The 5 Souls of Honey & the 45s
Honey & the 45’s are a dynamic blues inspired soul rock band that was introduced to the world in 2012. The band consists of five artists. Kristine Cottone is the singer, guitarist and founder. Jon Gould serves as the lead guitarist. SJ Tatum is on bass. Evan Walker is the drummer and Kim Kozel triples as a singer, saxophonist and violinist.
Honey & the 45s are commonly known for their lively and buoyant stage presence that is laced with soulful music and tinges of jazz undertones. Two members of the band, Kristina and Jon, sat down with us at 1st Amendment Media to discuss their group’s artistry, the message behind their music and what success means to them.
From Story Teller to Story Singer
Although lead singer Kristina always had a great appreciation for the power of music, she hadn’t always envisioned a musical career for herself. Kristina spent time in her youth telling stories through music by writing songs. Yet, she believed that acting was her true calling. When Kristina began college at Northern Illinois University ,she majored in acting. However, in her junior year, she started playing guitar. Upon learning this new craft, Kristina realized that the guitar served as a new medium for her to express her songs.
“I started playing, was self-taught and when I moved to the city [Chicago], I was acting but I still spent my nights writing,” she said. “And, I realized there was sort of an imbalance because I spent all my time making music. So, I formed a band with some friends.”
Kristina Finds her Musical Passion and a Band
It was then that Kristina realized her passion was music. She wanted the best for herself and the band. So, to further polish her guitar playing, Kristina decided it was important to refine her skills with help from bandmate, Jon.
“Jon has given me some lessons. He went to school for it and he’s been playing for a really long time,” said Kristina. “He’s an amazing guitarist.”
Jon, who went to Roosevelt University for music performance, has years of experience playing guitar. Yet he says he’s learned a lot from Kristina as well.
“I pick up a lot of things from Kristina vocally and from her guitar playing too,” said Jon. “I’ve been playing guitar for 18 years almost…sometimes you gloss over an approach and I hear her playing something and I’m like ‘aw what a cool pattern.”’
Riffs, melodies, harmony and rhythm. Although Honey & the 45s learn from each other, their creative process is constantly changing due to the slew of inspirations they all have. Each band mate has their own unique sound and they all work hard to incorporate these influences into their music. Although it can be difficult, once they have the flare they’re looking for infused into their songs, the magic has happened.
“It changes; sometimes someone will bring in a rift, sometimes someone with bring in a vocal melody,” said Kristina. “Sometimes someone will bring in a whole song and sometimes that song will change. At times we’ll just be jamming in practice and someone will bring in a new groove.”
“It’s an ever-flowing process,” Kristina added.
Sustained by Mutual Respect
Despite the fact that creating music can be difficult for Honey and the 45s, the group has a shared understanding of respect for one another.
“The frustration comes in when you’re kinda putting in too much of something or you’re just beating an idea that can’t be played anymore…” said Jon. “I think that there is a mutual understanding between the five of us that as frustrating as it gets, we’re really trying to put out the best song we can and the best material we can.”
Jon says that “Yea sometimes we want to shake each other, but it’s really not that bad.” Kristina chimes in and says, “in the end, we all want the same thing.”
Common Goals and Constant Growth
“The goals are still the same,” she continued to say. “And just to add to that, we’re still learning.”
Well, according to Honey & the 45s, they have indeed learned a great deal. Since their first show at Red Line Tap located on Chicago’s north side, the band has vastly improved their stage performance.
“More attention to detail I think,” Jon said. “Even though I remember our first performance and I loved the band so much because it was pretty raw and I’m a guitarist. So, I like playing loud…it gave me a great medium to do that but definitely [to give more] attention to detail…and more attention to the performance…”
All great artists have musical inspirations, and Honey & the 45s are no different. Their incomparable sound and soulful flare are inspired by some of the greats that are familiar to most music enthusiasts. As a whole, the group collectively agrees that they enjoy Amy Winehouse, The Beatles, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and Tom Wades.
“In our recent song ‘Let You Down,” that intro line is almost beatle-esque to me,” Kristina laughed, as she discussed how the Beatles has influenced their latest song.
The Message Behind the Music
Honey & the 45s may have a lot of influences behind their music but their message is clear. Their inner morale is woven throughout their song lyrics. They believe that staying true to one’s self while touching on relatable topics will help fans relate to who they are and their music.
“Honesty and a lot of humility,” said Jon. “And what I mean by that is that there are songs and heart ache, and love, and limits of what you can do with yourself.”
“There’s also edgier women empowerment songs,” said Kristina. “Each song has its own life.”
We Made it
What is success to Honey & the 45s? It’s not money, power or recognition per se. Their success lies in the ability to reach the souls and hearts of their fans.
“My dream is to play a show where everybody is singing along,” said Kristina. “For me, that is one of the epitomes of success.”
She continued, “That means people are listening and studying and if they know the words then it means something to them usually. Whether it’s getting them to move and groove or it’s an emotional reaction…”
Lastly, Kristina added, “when I see a few people singing at the show, it really makes an impact on me.”
Three Words to Describe Honey & the 45’s
It may be difficult to categorize Honey & the 45s due to their many influences. The group, however has three words that embodies their true essence.
“Buy Our Record,” Jon jokingly says are his three words.
All jokes aside, Honey & the 45s’ describes the band’s true spirit as captivating, soulful and energized.
Honey & the 45s’ recordings are played on hundreds of major radio stations nationwide. They have performed at some of the most well-renowned festivals throughout Chicago and the Midwest. Some of their major appearances include opening for Smash Mouth in North Carolina, and Andy Grammer in Chicago’s Grant Park. Honey & the 45s will continue to play at their favorite venues throughout Chicago and the Midwest. However, the group has collectively decided to take a break this fall and winter and will return next spring with more inspiring music and an even livelier stage presence.
You can check out Honey & the 45s on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/honeyandthe45s/?fref=ts