RAWK TAWK: Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears


BY MEREDITH KLEIBER Philly, it’s time to get on your good foot, because Austin’s Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears are coming to the TLA tomorrow night and bringing the party. Expect a booty-shaking onslaught of screaming horns, bump-and-grind bass, stomping beats and raw, sweaty blues-inflected rock n’ roll animated by the gravelly, soul-powered vocals of frontman Black Joe Lewis. Phawker got Joe on the phone shortly before the Honeybears’ Detroit gig last night to get the 411.

PHAWKER: Why Black Joe Lewis? Isn’t calling yourself Black Joe Lewis like Eddie Vedder calling himself White Eddie Vedder or Yo Yo Ma calling himself Asian Yo Yo Ma?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: Yeah pretty much, you know, it’s just a name. Me and my friend used to do these little comedy skits and record them back in the day. We’d make up all these wild-ass characters, and Black Joe Lewis was one of the characters. You know, it’s just a name.

PHAWKER: The video for “Mustang Ranch” [SEE BELOW] was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time. Is the whole story told in that song true?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: Uhh… kinda, yeah (laughs). I can’t, uh, yeah, I’m not gonna elaborate, you know, but things happen.Black_Joe_Louis.jpg

PHAWKER: And who came up with the term “get my ham glazed”? That’s pretty epic.

BLACK JOE LEWIS: I don’t remember, I think that in the studio we were trying to think of funny things to say.

PHAWKER: If the flying saucers landed on your front lawn and asked you “what is the blues?” what song would you play for them?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: Let’s see… I’d probably play them a Slim Harpo or Lightnin’ Hopkins song. Something like that.

PHAWKER: And if they asked you “what is soul?”

BLACK JOE LEWIS: I don’t know. There’s just so much stuff, you know? It’s hard to say. I can’t even think of my favorite one. Whatever I had on my record player at the minute, I’d just tell them to come inside and listen.

PHAWKER: Do you ever miss your day job behind the counter at Quality Seafood in Austin?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: Nope. Not at all.

PHAWKER: So getting away from the day job grind was why you decided to become a musician, huh?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: In general, anything where you’re making minimum wage, you gotta think of some hustle to get out of it. And it just worked out, you know? It worked out for me.

PHAWKER: Yeah, I’m a cubicle slave, so I envy you.

BLACK JOE LEWIS: Yeah, I couldn’t do that. I’m free-range.

PHAWKER: There were two years, almost exactly, between the releases of Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is! and Scandalous. I know you just released Scandalous in March, but has there been any talk within the band about your next album?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: Yeah, we’ve been recording some demos, and just trying out new ideas. The next record will probably come out quicker than two years, probably. You just gotta get the material, stuff that you’re proud of, that you can put out.

PHAWKER: Do you think it will be along the same lines as Scandalous, or do you think you’ll throw in some other styles?

BLACK JOE LEWIS: There will be some different stuff on there. We got like seven demos done and they’re sounding strong. It sounds a little more rock-and-rollish. We’re leaning more in that direction. We’ll just have to see. I just want to record all our ideas. It doesn’t have to be a certain type of song. I just want to take the best songs and put them on there, you know? Try different stuff.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *