Los Angeles outfit Dirty Honey have released a new song, “California Dreamin’,” from their upcoming self-titled debut album, out April 23rd.
The song is a big riff rocker that finds singer Marc LaBelle exploring the darker, more turbulent elements that lurk beneath the promises of the Golden State: “I’m California dreamin’” LaBelle wails on the hook, “It’s tearing us apart/It’s paranoia season/It’s in our minds, in our hearts.”
“California Dreamin’” arrives with a music video, directed by Scott Fleishman, that further delves into the tensions presented in the song. The clip follows LaBelle and a woman as they walk through a series of doors that take them to different locales around California — from the banks of the less-than-stunning Los Angeles river to the giant redwood forests to the Joshua Tree desert.
LaBelle tells Rolling Stone that “California Dreamin’” began with a riff from guitarist John Notto, to which he found himself singing the song’s titular refrain. “I knew there already was a song called ‘California Dreaming’, but I wanted to do a different take on it,” LaBelle continues. “The dream isn’t always realized when you come out here, a lot of people end up moving back to where they came from because they didn’t achieve the fame and fortune that they were dreaming of. It can be a pretty dark place, and that’s where I wanted to take the lyrics. It’s kind of a dark song and it came from a place that’s autobiographical, but fortunately, at least now, things feel like they’re looking up.”
“California Dreamin’” marks the first offering from Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut, which follows their 2019 EP, also dubbed Dirty Honey. The band had planned to record the LP with producer Nick DiDia in Australia, but Covid-19 halted their plans the day before their flight. Rather than find a new producer (DiDia also helmed the Dirty Honey EP), the band set about recording at Henson Studios in Los Angeles, with DiDia joining the sessions virtually.
Despite the peculiar set-up, LaBelle and Notto agree that the virtual sessions for LP barely felt different from the in-person ones for the EP (Notto credits a special ProTools plug-in, Listento, which gave DiDia access to live audio of everything happening in the studio). Still, recording in the middle of a pandemic did present some challenges.
“I have to say, it was a rather uninspiring time to be making a record,” LaBelle says. “I’ve been sitting in my apartment for the last six months; I haven’t really seen or done anything with anybody. You’re trying to write songs about relationships or the state of the world, but you haven’t really experienced anything like that in so long. I consciously tried to stay away from writing about the pandemic, I just didn’t think that anybody would want to be reminded of it when this was all over. It’s tough when you’re not living a life to write about life.”