Dirty Honey’s Marc Labelle Talks About His Dirty Mind, A Roller Coaster 2023, And What To Expect From The New Album.

We are just on this out-of-control rock n roll train that is off the tracks and we don't know where it's going, but we're down for the ride. It's...

 

Interview by: Mark Lacey

 

It’s been little over a year since Dirty Honey played their debut shows in the UK, performing at Download, and an intimate headline club show at the Oslo in East London. Following those explosive performances, their meteoric rise has seen no bounds, as they continue to win support across both sides of the pond for their energetic live shows. Their barnstorming set supporting GNR at Hyde Park this summer represents another huge milestone for a band whose star burns as bright as ever.

“Can’t Find the Brakes, to me, is pretty descriptive of what our life is right now. We are just on this out-of-control rock n roll train that is off the tracks and we don’t know where it’s going, but we’re down for the ride”.

 

MGM: It’s been a pretty whirlwind year for Dirty Honey; you’ve done a UK tour, you’ve been all over the Europe and the US, you’ve been out with Guns N Roses and Bush, you’ve got a new drummer and now you’ve got a new album. From the outside, it looks like a complete roller coaster. Does it feel like that for you?

Marc: Yeah, kind of. That’s why the title of the record was ‘Can’t Find the Brakes’. It was a song that we wrote in the studio, and it’s a song about a girl living a life of addiction and not wanting to stop. When it came around to finding a good album title, that was something that resonated with me. But for a different reason ‘Can’t Find the Brakes’, to me, is pretty descriptive of what our life is right now. We are just on this out-of-control rock n roll train that is off the tracks and we don’t know where it’s going, but we’re down for the ride. It’s like a roller coaster that’s out of control as well.

MGM: You’ve played a lot of dates in the last year and it must seem like you’re moving from place to place; constantly living out of hotel rooms, suitcases and the back of a tour bus. Are you actually able to take any of it in?

Marc: Yeah, I think there’s definitely those milestones shows; like the Hyde Park one. That was great. There’s a handful of other ones that really resonate with you, and you try and take a moment for yourself to appreciate it, but it is hard. I genuinely haven’t been home for more than two weeks at a time this entire year. That part is sort of tough, but we do like it as well. We played with Guns N Roses on Tuesday night, and the rest of the band flew home to California on Wednesday, and me and one of my crew guys, we flew to New York City because we’re playing in Philadelphia tomorrow. You’re living out of a suitcase. And this little run that we’re on right now, it’s really fun and the shows are great and we’re obviously out with Guns N Roses who are one of my favourite bands of all time. But yeah, it’s not a very efficient travel schedule.

MGM: You’ve mentioned the album title and the roller coaster that it represents. But how do you and the band normally go about putting songs together? Do you start with a jam or lyrical idea? How does it work?

Marc: Usually there’s some sort of riff that’s kicking around, and maybe somebody will give it a shot at sound check or give it a shot at a rehearsal. We don’t really rehearse all that much. A lot of the stuff goes off at sound check, and then once you have a bunch of ideas together or you have a date fixed, that you’re going to go make the record, that’s when we get in and we start writing and rehearsing. We go into a little studio that John has at his house up in Van Nuys, California, and start kicking ideas around and trying to get stuff finished and arrangements done. But it usually starts with some sort of riff.

MGM: Your last album was recorded via Zoom, and you were working with Nick Dida from Australia. You’re working with him again on this album. So, did you get a chance to work together in person this time?

Marc: Yeah. We went back to Australia, in Byron Bay. We spent about a month in the studio, which is a big change for all of us because it was the first time we really didn’t feel rushed in the studio, and got to really experiment. So that was a nice adjustment. It was just about carving out the time from the touring schedule, and it was definitely something we all wanted to do this time around  … which was just have time.

MGM: Did you arrive at those recording sessions with finished songs, or were you still working on them with Nick in the studio?

Marc: It’s kind of a mix and match. Some of them like, ‘Won’t take me alive’ was pretty much done. And there’s other little things you can experiment with. For instance, with that song, we did it to a click track on the demo. We were like, will this have more of that rock n roll attitude if we maybe start with a click, and then just turn it off, see how it feels, and see if the band plays together a little better? I tend to think doing it that way just adds a little more of that organic old Rolling Stones or Zeppelin feel to it, that for whatever reason, just translates a little differently. Some songs are definitely more in shape when you go into the studio. But there’s songs like ‘Coming Home’ that I wrote lyrically completely in the studio. ‘Can’t find the brakes’ was one riff that materialised in the studio, so it’s kind of all over the place.

MGM:  Byron Bay is a beautiful part of the world. I’m surprised you managed to get any work done there. It must have been tempting to spend all your time on the beach.

Marc: I was, every morning, trust me. I picked up surfing this time around. And I was getting up at 5am every day to hit the waves.

MGM: One other notable change going into this album, is that you have a new drummer. Corey Coverstone left the band, and was replaced by Jaydon Bean early in 2023. Fans who came to your UK shows in January this year will have seen him perform live with the band already, but his arrival was relatively unannounced. As a band, you’ve not really made any statements about Corey’s departure. Can you comment on that transition, and also what Jaydon brings to the band now?

Marc: Corey didn’t love touring so much, so that was definitely a big stress on his life and we all knew that day was going to come at some point, I think. It’s never easy to deal with when it does come, because no time is a good time for it to happen, but there’s certainly no ill will or anything. There was no argument with Corey. He’s a fantastic drummer. There’s no doubt about it. He just didn’t love the touring lifestyle; it’s tough, it’s not easy, but he definitely dealt with it the worst of all of us, I would say.

Jaydon’s been a friend of ours for a long time. Some of our fans went back and found an old video of us playing with him originally on a song called ‘Fire Away’. It was our first ever release. Those were early days; still trying to find our voice through the music and stuff. There’s a video circulating around of that somewhere. And he played with us a lot in the clubs before we really knew Corey, and Corey jumped in. It was a pretty nice organic transition, and then working with him in the studio was really nice because he comes from a really musical family. All of his brothers and sisters are musicians, and are still playing music for a living, and he’s got a really deep understanding of melody and harmony and obviously rhythm and drumming and grooves. He definitely proved to be an asset in the studio, not only on the drums but helping with vocal harmonies. There are definitely some more little bits of ear candy on the vocal this time around that he was a big part of.

MGM: This album feels like a step forward from the debut that you released a few years ago. Some of your UK fans will already have had a chance to hear some of those songs when you played at Hyde Park, including ‘Can’t find the brakes’, ‘Dirty mind’ and ‘Won’t take me alive’. Those songs went down really well with the crowd. Speaking of the new album, one song that really stands out is ‘Coming Home’, which you mentioned you wrote the lyrics for in the studio. That song feels really personal for you, but who or what is it about?

Marc: Justin brought that piece of music. I don’t want to call it a ballad, but it’s like this Allman Brothers type acoustic musical piece. It just reminded me of what it was like going home. I had this idea, is home a place or a person? Is home wherever I am with you, or is it somewhere that you’re physically going? It’s just a song about reflecting on your life and knowing where you feel the most at home.

MGM: Do you lose that sense of feeling at home if you’re constantly travelling?

Marc: It’s always nice to fly back to LA and I always do have a really soft spot in my heart for where I grew up. It’s the people I grew up with. I surround myself with people that I love on the road; not only my bandmates, but my best friend since I was four years old is our merch guy. He’s with me in New York right now, so I do have a little bit of home with me. My mum and my stepdad love travelling. They’re all over the world, too. They buzz around pretty good. My dad’s like a motorcycle guy, so I see my family now more than I ever did since moving to California, because we’re always crossing paths. You don’t have that sense of home in a physical way, but I do have those elements of community on the road.

MGM: The last time you spoke to MyGlobalMind.com, you talked about being homeless when you first moved to LA, and living in your car, and on your mate’s porch.

Marc: The home where I grew up is very nice, and that is home. But I haven’t personally had a home in quite a while, so definitely the living out of a car or suitcase or a bus or a van comes pretty easy to me.

MGM: Unlike your EP and your debut album, there’s quite a lot more soulful ballad type tracks on this new album. Obviously, you’ve still got the ballsy rock n rock tracks, like ‘Dirty mind’ and ‘Won’t take me alive’, but there’s quite a contrast and diversity on this. ‘Roam’ has a Janice Joplin feel, and ‘You make it right’ is really soulful too. Was it a deliberate move to bring more diversity to this album?

Marc: Yeah, it was deliberate, definitely to shut our wings and add some more diversity to the musical styles. I think that’s something we all aspire to do. All our favourite bands do that, from Aerosmith, to Zeppelin, to the Stones, even Guns N Roses. They have acoustic songs, they have hard rockers, they have beautiful piano ballads. So that was definitely on purpose. But some of those songs were accidental. We didn’t go in with the attitude that we’re going to make an Allman Brothers type acoustic ballad like ‘Coming home’; that’s just what came out. And when we stacked it up against everything else, we were like, are these of good enough quality to stand alone next to a song like ‘Won’t take me alive’? Even if it is different, is it that good where it deserves to be on there? And I think at the end of the day, we all agreed that it was.

MGM: ‘Won’t Take Me Alive’ is being enjoyed by fans. There are elements of the guitar work in that song that are familiar to Aerosmith’s ‘Sight for Sore Eyes’ from the Draw the Line album. ‘Dirty Mind’ is another live favourite; it’s very tongue in cheek, especially the lyrics ‘ ….. keeping your hands clean ….’.

Marc: I came up with that line somewhere around COVID, and ‘keep your hands clean but you got to have a dirty mind’. The rhythm of that lyric fit really nicely with the music and I just scatted that at a sound check one day when we were working on the song and everybody was like, that’s pretty fucking cool. We love doing this, we love playing the songs. Maybe when they’re two thirds finished, we’ll play them live, even if I don’t have lyrics ready to go, we’ll figure it out in front of you, you know what I mean? And we did that. I had the lyrics half done. We knew I was going to do the ‘Make Up Your Mind’ lyric in the chorus and that sounded really good. I forget where we played it for the first time, but I hit that lyric, ‘Keep your hands clean but you got to have a dirty mind’ and the whole place just started rocking with us and we were like, Fuck, it doesn’t even matter how we shape this, everybody’s grooving so hard. So, then we wrote the song around that idea of maybe somebody’s good, but they want to be bad.

MGM: Dirty Honey have done the best part of 70 shows in the last year, across 16 countries. You’ve probably spent more time in the air than you’ve spent at home. It seems like things have really taken off for you guys over in the UK and Europe especially in the last year. Why do you think you’ve resonated so well with those audiences?

Marc: It’s funny, I think American bands tend to have a better shot in Europe than they do in America, just because I think there’s an appetite for rock n roll in Europe, especially in the UK and places like Spain, France Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, all over, honestly. It’s just a really strong appetite for rock, and especially American rock for some reason. I think we’re seen as a foreign delicacy or something, and that plays in our favour. But there’s been a lot of hard work put into this band for a long time, playing a lot of places for a long time where nobody was there. Along the way, you figure it out; you figure out how to captivate an audience. I think that’s why a lot of the TV reality show singers don’t have success; it’s because they haven’t paid their dues and figured out that really obscure thing of how to work an audience. It’s not easy and it’s definitely a skill that you have to work on. If you skip that step, you’re missing a big part of your growth as an artist. We haven’t missed any steps along the way; we played every size venue to every size crowd. People show up, people don’t show up. And you just build it as you go.

MGM: Often that journey and that struggle … living in the gutter, playing those venues in front of nobody, …those are the things that tend to translate into the bands being at their most creative, because you write about the struggle, you write about the pain of that and so on. Obviously, the more successful that Dirty Honey get, have you thought how that might change your approach to writing, and how you’ll write about the struggle when you’re no longer struggling.

Marc: Well, we’re definitely still struggling, so don’t worry about that. We’re definitely not rich or anything yet, so buy a T shirt at the gig, that’ll help us out. But I think it’s about putting in the work. Creatively, I just think living a full life is really important for writing, experiencing the complete spectrum of what life has to offer, whether it’s travel, experiencing love and loss and addiction, and just be authentic in your writing. That’s really all you can do. You can’t control if people are going to like it or not. We’re always making something for us first, and if we trust that we have good taste, other people will resonate with the music as well. But you can’t really cater to what you think people are going to like. It just never works out.

MGM: With your current tour, you’re going to be touring around the US until the end of December. You’ve got another 50-60 dates still to go. What are your plans beyond that? Do you think we’ll see you back in Europe or the UK next year?

Marc:  We’ll definitely be back next year at some point. That’s still being worked out, but I think we got to get back to Australia to do some shows. We’ll do Japan and South America for the first time. Getting back to Europe is a top priority as well. We’ll just have to wait and see.

MGM: Given how explosive your shows are, have you guys thought about putting out some sort of live recording or a live film?

Marc: We have. When we did the tour with The Wild Things, they were nice enough to record a bunch of our shows, so we’ve got a pretty good backlog of some live stuff that we’ve already been recording. With this tour coming up, I literally just had a conversation about getting a board that we can easily record everything and store it somewhere for in the future, because I love all that stuff. I used to seek out the rare live recordings of all my favourite bands. I love that. That’s my favourite thing to do, whether it’s AC/DC or Aerosmith or the Stones, live was always what I want. My favourite record, I think, is probably Aerosmith’s ‘A little south of sanity’, which is a collection of all these great live performances of several decades.

MGM: When you last spoke to MyGlobalMind.com, we asked about you about the fast rise of Dirty Honey, and how you keep your feet on the ground. If anything, in the last year, your rise has got faster. The bigger your band become, the greater distance that will ensue between the band and your fans. How do you adjust to that?

Marc: I keep my feet on the ground. It’s easy enough to do. I like to be alone and go hiking or ride motorcycles alone somewhere. I just did that. I just went through the mountains and the Rockies in Canada for about a week. I carved out the time to do it. It’s a good time to reflect and stay grounded and think about what you want to do with your life, and figure out how to keep reinventing yourself musically. When you’re on tour, you’re around people all the time, so it’s hard to reflect or think about anything else, so it’s important to take those moments for yourself. But we’re not big enough yet to worry about not being able to take time for fans or whatever at this point. I’m always super nice to people. I’ll gladly take a picture with whoever, sign anything. I’m super appreciative to do what I love to do and get paid to do it. So that’s never lost on me that I’m very fortunate and lucky. We work hard, myself and the guys, to play and do what we want to do. I’m very happy that people show up, but it’s never lost on me that they’re spending their own money and coming to shows.

 

Dirty Honey’s new album ‘Can’t find the brakes’ will be released on 3rd November.

 

Pre-order it here: https://orcd.co/dhcftbalbum

 

For more:

www.dirtyhoney.com

www.facebook.com/DirtyHoneyMusic

 

 

Dirty Honey USA ‘23 

August 
27  Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, CA (support for Bush)
29  Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC  (support for Guns N’ Roses) 
 
September 
 1  Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY  (support for Guns N’ Roses) 
 6  Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY  (support for Guns N’ Roses) 
16 MMRBBQ, Freedom Mortgage Pavilion, Camden, NJ 
20 Mississippi Coast Coliseum, Biloxi, MI  (support for Guns N’ Roses) 
 
“Can’t Find The Brakes” USA Headline Tour ‘23
With Austin Meade, one of the most exciting and unique artists coming out of the Texas scene confirmed as support, dates for Dirty Honey’s “Can’t Find The Brakes North American Headline Tour” are as follows:
 
October 
18  The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA 
19  Ace of Spaces, Sacramento, CA 
21  The Observatory North Park, San Diego, CA 
22  The Nile Theater, Mesa, AZ 
24  The Studio at the Factory, Dallas, TX 
25  RISE Rooftop, Houston, TX 
27  The Becham, Orlando, FL 
28  Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, Ponte Vedra, FL (Jacksonville) 
29  The RITZ Ybor, Tampa, FL 
31  Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta, GA 
 
November 
 1   The Underground, Charlotte, NC 
 3   Rams Head Live!, Baltimore, MD 
 4   HMAC, Harrisburg, PA 
 5   Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, NJ 
 7   Théâtre Beanfield, Montreal, QC CANADA 
 8   Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ONT CANADA 
10  The Vogue, Indianapolis, IN 
12  Bogart’s, Cincinnati, OH 
13  Concord Music Hall, Chicago, IL 
15  Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS 
16  Summit, Denver, CO 
17  The Depot, Salt Lake City, UT 
19  The Sand Dollar Downtown, Las Vegas, NV 
20  The Belasco, Los Angeles, CA 
24  Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA 
25  Roseland Theater, Portland, OR 
26  The Showbox, Seattle, WA 
28  Knitting Factory, Boise, ID 
 
December 
 1   Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE 
 2   Uptown Theater, Minneapolis, MN 
 4   The Rave II, Milwaukee, WI 
 5   The Castle Theatre, Bloomington, IL 
 7   Saint Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, MI 
 8   Elevation, Grand Rapids, MI 
 9   House of Blues, Cleveland, OH 
11  The Bluestone, Columbus, OH 
13  Brooklyn Bowl, Nashville, TN 
14  Mercury Ballroom, Louisville, KY 
15  The Hawthorn, St. Louis, MO 

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