Portraits of the four members of Honest Engine.

Local Band: Honest Engine: August 1994


Running like a well-oiled machine, an engine that goes nonstop is what you find in a local band going by the name Honest Engine. Expect to hear anything from alternative to jazz from this group. Trying to classify their sound is not something that comes easy, call them a hyphenated band having unexpected diversity.

Honest Engine puts out a performance that has artist ability unbound. Each member comes with a different look, which in turn brings a different feel into the demanding music put out by these four. Made up of Tom Cram on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Ben Carter on lead guitar, Jonni Lightfoot on bass and Eric Empey on drums.

The four members come from opposite sides of the track, creating an outrageous mix-and-match worth seeing. They have a wide variety of outside influences. Ben and Eric come from the funk side of music, whereas Tom is an old punk at heart. And then there’s Jonni, who was heavily attached to the idea of glam-rock. It’s easy to see where the strange, but appreciated sound comes into play.

“We all like a lot of different stuff and it shows in our music,” boasts Honest Engine’s lead singer. “We don’t believe in genre. Just good music.” Cram calls the band’s unique arrangement of music the “remote control syndrome.” He says, “We get bored easy, that’s why there’s so many changes in one song. Like all the weird shit we do.”

Not only does the music change rapidly, but the topics also follow the same versatility. “One Believer” deals with a woman’s right to choose, racism, religion, and even homosexuality. “Sooner or Later,” “U.R.V.R.,” and a few more of their tunes touch on the topics of drugs and virtual reality. “Reach” was written because there is always a way to make anything better, just by improving your situation. Another extreme crowd pleaser, “Turn Out The Sun,” is expected to be the final song played in their set. This last one always gets a major part of the crowd doing a bit of moshing.

Honest Engine comes forward with a high energy attitude that is backed by their comfort onstage. The best places to catch them are either The Holy Cow or The Bar and Grill, but they also venture to other local spots and places far away from home.

Local music has all but hit its high with the many different sounds out there today, yet Honest Engine pleases anyone who listens to grunge all the way through to good old rock-n-roll. It’s not every day that you see a band that can do this, especially a local one.

The band started just like any band starts out — working their way up from playing nightmare shows at Starrz to playing places like the Whiskey A Go-Go and Club Dragonfly in California. These boys have even opened up for some big boys the likes of Paw and Dig.

If you have seen them, you must be one of their many fans. I’m sure you’re asking the question, “Where’s the demo?” Honest Engine is working on a demo, but things are going a little slow. With only a quarter of the recording complete, they expect it to be out in two months.

For those of you who haven’t seen Honest Engine yet, they come highly recommended. You can see them this month at The Cinema Bar on Thursday, August 4th, with Molly McGuire, Friday, August 12 at The Holy Cow and Saturday, August 20, opening for Blind Tribe at The Holy Cow.

Read more from the SLUG archives:
Consolidated: Fighting the Evil System
River Bed Jed: February 1993