When it comes to New Jersey not only does it have some of the best food, beaches, and killer summer party spots, but the music scene always has something great to offer! That being said i got to sit down with a long time friend of mine of whom i met in 2004, Brandon Smith. Brandon for as long as I have known him, he has been writing, recording, playing and making his presence well known in the New Jersey music scene. His most recent project called “Honey I’m Homeless” is definitely a wild mold of matchbox 20 fueled, late 90’s alternative, mixed with angsty, early pop punk spirited lyrics that blend nicely with guitar lines inspired by rock legends like Van Morrison. Not only have these guys put out some good music but they’ve played with some really great bands as well like Sponge, Glenn Matlock of the Sex Pistols, Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls, and they’ve got an upcoming show with Jimmies Chicken Shack (Get Your Tickets Here). If you’re into bands like 3rd eye blind, Hooty and the blowfish, and post “Take off your pants and jacket” blink-182, you’ll love “Honey I’m Homeless”, and if you’re in NJ this summer make sure you check them out!
I was able to listen to the single “Hotels” off of the album Remission Impossible which debuts Christmas Day 2018 on Brandon’s record label, Fester Records. Sonically “Hotels” sounds fantastic, very even and the lows are nice, punchy and clean. The vocals are a little raspy in a good way showing off that 90’s alternative vibe. The song almost has a country feel to it which bring backs memories of Hooty and The Blowfish and Goo Goo Dolls. The demo version is up on their website, which you can access through this link. I was also able to ask Brandon a few questions about the recording process and some of his favorite tools to use in the studio.
Band Name: Honey, I’m Homeless
Location: Wildwood, NJ
Producer: Self Produced
Jim: Brandon, we’ve known each other for almost 15 years now, I’ve always enjoyed your writing, what goes into the writing process when you’re making your music ?
Brandon: For me, this album is so much different from the last album. The last album (Honey, I’m Homeless) was kind of songs I already had written or pieces of songs I wrote in High School/College that I put music to. I typically start each song at the chorus and put what I think is a catchy hook then write around the hook of the song. They mostly are narrative-type of writing telling a little story. Whether it’s a girl I’m pining after or an event that transpired that I wrote the song about, it’s always a different kind of inspiration. This album is almost all from scratch so I’ve been recording demos of song ideas and slowly writing them. I have about 9 half-finished songs that will eventually end up on the album.
J: Your last album was recorded at Backroom Studios in Rockaway,NJ, for your album Remission Impossible are you returning to Backroom?
B: For this album I’m actually recording myself in my house, released with my self-owned label Fester Records. Fester Records has been my business for almost 10 years now but we always recorded somewhere else and released it through Fester. I actually lost my original studio in my house fire in 2013 so I finally built it back up again after many years. I only work with trusted musicians that I’ve known for many many years so it’s a very exclusive club. This album is my first 100% D.I.Y. album from start to finish. I love the creative freedom but it is 1000 times harder than going to a studio or having a producer. The other albums I did the guitars, songwriting, bass, and vocals. This album I’m trying to avoid singing as much as possible to have featured artists, which is a total first for me.
J: What was your favorite piece of gear used in the recording process and why?
B: My favorite for the Urethra Franklin album was recording through a 1960’s Neve console, which was insane, and used a Bogner Shiva for most of the rhythm guitars. My favorite for Honey, I’m Homeless was probably the 5150 for the rhythm guitars because of how chunky it was. We used an Orange head and cab for the leads, which was a little brash, but the engineer balanced it out so it sounded really good. For this album, I’m using a Focusrite Clarett 8PreX, a Kemper Profiler, Alesis Command drums, and doing all vocals through every engineer’s secret weapon…the Shure SM7B, my personal favorite studio microphone. The Kemper has been an absolutely insanely helpful tool for this album and has helped me find inspiration every time I try an amp. I’ve profiled about 100 amps so far from people I know. My main overdrive is a Bogner Helios, my light crunch is an amp called Divided by 13 (a very Sheryl Crow-type tone, which I love), and clean has been a profile of a real 1957 Fender Twin.
J: You have a background in audio engineering, what is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to mixing live audio?
B: Mixing live audio is such a beast in itself because, even if you have the same band every couple weeks, every mix each time is somehow gonna be different. People think there’s a such thing as using board “presets” and “plug and play” but there is no such thing. I think I always fight with the musician that only wants to hear them and no other band members, that’s the hardest to deal with. I have 3 monitors blasted right at you, I can’t give you any more than what I’m giving you or my house mix to the crowd will be affected. So I guess my main pet peeve is trust. The bands have to trust that I have a great house mix, then they can relax with the monitor mix a little bit. Even bigger a pet peeve than that is when a performer will say to the audience, “How do we sound? Can you hear everything?”. Even if the crowd responds in the negative, that’s my main job so you’re just insulting me. Your aunt or cousin in the crowd that wants to hear you more is dead wrong and you’ll just annoy me. My favorite industry phrase is that I have control of the “suck button”, which is 100% true. At any point in time, I have the power to make any performer sound terrible. Of course I don’t, but if a musician is going at it with me for extended periods of time, I gotta cut the mic sometimes to send a message.
J: What about when you’re in the studio?
B: I think my biggest pet peeve in the studio is vocal day. I don’t look forward to it at all. No one wants to hear how terrible they sound for hours and hours of takes. Another big one is when I get a song all recorded and finished and can’t seem to finish writing the second half of the song. It just stays in limbo until a later time when I come up with a couple lines. Luckily, the studio has mainly been just me and a drummer so I haven’t had too many bad experiences yet (knock on wood).
J: Top 3 go-to mics when it comes to recording your album?
B: My go-to vocal mic has always been the Shure SM7B, just the best-sounding vocal mic for my voice. I prefer the sound of a Shure SM57 mic’ed up on a guitar cabinet. A Yamaha Subkick has been my go-to for the kick drum. Other mics are just whatever the studio has but I insist on those 3.
J: Biggest Musical inspiration?
B: My biggest musical inspirations are kind of explained as; if you put them all in a blender, that’s what my bands sound like. I wear my influences on my sleeve. Alkaline Trio, blink-182, The Replacements, Smoking Popes, Descendents, Van Morrison, Samiam, Jawbreaker, Matchbox 20, New York Dolls, Everclear, Sponge, Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls, and so many more. My formative years were the 90’s because I started playing in bands so young, so those were all important in evolving my music over the years.
J: Let them know when the album drops and what can we expect from the rest of the record?
B: The album Remission: Impossible drops on Christmas Day 2018. This record is everything from folk-rock to punk rock to hard rock…don’t expect a set genre for this one at all. There’s even a hip-hop song on this record, which I’ve never done. Because of the freedom I have with this album, I’m just doing whatever I’m feeling and letting it be as free as possible, with a whole lot of special guest vocalists as well. Our first single coming out next week is “Hotels” with our on-again-off-again lead vocalist Vinny Mosher. Our second single is the opener to the album, “Epitaph” with Jon Katity from Behind The Beautiful (who also has a new album coming out) on lead vocals and that one should be released soon after.