Isolation Drills: Jay Laughlin (Honey)

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Laughlin: The first concert I ever attended was Kiss at the Spectrum in Philly, in 1979. I was 7 years old. I wanted to be just like Peter Criss, so I started taking drum lessons when I was in fifth grade. 

I really lucked out in that my drum teacher was anything but “traditional.” My lessons routinely consisted of learning Stewart Copeland or Mitch Mitchell beats. And once I had the beat—kind of—right, he’d strap on a guitar and jam over my drumming, sometimes for a good long while. “Just keep playing!” he’d say. These lessons took place in his parents’ basement where he had built a little home studio. One day, while we were jamming, he hit record on his eight-track reel-to-reel. When we stopped playing, he rewound the tape and hit play … When I heard myself playing on tape, it was “game over” for me. From that moment on, all I’ve ever wanted to do was write and record songs.

So—after many bands (Turning Point, Godspeed, Lenola, Like A Fox, JJL, Shadow Season, Pointless), tons of ups and downs, endless shows and countless records released—we find ourselves locked in due to this crazy virus. I was on the verge of launching yet another new band called Honey, which I’ve been working my ass off on for the last two years right before this quarantine kicked in, so that’s on hold for now. Certainly a setback, but things could always be worse.

I’m fortunate to have a decent home studio in my second bedroom and have always been one to write a ton of songs. But I also tend to start a song, then quickly move onto another song idea—which leaves me with a lot of half-finished song sketches. Now that I have all this extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to start digging through various hard drives and start finishing up a bunch of songs that I probably never would otherwise. I’m deleting some of them because they’re not that great. But I’ve always believed you have to get the bad ideas out of the way to get to the good ones. So, we’re a couple months into this quarantine, and I have almost enough, random old songs wrapped up to release an odd one-off solo project—while still working on new songs for Honey as well.

If anything, this extra free time has reminded me of how great it was to fall in love with writing and recording music as a kid. And how amazing it is that I still have that same feeling all these years later. So, for now—and probably forever—I’ll just keep making music!