Anchored by four lifelong friends, The Honest Heart Collective was born from brothers Ryan and Nic MacDonald, a moment at a Springsteen concert, and a rotating cast of musicians made permanent.
Their new song “Fine” embodies an old soul take of heart-on-sleeves storytelling accompanied by a guitar-driven backdrop and big production.
Listen to “Fine” here: https://soundcloud.com/thehonestheartcollective/fine/
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Learn more about The Honest Heart Collective in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that the year is about over, how would you say that 2019 has treated this band? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them? What are you already excited about for 2020?
2019 has been a fantastic year for us. We were fortunate enough to travel coast to coast this year, worked on some great new music that we’re very proud of, and met a lot of new friends along the way. One goal for this year was to break through to some Spotify editorial playlists, and our songs North American Dream and Lonely Bones managed to snag spots on Rock Your Block which helped us reach a wider audience. For 2020 we’ve got our sights set on some new international markets like the US, UK, & Europe!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on? Where did your name come from exactly?
The band started out as a solo project that acquired musicians from a group of best friends. I borrowed the root of the band name from my favourite video game and the rest is history.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? How has the music scene there changed over the years?
Thunder Bay is a very blue collar, working class town. it definitely gave our sound a sort of Springsteen-esque soul. We’ve had a strong music scene since the early 2000’s and like anywhere else it’s had its ebbs & flows, but we’ve got some great venues & bands keeping Thunder Bay highly entertained.
Let’s talk about your newest single “Fine.” What was the inspiration for this track? How would you say that it compares with anything else that you have released?
Fine. Started out as this guitar riff that I’d been playing anytime I picked a guitar. I mean it was relentless, although I couldn’t find a single lyric meaningful enough to sing over it. I’d been going through a pretty rough time, when I had a phone call with someone from my past. They asked how I’d been doing and I guess they could hear the waiver in my voice and jokingly responded with “there’s always something with you Ryan”. It’s got way more of an atmospheric vibe compared to our last album, Grief Rights.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon and a full collection of new songs?
Always. We’ve got a few things to finish up but we’ll have more on the way in 2020.
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
Until recently, I’d come up with a guitar part or working lyrics & melodies, shape it into more of a song with Nic, and then create the arrangement and bring the song to life with Kevin and Jay before bringing it to our producer. But this past summer, our producer, Derek Hoffman, came up to Thunder Bay and we started writing from scratch. We were all together in one room with a bunch of mics and we came away from those sessions highly inspired.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
We were friends before we started this band and we’ll be friends long after. It gets tough to hangout while we’re not on tour since we all have part time jobs, but luckily we all work at bars on the downtown strip so we’re never that far from each other. We’ve always got each others back, no matter what.
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
We’re going on our sixth year as a band and we’ve always steadily grown throughout this time, but since our van rolling accident two years ago, everything has more purpose. Everything has more reason, more drive, and more passion. There’s nothing quite like a near death experience to make you realise what’s important in life.
Where do you think you are all happiest – in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
We’re happy whenever we’re doing something positive and constructive with our career. You just have to shift you mindset a bit. When we’re on tour, our focus is on playing the best we possibly can, and so on and so forth for each aspect of the band. It gets difficult to change that mindset on the fly. For example, if we’re in the middle of working on new songs while simultaneously having to prepare for a show it gets a little tricky, however we love that we are fortunate enough to do this and make it work.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues lately?
Being well rehearsed, having enough time to promote it, and going out and playing our best in front of whoever shows up. Our Horsehoe Tavern show in Toronto this past September was the perfect example of this.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
That’s always a tricky tightrope to walk because we can’t just be musicians now. On top of writing, recording, and performing, we now have to be social media wizards and navigate this digital world and always be self promoting ourselves. I spend more time on Instagram and Twitter than I’d like to admit. However, it truly is the best way to interact with fans. These platforms make it incredibly easy to do so.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Ahh politics. It’s something we try to steer away from in context to music. There’s so many divisive issues in the world today that we’d rather bring a few hundred people together in a club to sing along to songs about life. That’s what gives me the most joy in this world because for 60 minutes, nothing else really matters. Even if you grab the attention of a few people in the room, that’s a connection stronger than anything in the world. That being said, we’re always backing the underdog. Look out for each other.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music?
Springsteen, Brian Fallon, Arkells, and Frank Turner.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope that people hear our music and hang on to that sense of hope in a seemingly hopeless world. I always do my best to put my whole heart into the words I write and be honest about it. Because that’s what people connect with. Truthful and honest songs.