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Pleasure Cult: Tiny Desert Concert

By day, Honey Danger works at the downtown Phoenix coffee shop Xanadu. But when the sun goes down, they assume their role as the lead singer of Pleasure Cult — a name that comes from the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000.

The band has undergone a few lineup changes since they first started making music. Their original bassist was called to mandatory service in Korea less than a year after Pleasure Cult’s debut.

Honey Danger joined The Show to talk about where the inspiration for Pleasure Cult’s dreamy melodramatic music comes from.

HONEY DANGER: So it's very collaborative. One of, one of us will like come up with some of the music, and then the other one of us will come up with the, the very, like different parts like the bass or the drums or the vocal melody.

And as far as like being inspired, I guess like from my day-to-day experiences or like all of like my milestones or like really like normal human experiences, like falling in love or like falling out of love or like discovering the different types of like heartbreak. And understanding like sometimes, like the romantic type of love isn't the most heartbreaking, I suppose. Or, you know, just stuff like that.

As far as sound. I don't know, that's, that's like all over the place, because we all listen to very different music as far as everyone in the band. Vocally, I'm like a big fan of Patsy Cline. I, I would say also maybe Brenda Lee. But I, again, like, I don't think I sound like any of them. I just really like them.

MARK BRODIE: How does it affect the sound of the band? That, as you say, pretty much everybody listens to different stuff. Like, I, I can imagine that it would be on one hand, really helpful that you have all those different potential influences. But I would also imagine it would be easy to sort of have it sound all over the place.

DANGER: It, it works out like, really, really well. I just feel the hardest part about it is when someone asks like, "Oh, like, what kind of music do you make?" I always don't know what to say. I never have like a, a solid answer. It, it always varies. And I always kind of just fall like, back on saying like, "Oh, we make like indie rock," I, I would say. Because like, amongst all of us, like of the genres that we listen to, I'd say that we at least have that in common.

BRODIE: Well, I was gonna ask how you describe your sound and how you describe the kind of music. But now I won't ask that.

DANGER: I mean, you can. But I mean, it might, it might be, it's just that, our sound is just, I don't know, like in our bio, it's like we don't know what we're like, what kind of music we're making, but we just want to influence people to do what they want to do. In like the most pleasurable way possible, I guess you could say. Like, you know, like if you want to break up with someone or if you want to run a marathon, I don't know, like what people do, you know.

BRODIE: So you mentioned that it's a very collaborative process creating the music. Do you have a particular process that you stick to when you're trying to write a song?

DANGER: No, no, it, it kind of just happens as it, like as it happens. And I feel like that's like another part of like, what Pleasure Cult is like, we just kind of let things happen as they, as they come along.

But sometimes I'll have like something already written, and I'll bring it to the rest of the band, or one of us will have an idea and then we will build upon that together.

BRODIE: So, are you from the Phoenix area originally?

DANGER: No, I am not. I, I am from California, but I've lived here for almost 10 years now.

BRODIE: Has living here influenced your sound at all? Has it influenced the kind of songs you write or the, the subject matter about which you write?

DANGER: Yes, absolutely, 100%. I started making, like, being more public about my music and being a little bit more brave about performing in front of people, because I had an old friend, like, I met someone who really kind of gave me that push and kind of encouraged me to keep doing this. And I don't know if you're familiar, but their name’s Andy Warpigs. Andy, Andy passed away I wanna say, I don't know, two to three years ago now? Time is crazy. Yeah. But our first single, “Far Away From Here,” was about Andy War Pigs. And they did a lot for the music community in Phoenix.

They had like open mic nights and they would show up to everyone's shows and they would host events and they would play a lot of shows. And I think they left like a very, very large, what is it, stamp or print on the, the, the music scene in Phoenix. And I feel like that in itself, along with other experiences down the line. But that was like the biggest one for me as to why or like influenced me to do all the things. And even some of the sounds too and like the subject matter of some of the songs or like how, how things are written.

BRODIE: When you say that, that you needed to get braver to perform in front of other people. Did you have or do you have performance anxiety or were you unsure about wanting to perform for people?

DANGER: Well, before, before music, I wanted to pursue a career in graphic design. And you know, I just was like out of school, very fresh, like, don't know what I was doing, working at a bookshop. And we had hosted open mic nights there. So I started playing music just for me.

And then I, I kind of just did an open mic night for fun. And then after that, like, my friend Andy, like really was, was really like, "Oh, you should like for real, do this. Like you should try and like see what happens."

BRODIE: So what was it like for you when you first got up on stage after having basically just played the music for yourself?

DANGER: By myself, it was very jarring but also super exciting. I don't, I often tell people that being on stage now is like the most comfortable thing for me. I don't have to look very nice. And I don't have to be dressed up, and I don't have to have makeup on to feel my best self. I, I feel like the best version of myself when I'm performing. It stemmed from that and, like, built and it was very small at the very beginning and then now it's like a much, like, closer and bigger feeling to this day.

BRODIE: And do you still feel that way when you get up on stage with Pleasure Cult?

DANGER: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

BRODIE: So, what's next? I mean, what, what would you like to do next musically based on what you've done so far?

DANGER: Well, we're going to be playing a music festival in Washington in April and then, after that, maybe have some time to record a couple of singles. And then we're gonna be hitting the road again as a band, playing a bunch of different shows in different states.

If you're in a band or know of one you'd like to hear play a Tiny Desert Concert, send us a note: [email protected].

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.