"It seemed like everything that could go wrong for us did," says guitarist and founding member Beth Skony. "Our band truck exploded en route to a Wisconsin show; the first mixes of the material for the CD were unsatisfactory, so we had to remix the entire album at another studio; we had financial and artwork setbacks; there were health problems and we were without a bass player for months. It has been a tough couple of years."
Something drove them to continue, however, and the result is a rejuvinated band with a powerful debut release on their own Babu Zarr Records.
Fronted by the powerful vocals and moving lyrics of Nina Catanese and propelled by the hard-driving, chunky grooves of Beth Skony's guitar playing, Honeychurch is a visceral and gritty yet soulful rock band, with a very straightforward approach.
The band was formed back in 1992 when Skony hooked up with Catanese at a mutual friend's party. "I was playing an acoustic guitar and Nina was the only one who knew the words to the songs I was playing - U2 and REM stuff. She had an incredible voice, and I suggested we try to work on some material together and see what we come up with."
Before long, the duo had a collection of original songs, several of which appear on "Ripe". But it took them some time to find other band members. In August of 1994, drummer Dave Pavlatos answered an ad they had run in Chicago's Reader, and they began regular rehearsals in the dusty attic of his Lakeview apartment building, his punk background adding a steady energy to the songs. Bass player Marq Spencer joined in October, bringing a slippery, melodic playing style, and by the beginning of 1995, they had recorded a six-song demo and were starting to play shows around Chicago.
Over the next year, the band steadily increased it's exposure with numerous shows in the Chicago area and in Wisconsin, culminating in a powerful first appearance at the Metro in Chicago in February of 1996. They felt they were ready to go into the studio to make their first CD, but Spencer decided to depart from the line-up suddenly, leaving them sidelined for several months while they searched for and rehearsed with a new bass player. Jackie Schimmel filled the position and was with the band for the recording of "Ripe" in the fall of 1996. The match was short lived, however, and the band went into 1997 needing to remix the material and find another bass player.
"1997 was the lowest point for us. We began to wonder why we were even bothering sometimes. Nothing was going right. There were many, many times where we just felt like giving up. But none of us wanted to do it. We just couldn't pull the plug," Beth explains.
The decision was made to go ahead and finish the CD while they searched for a bass player. It was a long process, but one that ultimately strengthened their commitment to their music and their bonds with each other. The band now feels ready to take on the Chicago music scene and beyond. They reunited with their original bass player, Marq Spencer, after a two year split and feel that his presence has provided a long overdue spark to their creative process and made the band complete.
"We couldn't be happier about Marq's return. It feels like family. We really missed his style of playing, and we can't wait to get back out there on stage. I think the next batch of songs is going to be incredible, because we are a team again and the energy we are experiencing now is really inspirational. It feels like we can do anything now," Beth says enthusiastically.
Catanese - vocals, lyrics
Gig highlights include: Metro, Double Door, Navy Pier in Chicago