The Honest Heart Collective
Photo: Scott Mckay

After an unplanned hiatus, The Honest Heart Collective are kicking 2021 into high gear, with three singles, a new album, and even a Christmas song to be released before the end of the year. The first new single “11/17” is a reference to an accident that occurred a few years back, when their touring van lost control on black ice and rolled into a ditch. We caught up with band member Nic MacDonald to chat about the new song, what it feels like to be getting back on stages again, and the band’s superhero (or supervillain?) alter egos.

From The Strait: Tell us about the new single “11/17”

Nic Madonald: 11/17 might be the coolest, most unconventional tune we’ve ever released. We ditched the formula in exchange for pure honest ideas, and weren’t concerned with writing the next big prototypical rock single. The writing process began with a drum beat and a vibe that Jay had been chewing on for a little while. It was followed by a few chords that have stayed the same from their first strum all the way to the final product. We kept it simple to let the song breathe, and took it places that felt natural. (Spoiler alert) even the surprise tempo drop at the end of the tune felt like the only option. I swear, sometimes these things just write themselves. 

FTS: It’s been almost exactly a year since our last Q&A with you guys – how has the last year been for you?

Nic Madonald: Like it’s been for so many others, complete trash. I’ve never felt so much self doubt in my entire life. Pre-COVID, the band was so far ahead of itself creatively that we were left with little drive to keep on writing. There was a time where I put my instruments down for like 6 months and couldn’t be bothered to pick them back up. I felt ashamed to even call myself a musician, and a part of me still does. This year has taken a lot of people to some very dark places, and my heart goes out to anyone who’s still struggling. I hope you’ll be ok.

FTS: Things are opening up again, shows are being booked, and some parts of life are almost feeling normal. How do you feel about getting back on stage again?

Nic Madonald: I’m thrilled. For the first time since this all began, I’m starting to feel like myself again. We have two shows under our belt so far this year with more on the way. There’s really nothing quite like getting on stage and revelling in the shared experience that is live music. I’ve missed it dearly and can’t wait to get back in full swing.

FTS: What albums have you been listening to on repeat lately?

Nic Madonald: I’ve been on a massively all consuming HIM kick for the last year. They were this gothic rock band from Finland who made a huge impact on my brother and I in our early to mid teens. If you knew what to look for, you’d find some obvious inspiration drawn from them in our catalogue. Hard to pick a favourite album, but I’d recommend Love Metal to just about anyone. Special shout outs to The Maine’s XOXO: Love and Anxiety in Real Time and everything Noah Gunderson has ever released.

FTS: If each member of The Honest Heart Collective was a superhero, what would their power be?

Nic Madonald: I think a few of them are more likely to fall into the super villain category but let’s give this a go. Jay has this funny habit of disappearing when no one’s looking, so I’d say his power would have to be teleportation, dawning the mantle of “The Irish Goodbye”. Kevin might be the luckiest person to ever walk this earth By rights he should have mortally wounded himself ten times over, so I’d have to go with super luck or something along those lines. Ryan would have a supersonic loudmouth boom, I swear the guy could do a show without a microphone if he had to. If you ever find yourself a block away from one of our shows, you’ll probably end up hearing his infamous warm-ups echoing from the green room. As for myself, I like to keep to the shadows, so maybe some sort of super-human camouflage.

Check out the latest track from The Honest Heart Collective, “11/17”!