"It's all about having a good mindset and a good energy when you get on stage," says Ben Malament, drummer for The California Honeydrops, a band with a reputation for involving the crowd in their performances and invoking all-night dance parties. Speaking with Malament, it's clear he and the band like to have a good time and meld with the crowd during each set.
"We love when it goes over well," Malament says. "It's just cool to take a risk and at the end of the night or during the show seeing people having a good time and giving it back."
The California Honeydrops blend blues and R&B with unconventional instruments such as washboards, jugs and a homemade gutbucket bass—plus bluesy vocals.
"We try to take care of our voices and our bodies as much as we can on the road because it is a lot of energy and we play long shows. The way we really prepare is we think about the songs we play over and over again and we don't play those. We have fan favorites and we definitely take those into account, as well. We just don't necessarily plan to put them in any particular places. We play to the room."
The California Honeydrops came together in 2007, starting their musical journey busking in Oakland subway stations.
"We started playing on the
Malament and lead vocalist Lech Wierzynski continue to lead the band—and the dance party. The California Honeydrops bring an infectious high energy to their live performances. With a variety of influences from Bay Area R&B to Delta blues, there's something for everyone at a Honeydrops show.
"It's not just us playing songs at people. We can feel the energy and the joy of the crowd. They tell us what to do a lot of the time. It makes every night different and special."
Up next for The California Honeydrops: recording a new double album in the spring.
"Call it Home Volume 1 and 2" takes inspiration from different areas and incorporates the ever-evolving Honeydrops sound. Malament believes it continues the band's growth while mixing washboards with R&B ballads, and at times, a full orchestra section. Malament says "Call it Home Volume 1 and 2" is their best record to date.
"If you were able to perform it well and it sounds good right away coming out of the speakers, it's pretty inspiring. We try to continue our growth of playing music that we like with our original songs. Straight up R&B shuffles, everything live in the same room, it just sounds awesome."
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