Cold sweat: Sweating Honey plays tunes with Arctic influence
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
CARBONDALE ” Guitarist, pianist and singer Luke Beckel, 28, has been making music for 21 years. A decade ago, something drew him away from his New Jersey home and to a new world in Fairbanks, Alaska. Soon after, he and a friend started Sweating Honey, a seven-man band whose eclectic flavor is hard even for Beckel to pin down. During a recent interview, he talked about his experience in the music world and his life in a place of extremes. People in Alaska, he said, may be independent, even to a fault, but they also are “one big family.”
Tonight and Saturday, Beckel and band are making a few stops in Carbondale, as they continue their current Colorado tour.
What brought you guys together? “I think friendship, really. We’ve stayed together 10 years. It’s rare. We were all friends, and we’ve remained friends.”
Describe your sound. “There’s some Eastern European influence. There is some reggae influence. There’s a lot of it that comes from long winters that are pitch-black and summers that are warm and 90 degrees.”
How has it changed? “I think we started more influenced by the ‘jam band’ scene and the Grateful Dead scene and stuff like that.”
Their work these days, he said, is more refined, intentional.
“I’d say epic, but a little more constructed in a classical way, where there’s definite movement with not as much room for improvisation.”
What are you trying to say with your music? “I think we’re trying to escape the label thing ” I know a lot of people say that.”
“As Americans, we’re influenced in a million different ways. You’re a part of it, whether or not you’re a part of it.”
There’s so much judgment in the music industry, he continued, especially on the East Coast. To him, being in Alaska is a chance to appeal to a varied, open bunch of people. He characterized a “typical” Fairbanks conversation:
“Someone who grew up in a 20-person village who is really into (heavy metal band) Pantera talking to a person from New York, who’s really into the hip-hop, about political theory.”
How does darkness affect your work? “I definitely don’t write too many uplifting, happy songs in the dark. We have a lot of really dark songs because of it.”
“You get a little more introspective lyrically because of it. It’s really a creative time.”
Have you thought about leaving Alaska? How would that change your music? “We thought about it. We all agree that one day we have to take it seriously, get out of Fairbanks.”
“I think we could carry on what we do up here down there. That Alaskan mentality never really leaves once you’ve been up here for a while.”
What’s the most exciting future you could envision for the band? “If we could get on one of those festival circuits and reach a larger audience. We’re not looking for any big record deal.”
“To be on an independent label and get well-known enough to take off. Get ourselves in the musical consciousness of a generation, too. We definitely don’t want to end up a local band.”
What’s the most important thing in your life? “Wow. As an individual, I’d say my son. He’s 2. As a musician, the most important thing in my life is the band. I’m just so excited to be playing music with who I’m playing music with.”
“Having a positive effect on people, musically, and doing what you love is an incredible thing.”
More information on Sweating Honey: http://www.myspace.com/sweatinghoney.
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
Post Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
WHO: Sweating Honey
WHEN: 8 tonight at Steve’s Guitars and 10 p.m. at the Black Nugget, 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Black Nugget
WHERE: Steve’s Guitars, 19 N. 4th St., and the Black Nugget, 403 Main St., both in Carbondale
WHY? Get a taste of Alaska ” without enduring one of its winters
COST: $10 at Steve’s Guitars, $5 at the Black Nugget
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