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Artist of the Month: Jonny Halifax

Jonny Halifax at The Jonesing Jams ‘Worlds Collide’ by Emily Power.

Artist of the month for August is harmonica master and slide guitar extraordinaire, Mr. Jonny Halifax. Over the last couple of years, Jonny’s been producing music both as a one-man-band with his solo project Honkeyfinger, as well as in Jonny Halifax and the Howling Truth, where he brings a second guitarist and drummer with him on stage. Similar for the two, is that is straight down and dirty filthy blues, with screeching slide guitar and blazing harmonica, with Jonny howling and preaching on top.

As well as working on his own music in his own bands, Jonny’s been involved with various other bands and artists over the years such as London stoner legends Orange Goblin where he was asked to play slide guitar and harmonica on their 2007 track ‘Beginners guide to suicide’, as well as, and maybe even more surprising, Nottingham noise connoisseur HECK, where he’s appeared live on stage with the band on several occasions.

“I first came across Jonny’s music as a teenager rummaging through a record store in my hometown. I picked out Invocation of the Demon Other because I thought the packaging was really cool and just bought it on a whim that really paid off! When I stuck it on my player I was absolutely blown away, it was the best thing I’d ever fucking heard. The album stuck with me as one of my firm favourites (as it still is). A few years down the line I took a chance and reached out to Jonny to book him for a gig, to my amazement and awe he said “yes” and the next thing I know he was pulling up to my bar in this awesome tricked out campervan to play one hell of a show. Me and Jonny have stayed close friends ever since. He even played some harmonica on my band HECK’s debut album, for which he went above and beyond the call of duty. I remember he sent us over like 30 different takes to pick from, each one so incredible that it made it near impossible to pick a winner. I’ve had chance to collaborate and play live with Jonny a few times now and it is absolutely never anything less than an honour. He is a genius and a gentleman.”
Matt Reynolds, HECK & HCBP

Jonny Halifax at The Jonesing Jams ‘Worlds Collide’ by Simon Shoulders.

“I first met Jonny at a venue in Shoreditch in 2006 when I went to see his one man band ‘Honkeyfinger’ supporting Scott H Biram. As soon as he started I was blown away by his unique brand of dirty, southern blues and knew right away that I had to talk to him and ask him to play slide guitar and blues harmonica on the Orange Goblin song ‘Beginners Guide To Suicide’, that we were working on at the time. We struck up an instant friendship and have remained close to this day. I am still a big fan of what he does and I admire the way he always ploughs his own furrow. Such a talented, handsome bastard!”
Ben Ward, Orange Goblin.

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Interview: Prong’s Tommy Victor

As Prong tour the UK leading up to the release of their 12th studio album “Zero Days”, we meet up with frontman and founder Tommy Victor in the dark and dingy basement of Camden’s Underworld before their show later that evening.

You’ve been keeping Prong going for nearly three decades, and on the 28th of July you released your fifth studio album in five years – how do you find the time?
I have no idea, it’s a nightmare. For some reason, when somebody gives me a deadline and tells me to do something by a certain time, because I’m such a narcissistic ego maniac, I HAVE to do it by that time, I have to much pride not to. So, I bust my ass and put these jigsaw pieces together to try and make a record while gaining multitudes of gray hair while doing so. There was a long time where there weren’t any Prong records, when I was working with other people on theirs, like Glenn (Danzig), until I was all like «You know? Fuck this, I’m gonna start focusing on Prong again! I’ve got a record deal and I’m gonna take advantage of it, put out records consistently, and put Prong back on the map again!»

So I’ve had a listen to your new record «Zero Days» which is an absolute great album, how would you describe it yourself?
Well, I think it’s the best Prong record ever, it’s really strong, it’s got 13 bangers, anthems… Every song is well constructed. We went in with full focus, and I’ve never been in a Prong recording session like this, the sense of urgency was at the utmost, so it was no fooling around. When recording back in the day we’d be like ‘Yeah man, let’s go in the studio and get a bunch of beers, we’ll bring some chicks down, bla bla bla’ – that doesn’t happen anymore. I mean, we don’t even take food breaks anymore, it’s full on in order to get it done in time, that’s what modern records are, you don’t fool around, you go in and get this shit done.

You mentioned working with Glenn Danzig as well, how do you balance the two?
Glenn’s been working around my schedule, he’s also slowed down a little bit, or we’ve been doing less shows than we used to, so it’s been easy. There’s been periods where I’m all like «Holy shit, maybe he’s gonna fire me cause I wont be able to do this or that…» you know, and to be fair, he’s fired me before so nothing new there.

Before starting Prong, you worked as a sound engineer at CBGB’s, how would you say working with all those punk bands and being a part of that scene influenced you as a musician?
Prong was never really a part of any scene, we were a bit all over the place, we had friends that were art rockers, like the dudes from Rob Zombie – we never had our own sub culture around us. As far as the music goes, I saw some really good bands there. I had been going to the club since I was a little kid, and the first time I ever went, I saw the Ramones. I also saw The Damned, Dead Boys, The Cramps, Suicide, Sheer Terror… I was there a lot, so I guess that played a part in what Prong became, I was raised in and on CBGB.