“If it wasn’t for Liverpool FC,” muses Josh Glauser, “we would never have become a band.”
The drummer of Philly garage duo Honeytiger is setting up in WXPN studios back in June, just before I left on a two-week vacation to England. As such, our conversation moved from UK music to UK sports and Glauser shared how first connected with singer-guitarist Isaac Clark over morning pints at Jose Pistola’s in Center City, watching football (the kind with a round ball) and cheering as “GOAAAAAAL” gifs got retweeted the internet around.
Turns out sports wasn’t their only commonality; Clark and Glauser shared a love of gritty, grungy garage rock in the vein of The Strokes and early Black Keys records. A band was formed (initially called Swimmer, promptly changed to Honeytiger when they realized the plethora of Swim-related acts in the indie rock sphere), a sound was honed, killer gigs at The El Bar were played and the band released the knockout Half Clean LP, one of the fiercest debuts from the Philly scene last year.
That record balances poppy jams like the infectious opener “As It Will Happen” with simmering, stoner-y blues of “Old Miami.” And as we saw in the three new songs performed for their Key Studio Sessions performance, there’s plenty more where they came from — and the divide between the two sounds is shorter.
As an example, take this video of “Is It Midnight?”, performed live in our studio; the riffs chug and Glasuer pummels his drumsticks to splinters, while Clark’s vocal delivery is smooth and suave, melodic ear candy of the Julian Casablancas variety.
Also in the mix is the brooding, minor-key meditation “Harold Greengard” — named for a candid photo of the 1900’s variety by famed American photographer Paul Strand; Clark’s lyrics seemingly imagine the life of its subject, Strand’s best friend. The band’s recent single “Interviewer” is in the mix as well (watch its music video here), as is a catchy track from Half Clean, “Mud and Worry.”
Most impressive about this performance is how full it sounds. When I encounter a minimal two-piece with an expansive album, I tend to reason that it was beefed up in post with overdubs, double-tracking and other sorts of studio finesse. But whether its through Clark’s dual-amp setup, Clark’s ambidextrous drum patterns or just really smart arrangements, this raw live performance sounds huge with just two dudes in a room playing to a small audience.
Listen to Honeytiger’s Key Studio Session in its entirety below, and see the band live at MilkBoy in Center City for The Key’s Philly Music Showcase on Wednesday, July 26th; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.