Simona met up with the Healthy Junkies at the Unicorn, for a good ol’ chin wag with Phil Honey Jons (guitar) and Nina Cawson (lead vox) about all things Camden, music and the beauty of the live scene …
Ok, so how many years have you guys been together?
Phil: Well we met in 2009, we played out first gig in October 2010, so how many years is that? Nine? Yeah, nine years.
Nina: He’s a dickhead, yeah.
*laughs* Well, you’re sticking together, so that’s the main thing! So I heard that you’re organising this festival this weekend? https://www.facebook.com/RockandRollRendezvous/
Phil: That is correct, we run a monthly night here that is called Punk n’ Roll Rendez-vous, and I’ve been running it here for seven and a half years, at the Unicorn, Camden. And this is the third year we’ll have put this festival on. We do it over three days, so it’ll be Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Today’s the last day, it’s been really awesome. A crazy amount of people here.
So how do you feel about the Camden music scene?
P: Actually, it feels healthy at the moment, it feels there’s a resurge, a coming together, a feeling of unity between like-minded bands … certainly for us, as we’ve been playing, in this band for like nine years, we’ve noticed the change, in terms of – maybe we’ve just met more people-
N: I think it’s better that you actually do it yourself, you know, rather than relying on promoters, because they don’t always know what they’re doing.
P: I think it’s got a lot of potential, and it needs to be exposed. People need to collaborate with each other, work with each other, that’s the key to this event, people all support each other, they don’t just go home, it’s a community spirit, it’s like a club, you know everyone here, so –
That’s really encouraging! I’m glad to see there is enthusiasm, and people are enthusiatic about music and people are actually coming out to watch gigs, because that is the main thing.
P: Last night was absolutely packed in here, it was a great night, a Saturday night, it was such a good vibe, wasn’t it?
P: One of the best nights we’ve had here.
So you’re seeing a lot of engagement?
P: Yeah, you know what? Every night that we put the night on varies, but every month we have a good crowd here, and it’s always really – a really good spirit, vibrant, some nights there’s a mosh pit.
P: Also, um, we always make a point of having at least one band from out of town for the 3 day fest. So, you know-
N: We’ve got about 10.
Well, it’s good, everyone seems to be very happy, and I mean, it’s Sunday today, there are still people standing and watching the bands, which is great. (I mean, usually, by this time of the night on a Sunday people will b probably, dead! And on the floor *giggles* so it’s actually nice to see that everyone is still watching the bands, which is good.
N: It’s great that you’re covering it, because you know, there’s a scene, where, there’s really like, a lot of bands worth talking about, and it’s great you’re doing it because there’s not enough people doing it, you know?
The thing about Camden Live, we want to try to bring the rock and punk music back to being … live! There are people that live in Camden, and around the Camden area, they love the rock music, they just don’t know about it.
So, do you feel that ‘online’ is taking over the actual physical advertising of gigs?
P: I think it’s a combination – we do posters and flyering as well, and we do try to do more of that, and so combining the resources you have, and yeah, definitely, handing flyers out is good, posters are good, get the artwork out there, the image catches the eye… we got a great artist who’s done the posters for the third year running and as our monthly night called Camile and alexander from one of the bands Avoid and, her image that she uses, and also Vera Wild, Vera Howard from Jelly, she does the image for the t-shirts which we have for the festival. In terms of art work there’s some great artwork, but um, Steve Isles also is involved and he scouts around six nights a week, going to gigs, and he finds the most amazing talent, on his travels and brings it here.
Have you got any other gigs lined up for the near future?
P: We’ve done a whole bunch of gigs in the UK, with three other female-fronted bands, on the Lips Can Kill tour (https://www.seetickets.com/event/lips-can-kill-tour-healthy-junkies-/santiago-leeds/1405347) that’s seven dates, and we go to Europe with NK Ultra, and American band.
P: And then we’ll have an event here, because this is something we do the second Saturday of every month.
And who is your inspiration?
P: David Bowie – he was a man with a vision, and he did exactly what he wanted to do. And he changed, he wasn’t afraid to change, he wasn’t afraid to break new ground, and so yeah, he would be my hero.
N: Mine has got to be Kurt Cobain, I know it’s so cliché but it’s true, I love him!
Yeah, when I first moved to London earlier on, you could actually watch Nirvana, Marylin Manson on Top of the Pops, and it was like, sometimes they were on BBC breakfast for an interview, and now we don’t have TOTP, we don’t have [rock music on] BBC breakfast tv with musicians in it, and we certainly don’t have music videos on MTV because it’s all about reality shows. So, how can we change this? To get the rock music back on tv? Do you think that Camden Rocks, this kind of community we’re building at the moment is gunna be able to break through again?
N: Because it’s a little bit like in a grunge scene, if you think about the 90s, you know, it’s very much like a – lots of bands that knew each other, were a part of a community, and I think I believe in people being together rather than just one band making it, I think it’s just gunna be if everyone’s kind of …
P: Same with the punk scene, you know – the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Stranglers, al this talent happening at the same time. And it’s not just the bands it’s always people – you know, we’ve got people here, filming and making a documentary, and the artists we talked about, creative people coming together and making something bigger than the individual. And that’s what we’re about.
P: And people travel from all over the world to Camden, and so, musicians are always there’s always a constant stream of new people arriving, looking to make it as a musician or form bands or whatever. So you’ve got this constant amount of people coming and going in London and there’ s a lot of people around the world, in fact, who’re actually into rock music still, it’s just a question of – we’ve gotta find each other, like you said.
Are you releasing a new album?
P: We’re working on a couple of new videos, the next one will be a song called ‘Just a fall”. which we’re waiting to finish but we’ve also written a song with MK Ultra, which I think we’re gunna get that pretty quickly, I think we’re calling it “UK in the USA, Kill the hate” I think that’s what we’re going to call it, it might be just called “Kill the hate”, but if I have my way it’ll be “UK in the USA, kill the hate”, so look out for that. We love that song, we wrote it with MK Ultra, so that’s exciting.
The video’s been shot. Nina got pushed into the pond – the lake in Alexandra valley / Palace, so it’s worth it jut for that! -And you played dead-
P: That was good.
N: With all the merman-
P: Lots of mermen, and there’s balloons, you know, it was a fun day *laughs*
The Healthy Junkies host Punk n Roll every few weeks at the Unicorn, sheck it out!
And their playlist: