July 2, 2009

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Good friends, good sound
Honest Eye releases a new CD
By Katie Beth Ryan music@hippopress.com

In order for a band to have lasting power in this town, its members must be able to be friends first, says Ryan Gagne-Hall, a.k.a. “Skhell,” of the local group Honest Eye.

The last member to join the hard-rocking and hard-working group from Manchester, Skhell was initially hesitant about joining a band with three strangers but now calls the move one of the best decisions of his life.

“Three years later, these guys are my best friends,” he said. “These guys are my brothers, and because we have a bond outside of music, and we’re friends with each other, that makes our music so much better.”

And considering the lifespan of many startup bands, Honest Eye, now in its fourth year, is continuing to defy the odds. It’s a solid rock band in an area dominated by heavy metal groups, slowly but surely building up a solid fan base beyond the Manchester area, thanks to the intervention of the promotional company New England Concerts. It’s through that group that Honest Eye will be playing at Oxxfest alongside Papa Roach, Saving Abel and a large number of other local bands on Sunday, July 26, at the Oxford County Fairgrounds in Oxford, Maine. They’ll have a lot of competition in Oxxfest, but Skhell is confident about the band’s sound and prospects for success on a larger spectrum.

The company “heard the maturity in our sound from where it was a year and a half ago to where it is now,” he said. The band’s promoter “really likes our sounds and he likes us as people and what we’re trying to do. He hears longevity in our sound, instead of just a quick hit, and he’s willing to work with us.”

Because the heavy metal influences in Manchester are so strong, the members of Honest Eye often find themselves lumped into the scene. While the band maintains a camaraderie with metal bands in the area, Skhell said that the band takes more of its cues from ’90s rock bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Tool and Soundgarden. There are vestiges of metal in the band’s sound, but their main focus is “taking it to the next level” with rock.

“Most of the shows that we play are with heavy metal bands, just because there’s a big heavy metal scene in Manchester,” he said. “We do rock. We rock hard sometimes, but we’re not metal. We do scream sometimes, but I’m the singer and I’m pretty melodic with my melodies. We’ve compromised heavy rock as kind of chill music.”

And that approach appears to be working, as there’s a wide range of audience members at Honest Eye’s shows. Skhell said that the parents of members in other bands, as well as the 20- and 30-somethings who make up the core of the band’s audience, have come up to compliment the group after shows. Both the enthusiasm and the consistency that Honest Eye brings to Manchester’s ever-changing music scene are not going unnoticed.

“We’ve seen a lot of the same bands,” he said. “A lot of the same bands change members [but] keep the same name. There’s only been a few bands that have been consistent with their members and with their music. We try to play with those bands, because we’re like that as well.”

In addition to Honest Eye’s performance at Oxxfest 2009, the band will have a CD release party at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14, at Milly’s, 500 North Commercial St. in Manchester. Tickets for the band’s appearance at Oxxfest can be obtained by contacting the band at myspace.com/4honesteye.


Honest Eye
What: CD release party
Where: Milly’s, 500 North Commercial St., Manchester
When: Friday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $30, myspace.com/4honesteye or 657-8400