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An Interview with Mad Honey-'Theories' EP

Mad Honey is an indie dream pop band from Oklahoma City.

The group consists of Tiff Sutcliffe (vocals, guitar), Branden Palesano (bass, synths), Keegan Ball (guitar), and Austin Valdez (drums).

We recently got the chance to meet up with Mad Honey and talk with them about their upcoming EP 'Theories', coming out on October 11 2019.

How did you guys meet, and how did you come together to form Mad Honey?

Branden: Tiff and I met around 2013. We did a church internship together, and yeah, we met through that. I told her one day that we should make music together, because I heard her stuff on soundcloud, and it didn't happen for a while. Then 2016 we started dating, and in 2017 we kinda started Mad Honey. At the time it was a different name, but yeah. And then Tiff and Austin met at Stella Nova.

Austin: Yeah I worked at Stella Nova, a coffee shop, and then Tiff started working there. We just started talking about music, and she was saying that she was working on a project, and I was like "Oh yeah, let me hear it". Once I heard it I was like I gotta be involved somehow, and then, yeah, showed up to practice and that's where I met Keegan.

Keegan: I met Branden and Tiff at a New Years Party bringing in 2018. My friend Jacie who is a manager at Classen invited me to the party at their house. So Branden and I started talking about Star Wars and the Star Wars art on the wall, and Branden was very excited. Then I started hanging out more at Classen and talking to everyone there, then I met Tiff, and then Austin at practice.

Branden: There were other people in the band, we had a guitarist at that time but he had to quit, and so I just asked Keegan, I hadn't even heard him play, I just knew he played guitar. So I was like "hey, do you wanna be in our band?".

Tiff: So yeah we met Keegan and he was in the band, and we had the rough demos of Carole's Slumber Party ready, and that's when I met Austin because we needed a drummer. I asked him "even if you just wanna do live stuff, like we just need a drummer so bad". Austin heard the song and he got excited about it, and then he was in the band for good.

Your single 'Carole's Slumber Party' has captured quite the following. Tell us a little about the creation and inspiration behind 'Carole's Slumber Party'.

Tiff: I wrote Carole's Slumber Party. I wrote the first verse and chorus really early on, like late 2017. We found out it was actually written on Keegan's birthday, we didn't know that(at the time), it was before we had met Keegan and everything. It was just a really simple, supposed to be surf rock track, really upbeat. I just wrote it alone and didn't really think about it for a little bit.

Branden: Yeah, Beach House's album 7 came out and we heard a song from there and we were like "oh my god", and it changed everything. We got inspired and then I wrote some synth parts on my phone, believe it or not. It just segued into that dreamier sound.

Tiff: We got super inspired and gathered in Branden's room at the time and wrote the rest of the lyrics, really just hashed the rest of it out, and that was the beginning of that.

What inspired, or how did you come up with the name Mad Honey?

Branden: So our first band name was Mad Crush, and then we went though like three other different names. I think the last one we were on was Bad Peach, it's just objectively bad. I was on twitter one day and I saw an article about Mad Honey and I didn't know what it was, and I read about it and it was like psychedelic honey, a drug. So I was like okay yeah I kinda like that, sweet and psychedelic, kinda represents our music.

Tiff: In my head it was a little more dramatic than that. I walked into Branden’s room and he’s just laying there and he goes "I HAVE THE NAME", and he's just on twitter and in a daze.

Tell us a little about your musical backgrounds.

Austin: So with me, most of my time playing drums was like church band and on the other side of that, playing hardcore metal bands. So my style is very one end of the spectrum to the other.

Branden: Mine is pretty much the same. I actually played guitar, I was the original guitarist for the band but that changed cause Keegan's better than me, and we needed a bassist so I picked up bass. I also picked up synths, I'm not really a piano player but I like the science side of synths.

Tiff: I have been writing songs since I was 13, and I taught myself just very simple chords on the guitar. Yeah I just kind of wrote alone and built up a repertoire and never showed anyone anything, and in high school I had a fake band on soundcloud, but it was just me on garage band. I didn't do anything with music for a long time until Mad Honey, I just kinda lost my way, and then I found it.

Keegan: I also played in the worship band at my church for a little bit a long time ago. I also took private lessons for guitar for a really long time and had recitals with that, and performances at the ACM lab twice a year. So I had a little bit of experience playing live with that, but Mad Honey is like the first real band for me.

Mad Honey formed a little over a year ago. What have been some of the most interesting or noteworthy experiences you've had so far as a band, or playing shows?

Branden: We had a mini tour not too long ago, that was really fun. We opened for a ska band, that was really cool, and the last show we played in a church, but it was of all different religions.

Keegan: Being on the radio for the first time, that was a big one, it really meant a lot.

Tiff: Playing Norman Music Festival was a big one for all of us.

Keegan: Opening for the Ivy, too. It was a sold out show, and No Vacation.

Your EP 'Theories' comes out on Friday October 11th. So far you've released three singles, Carole's Slumber Party, Cruel to Know, and Blue & You. What have been some of the biggest differences or challenges of releasing an EP as opposed to a single?

Branden: Where do we begin, first of all the recording process has been completely different. We actually have a studio in my house, so that's made it easier, but also in the past three singles we've done midi drums and electronic drums, but for this album we did live recording. Our buddy Sev helped us out and it sounds a lot better, and Austin can agree on that.

Tiff: I think for me, what I see is we're learning a lot about the idea of organization in recording a bigger project. I think it's been a little drawn out only because we didn't set up deadlines for ourselves. Before we just had one song, so one person would go and do all their stuff and then leave, that sort of thing, but now there are so many things to do. I think going into it next time we would be a lot more organized knowing what a big task it is.

Keegan: Also I feel like we're just better. Better writing together, like all the new songs are more just all of us together.

Branden: I think our sound has definitely evolved, it sounds a lot more cohesive.

Austin: That would fit with one of the challenges which is making sure we keep the songs kind of fresh or different but still maintain an overall palette for the EP, so they all just bled together.

Branden: We've just all grown and we're all better now. This will be a very mature moment for us.

Tiff: I think you can tell for each person, even, just the difference between how we sounded then and now. More confidence.

Tell us a little about the creative process for your upcoming EP 'Theories'.

Tiff: The title track Theories was the first song we wrote this year, and I think that was a big deal for us, it was the first step towards knowing who we are as a band and the first song in that confidence of "we're Mad Honey, we feel it deeply". So that's why I think it feels so special and why we called it Theories.

Branden: Yeah it's more of a mature song, I feel like our parts are just better, and everyone sounds a lot more cohesive than prior songs. We've all matured individually. musically, and it definitely shows. I think we just matured with the idea of what Mad Honey is and what it sounds like.

Keegan: We have a better idea of what it is, what it means to us, and what we want it to mean to other people.

Tiff: I think also, like, the approach to writing songs has changed, and we've played a lot with doing that differently. So one of the songs is Old Blood, and Keegan brought the guitar idea first and we had never written a song like that before. So just experimenting with writing in different ways and different types of inspiration has happened a lot.

What can listeners expect from Theories? What will surprise them?

Austin: I would say lyrical content because it starts somewhere and ends somewhere. You can kind of tell the different tones and like how it either evolves or progresses. I think people might be surprised with how heavy it can get, especially after the three singles we've released. A different change in tempo or style.

Branden: Yeah I think it could kind of be a concept EP in it's own way, it definitely revolves around mental health, and our emotions and stuff. I feel like each song has it's own world, it's own problems, and its own solutions. They're more emotional, they're more raw, they're more like emo or angsty for sure.

Tiff: I think all of our songs in the past have been pretty vulnerable, but I fell like it might be surprising how vulnerable it can get too. The lyrical content on my side, I think it gets very raw and a little dark, but at the end of everything I think it's very hopeful.

Keegan: Yeah that was a conscious decision with the track order to make sure that it does tell a story through each song, but it ends with Theories which is the hope, or light at the end of the tunnel thematically.

Austin: It's like when you're playing an old school Nintendo game and they don't work and you're frustrated and you're almost considering ending your life because you can't get the cartridge to work, and then when you blow it enough, you put it in there, and it works and everything is okay.

Tiff: Let it be known that is our vision.

Branden: Expect to cry.

Theories will be available for streaming Friday October 11th.

You can keep up with Mad Honey on instagram @madhoneyband and stream on spotify here:

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