Just two years after they first met, HONNE’s James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck are a few weeks from headlining one of London’s most iconic venues, The Roundhouse. Theirs has been a rapid rise, signposted by this year’s UK Top 40 debut album ‘Warm On A Cold Night’, sellout tours of the Europe and US, and slots at summer festivals like Glastonbury and Latitude.
Now co-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Hatcher tells us about what he and frontman Clutterbuck each bring to the group, finding their sound, bonding over Radiohead, the song that best sums them up, and the fan with a HONNE tattoo on his chest.
Legend has it that you met on the first day of university and immediately hit it off. What do you have in common – musically or otherwise – that you bonded over?
The legend is true. Andy was the first person I met on the first day of university. At the time we both loved Radiohead and Thom Yorke’s solo album ‘The Eraser’, so that was a big talking point. But also, we’re both from the South West of England, so we grew up about 45 minutes away from each other and in places that we were both familiar with.
More importantly, what do you disagree on – musically or otherwise – and how do you think that influences your music?
To be honest, we see eye to eye on most things and I think that’s how we’ve managed to work together so well for so long. I guess this influences our writing process in the sense that, because we’re on the same wavelength, we’re able to write separately, share our ideas, and then come together to finish them off. I think it’d be a nightmare if we didn’t get on that well. Particularly when you’re touring, it’s so important that you get on well with everyone in your team. They kind of become your housemates or family.
As people – rather than musicians – what do each of you bring to HONNE?
You definitely do end up bringing different things to the party. We’re pretty hands-on guys and we’re both heavily involved with every aspect of HONNE exactly as we have been from the start. We both spend a stupid amount of time just thinking. Sometimes after a show we’ll stay up for a few hours just talking things through.
But I guess Andy is a bit more of a perfectionist than I am. He spends a lot of time looking into things, researching how we can make our Ableton setup run more efficiently, what gear we should be getting, how we can improve our visuals. He is also completely in charge of our live set in Ableton, which is a lot of work.
As a trade off for that, I guess I’m more pushy with trying to get things done. I’m the ‘Let’s do this and this today, I’ll come round at 10am’ kind of guy. It makes us work well together, Andy tries to make me slow down to make sure everything is right, whilst I’m trying to make sure we finish it in good time.
How do you feel about all that you’ve achieved within two years?
It’s been an amazing couple of years for us and we’re so grateful to everyone for spreading our music and making it all possible for us. I think when we take a step back, it has all gone very fast, but when you’re so involved like us it’s harder to see. There are lots of small steps and obstacles to overcome and you’re always looking towards the next step. It’s often at gigs that it really hits home. I think when we go on stage at The Roundhouse next month it’s going to be a really reflective moment for us.
Do you remember the first gig where the audience sang along with you?
Yes and that really is the best feeling in the world. It was our second London show and during a song called ‘The Night’. We’ll remember that forever.
Which one song on ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ best sums up what HONNE is about?
I think the title track, ‘Warm On A Cold Night’. It was the first song that we ever made where we thought ‘That’s it, that is our sound’, as well as being the first track we ever put out and the track that got HONNE moving. It kind of encapsulates what we’re about.
What enduring memory will you have of your recent US tour?
A great moment for us was in Chicago. So we’d played Chicago six months or so ago and met this guy who has a HONNE tattoo on his chest, which he showed us after the show whilst we were chatting with him. Then this time we were in between songs and Andy pointed and said: ‘Hang on, I know this guy, come up on stage’. And so he came up on stage and lifted his shirt up to show everyone the tattoo. The audience loved it. His mum messaged us on Facebook afterwards saying thanks for making her son have the best night of his life!
And over these past few months, you’ve played a lot of summer festivals. Is there any one moment that stands out for you?
That’s tough, there’s special moments at all of them. I guess Glastonbury has to be one. Andy grew up near there and went 10 years in a row, but never to play. So for him it was a bit of a homecoming. It’s just one of the most important and fun festivals in the world and it’s a real honour to have played it. And it was a great show!