01 December 2013

Guitar Talk: Pocket Honore Part Two

Pocket Honore standing tall with the
ESP H-1000.
Pocket Honore’s journey from the Hee Haw elementary school of guitar to the recent release of Wicked Wisdom’s new single “Stuck” has been an interesting one.  

In part one of our October Guitar Talk Q&A we learned about Honore’s formative R&B years and his almighty ESP H-1000.  

In part two, he delves into his history with frontwoman Jada Pinkett Smith, the progression of Wicked Wisdom into its alternative formation called Wicked Evolution and offers details of the band’s first week of gigs at Ozzfest 2005 where he says something far more dangerous than racial epithets were hurled onto the stage.
After spending nearly four years of down time tending to family matters, Honore tells us he’s back into his musical groove again and as usual, the Baton Rouge born shredder goes where the music takes him. 

The band’s short club tour ended recently but they’re back in the studio working on a new album.  In mid-November a video clip of “Stuck” was posted to their Facebook page, their website and other social networking accounts. 

If the Evanescence-meets-Creed, thickly riffed song is any indication of the musical direction of the upcoming full-length album, then it’s true what Honore says.  This band is definitely “out for blood”. 

RRR:  I did my research Pocket and I’m still kind of confused.  Now, you played guitar on Wicked Wisdom’s debut album.  Are you with Wicked Evolution now or are you doing your own thing?

PH:  No, no, no, no.  Wicked Wisdom is actually the band with all the guitars.  Wicked Evolution is the setup with the two pianos, drums and bass guitar.

RRR:  OK, I get it now.

PH:  She [Jada Pinkett Smith] wanted to try that and it didn’t go like she wanted it to so she was like OK let’s see what I want to do next.  She got a call from Afropunk and they said we want you play.  She was like you want me to bring Wicked Evolution out with the two pianos?  They were like no, we want to move our head and stuff with Pocket and Cameron.  She said man, let’s just go back and do what we do.

RRR:  OK, so you are officially Wicked Wisdom and you are still with the band.

PH:  Yeah.  But I do have my own band so let me tell you what’s going on.  The band that’s playing behind her now is my band which is Cameron Graves who was also in Wicked Wisdom with me then there’s his brother Taylor, we call him Cookie,  he plays mini moog because we don’t have a bass player and Aaron [Haggerty] who is the drummer, we have a band called Death Touch, the singer’s name is Damien Gates.  Pretty much what happened is this. 

Jada wanted to get back together and was like there’s no way I’m playing without Death Touch.  It was like the rhythm section’s way too tight, way more superior than what we had before.  Then she said OK, let’s check it out.  She heard it and said yo, let’s roll. 

It is massive.  When you hear it live it’s going to be heavy.  It’s no klanky bass strings, it’s going to knock you straight on your back.  This is tight.  There’s two classically trained pianists in the band and two jazz musicians in the band.  Basically we can play whatever, whenever.

RRR:  I went to YouTube and checked out a few clips of Wicked Evolution and the first thing I heard was the classical musicianship but I also heard some gospel in “Left Behind”.  It was the most interesting sound.  Very melodic, but it doesn’t quite go where you think it’s going and it works.

PH:  Yeah, yeah.   Wait till you hear the stuff we’re doing.  When we played Afropunk we put sixteen songs together in nine days.

RRR:  And y’all are still breathing.  You are serious pros.  Well, you know we can’t move on without asking how is Jada and what’s it like to work with her?

PH:  Ahhh, that’s my little sister.  You’ve got to understand.  I’ve known her for eons now.  Like the first time she and I ever met it was in passing.  It was a hip-hop club on Wednesday nights in Hollywood and I used to work the door, this was when she was shooting A Different World, so that lets you know how long ago that was.

RRR:  Yeah, that was a long time ago.

PH:  Her and her friends would come and I’d just let them in.  I’d be like y’all don’t have to pay and they were like really?  I said yep.  So, I met a lot of people like Regina King, Tisha Campbell and all the homies like House Of Pain used to come there, Jam Master J

RRR:  That was back in the day.

PH:  It’s cool with her you know what I’m saying?  She’s really got a grip on it now.  It’s like when we first started doing the heavy stuff back in 2004, it was a little rough for her and everybody was against her.  They didn’t make it fun for her.  We went out and definitely beat a** for three years with that and everybody got respect, but now it’s like she got it and she’s comfortable with it.  The thing that’s cool about it is she never stopped singing.

RRR:  Oh, really? 

PH:  She never stopped singing and she took advantage of it.  She’s been studying for the past six and a half years now so, she comes in and knocks stuff out.  Rehearsals are real quick.  We don’t have twelve hour rehearsals like we used to have with the other band with Phillip Fisher and Rio.  Now we have like four hour rehearsals that are so intense, so concentrated to the point where it’s like, OK cool.

RRR:  I gotta tell you, when I did my research before I interviewed you guys in February I think it was, 2006, I couldn’t believe the things people were saying about you. 

PH:  Oh yeah.

RRR:  Especially on the Ozzfest Tour because look, if something sucks musically, I’ll be the first to say it, but the minute I heard the CD it was like annnnt! You haters are wrong.  Let’s move on.  Jada took most of the flack, which you know, that’s how it goes.  But she has proven herself. 

PH:  That’s what happens when you want to break new ground.  Everybody has something to say because their cowards.  That’s just how it is.  The first week was rough, I’ll tell you and she’ll tell you.  This is what made it bad.  We weren’t supposed to be announced until the first day of Ozzfest.  People weren’t going to find out until we played that morning. 

And what happened was she went on 106 and Park and AJ and Free kind of backed her in a corner then she got pissed. She said, well since y’all keep asking woop-wop-wop-da-wap well, my band will be on at Ozzfest in Boston first thing at 9 o’clock in the morning July of such and such and from that point on it just went berserk. 

L-R: Cameron Graves, Pocket Honore, Jada Pinkett Smith
 Aaron Haggerty and Taylor Graves.
RRR:  What happened?

PH:  It went back to fuck you ni***rs, you should be picking cotton. 

RRR:  I didn’t hear some of the harder stuff.  I heard about the n-word one time.

PH:  A lot of that stuff has been removed.  It got so bad that we had to close down our website.

RRR:  Oh, get outta here.

PH:  It was like, we’d like to rape you while we’re screwing your band and watch you choke to death, you monkeys.  You ever have piss in a water bottle thrown at you before?

RRR:  I didn’t see any of that at the time I was doing that interview.  You mean like lynching stuff?

PH:  Yeah!  This was like the first week of Ozzfest.  We kept it all down.  Motherf****rs throwing asphalt in water bottles and piss in water bottles, all kinds of stuff, gravel.

RRR:  Oh my gosh.

PH:  Oh yeah.  And us being black it was like OK we’re going to play our set but when I get off the stage we’re going to beat that a**.

RRR:   Oh man, you guys are trailblazers and troopers.  Sharon Osbourne had your back.  She told the press that you guys were the bomb and she was behind you from the beginning, right?

PH:  This is what happened.  Here’s the whole thing.  Sharon heard we were playing the Viper Room.  It was like Jada has a heavy metal band.  They heard about it and she thought it was funny as hell.  So the whole Ozzfest staff came down to the Viper Room and she was just a laughing, they took out a whole table and everything.  They were just there to giggle. 

But when our band came on, it was on.  It was like, these guys are not fu**ing around.  She was like this s**t is not - this is not a joke.  At the end of the night we were downstairs in the bottom lounge just kind of chillin’.  Jada walked up she said I just talked to Sharon and we’re going to do Ozzfest, she invited us.
I asked if it was a buy-on, she said no we’re going to get a rider, full carte blanche. She wants us on it.  At the time she had offered us a solid spot instead of a rotating spot.  We were like no, we’re not going to disrespect any of those bands.  Give us a rotating spot. 

We’ll take the very first spot, first thing in the morning, 9 o’clock.  We’re not going to disrespect all the bands that’s out there working.  We’ll take the first spot.  We’ll kick it off.  She was like, OK however y’all want it.  And that’s what happened.  She was way cool.  She is a sweetheart.  I don’t care what people say about Sharon she was good to us.

RRR:  That’s all that matters.  

PH:  Her, Charlie Hernandez, John Fenton, all of them were great to us.  They were never, never disrespectful or anything like that.  They were the best.  They were like summer camp!  I’ll tell you like this.  We didn’t have a problem with any of the bands.  All the other bands thought it was bulls**t.  That morning we did a sound check before the first day of Ozzfest in Boston.  Every band came off their bus and you could see the questioning look in their faces. 

We checked everything, got everything the way we wanted it and it was like, OK y’all let’s mark this off.  We started playing and it was like man, these guys can play.  I’m going back to my bus.  Everybody went back to their buses and went to sleep.  I didn’t find out until a year later, when we were out with Sevendust that we had juice.  Somebody came up to me saying you’re from Wicked Wisdom, huh?  I’m going yeah why?  Dude, Zakk man, Zakk laid everybody out on the radio, dude.  Didn’t you hear about it? 

We did Ozzfest it was our first headlining show of that whole tour and it was in Chicago. We didn’t know Zakk and those guys played a gig the night before and did a radio interview.  Somebody had asked him hey man, what’s up with this Wicked Wisdom crap on Ozzfest?  Zakk Wylde said man, let me tell you something. 

That band is beating up everybody musically on that second stage.  Those guys are dumping a load on you guys like you would not believe.  And the guy was like oh really?  He said yeah, the lead singer needs some work, but she’s going for it.  That band is straight dumping on people.

RRR:  And let me say this.  Cuts like “One” and “Something Inside Of Me”, the opening to “One”, that’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to jump out of your skin and run down the street head banging it’s so tough.
[serious laughter from Pocket]

RRR:  No really, I would tell people oh my God you have got to hear this and they really didn’t want to listen because of course they had the same idea about Jada fronting the band most other people did. 

PH:  Right. 

RRR:  “Something Inside Of Me"...it’s so beautifully and hauntingly melodic but then it slams again.

PH:  Yeah.  Yeah.  We’re trying to put you on your back reeeal quick.

RRR:  Listen, I saw the Living Room Jam w/Pocket clip on YouTube.  Are you planning to do anything with that and kind of turn it into a Live From Daryl’s House kind of web show or what?

PH:  Actually, that’s something my buddy Aaron rolled out and he’s not here anymore.  He moved up to the Redwoods about thirty minutes away from here.  But everybody’s been asking me to do like a jam thing online, so I’m actually getting back into things the past three and a half almost four years I’ve been taking care of my kids’ mother she’s had breast cancer.

RRR: Oh my gosh.  I’m so sorry.

PH:  It’s all good.  She’s good now.  We’re getting life back together.  So this has all been a little strange but exciting for me because I’m getting to play a lot.  I’ve been doing nothing but practicing the past three and a half, almost four years. So for me, it’ll be fun.  Also just to let you know, this time next year I’ll probably have my first prototype amp built with this guy named Roy Blankenship.

RRR:  OK, that’s good to know.

PH:  Roy Blankenship.  Blankenship Amplification.  If you look him up, and look up his stuff on YouTube, he builds some pretty intense amplifiers.  We’ve been talking about it a few times the last couple of weeks and I told him how I wanted it built and he was like wow!  That’s like exactly what I was thinking about building so, we’re kind of on the same page.  We’re building a monster right now.  I just gotta think about how we’re going to do it.

RRR:  What do we need to know about the Wicked Wisdom tour?  Do you want to drop any information on us about that?  Is it going to be wild?
Jada Pinkett Smith in the studio
with Taylor Graves.

PH:  This s**t is gonna to be an uprising.

RRR:  That’s what we want to know.

PH:  This s**t is gonna to be an uprising.  I can tell you like that.  The band is out for blood.

And there’s a bunch of reasons why.  We’re going to explain a little later.  We’re not going to let the cat out of the bag, but this band’s out for blood right now.  There is no joking about this.
I’ll tell you like this.  It’s so serious, when you walk into rehearsal you can cut the tension with a knife and it’s not the type of tension that’s negative.  It’s like, we’re putting everybody on their back. 

What’s funny about it is nobody had anything to say to us when the band broke up.  But everybody has something to say now that the band’s back together.  No one reached out to us and we took care of a lot of people.  We helped people make a lot of money and do other things; people we hadn’t heard from so now everybody’s reaching back out.  Everybody get your premiums paid up on your insurance because we’re coming like a steam roller.

RRR:  Oh, that sounds serious.  Well, I’ve been on board since day one. 

PH:  Thank you.

RRR:  I have to admit, as I told Jada in the very first interview, I was skeptical, but you prove it to me once and I’m sold forever.  If you guys come to San Diego, I will come to see you because I’m a total true believer.

PH:  Did you see the Afropunk clip?

RRR:  No, not recently.

PH:  Go on YouTube and search Wicked Wisdom/Afropunk and watch the band now, 'cause you saw the band back in the day.  Watch the band now you’ll be like oh my God this is scary!  When you see those clips from Afropunk, that was only a week of rehearsal.  I missed two days of rehearsal because I had kidney stones and I had to get a stint put in and I’m playing that gig with a stint in me. 

What you see, what you’re about to see on that Afropunk clip is about a week of rehearsal and it’s tight as hell; tighter than we could ever be.  To the point where Vernon Reid stood by my rig the whole gig.  When I got off the stage he was like dude, you can’t fake that.  You can’t fake that.  That is tight as hell.  He said that reminds me of the Mahaviushnu Orchestra, Tina Turner, Slip Knot, The Yellowjackets.  Some of the craziest guitar and keyboard solos I’ve heard in years, man. 

RRR:  I’m glad you guys are back doing it again, because like I said, I’ve been a fan from day one. 

PH:  Also too, just to let you know, on this tour, I’m not wearing any major brands, any major shirts or nothing like that.  I’m also moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  So, since I’m moving there I’m wearing all independent clothing from that area.  How about that?

RRR:  That sounds good to me.  Maybe you could throw some Native American…I don’t know if the Navajos are in that area or not.

PH:  Hey, I’m down!  I’m down!  I’m always down.  I’m down to represent the little man.  I don’t have anything to say to the big man because he got his money.

RRR:  Alright Pocket.  I really appreciate your time and you guys keep head banging.

PH:  All right then you have a good one.

Photos courtesy of Pocket Honore and Wicked Wisdom.

Note:  In part one of this interview Honore said the band was set to do a larger tour after the first part of next year.  We were not able to confirm that fact at press time.

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