Updated Mon, Mar 26, 2012 9:29 am
The Asheville, N.C.-based Americana group The Honeycutters will return to Athens for a show at ARTS/West on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. The band will perform songs from their critically-acclaimed 2009 release Irene, as well as material from their forthcoming album, When Bitter Met Sweet, which will be released this May.
I spoke with lead singer/songwriter Amanda Anne Platt about the band's roots, songwriting, and their upcoming record.
EN: How did the Honeycutters get their start? Was it just you in the beginning?
AP: I did play my songs out solo when I first moved to Asheville, until Pete James and I met at an open-mic. We were actually known as The Bee's Knees for about six months. But The Honeycutters began in Asheville.
EN: The two of you are the core of The Honeycutters, but you record and tour as a five-person band, correct?
AP: Yeah, the way that we record is with bass and drums, and we have a mandolin player. Actually, on the album we also have a pedal steel and fiddle player. Pete and I will do the duo thing for acoustic shows, but for bars or bigger festivals, we’ll have the whole band, definitely.
EN: So what kind of lineup will you have at ARTS/West?
AP: It will be Pete and I and my brother, who plays upright bass. It will be sort of acoustic but will have a little more kick than when it’s just the duo.
EN: Who handles the songwriting in The Honeycutters?
AP: Well, I write all the songs. We've tried to co-write a few times but we’re both a little headstrong in our artistic ways. Pete does write songs--he’s a great songwriter--but so far, The Honeycutters has just been my songwriting.
EN: What can we expect from your forthcoming album When Bitter Met Sweet?
AP: I feel like the songs are a little less folky and more Americana, and more dependent on a heavier backbeat. Also, we recorded the new album on better equipment and had a little more leeway with it, so we’re really excited about the way it sounds. The fiddle player from the Steep Canyon Rangers (comedian Steve Martin's backing band) is on the album too, which is really cool. I think the new album definitely shows some growth from Irene; it’s not just more of the same. But I think that if people liked Irene, they’ll like the new one.
EN: You've played Athens a few times as an acoustic duo. What attracts you to Athens, and have you ever played ARTS/West before?
AP: We’ve never played at ARTS/West, but it’s funny: In 2009, right after Irene came out, Tim Peacock of Stuart's Opera House got in touch with us and invited us to play the Nelsonville Music Festival. But he didn’t even know we were The Honeycutters. Someone had given him a tape of The Bee's Knees, some really old pre-Irene recordings of the band, and he really dug it. So that was the first time we played the festival and we’ve played it the last three years. Honestly, I didn’t even know there was an Athens, Ohio, until Tim invited us up there, but we love it now. It’s a great town.
Saturday's show time is 8 p.m., with the doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Advanced tickets for ARTS/West members are $5, $15 for non-members and $18 at the door. Visit www.artswest.blogspot.com for more information.