A couple of years ago, it looked like Matt Honkonen was stepping away from music for a while, or maybe even for good. Honkonen, formerly drummer for Tenderhooks and Llama Train, left his current band, the Tim Lee 3, and moved to Chattanooga. But his departure turns out to have been part of a process of artistic self-discovery—Honkonen is back in Knoxville with a new solo album, Paper Wires, and is ready to reinvent himself as a singer/songwriter.
"I've spent the last couple years focusing on songwriting and helping friends produce songs and albums," Honkonen writes in an e-mail interview. "I took a job in Chattanooga and spent my time there really focusing on lyrics and songwriting."
The songs on Paper Wires, recorded at John T. Baker's Baker Acres studio, are an appealing mix of introspective singer/songwriter fare and Robert Pollard-style indie rock. Honkonen says he wrote most of the material during the last two years, though he's been working on some for much longer. "A few of them I've been playing around with since my time with Tenderhooks," he says.
"It's always been a goal of mine to perform my own material. I've never been in a band that I didn't help write and compose in. Llama Train was always a collaboration between all four of us, Tenderhooks' songs would originate with Jake Winstrom or Ben Oyler and then the band would arrange and tweak, and with the TL3, Tim and Susan were gracious enough to let me even bring a song to the table. So I've always felt comfortable writing in some form or fashion, and just got tired of always assisting, ya know?! I feel that I have a lot to say, and this first album is only the beginning."