While the Internet and the advent of MySpace and Twitter has made the world smaller for resource-limited bands trying to make names for themselves, there’s still no substitute for a live performance. At some point, you want to step on stage in front of the fans you’ve made in some of those distant markets you’ve cracked online.
And so the men of Honor By August (HBA) invested in a 25-passenger bus to use on tours. Remodeling it themselves and with the help of some family associates, the foursome stripped out the back third to hold their equipment. They added bunk beds, an eating area and a couch to the front, even slapping in a DVD player and Wii gaming system.
“It’s pretty awesome and we’re very happy with it,” frontman Michael Pearsall says.
Ready to roll, the band has expanded its touring radius which once consisted of stops on the Eastern Seaboard. With the bus, they steamed across country in two-and-a-half days to do shows in California and Las Vegas.
The decision to purchase (and pimp) their new ride, upgrading from a Ford cargo van (“It required some serious Tetris skills to make everything fit in the van,” Pearsall says), has also helped them capitalize on the buzz the quartet has received from new album Found, released last May, as well as the eye-popping new video bearing the same name. Since its release, HBA has used PR firm Trendsetter Marketing to place the vid into health clubs, restaurants, cruise ships and FUSE TV.
“We get royalties when it gets played, so it’s almost paid for itself already.”
It’s also given them what Pearsall calls their most “rock star” moment to date. A restaurateur in Las Vegas saw the video while working out, then traveled to see their show in California, afterwards inviting the band to his restaurant in Vegas, Nob Hill Tavern at the MGM Grand.
“He treated us like kings,” Pearsall says.
The video for “Found” has also led to renewed heat from a record industry that has flirted with the D.C.-based band since its formative moments. They’ll have several labels gathered at a showcase Jan. 7 in New York’s Mercury Lounge.
The most intoxicating aspect of HBA’s music is the fullness that comes flying out of the speakers with every record. With a pulsing drum beat supplied by Brian Shanley and some virtuoso work on the axe by lead guitarist Evan Field, each song on the newest album throws at you everything you can handle and more. The most striking sonic quality though is the return of robust harmonies to the band’s repertoire.
After the departure of former bassist Joe Wenger, the soaring chorus harmonies that completed “Into the Light” and “The Quiet Sky,” two tracks from HBA’s debut album, Drowning Out the Television, largely fell by the wayside in live performances. With the addition of Chris Rafetto on the bass, replacing John Athayde, who held the job from 2006-08, the harmonies have been brought back full-force. The additional voice takes tracks like “Found” and “Unbreakable” off the new album to grander heights. Rafetto’s involvement in writing has also broadened the horizons for the band’s future catalog.
In the meantime, however, they’ll concentrate on touring and making use of their latest investment. They’ll return home to D.C. following the New York showcase for a Jan. 8 headlining show at 9:30 Club. Tickets range from $10 – $15 with proceeds going to benefit the Nothing But Nets Foundation, a charity dedicated to combat malaria by supplying mosquito netting to impoverished communities in Africa.
• For more on Honor By August, visit www.honorbyaugust.com.