Dirty Honey’s Marc LaBelle on Topping the Rock Chart, Touring with Slash, and More

Music

Dirty Honey made music history this year when the Los Angeles-based band became the first unsigned act to top the Billboard Mainstream Rock songs chart.

For Dirty Honey vocalist Marc LaBelle, the record-breaking moment came as a surprise. “It’s insane!” he tells Heavy Consequence. “Honestly, we never thought that would be the case. That was never something we talked about.”

He adds, “I think it’s a credit to our team and our booking agent for putting us on bills with bands that have fans that maybe we’re not right in their wheelhouse, but hopefully they fall in love with the band. That’s been the case more and more. It’s exciting.”

In a few short years, Dirty Honey have not only topped the charts, but also toured this past summer with Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, and opened for Guns N’ Roses during their two-night stand in Las Vegas earlier this month.

With the band set to embark on a headlining US tour in the new year, LaBelle spoke with Heavy Consequence about the band’s rise to success, what it was like touring with Slash, the current rock revival, and more. Read the full interview below.

On Dirty Honey’s rise over the past year

It’s been exciting. Some highlights were going out with Slash and coming off some Guns N’ Roses dates. I think there’s a general sense of excitement for the future and also trying to be in the moment. We really haven’t had too much time for reflection, honestly, so it will be nice to take a minute whenever we get it to look back on this crazy ride so far.

On if he feels there’s a revival right now of raw, gritty rock music

I think there are a couple other bands out there playing some real rock ‘n’ roll. There are bands like Greta Van Fleet and Joyous Wolf that are doing a raw, rock thing. And I think at the end of the day, it would be good for music to have a scene happening that everybody could latch onto the way people latched onto Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. There have been a lot of movements in history, and I hope we’re in the middle of one.

On comparisons to AC/DC’s Bon Scott and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler in Heavy Consequence’s review of Dirty Honey’s gig opening for Slash

I love that. I absolutely adore that. Those are are two of my heroes, and they’re different, obviously, so it kind of speaks to the thing that we get a lot of comparisons to a wide range of bands and artists. I don’t get Bon Scott too much, but I love it. That’s a super high compliment.

On some of the singers who inspired him as a vocalist

Steven Tyler and Bon Scott are definitely two of them. Brian Johnson, the other AC/DC singer, and Axl Rose, Chris Cornell and Robert Plant, those are other guys. I still love Sinatra and Otis Redding and Sam Cooke — so many. I even like Bryan Adams. I love that guy’s voice. But, my top classic rock heroes are Bon Scott, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, and Mick Jagger.

On the band’s No. 1 rock single “When I’m Gone”, and if he had any idea it would blow up

My manager warned me. He said, “I think this is a rock hit, and it’s going to do well.” I think it’s interesting that they know that. It is funny that the artist doesn’t usually know which one is going to stick. Instead, it’s people in the industry that really have that ear and can identify what is a hit. He definitely knew.

On why “When I’m Gone” has done so well on the charts

I think it was a great raw rock sound and riff and hook. And it has a great melody. Somebody covered it on Instagram on a piano and was singing the chorus, and I was like, “Wow. That really is a beautiful melody.” I’m not aware of it when I’m singing it in a rock environment, but when I heard it on a piano, it was a beautiful piece of music. That’s what you’re striving for. When you throw the Dirty Honey recipe in there and it has its own unique take on rock, it comes out as something fresh and new and musically interesting. There are a lot of variables in there playing into it.

On his biggest memory from touring with Slash this past summer

The first show was so cool. He is such a caricature of himself. Just being around him is really wild if you’re a guitar player or rock musician. One night on tour, he was talking to our tour manager and turned to us and graciously said how much he liked the band and loved what we were doing for young rock bands. It was so surreal to hear him give you the tip of his hat, and it was very nice. It was definitely a sparkling moment in my life.

On performing on the same bill as Guns N’ Roses

The whole thing of being backstage and seeing some Guns N’ Roses gear is so cool, and watching them play. We’ve played festivals with them and have seen them play from the side of the stage before, and it’s so fun to soak it all in.

On the band’s recent tour with Alter Bridge and Skillet

We’ve been out with [Alter Bridge singer] Myles Kennedy before, opening for Slash, so there’s a familiarity there in the way they like to do things. This is our first time out with Skillet, and they have been very cool and extra nice to us. The whole experience has been great, and their fans are awesome. The shows have been packed every night, so you can’t ask for a better situation.

On his thoughts on the current state of rock music

I think it was on life support for a while, and there’s a little bit of a revival of the genre right now. A lot of the younger bands are getting away from the stale, perfect recordings, and that is an essential part of rock. Rock is live, full of soul and sexy and supposed to have some mistakes in there. It’s not supposed to be perfect. As the radio world takes a liking to this new wave, I think rock will be okay. I’m interested to see where it goes, and I’m happy to be playing rock. I was not into that stale sound that has become hard rock.

On his dreams for Dirty Honey for the future

We have a headlining run coming up and want to deliver on that for the fans, and from what I hear, all the shows are doing well. We have to write some more great music, and that’s always the key. We’re going to take it where it goes. My goal with music has always been to just to do what I’m doing now — to go on tour with my friends and hopefully inspire some people, and those things have already happened. Each day, we’re getting kids on Instagram sending us covers of our songs, and that warms your heart to know you’re inspiring someone to pick up an instrument.

Our thanks to Marc LaBelle for taking the time to speak with us. Pick up Dirty Honey’s self-titled EP, and see their upcoming tour dates below. Tickets are available at the band’s website.

Dirty Honey 2020 Tour Dates:
01/17 – Austin, TX @ The Parish
01/18 – Dallas, TX @ The Blue Light
01/19 – Houston, TX @ The Studio at Warehouse Live
01/21 – New Orleans, LA @ The Parish at House of Blues
01/22 – Destin, FL @ Club LA
01/24 – Ft. Myers, FL @ Dixie Roadhouse
01/25 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
01/27 – Huntsville, AL @ Sidetracks
01/28 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
01/29 – Johnson City, TN @ Capone’s
01/31 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
02/01 – Harrisburg, PA @ Stage On Herr at HMAC
02/05 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
02/07 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache
02/08 – Flint, MI @ The Machine Shop
02/10 – Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
02/11 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
02/12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
02/14 – St. Louis, MO @ Old Rock House
02/15 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
02/17 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
02/21 – Seattle, WA @ Nuemos
02/22 – Portland, OR @ Polaris Hall
02/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
02/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey

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