The major reason Honey White was a creative and artistic success for Bryn, Brian, Bill and myself was that we practiced like mad for almost all of the first year of the band’s existence (that would be 2002). We got together at Earl’s Table Salt room in downtown Santa Barbara usually twice a week, and did this pretty much straight from March until December. We drove each other crazy by the end of that run, but the great advantage of that first year of frenzied rehearsal was the fact that we had not only got along well personally and musically right from the start, but had also become so used to the unique characteristics of each other’s playing styles that we were easily able to go out and play a gig with relatively little practice. Most of our shows from then on were spaced further apart, but we could get it together pretty well in preparation for them because of how much we practiced together at the beginning. I recorded lots of these practices (in addition to most of the shows as well, obviously), and I’ve had fun in the past few days collecting what I think are some of the more unique and/or representative songs from our rehearsal tapes into two relatively concise volumes for posterity’s sake. Some are messy, some are funny, and some I don’t know what the fuck we were thinking, but I think it’s all worth a listen, especially since there’s so goddam much of it that got left out. So, lemme splain (or you can skip my blather and go right to the audio player):

The first two songs here, Wayfaring Stranger and My Second Shipwreck, were recorded very badly by me on two 4-tracks wired together, hence the mono and overloaded sound. I included them here because they date from the first recorded practices I made of Honey White, 3/8/02 and 3/14/02 respectively. Well, I’m guessing those songs go with those dates. I can’t be sure, actually, because of the conflicting info I get from the different CDs they were on, but whatever- they’re the beginning. I put Wayfaring Stranger at the front because it was the first song Bryn did solo that got lots of people interested (indeed, he and Brian and I once opened a Mojo Wire show back in 2000 with this cover). When Billy answered our want ad for a drummer, he loved it right away too, so off we went.

Shipwreck and the next tune, Windward Mark (this version from 5/20/02), were both Mermen-inspired surf instrumentals Bryn had recorded with ten other songs for his solo album of instrumentals, also from 2000, and also called My Second Shipwreck. Honey White needed tunes to pad our short sets, so we were more than happy to take a shot at both of these. This take of Windward was also actually used by a guy I used to work with named Keith Kie as a soundtrack for his “Hi, I’m traveling in New Zealand and you’re not!” video email not long after we recorded it. The Lightning Rod is also from the May 20 tape, which was one of our first attempts at it, I think. We used it as a reference when recording our debut My Band Rocks CD later that summer.

For guys who disliked jam bands, we did a lot of jamming. Inevitably, songs emerged from those jams that we solidified and made into real compositions, and a perfect example of that was this early version (9/23/02) of a song that became Let Go, my favorite Bryn-written Honey White tune. The other track included from that date never got lyrics added, but it changed titles from “The Happy Stoner Song” to Polarity (because of the shifting moods). The version here is about a minute longer, I think, then the one we ended up recording two years later in the studio.

The next two songs on the list, You Let Me Fall and Water Into Wine, come from one of the burned-out practices (specifically 12/12/02) where we still played well, but it seemed pretty clear that something needed to change, so we decided after this to only practice when we needed to, such as for upcoming gigs. Water Into Wine was actually an old Mojo Wire song that we tried to learn to give the gig setlist some fresh tunes, but it never turned out as well as we’d hoped, so we bailed on it. We still hadn’t really shaken the general funk by April ’03, though (despite one great gig at UCSB) and still sounded sorta exhausted on the take of Fatal Flaws from 4/9/03 included here. I used to do this thing in this song where I’d sing lyrics from another more famous song in the open 12-bar; I’d tossed in lyrics from BRMC, U2, and Wilco during shows, and here on this take I guess I tried to pick everybody up by being funny and sang some lines from Strong Bad’s immortal anthem about Trogdor.

Honey White was pretty much inactive for the latter half of 2003, what with Bryn jetting off to Europe for three months and Bill drumming and recording in Texas with the punkers of Futureman, but we did get together twice, and naturally I recorded it. Before that, though, Bryn, Brian, and I had a jam session on 8/15/03 with erstwhile Mojo Wire frontman Adam Hill, and the four-piece we made (with Bryn on drums as in Mojo days) bashed out some fun takes of the Mojo Wire songs Long Black Leather Boots and Margarita, with Adam here taking on vocals and guitar. The next Honey White practice, from 9/12/03, was the first we had at the Seville Street practice rooms in Isla Vista, where Billy also did double duty with Futureman. That room was small and could get suffocatingly hot, but we managed to squeeze in some good work there, and I’ve highlighted that first date with takes of Wayfaring Stranger (here with Bryn on keyboards) and Dead Man.

The last two songs I’ve got for Volume 1 are also from the Seville St. room. We were often unable to record vocals using the P.A. system there, and in the take of So Cold I’ve included here, it’s hard to hear Bryn’s vocals over the noise of the band, but this take is pure gold for his absolutely blistering guitar solo that charges in halfway through the song. It’s really fantastic- one of Bryn’s finest musical moments in my opinion. Finally, there’s an early version of Bottlerocket from 1/24/04, quieter and surfier and actually without Brian (he was in Tokyo at the time).

So that’s Volume 1. I’ll be back with a collection of our more recent practices (i.e. 2004-2007) in a few days. As always, thanks for listening.

Audio: