I caught up with the Huntingtons on October 31, 2000 (Halloween) in Columbia, KY. They were playing at Matt's Place, so I decided to drive up from school to check them out. While the turnout had a lot to be desired (thirty at the most), I was able to get some
pretty good information out of Cliffy and Jonny, the band's two guitar players, over some food from Sonic (which is a fast food joint, therefore NOT a tipping establishment, as one Cliffy Huntington is deluded enough to believe), they talked about Europe, the band's future, and tight pants.
Luke: I just saw you play Nashville in August, you went to Europe right after that, and now you are back in this area of the country, playing here in Kentucky. My point is that is quite a few tours in a short period of time. Doesn't that become a drain or difficult at some point?
Jonny: Yeah, kind of, but if we have a few weeks off in between tours, that is all I really need. We had about a month in between this tour and Europe, so that was fine. There definitely wasn't enough time in between the summer tour and Europe—only three days—but after this tour, we won't be going out again for several months.
Cliffy: I like it because it makes it like this is my job.
Luke: The word is that Europe was not all that great for you. It seems like touring over there is a big step and a big goal for bands, so what made it so bad?
Jonny: We were with Marky Ramone, which was extremely awesome. We don't regret anything about that; we learned a lot. I think everybody individually learned a lot. What made the tour "not fun" is the other band that we were with—not Marky Ramone's—were just not nice guys. We didn't get along right from the start. We had conflicts and major clashes throughout the whole tour and it made to where by the end we were just really looking forward to coming home to the USA.
Cliffy: The shows themselves were really good. There were a lot of people at every show. It was amazing to see how many people were already fans of the band and into us. We did really well with merchandise sales, but like he said, the guys in the other band were real jerky. One of the guys in the other band was the booking agent and he was extremely jerky. He ripped us off for $600, so that was pretty lame. What could
have been the best tour that we ever went on turned out to be the worst tour, because of him. Plus, the guys in that band were running around cheating on their wives everyday, which was just kind of disgusting to watch happen.
Cliffy - photo from http://huntingtonsusa.com
Luke: If you can look past the bad aspects of the tour for a minute, how was Europe? That is an opportunity most people just do not get.
Jonny: None of us had been there before. We didn't get to do much sight seeing, just driving and seeing the countryside. Most of what I saw of Europe came from a car window.
Cliffy: I slept in the minivan when they would go out. You have to realize that the tour was basically no sleep for a month. The shows were really late, so we were going to bed really late, and we had to get to the shows really early. Then, just the way the minivan was was unbearable. There were way too many people in there, just no room. There were a lot of things that were bad about it, but there were some things that were good about it. I'm glad I did it. The coolest thing about going to Europe is that I learned a whole heck of a lot about myself, how I need to be in this band, how I need to treat other people in the band, things like that. I really learned a lot about the process, and I am glad that we did it.
Luke: Talk about Marky Ramone. You are the Huntingtons, you are the equivalent to the children of the Ramones. How was is going out there and playing every night with a guy that was part of a band that you looked up to so much and idolized so much?
Jonny: I think it started out being a big idolization thing, we were looking at him and thinking, "I can't believe we're doing this." But, it gradually became a friendship thing, and we weren't awestruck every night as we got used to him. He got used to us and we just started talking casually, and it was cool, because now we're friends with him on a personal level.
Jonny - photo from http://huntingtonsusa.com
Cliffy: That is all correct, and he likes the band so much so that he is taking Mikey and Jonny over to Europe with him in March and that is going to be his band. They are going to be called "Marky Ramone and the Huntingtons." They are going to play Huntingtons
songs, Marky Ramone and the Intruders songs, and Ramones songs. It is going to be a big rock star tour with a big bus, nice accommodations. They are being paid really well, we will be able to sell Huntingtons merchandise, so it is going to be good for them and
good for the band. We came home from the tour and played with Joey Ramone for the second time, and it was unbelievably amazing again. All of these things are really cool, we'll just have to see in the long run what it does for the band.
Luke: Speaking of the future, what can we expect from the next album and when is it coming out?
Cliffy: The plan is to record our next album in April, when they get back from touring with Marky. We will probably practice for a week and then go into the studio. The album is going to be called "Songs in the Key of You," it will be our first album where every song is about a girl. Melodically, tempo-wise, and energy-wise it is going to sound very much like "High School Rock."
Luke: "The Ramones act is tired, give it up." You have responded to that statement a hundred times, but respond to it again.
Cliffy: The next album is going to sound more like "High School Rock"…
Jonny: Except that it might have Joey and Marky (Ramone) on it.
Cliffy: Doing our band this way is what has enabled us to meet them, to play with Joey Ramone twice, and we will probably keep doing that every year. It has kind of gotten us someplace, maybe not in sales, but in opportunities. Mikey's not singing like Joey
Ramone anymore, he's not doing it live anymore, and he is not doing it on the next recording at all. What I normally tell people to do is listen to the next album and see what they think.
Luke: It seems like there for a while, the Huntingtons could never get past being Christian guys, but playing in a "regular" band. I have not heard that come up in a while, it doesn't even seem like that argument is out there anymore. It seems like people are leaving you alone and letting you play your music. Is that the case, and what do you think the change has been?
Cliffy: I think it is because back then our audience was Christian kids who wanted to hear that they needed Jesus, even though they already had Jesus. Kids are tired of making that argument; they know what we are about. We have been the same since we came out, as far as our goals lyrically and thematically. We have been the same from the start. We did not have the problem of being a "Jesus band" and now we are "not doing that" anymore. We've never had to say, "We grew out of that, blah, blah, blah." Plus, we are a pretty small band. It is not like we have all of these people after us all of the time. We are getting more and more of a regular punk kids audience. Playing with Joey, touring with Darlington, touring with Marky Ramone, that is all adding a lot of credibility to the band, I think.
Luke: Cliffy, you do not have to answer this if you do not want to. It was well known that there were some band issues going on during the summer tour, but you have the same guys out on this tour. How did that all get resolved, or is it even resolved?
Cliffy: It is very much resolved. It happened in Europe with me learning about myself and me learning about how to treat other people in the band, not making them fit into my little mindset of what a Huntington band member should be. I have learned to let people be themselves, and in letting people be themselves, no longer do I have to keep up with what people wear on stage, because everyone wants to wear the outfit now. Cliffy Huntington isn't running after them, making them do it. Everyone is acting really cool, we are all getting along great, there are no issues, and I really like how the band is now. I am glad that I was able to let go of all of those things that made this hard. I am enjoying it more than ever and I praise God that I got to that point.
Luke: Why doesn't Mikey tour, is he ever going to be able to get back to the point where he goes on the tours?
Cliffy: He'll be with us next fall. He was going to come out on our January/February tour, but it is now going to be next fall. He is still struggling to get band debt behind him and his own, personal marriage debt behind him. That is about to happen, and it will
happen in the next year. He is going overseas with Jonny and Marky in March, we're going to record for the album then, and we're not going to tour in the summer. Summer touring takes too much away financially, because the turnouts aren't big, it is just tough. We are just going to drive to Cornerstone and hopefully we can play Purple Door, if they let us. When the fall comes, we're going out solid, probably three months straight. Well, maybe more like a month and a half, take a few weeks off, do a month and a half, and then come home for the holidays.
Luke: What are your favorite cities to play, and why?
Jonny: Indiana cities, California cities, most of the Florida cities, Philly, and Oregon.
Cliffy: My favorites are Pensacola, FL, Ft. Wayne, IN, Anaheim, CA, and I really like Bend, OR a lot. When we play there, we get to see our girlfriends. We played this little show in Bend, OR, and thought it was going to stink, because it was small, but it ended up being really cool. That was right before TomFest last year. Anywhere in that Portland, below Seattle, area is generally good for us. Texas, southern Texas, is becoming really cool, too.
Luke: Cliffy, why do your pants keep getting tighter and tighter?
Cliffy: They do?
Luke: It seems like over the past two years, your pants have gotten progressively tighter.
Cliffy: It started after "Get Lost" came out. I was reading this book called "Please Kill Me," which was all about all of the early punk rock bands like the
Deadboys, the Heartbreakers—not Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—just bands like that. It showed pictures of what they looked like back then, and they were all in these really tight pants and really tiny shirts. Just reading that book, the look seemed really super cool, so I just decided to do that. I got my blue jeans tightened throughout the legs,
tapered and everything. I found jeans that were like that already, and then when we went to black jeans, stretch jeans were just the obvious choice because they are already real tight, and you don't have to get any sewing done. These I have on now are by Dogpile, I got them in Oregon, and they are just like regular jeans, but they are really tight like stretch jeans are. I don't know that my pants are really getting tighter; I think they have all been the same since I started wearing really tight blue jeans. I like it and my girlfriend likes it.
Jonny: I just wear black jeans.