Hunny is the turn-of-the-millenium “return of the rock” played out in real time; it formed when the members of YIMBY-approved Staten Island dance-pop crew Paragraph got bored with glossy beats and threw their drum machines in the trash. The bruising grunge-metal gnashers’ debut I’m History was recorded (and partially written) in 10 hours, a melodic version of the pre-major sludge-pop released by Melvins and Bleach-era Nirvana. Vocalist Michael “Super 60” has a voice that peaks out into a throaty gargle—hear it on the title track, which combines drunken, gently tuneless Mudhoney party-crash with Super 60’s Cobain-like ability to scream two notes at once.
Download: Hunny, “I’m History”
What is “I’m History” about?
We liked toying with the notion that there’s this phrase a bully in an old after-school movie might say—”That’s it, nerd. You’re history!”—and it’s an innocent enough phrase. But if you think about it for a second, there’s this whole other heavy context. When we die, we really are history, only a part of the past… but we live on in the monuments we’ve left behind. It’s also a bit tongue in cheek since in a way we’re wiping our hands clean of the dance music that had grown old to us while we were in Paragraph, like “OK, that’s it, outta here!”
“I’m History” is a bit of a two-parter, dealing with separate ideas of a contradictory nature. The verses concern that notion that all the stuff that happens in our lives, all the things we strive for, won’t fully make sense until we’re gone and our story is complete. We never get to see the end result of our labors, and the longer we live, the closer we get to a legacy we’ll never see or know fully. The chorus of “I’m History” refers to the cognitive dissonance that can result from trying to decide between a stable life and living a more hedonistic lifestyle.
What inspired it musically?
We delved into a lot of Hüsker Dü and also the weird back catalog of Nirvana stuff. We were also really into the sludgy heaviness of the Melvins’ Houdini, and the way the drums were heavy and powerful without having to be played fast. The song “I’m History” is basically a mash-up of the parts that gave us chills from several songs we love—Hüsker Dü, “Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely”; Nirvana, “Downer”; the way the vocals sustain over awesome chord changes in “Hybrid Moments” by Misfits; as well as a part in a song called “Indiana Jones” by some friends of ours in a band called Les Vinyl.
You recorded the album in one 10-hour session?
I can’t really get into the details, but we had made a promise to someone that we would start and finish tracking the record in one night if they promised they wouldn’t cause harm to themselves. A lot of the tracks were unfinished and were written in the studio. We had a lot of coffee and did all the tracking live, but we hadn’t even played our first live show yet so it was a nerve-wracking process. Everything you hear is either a first or second take with minor guitar overdubs on only two songs.
How did you get burnt on dance-pop?
There was no one moment. It was just a slow steady decline of fun and creativity. We stopped getting along and the shows lost that old spark they used to have… Luckily we weren’t an institution forced to embarrass itself like Metallica or something, and it was easier for us all to let go and start fresh. It’s funny, since none of us particularly get along very well in this band either.
How did you discover Nirvana/Melvins records in the ’90s? What did they mean to you?
Oddly enough, my mother first exposed me to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Hole at a very early age, maybe eight or nine. She would only listen to these CDs when we weren’t in the car because I guess they were kind of inappropriate. But since we were always running late in the morning when she’d drive my sister and I to school, the CD would already be playing at full blast and I’d get to hear snippets of In Utero that sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before. My rebellion against my parents’ music manifested itself in, like, Smash Mouth records, so I was definitely misguided youth. Group consensus among the younger guys in Hunny puts the Spice Girls’ eponymous CD as our favorite album while we were growing up in the ’90s, so it should be clear that our refascination with the sound that inspired I’m History is more of a sleeping beast being awakened after years of neglect.
Michael’s voice peaks out in these songs.
It helps to make clear that Michael is a very soft-spoken individual and it came as a big surprise to anyone that knew him that he was about to be screaming in a band, let alone singing in one. He told me singing has been the most liberating experience for him. He said he feels like he can accomplish anything now, and I’ve noted the marked difference in his personality.
Did you read the grunge book yet?
I haven’t read Everybody Loves Our Town yet, but the last book I read that was similar was Please Kill Me, the oral history of punk. I was reading it while we were engaged in a southeast tour of the U.S. with Paragraph back in 2009. On one of our off nights we found a venue that we hadn’t been scheduled to play at that was totally packed out. We approached it with our gear saying we were booked to play that night and that we’d been running late. It was probably too punk a move for Paragraph and didn’t quite work out… but even then, the roots of Hunny had taken hold.
Hunny plays Friday, December 9, at Full Cup with the Jay Vons, Jewel Heist, and Big Muff.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2011