Dirty Honey came together in 2017 when Labelle, a New York native, met guitarist John Notto at the singer’s regular covers gig at a Santa Monica bar. Notto had moved to Los Angeles from Maine on a mission to match the success of his favorite band, Guns N’ Roses. Labelle was struck by his ambition. "He seemed like a true rock & roll personality and somebody I should be pursuing a dream with in an original band," he says.
Labelle ditched the covers show and, with Notto, bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone, began writing original material like the moody rocker 'Fire Away' and the smoldering ballad 'Down the Road.' The quartet settled on the name Dirty Honey, a Sunset Strip-ready moniker that came to Labelle after hearing Robert Plant talk about the Honeydrippers on Howard Stern, and started to fine-tune their live show in the clubs.
Dirty Honey aren’t going it alone. Pre-production was done for their debut full-length album with producer Nick DiDia, who as Brendan O’Brien’s longtime engineer who cut his teeth on LPs by Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine. The band flew to DiDia’s studio in Byron Bay, Australia, when they recorded their EP ("It’s really a cost thing," Labelle says. "Studios in L.A. are really expensive"), but because of the pandemic, they’re collaborating now via Zoom.
Labelle hopes the band’s upcoming album will reignite the rock revival that looked to be catching fire three years ago with groups like Greta Van Fleet and Rival Sons. "I thought there’d be a little more true rock & roll popping up, but it’s still pretty much slim pickings," he says. "We’re happy to plant our foot in there."
Photo Credit - Dan Prakopcyk for Rolling Stone
'California Dreamin' was the first single released from this debut album and is a fabulous introduction to this new album. A full on and energetic riff laden opener which will have you singing along right from the off. This is followed by 'The Wire', which is another track that has a wonderfly constructed build up that leads to an explosive chorus that will have you hooked. Mix this with a guitar solo and you have a classic format that is timeless.
'Tied Up' has a wicked and addictive beat which draws you in before the chorus grabs you along with a funky ass riff, before 'Take My Hand', which is a funkier blues infused heavier beast that just rocks. The bass is immense in this, holding everything together perfectly with the drums. Turn this up loud to really appreciate it.
'Gypsy' takes no prisoners and is full throttle from start to finish. A great classic rock'n'roll track from one of the most exciting bands on the scene at the moment.
'No Warning' slows the pace slightly, and just has the coolest vibe. Your head will be bobbing and your fingers tapping along on the steering wheel with the window down. This really is a feel good tune.
'The Morning' is another familiar sounding track, nothing new musically, just given the magic by these guys who have put their stamp on it and created a long overdue real contender for the new breed of classic rock bands that can really break through and make it big.
Sadly all too soon we reach the last track, 'Another Last Time', brings to a close this exceptional debut album. This will bring you down from the adrenaline charged previous tracks with a beautiful power ballad that just sounds epic and anthemic. Wonderful end to an amazing and already classic release in my opinion.
From a personal point of view, I have been excited for this release for a long time since I first heard the band, and was a little worried that it would not live up to expectations as the EP was so good beforehand. Well I needn't have worried, as this is every bit as good and then some. I really enjoyed the whole album, just a shame that there are only eight tracks, but at least they are eight exceptional tracks, all killer no filler.
For me at this current time there is not a better band that encapsulates that Classic Rock vibe of bands such as Aerosmith or Guns 'N' Roses, and Marc Labelle's voice is killer. The band are tight and make it look easy. Long may they continue doing what they do best and create wonderful rock 'n' roll tunes.
TFM gives the self titled 'Dirty Honey' album a deserved 10/10. For me this is the soundrack for the summer and will be played many many times. Do yourself a favour and go and check this out as soon as possible.