Honduras: Discovering a Country Through Punk and a Band Name

Honduras is a New York four-piece led by childhood friends, Patrick Philips and Tyson Moore. Last Thursday, the punk-centric garage rockers kicked off their latest tour with a high-energy performance at the Bowery Ballroom. The following day, while en route to play the Bones Gate fraternity at Dartmouth, Pat took the time to talk with me about punk’s nihilism, the band’s new EP, and his developing relationship with the Honduras moniker.

So, the name Honduras. I’ve read that you met a guy from Honduras during a landscaping job back in Missouri…

Yeah, that was another random part of the story from a couple years back, but I guess the initial idea for the name…there’s some graffiti on the Williamsburg Bridge that said “Honduras” and it was written four or five times and I’d always walk past it around the time we started the band. I threw that name out because that word had already kind of stuck with me and then it just became our band name.

Now that’s it been your name for a while, has the moniker come to mean anything more to you?

It really has. Initially I was attracted to the name because I wanted to use a place that I was kind of unfamiliar with. I kind of wanted it to be an abstract name that could basically represent anything, really. Since we got the name, we’ve actually been contacted by teenagers down in Honduras, and then the largest newspaper in the capital city of Honduras did a whole write-up about us, and that was really interesting to see. We’ve actually had some Bushwick teenagers from our neighborhood, of Honduran descent, come to some of our shows and we’ve connected with them, opening it up, and answering lots of people’s questions about where the name came from—people actually from Honduras. It’s definitely engaged us with people that we didn’t expect to actually ever listen to our music. It’s been interesting what that’s created.

Very cool. So have you guys been to Honduras?

We haven’t. I’ve actually never visited Central America, but that would definitely be an interesting thing to experience—just to travel or tour down there. Also, picking the name Honduras and reading more about the country…yeah, apparently it’s a pretty dangerous place, from what we’ve heard. Talking to these teenagers that were trying to get us down there to play shows, they’ve told us about the other side of Honduras, the beauty, and about how much they like punk rock. It’s interesting. I’d like to make it down there someday.

Yeah it sounds like it’d be a bit of a pilgrimage for you guys. So you and Tyson both moved from the Midwest to New York, right?

Yeah, so I knew Tyson from when I was six years old. He’s a year older than me, and in elementary school we played t-ball together. His dad coached us, but it wasn’t until high school that we ended up being in the same local music scene together in Columbia, Missouri. And yeah we started playing. He was helping me produce and helping me with my solo project back then, but then when I was 19—I guess it was 10 years ago now—I moved to New York and he went up to Chicago for art school. He did audio engineering. But we’d always keep in touch and I was actually travelling a lot, living overseas for awhile, but we just kept sending each other tracks that we’d record, and always thought we’d put a band together in the future. And then, when he graduated from college, he moved up to New York—I think four years ago—and that’s when we started the band together in our old basement.

Leading up to this interview…I noticed that both Rolling Stone and The New Yorker described your music as being rife with nihilism, sort of hearkening back to the “pure punk” of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Would you say nihilism plays a part in your music, whether intentionally or naturally?

The nihilism factor is definitely not intentional. A lot of those punk bands…it’s just my shit, you know? When I was in my early ‘20s, living in New York and going through that phase, that was just the music and the attitudes that were really affecting me. Basically just cutting through the shit. And the truth of punk music, you know, just being broke and living your life in New York when you’re 20 and trying to figure stuff out yourself, and being a musician. For some reason it just really spoke to me. And I kind of found my voice within rock ‘n’ roll and being a singer. The delivery in a punk format, it just came naturally to me. And it kind of reminded me of the hip-hop I listened to in my teenage, younger years—it’s just in a different, rock ‘n’ roll format. Yeah, the nihilism factor, I’m just trying to work out my problems, and this sound and the delivery of this kind of music is the way I’m able to do that.

I know you and Tyson have been writing songs together for a long time now. Specifically, in this context under the Honduras moniker, have you noticed a change in your processes, or in the way you approach writing new material? Has that changed at all?

Most definitely. The approach to Rituals and this new EP, Gathering Rust…this new one is definitely more like a collective songwriting force. We’ve been playing together and finally we’re starting to tour together. We’ve just played a lot of shows these last two, two-and-a-half, three years together, just the four of us, so yeah there’s definitely a flow or a vibe to writing the new songs as a full band that just didn’t exist before…Essentially it was me and Tyson recording demos at his place, kind of ironing out and then presenting a completed idea to the band, which is something we still definitely do. But other songs have been written in our band practices together where we’re all throwing out initial ideas, based off one melody or guitar line. It’s cool to get to that place and have the full band be a songwriting unit, and I feel like we’re getting there.

Some of this new stuff, specifically “Hollywood,” seems to have a little bit less angst—at least musically—than some of your other repertoire, sort of a straightforward, matter-of-fact Parquet Courts vibe. Is that indicative of your growth as a band? Is it indicative of the direction you want to take this new EP, or is just how that one song turned out?

These songs were written after we toured for the first time in our lives. We went on a couple different tours last year and the EP and these four songs kind of came out of that. “Hollywood,” specifically, was written about a couple days being out there…it’s kind of our ode to New York. After all these experiences being on the road, we got back to New York—I’ve lived here for 10 years, it definitely feels like home—and some of the lyrics are directly reflecting some of my friends from Missouri who we were hanging out with in California… Some of them are in the film industry…I hadn’t seen a lot of them in years and I thought they had some personality quirks after living in LA for a while that I just had never noticed when I was younger. One friend in particular was talking loudly at a bar and name-dropping, just some things that I didn’t expect.

When we got back to New York and I was writing that song, I was just thinking about how different cities and years living in different places can influence the person you become…and I wrote some lyrics about it.


Original Photography for Frontrunner Magazine by Salvador Espinoza from Honduras @ Bowery Ballroom. Brooklyn, NY. February 25, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

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