Over the last few years, the Wild Honey Collective has become one of the most exciting additions to Lansing’s folk and roots music scene. The band’s guitarist and vocalist, Tommy McCord, who’s also a member of The Plurals, chatted with City Pulse about the collective’s upcoming release, “Chicory.” The EP hits streaming services Friday (Sept. 1), the same day the band plays Horrocks Farm Market.
How was the production process this time around for the ‘Chicory’ EP?
Tommy McCord: Wild Honey was born out of the pandemic, so to speak, so we have a comfortable process employing a series of remote recording sessions and makeshift studio environments. In addition to our usual home studios, we also had a group recording session at a family member’s lake house on Lake Michigan, which was particularly memorable — avoiding typical studio atmospheres truly helps with our creativity. I mixed it, and Rick Johnson (of Mustard Plug) mastered it.
Who all played on the record?
All the Wild Honey principles — myself, Danielle Gyger, Timmy Rodriguez, Dan O’Brien, Adam Aymor and Joel Kuiper — are all over these recordings, as well as contributions by the rest of The Plurals (Hattie Danby and Nicholas Richard) and Grand Rapids musicians Tony Halchak and Jason Lanning. Our recording sessions can sometimes be like a much tamer ‘Exile on Main St.,’ where we just grab whoever’s nearby when there’s inspiration, and then the rest of the band shapes it into Wild Honey. I love it.
What inspired the EP’s title?
The plan for this release, which is a sort of mini-album to work with while we finish our ‘Volume 3’ LP, was to release it digitally as soon as we finished mixing/mastering and to name it after a wildflower that would be prevalent and popping up at the time of release. We had a listening session to sign off on the mixes in mid-August. As we were driving home, Danielle pointed out all of the chicory lining the roadside. There it was.
There are a few cover songs on here. How did you pick those?
Wild Honey works rapidly and somewhat unconventionally. We don’t have a totally fixed performing lineup, and we essentially never rehearse as a group, which means that we’re all individually working on material, and our live performances are exciting and open. As a result, we started drifting into a sort of psychedelic country sound that wasn’t really apparent on our first two albums, so we wanted to show that side of the band with a shorter-form release. The recording sessions for ‘Volume 3’ yielded a surplus of material, so we settled on first releasing some covers with some original instrumental pieces. We wanted to showcase some local heroes, so there’s a Calliope cover and a song by Grand Rapids musician Michael Dause of The Accidentals, plus the cult-favorite Canadian alternative-folk singer Fred Eaglesmith. To wrap it up, there’s a classic from the spacey-country songbook, “Ripple,” by the Grateful Dead.
It seems like 2023 has been quite busy for Wild Honey Collective, am I right?
We’ve probably done more in 2023 than some bands do in their whole run: a Midwest leg in the spring, followed by a full East Coast and New England tour. We’ve done festivals, including the honor of playing the Wheatland Main Stage at Traditional Arts Weekend, a tour of the Upper Peninsula and many local shows. We’ve also done a whole slew of recording.
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