Honey + Child = Jam?

Group member says vocalist and songwriting are keys


Honey Child members Jason Montero, left, Joe Frost, Heather Higgs, Steve Green, Dino Gisiano and Greg Lisi are hosting a CD release party for "Taller" at Eugenes Rock Café. The entire band, with the exception of conga player Joe Frost, is moving to North Carolina.

Just as the first part of Honey Childs band name makes a fine companion to peanut butter, so does the first half of another two-word phrase thats been attached to the group since their formation in the mid-90s: jam band.

"Its a double-edged sword for us," guitarist Dino Gisiano says. "On one hand, it suggests a level of expertise at the craft, but at the same time, were songwriters, too. I like to think of us as the alternative jam band. We can get into a 30-minute wank fest that will blind you and weve got a conga player, so we wont even be in time for half of it! but to me, that gets old, even playing it.

"I think what makes us ultimately appealing isnt the jam-band element of our music, although that is something we can do. Most of the jam bands out there dont really have     a singer. Honey Child wouldnt exist if it     wasnt for our vocalist."

"I belt too much probably," singer Heather Higgs says. "Ive had a few lessons and Ive learned to tone it back and not     scream at the top of my lungs anymore.     Im still learning how to use my voice."     Its been a lifelong process.

"My dad sang and played guitar and my     mom sang too, so I guess I get it from my parents," Higgs says. "There was always music playing in the house, so Ive been singing as long as I can remember."

Higgs vocals are impressively showcased on Honey Childs new CD, Taller. Produced by Grammy Awardnominated local legend Clarke Rigsby, the disc is a sonic tour de force that goes from subtle intimacy to full-blown orchestration with plenty of instrumental hooks and catchy choruses along the way.

"Clarke is famous in this town, but hes also famous for not liking a lot of music in this town," Gisiano says.

"When he said he was in, we were secretly screaming inside."

Rigsby and the band which also includes guitarist Jason Montero, conga player Joe Frost, drummer Greg Lisi and bassist Steve Green whittled 30 songs to the 12 that appear on the album, recording for more than a year.

Although the group is proud of the result, the artwork and title suggest more growth to come.

"With this record completed, were a bigger band on an emotional level and on an artistic level, but on the cover youre looking up at a sapling," Gisiano says. "Weve still got a long ways to go, at least in our minds."

And go they shall. The band is pulling up stakes and moving to North Carolina at the end of next month. Only Frost will remain in the Valley, though hell join the band on tour this summer.

"Charlotte is just outside the real snow belt, and there are amazing college towns all around there where we can play five nights a week in different towns," Gisiano says. "Essentially, were going to be making a better living, so thats why were going."

The band plans to find a house where they can build a studio and live together "a Honey Child compound," Gisiano calls it as four of the six currently do in the Valley.

"Weve been living like that for five or six years. Living so far away from my family, the guys are my family here,"

Higgs says. "It doesnt bother me that Im the only girl; I dont even think of it anymore."

She does hope that she and Gisiano whove been a couple for nearly a decade wont be living with their bandmates forever.

"Id really like it if Dino and I could have our own house at some point," she says.

Details What: Honey Child CD release party Who: Honey Child, Andy Simon Where: Eugenes Rock Café, 1320 E. Broadway Road, Tempe When: 9 p.m. Friday How much: $4 Info: (480) 968-3238

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