, layered instrumentals, climactic builds, choppy beats, swirly synths and thunderous, experimental-style crashing sequences.

"Every song we've written over the past year has been written as a band, which means every time we begin a song no one person knows where it's going to end up," Greg explained. "This new songwriting experience is probably at the root of all our unbridled enthusiasm towards the new band."

Of course, HONHEEHONHEE's songs included their always impressive group vocals, which are colored by wonderfully quirky bursts of nonsense 'Oos', 'Ahs' and other, sometimes animalistic, onomatopoeia-inspired song trimmings.

Stefan Fudakowski-Gow elaborated: "Lately, themes of kids and wild animals have been making their way into the lyrics. But our songs, like so many others, are just about walking down a crowded street late at night, spotting a light on in one of the apartments above, finding the door that likely leads to this random party, walking through it and up the stairs and dancing with as many strangers as possible until they become friends."

Most of all, I'm always struck by the warm, familiar attitude that these musicians share with one another.

"I really like the live aspect," said Stefan. "Since we're all quite close, we tend to feed off of each other's enthusiasm when we're on stage. There's nothing more exhilarating than monkeying around for forty-five minutes in front of an audience with the people you love most in life."

In a whirl of POP Montreal madness, HONHEEHONHEE stood strong as a consistently tight, sugary sweet feel-good band, now with a few new tricks up their sleeves. Don't miss their sure-to-please Halloween party next week.

Le Gainzbar
6289 Rue Saint-Hubert
Oct. 28

Photograph by Nic Yakubosky. From left to right: Marc Danson, Erin Halpin, Stefan Fudakowski-Gow, Matt Raudsepp and Greg Halpin.



M, Fudakowska / October 27, 2010 at 03:34 am
Reading this review in Turkey makes me wish I could be at their next concert! Congratulations, HonheeHonhee, keep having fun and making great music!
Marta and Gord
Charles Rand / October 28, 2010 at 04:06 pm
Fabulous new sound and energy. Keep on rockin'.

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