On September 23, 2016, I made the grueling 4-block trek over to Hollow Earth Radio to check out a Seattle-based indie folk-rock band called Honcho Poncho perform their set. I didn’t know much about their music beforehand, but I really dug the band name, so I figured they deserved my attendance. And so I went, I witnessed, and I thoroughly enjoyed their live show, especially since they’re obviously extremely tight together, and since they genuinely seem to have a great time onstage.
These guys have been playing around the Seattle area quite a bit, and are gearing up to release their debut album, Late Night, on November 25, 2016. However, before this album drops, you’ll be able to check them out in the KXSU Lounge for an in-studio performance on Friday at 7 p.m.!
Fortunately for KXSU, Honcho Poncho’s singer Sam Gelband took the time to answer some of my sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes dumb questions about what his group is up to, and what we can expect from them in the near future.
JM: Hello Sam! Thanks a ton for speaking with me, I’m very excited for the new album. Now, the first and probably most important question is coming at you: What the hell is happening with Brad and Angelina?
SG: They’re coming over for dinner tonight, I’ll ask!
JM: Okay, keep me updated. What’s your band’s X-Men Origins Story?
SG: The band sat down to watch a VHS copy of You’ve Got Mail. 90 minutes later, we stood up, shook hands, and called it “Honcho Poncho.”
JM: ‘90s Tom Hanks is the best Tom Hanks. What drew me to your show at Hollow Earth was your band name. How did ‘Honcho Poncho’ come about?
SG: When I was a much younger, much pudgier child, I made the mistake of enrolling in a youth soccer camp. While there, I spent most of my time hiding cans of Dr. Pepper for myself and getting jealous of the way the girls looked at a cut-out of Orlando Bloom. I cried every day. My counselor’s name was Uncle Poncho. Maybe that’s where the band name came from, but in all honesty, I came up with it while pooping a few years ago.
JM: Thank you for opening up for us with that one; I can tell it came from a deep place. What musical acts have influenced your sound the most? I thought I heard some Crosby, Stills & Nash in there.
SG: I’ve always listened to music for the songwriting. That sounds simple, but in an age where people hold so hard to genre and put their effects before their lyrics, I’ve always appreciated songwriters who were flexible and put the songwriting before anything else. That’s why artists like Neil Young, Jeff Tweedy, Joni Mitchell, Mark Kozelek, and Steve Malkmus always appealed to me. They could grow with their songs and adhere to different sounds without sacrificing their voices.
JM: That’s awesome. I can definitely hear a lot of those influences in your sound. Talk to me about the new album you’re releasing this fall.
SG: The album is called Late Night. It’s our debut album and it will be released November 25th at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard. We’ve been writing it and recording it over the past 2 years, so we’re very excited to put it out. Because it took us so long to get this thing finished, I can really hear the growth of the band within the tracks, which has been humbling and exciting.
JM: We’re all stoked to hear it. What’s your writing process like? Is there one main writer for each song, or do you all collaborate until the track is finished?
SG: I write most of the songs on my own or with Kalen Tindal. Often times, I’ll bring a verse and a chorus to Kalen, keyboardist and one of 4 co-producers of the album, and he will write a bridge, and we will work together to make the thing cohesive. After that, it’s everyone’s song and we work on it all together. I’m not too protective of the songs I write. I like to have them torn apart and put back together. Friction makes great things.
JM: Sam, [at your last show] I watched you poop-shame my friend who was locked in the bathroom during your set, and I watched you eat a chocolate bar off the palm of somebody’s hand. What is your response?
SG: My lawyers have advised me to reply with “no comment,” but I’m going to be bold and reply with, “comment.”
JM: Speaking of being a guilty son of a gun, what’s your guilty pleasure music that you really don’t want people to know you like?
SG: I’m a sucker for Bette Midler every now and then. If you haven’t seen Beaches, you should re-think your life.
JM: Respectable. Are there any aspects about your music that you really want your listeners to understand?
SG: When it comes to the album, I would say I want listeners to understand that it’s the product of a lot of my favorite brains. From the sounds to the cover art and graphic design, this has been a project that has brought new and old faces together. Other than that, trust your judgment, hold tight, and try to enjoy it.
JM: Lastly, what can we expect in Honcho Poncho’s future? And don’t give me one of those lame two-word answers that artists always come up with.
SG: Medium things.
JM: Great, thanks again for your time! We can’t wait for Late Night to drop, but in the meantime, best of luck with all of your endeavors. And we will see you in the KXSU Lounge this Fridat! What whaaaaat!
See Honcho Poncho with special guests, Geophagia, this Friday in the KXSU lounge at 7 p.m. for a special in-studio performance! This event is free and all SU students are welcome. Check out the Facebook event page here.
JASON MCCUE | Nacho Crotcho | KXSU Reporter