When your band releases a proud-gay anthem called I Am A Homosexual, you’re bound to piss someone off. But one thing that four-piece Melbourne band The Hondas didn’t count on – was offending the gay community.
But offensive is the last thing you could call Taka Honda, vocalist and guitarist for The Hondas. He’s a sweet, considerate man who most know as the drummer of Little Red, who loves the music Paul Kelly and ‘80s Oz-ploitation film, which has inspired the upcoming film clip for I Am A Homosexual. Honda recently appeared on LGBT community radio station Joy FM 94.9 to discuss the controversy behind the new single, which he describes as “a social commentary”. “There’s a lot of pressure on gay people in our modern society to conform and to be ashamed of who they are.”
“The DJ told me that the response from the gay community was pretty hostile and very confused. I think they thought it was a little bit of a piss-take”, says a surprised Honda.“The DJ supported the song, and I think I explained very well what the song was about on his program. I thought it would offend would be right-wing conservatives, people of the church etc, not the community that I whole-heartedly support”.
The Hondas have become renowned for being a band of straight guys who dress up like ladies. But rather than their cross-dressing just being whorish, attention seeking behaviour, Honda maintains it was more spontaneous than that. “I was going out to a lot of parties in drag. I don’t know, it felt really natural and I liked doing it. But in today’s world, if you’re a guy wearing female clothes, you’re instantly judged by people as being gay”, Honda states. “There’s nothing wrong with (cross-dressing) and there’s no need to categorise someone”.
From Tokyo to Melbourne Town, the band’s upcoming record, reflects on Honda’s emigration to Australia. “(The album is) about me growing up in Japan and moving to Australia. Because I am Asian, sometimes I’m made to feel like I am not Australian. Racism still exists in Australia, not that much in Melbourne”, recalling incidents on the recent Little Red tour where he was heckled by the bouncers of their own gig to “go back to China” – a country he isn’t even from.
He cites the title track as his favourite song from the record and hints that the record will share sonic consistencies with the change of direction on Little Red’s most recent album, Midnight Remember. “It’s got a lot of strings and horns, percussion and samples on it. We recorded the songs live as a band though”. He claims he hasn’t worked out the particulars yet, but the album is due for release in April or May next year.
Honda credits Paul Kelly as a major influence on his songwriting. “He made me realise that I could write a song about my neighbours or about my friends. I grew up listening to lots of American music, that name drop New York and Nashville, Texas or Mexico, these cool, iconic places. But he really opened the doors for me. The first of his songs that I heard, he was singing about Fitzroy Gardens – somewhere five minutes away from where I live. I realised, “Shit, I can write songs about Brunswick St and it’s still really cool!”.
He’s disgusted at the treatment of Minister for Finance Penny Wong’s decision to have a baby with her lesbian partner, Sophie Allouache – especially at the hands of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph journalist Miranda Devine, who grotesquely attempted to link Wong’s maternal actions and gay parenthood to the London Riots. When told about triple j Breakfast host Tom Ballard’s articulate 15-minute response (or decimation) of Devine’s turgid, self-contradictory rant entitled What The Fuck Are You Talking About?; bellied laughter fired down the phone. “That’s awesome! I gotta watch that! I actually know Tom personally and he’s a really good guy, he’s got a really good heart.”
He’s also sick to death of gay-hating politicians like Bob Katter, wielding their belligerent, intolerant beliefs around like they’re doing it for a better world. “Politicians like him say, “Gay marriage is unnatural”, but for me, it sounds totally unnatural to not let two people who love each other very much get married.”
“I know gay couples who have been together for ten years and are really happy. It’s going to work. It’s the way of the future”, says Honda. “Imagine twenty years from now, when they are making documentaries about 2011, when gay marriage was illegal. People of the future will be so ashamed and ridiculous of how people acted in this day and age.”
The Hondas launch I Am A Homosexual at The Grace Darling this Friday September 23.