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GLENN GREGORY (HEAVEN 17 / HONEYROOT) INTERVIEW [2007]

I READ SOMEWHERE THAT THE HONEYROOT PROJECT ALL STARTED WHEN YOU AND KEITH WERE BOTH WORKING ON ABC'S 'SKYSCRAPING' ALBUM, IS THAT TRUE?

Actually it was around that time, maybe just after. We had been working on some film and tv music, which coincided with a H17 promotional trip to Ibiza and upon my return I decided to try and capture that 'Café Del Mar' moment… 'Summer Sky' was the result and that really was the start of the first album, it took a while to pull it together but after meeting Just Music (our label) we were inspired to write the remaining tracks and finish it.

UNDER THE BANNER 'ESKIMO' YOU AND KEITH ALSO WORK TOGETHER SCORING SOUNDTRACKS FOR TV SHOWS AND FILMS, HOW MUCH DOES THAT WORK CROSS INTO WHAT YOU'RE DOING AS HONEYROOT WHICH SOUNDS QUITE 'CINEMATIC' IF THAT'S THE RIGHT WORD, AND VICE VERSA?

I suppose it does really, quite often working to picture can take you down a road that you normally wouldn't take and we have had a few occasions when we have been working on a track for a certain project and thought, hang on a minute this is too good to give to someone else, we'll keep this and make it into a Honeyroot track. It also helps you realise how little you sometimes need to set a mood. Less is certainly more in a lot of our work… in fact we probably end up taking away a good third of what we initially put into a track.

HONEYROOT SEEMS TO BE A LONG WAY FROM THE HEAVEN 17 WORK THAT MOST PEOPLE KNOW YOU FOR, AND EVEN FURTHER FROM KEITH'S POST-PUNK STUFF, DOES IT FEEL LIKE THAT TO YOU OR DOES IT FEEL LIKE A MORE NATURAL PROGRESSION?

It feels like we just do what we want to do to be honest, not to say that we don't disagree along the way, in fact the arguments are probably what make our tunes better. Sometimes one of us will want to pull a track in a certain way and the other will totally disagree but somehow, and after a day or so of grown up mature disagreement (my arse!), we seem always to both end up on the winning side!

WERE THERE ANY PARTICULAR EVENTS, BANDS, RECORDS OR OTHER INFLUENCES THAT MADE YOU WANT TO START WORKING AS HONEYROOT?

I think apart from the Ibiza epiphany, it was just a desire to travel down a road that we had not yet been down, there were obviously lots of other bands doing the same thing so much so that the words 'Chill Out' should cease to be mentioned, but that's part of the fun, twisting a genre into your particular vision.

I'M STRUGGLING TO FIND THE WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE HONEYROOT SOUND BUT FOR ME IT'S AN ALBUM OF SUNSHINE, ATMOSPHERIC, HYPNOTIC... IT HAS THAT CONTEMPORARY IBIZA FEEL BUT THERE'S MORE TO IT THAN THAT; THERE'S MORE SOUL, MORE JAZZ SOMEHOW... HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HONEYROOT FOR SOMEONE WHO HASN'T HEARD IT?

I don't think I'd bother… you just have to put it on and listen, then make your own mind up!

THE NEW HONEYROOT ALBUM, 'THE SUN WILL COME', HAS BEEN GETTING SOME AMAZING REVIEWS, WHICH MUST BE BRILLIANT FOR YOU - HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT THE ALBUM IS ALSO A COMMERCIAL SUCCESS?

Well I must say good reviews are nice but they don't feed the dog, so yes a little commercial success would be good. That bit however is not really up to us; it's down to everyone reading this… so come on, buy the record or the dog won't eat!

THE ALBUM FEATURES A SUCCESSION OF DIFFERENT VOCALISTS BESIDES YOU AND THERE ARE SOME AMAZING PERFORMANCES THERE... HOW DID YOU HOOK UP WITH THE SINGERS? WAS IT A CASE OF KNOWING THEM AND MAKING TRACKS WITH THEM IN MIND OR DID YOU START WORKING ON TRACKS AND THEN HAVE TO GO OUT AND FIND SOMEONE WHO MATCHED?

The way we work is generally to write the track and maybe even put a rough vocal on, normally me singing in falsetto, and then we try and find the girl of our imagination to put the perfect vocal on. I think we've been very lucky.

The first lady of 'The Sun Will Come' shall be Briony Greenhill. We met her whilst working on a film for the Carbon Trust and absolutely fell in love with her voice. Luckily she agreed to do some more work with us and spent quite a bit of time here in the studio singing for us.

Kim Richey is a 'for real' country singer from Nashville who just happened to live across the road from me whilst she recorded her latest album... stroke of luck that!

Kerry is an old friend who quite often helps us out with her wonderfully modern voice.

IT TOOK ABOUT SEVENTEEN YEARS FOR HEAVEN 17 TO TOUR... ARE THERE ANY PLANS FOR HONEYROOT TO GO OUT LIVE OR WILL WE HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER FIFTEEN YEARS?

Oh there are always plans… oh yes, we're seriously considering the 'live' options, but it just takes so long to pull it all together and we are always working on future stuff… oh I don't know, I suppose if enough people want us to play live, we will… start your votes here!

I HAVE AN IDEA IN MY HEAD THAT YOU STARTED OUT AS A PHOTOGRAPHER BEFORE JOINING HEAVEN 17... IF THAT'S RIGHT THEN HAS THAT VISUAL SIDE OF YOUR INTERESTS AFFECTED THE ARTWORK AND STYLING OF HONEYROOT AND YOUR OTHER PROJECTS?

Yes I was a photographer but I sold all my cameras and became a musician... but I do still have an interest in the visual side of what we do, although I try not to get too involved. I like other people to have an input, like the beautifully talented James Bates who made the animated videos for us… wonderful!

FINALLY THE INEVITABLE HEAVEN 17 QUESTION... IS THERE ANY NEWS FROM THAT CAMP AT THE MOMENT?

Not too much going on at the moment, a few live dates pencilled for next year and I believe Martyn has started work on 'Dark', a new BEF project which I hope to be a part of. That's about it. Keep an eye on the websites!

OCTOBER 2007

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