The Underground Sounds Of America: Dirty Honey
These Los Angeles hard rockers don’t need no stinkin’ label to land a #1 single on the Billboard charts.
It’s been one hell of a ride for Dirty Honey. The LA-based hard rock quartet have gone from the underground phenom to chart-topping rock stars, all on the back of their diligent work, DIY ethos, and refusal to compromise their sound. The result? The band became the first-ever unsigned act to top Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart with their single When I’m Gone, and kicked off the month by playing two shows as openers for Guns N’ Roses.
“Aw, man, obviously that was a dream come true for any young rock band,” says frontman Marc LeBelle. “I think right now, it’s GN’R, AC/DC, Metallica, Aerosmith, and the Stones -- they’re all on their own level. Those are the biggest gigs you can get.”
What’s especially interesting about Dirty Honey is that in a world where everyone seems focused on the next big thing or the flavor of the hour, a band playing old-school rock’n’roll can conquer the world without any help from a label. Which begs the question: what is it about Dirty Honey’s music, straightforward and earnest as it is, that has vaulted them above so many other bands trying so hard to make it?
“I think the rock format got really stale,” says Marc. “It got Pro Tools-ed to death, and that’s not what we’re about. That’s not how we recorded. We recorded live, in a room together, and I think you can feel that. It has a rawness to it, and a throwback familiarity while still feeling fresh. It has a lot of qualities that the great classic rock records have, but also still sounds somewhat knew -- it’s four young kids doing their thing on a record. It’s never going to sound exactly like anything else, but it’s guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. I just think people are ready for rock’n’roll again.”
“I just think that without, shitting on anybody specifically, the sound of the music got too polished,” Marc continues. “There was no soul in any of it. The vocal performance is autotuned, the guitar solos don’t even really exist anymore… We got into this radio-friendly format of recording that lost all its soul. When you get people with personality in their playing, you want that to shine through.
“We worked with a producer that really tried to make us really radio-friendly, and we listened back to the record and said, ‘We fucking hate this,’” says Marc with a laugh. “‘It doesn’t have any personality. It’s not us.’ That was a big part of it. Back in the old days, I used to know every band member’s name, because I could pinpoint Joe Perry’s guitar playing versus Brad Whitford’s guitar playing. I can’t tell that with a lot of modern bands today.”
Catch Dirty Honey live at one of their upcoming shows:
13 — Sacramento, CA, Holy Diver
14 — Fresno, CA, Strummers
16 — San Diego, CA, Voodoo Room @ House of Blues
22 — Los Angeles, CA, The Troubadour