Originally from Sligo, Honas (real name Hugh O’Neill) draws his creative spirit from the unique years of his childhood: growing up along the rugged coastline, speaking the Irish language and throwing himself into Gaelic football.
However, a portion of his early years were spent living in Guyana, South America, where his obsession with music was ignited. This diverse cultural exposure, coupled with a newfound appreciation for classic Western songwriting upon his return to Ireland, moulded Honas' musical identity.
With his new single ‘Everyday Life’ out now, we caught up with Honas to learn more.
1. What’s the music that you listened to growing up, that you still listen to today?
From the age of 7 or so, I started listening to some of the Greatest Hits compilations of The Beatles and Michael Jackson. They were my introduction to music, really. Then I had a bit of a pop-punk stint in my teens where I got obsessed with Green Day, Blink 182 and Sum 41. I tend to go back and binge all of the above every now and again, although they’re not part of my regular listening anymore (Beatles aside). Then I got into stuff from a more singer/songwritery world later on, like David Gray, Declan O’Rourke, Paolo Nutini, who are definitely still on rotation these days.
2. In three words, describe the minute before you walk on stage.
Agonising, impatience, jitters.
3. How do you wind down after a gig?
I definitely need a few minutes by myself (or with the band, if I’m playing with one that night), to chill, sit down and have a beer, just to give my mind a chance to refocus and recalibrate after the buzz of a show. But after that, it’s nice to ride the adrenaline wave for a while, go out and mingle at the merch table or watch another band.
4. What’s the one song (by another artist) you wish you’d written or recorded first?
I mean, ‘You’re So Vain’ does have one of the most genius chorus lyrics ever, so I do get very jealous of that every now and again and wish I wrote it. But also ‘Welcome’ by Hey Rosetta, that hits the feels every time. It’s a really beautiful song musically and lyrically. I have a few nieces and nephews, and every single time, whenever the news came in that there was a new baby in the family, I would listen to or play this song. Check out Hey Rosetta's live acoustic versions on YouTube, magic.
5. What is your pet peeve?
Having just moved to London, I’m seeing a lot of people full on toddler-coughing or open-air sneezing on the tube. That’s not great.
6. Name one record, one book and one film that everyone should hear / read / see.
Andy Shauf - Wilds
Leonard and Hungry Paul - Rónán Hession
Peanut Butter Falcon
7. Pick the director and lead actor(s) for a biopic about your life.
Leo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese because no matter how my life turns out, everyone would watch that film and it would be one of the best things ever made. Might even give my career a boost.
8. You’re ordering take-away, what do you get?
The Metal Man pizza from Austies in Sligo. Goats cheese, black pudding and caramelised red onions are the best pizza toppings, bar none.
9. Describe your perfect day off.
Get up late, have really tasty coffee and breakfast, go do something I don’t do very often (like sea swim and sauna, ice skating, ping pong, go karting), and then spend hours cooking something from the Ottolenghi book with my girlfriend and drink red wine. Then chat and listen to music or watch a movie.
10. Tell us, in one sentence, why we should come to your next gig (whenever it may be.)
I've recently been writing the most honest and personal songs I’ve ever written, and I think a lot of people are going to leave the gig feeling like they really connected with some of them.
BONUS QUESTION: Recommend a podcast and tell us why we should subscribe to it.
Sodajerker for those interested in songwriting, Tapenotes for those interested in the recording and production process. Both podcasts get songwriters/artists/producers in to talk about a specific album of theirs. I’ve found both incredibly inspiring. It’s also really refreshing to sometimes hear first demos of amazing songs, but they’re terrible. It’s great assurance that even the best writers rarely just blurt out a perfect song. A healthy reminder to trust the process.
‘Everyday Life’ is out now.