Evan Honer

Meet Evan Honer: The Viral Folk-Country Star With An Unorthodox Path to Musical Success

June 14, 2024 7:00 am GMT

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The first time Even Honer performed an open mic, he had nightmares for an entire week before the gig.

In 2022, he received three definitive “No”s on American Idol, being told to "stick to diving" by country artist Luke Bryan. No one else in his family is even remotely musical.

Against all odds, Honer has managed to tap into the country and folk music scene with the speed of either an industry plant or prodigy. Considering what we know now, having sat down with him before the London date of his European tour, we’re leaning towards the latter.

Honer is a refreshing addition to the acoustic landscape, blurring the lines between folk, Americana, indie rock and country. It’s a new sound that's catching attention across the globe, made more accessible through social media. With a catalogue of catchy tunes and an already esteemed line-up of collaborations, he's found the perfect recipe to satiate the palates of a more challenging audience to please – bringing in a more significant chunk of Gen Z to a genre that historically welcomed an older demographic of listeners.

Growing up, Honer's dad heavily influenced his love for music, with Eagles, Jim Croce and James Taylor CDs kicking around and inspiring him from a young age. He tells us that he picked up the guitar for the first time at 13. "Then [he] got bored of it and did something else," as kids often do.

A few years later, he was slinging shifts at AT&T as a seller when a friend told him about a bloke with pipes and a knack for stringed instruments. His name was Tyler Childers. "I was listening to pretty much only rap at that point. I liked my dad's background, but I wasn't listening to country at all. He was the first artist whose lyrics I felt something through. I'd never experienced songwriting like that before. So, I picked up the guitar again".

Not long after, COVID hit, the then 19-year-old had a lot of time on his hands, so he put them to work. He started writing his own music, filming and recording it. "I was posting on TikTok for a while, but there were just no views for a year or two, it was all covers, too. Then I decided to share one of my first originals, ‘How Could I Ever’. It was just a video of me singing in my car.

“It was the first video of mine that got any traction at all,” Honer notes. “It got 50,000 likes or something like that. I couldn't believe it".

He released the recorded version of the song a couple of weeks later. Now, he's finishing up his first tour in Europe and the UK and just released his sophomore album, Fighting For.

Honer’s laid-back, humorous lyrics about the human condition usually accompany a stripped-back set of strings and percussions. Some of the saddest, most self-deprecating songs from his first album, though, are also the most upbeat and contagious, "I get sad when it rains / singing songs out my range / lost my voice on the stage / I'm a lost cause at best".

His debut album, West on I-10, holds a special place in his heart as it is a tribute to his formative years. "It was called West on I-10 because I drove on the I-10 West every time I'd go back and forth from college".

Over a year has passed since the release of his debut, and during this time, Honer has been keeping busy. Weaving together songs and ideas that didn't quite fit onto his debut, he's infused them with the wisdom and experience he's gained on his musical journey to craft his sophomore effort. Fighting For symbolizes the evolution in his life this far.

"These new songs are ones I started writing my senior year of college, right up to this point. It's 16 songs that have the same idea of me not knowing myself and still trying to figure it out. It's just a collection I'm really proud of," Honer explains. "I would say the main difference is, thankfully, that I now have more resources to do more stuff. This was the first year I got to tour with my band to try out the songs. Playing them with the full band has been super fun".

“I was just going to do [the European tour] solo, acoustic,” he continues, “but then Julia [DeGrazia, my fiddle player] and Shane Travis, my guitar player, both wanted to join me. So, I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I would love to’. They're both incredible musicians and it's nice to have harmonies, fiddle and extra guitar”.

Cautious about friendships made on the road, Honer appears to glow with gratitude and is pleased to say he's also made a strong bond with fellow musician, Wyatt Flores.

"He's become one of my best friends, which is weird. I feel like a lot of people that you meet pretend to be your friend for a while, and then it just fades out, but me and Wyatt are great friends". With Honer having written on Flores' ‘I Believe In God’, we’re delighted by the notion that there could be more to their creative partnership on the horizon. “We have a couple of other collaborations planned. Wyatt's just one of my best friends".

For now, Honer's focus is on the present. Despite his unconventional journey to success, he's discovered a new level of confidence on the stage – and is fully committed to his performances.

"I think the consistency of me playing more shows has enabled me to be comfortable in myself onstage. I take taking to the stage seriously and want to be the best I can so I can give people the best show possible, because I want them to come back".

If there's one thing we can confirm after meeting with Honer and attending his show, we’ll be snapping up tickets to his next tour as soon as they go live.

For more on Evan Honer, see below:

Written by Gemma Donahoe
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