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Ryan Kattner

(aka Honus Honus)

[2]

One of the most beloved and most appreciated BSMNT music heroes over the current decade is definitely Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus). We consider him as a totally gifted and authentic singer-songwriter, who has given us loads of good music with his band Man Man, but also with his side project 5 years ago, Mister Heavenly. 2016, three years after his latest Man Man album 'On Oni Pond' (2013), found him on a solo walk for the first time that took the form of an album entitled Use Your Delusion. It was released last November and it's very very cool and beautiful. Thirteen magically crafted pop songs, thirteen beautiful stories waiting for you to explore and unfold. The release of the album was the perfect occasion for us to re-invite Honus to our Basement for another interview (you can check the first one here)...    

The Basement: Hi Honus Honus! Welcome back to the Basement! It’s been more than three years since our last interview and it seems that there’s been a lot of changes... What happened to Man Man and under which circumstances you decided to commence a solo project? 
The Man Man lineup has always changed with everyone album. This time around, Pow Pow had a child with his wife and needed time to focus on family life. Since I’m a sad, lonely soul and music is my only constant, I needed to birth another unruly album before it got the better of me. I’d never considered going “solo” before since all of my output just naturally folded into Man Man but I decided to mix things up and make life more difficult for myself. If you thought having a band named Man Man was tough to tell people, try telling people your band is called Honus Honus. 

The Basement: Why did you decide to use Pledge Music as a way to crowdfund the release of your album? 
I’ve been on labels for the past dozen or so years and wanted to try something different instead of the usual, “here’s the masters to my album for the rest of my life for a minimal advance, thank you.” Admittedly, I only reached out to one label that I had a good relationship with in the past and when I didn’t hear back after several followups, I decided to take a swing at self-releasing. A good buddy of mine (Rolin Jones) had been nudging me for years to start something with him so I finally sucked it up, took a bite and we launched “New Neighborhood” for this solo jaunt because you know the world needs another fledgling indie label in the universe of streaming music. MRI, bless them, are handling the distribution of the record so you can find it in the traditional avenues. In regards to Pledge, I liked the structure of how they were set up. I have nothing against people who use “crowd-source and fund my inspiration” sites that are out there but it’s never been something that I’ve felt comfortable attempting. Pledge is different, in that all you’re doing is having pre-orders for a product which you’ll deliver. There’s none of that “if we don’t reach our goal it doesn’t happen” business. “Use Your Delusion” was already recorded and mixed by the time I reached out to Pledge so all I needed was a pre-order forum to cover manufacturing and mastering costs without losing my shirt. What I also liked about Pledge is that you have direct interaction with fans and can offer up other weird incentives such as the bashed up keys from a former Man Man Rhodes Piano or personalized postcards, etc. The hardest part of the whole thing, however, has been packaging and shipping everything. My campaign slogan shoulda been, “If you pre-order now, I’ll personally lick the fucking envelope!” 

The Basement: Well, the album is finally here and it sounds great. How would you describe Use Your Delusion to someone that hasn’t checked it out yet? You have used the phrase “Apocalyptic LA pop”. Could you define this term? 
It’s a very LA pop album, albeit one that is slightly skewed. I pictured these songs playing on a melted, gooey jukebox in some diner in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Blade Runner Pop. Dystopian Pop. Retro Future. Too specific? Basically, I wanted to make a record that would sound great when you were driving around in your car with the windows rolled down, breeze blowing in your hair. Or driving in your car at night on a lonely highway. Or sitting on your couch eating glowsticks. 

The Basement: Could you give us some info and details about the writing process? What about sharing some inside stories regarding the making of the album? 
For starters, it takes me forever to write songs and I have to treat it like a 9-5 once I settle into the acceptance that it’s time to do it all over again. After every album, I’m hit with a sort of creative amnesia, like I forgot how to write songs at all and it’s a struggle to reconnect and also stay away from the same sources I drew from in the past. The hardest part is trying to crawl into an idea and figure out what that idea will become, what the song is asking to be about. I wish I was one of those songwriters that writes a song before breakfast, lunch, and dinner and goes into the studio with 100 songs and whittles them down to the best 12. I’m not and I accept it. If there are 13 songs on a Man Man or Honus Honus album, it’s because I wrote 13 songs and I love each and every one them like they were my own. I also rarely compose the music and words separately. Usually, I’m just pounding out a musical idea on the keyboards in an infinite loop as I search for melody and story. For hours on end. It’s the most unproductive way to work but it can also birth some interesting results. “Will You?” and “Red Velvet” were tunes that came out of two long, seemingly fruitless days of banging my head on the keyboard in a practice space. I wrote “Will You?” an hour before I left the practice space. It speaks volumes as to where my head was at during that moment since the first line is, “Will you blow your brains out on a Sunday?” And yes, I wrote that song on a Sunday. 


Honus Honus...dead again.
 

The Basement: You worked with producer Cyrus Ghahremani. How did this collaboration come about and what new elements do you think Cyrus’ perspective added to your music? 
Cyrus is the one that prodded me into making a solo album and if it wasn’t for his pushing and pulling, I’d probably still be languishing in that practice space banging my head against the piano keys. I feel really lucky that our paths crossed. He’s truly my brother from another interplanetary mother. I could bring in song segments, ideas, riffs, and we’d take an ax to things, pull everything into focus, help some of the disorganized songs find a form. He recognized that I needed to write songs the way I do but that he could help facilitate by quickly getting some of the ideas recorded and laying down parts with me. I’m not particularly sentimental about arrangements as long as the hooks don’t get buried and he’s the same way, so we worked fast. Since we spoke the same musical language I could easily relay ideas to him like, “I need a guitar solo here that vibes standing in the middle of the ocean under a full moon with neon stars overhead” and he’d be able to plug in and rip that sentiment. All the guitar acrobatics on the album are Cyrus’ nimble fingers. Also, one of the initial foundations of the album’s vibe was that we were gonna have no live drums, in the vein of Leonard Cohen’s “The Future” & “I’m Your Man” era albums. Cyrus programmed Linn Drums for all the songs to give them a stark, dystopian feeling. Once we brought in Joe (Plummer) to rip some live takes, that idea went out the window. There’s a nice balance of Joe and Linn Drums now but it’s a whole different beast from what was initially intended, which is fantastic. In many ways, Cyrus was the uber producer. I wanted him to be my Phil Spector/Tony Visconti/Eno. Cocaine, guns, milk, red peppers, no sleep. I came to him with skeletons and together we built the body. And naturally, our final body ended up with three boobs. 

The Basement: Are you satisfied with the perception of the album so far? Do you generally worry about such things? You know, audience’s opinion, critics etc? 
Unfortunately, I don’t think very many people know the album exists and such is one of the major disadvantages of self-releasing. I’d venture to say that most Man Man fans probably don’t even make the connection. Of the few reviews I’ve gotten, they’re positive but I do find it funny when a reviewer mentions, “sounds like Man Man” as though that’s supposed to be a slight to me. Of course it’s gonna have inclinations of Man Man! It’s me! The only way it won’t is if someone else writes the songs, writes the lyrics, and sings them. So funny. My only concern is that I want people to hear this record. I’m really proud of it and I have a phenomenal live band. 

The Basement: At the end of the day, what are the advantages and disadvantages of working alone? Which...format do you prefer? 
Fortunately, I’m not alone. I have a great band of weirdos with this one. It kind of reminds me of when I first started Man Man, the early energy was pure and electric. And this crew is still figuring out how to cultivate the wild dynamics of our live show. The only disadvantage, like I mentioned before, is that the majority of Man Man fans are either unaware, have yet to discover this project, or refuse to accept it which I find odd since aside from me, Man Man lineups always fluctuated. But this is a new band so it takes time, everything does. I’m just lucky to be surrounded by friends who wanna make weird music with me. I’m loving the Honus Honus Band Band but if you need to call it the Man Man Cover Band to wrap your head around it, go for it. How dull. 

The Basement: Use Your Delusion is available on Spotify. What do you thing of the new digital means of sharing and promoting music? Do you think they actually help and support musicians promoting their work and gain profit from that or they somehow ‘prevent’ audience buy the physical ? 
It is what it is. The upside, it’s easier for people to hear your music. Do they come to shows, buy records? Probably not. I do get to split the $.0021 royalty per stream though! Nobody said making a living, making music was easy but if you make music expecting to make a living out of it then you’re probably making music for the wrong reasons. 

The Basement: We are lucky follow you on Facebook for 5 years now... We are loyal admirers of the Dead Again series (we have also tried to take our own Dead Again photos...). How was the idea initially caught? 
I had a really bad cold on tour which translates to “I had a cold for the entirety of a tour.” If you get sick on tour, you most likely will remain sick the entire tour. I felt like death, it was a cold, dreary winter tour, I decided to make the best of it by doing that photo series. My bandmate, Yuumi (@mini_honushonus on Instagram), has really taken the Dead Again series to new levels. Check her stuff out.

The Basement: Dead Again is also the name of the upcoming tour documentary of yours. Why did you want to document this particular tour on film?
My friends (Justin Carlton & Jamie Wheeler) wanted to document what it was gonna be like for an “old road dog” to hit reboot and have to earn a new audience. All. Over. Again. Sisyphus with a mustache: a lesson in determination & delusion. For me, I wanted to share what touring is like for most bands flying under the radar. Sleeping on floors, motels, seeing the gas stations of the world. Give people a glimpse at the unique kinship that blossoms between those who travel and make music together and how it’s a really special thing to be able to go out there and share your music with others and even more magical when you get to do it with people you love. Playing music, being in a band, being a creative, in this day and age, is pure madness but it sure beats the alternative of sitting around and dreaming of doing it.

 

 

 

The Basement: You are undoubtedly a politically worried man, who often says his opinion about social and political issues with no hesitation. What are your views on the election of Donald Trump? What impact -if any- do you think his win will have on the US and globally? 
It is an absolute tragedy and makes me very sad but just know that not everyone in our country shares his destructive views. I’m sorry that we all have to deal with him now. 

The Basement: 2017 is just around the corner. What would you wish for the new year? 
I’m just happy to see 2016 in the rearview mirror. So lucky that my first solo album had to drop in such an emotional nightmare of a year. Here’s to the impeding Trumppocalypse! This album is ready for your melted, gooey wasteland jukebox! 

 

THANK YOU HONUS HONUS !!!

 

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