Ian McDonald Premieres 'Dementia' From New Project Honey West: Exclusive

Courtesy Photo
Honey West, "Dementia"

Given his august history, including helping to form King Crimson and Foreigner, it usually merits some attention when Ian McDonald gets excited about something.

The multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer's latest venture is Honey West, a new group out of New York that he formed with musician/actor and neighbor Ted Zurkowski, who also teaches at the Actors Studio. The group's debut album, Bad Old World, comes out May 19 and features the single "Dementia," whose inventive lyric video -- directed by McDonald's son Maxwell and shot in real-time featuring items from his father's apartment-- is debuting below.

"Ted and I passed each other on the street for years," McDonald tells Billboard. "We finally got to talking and I found out he had a band, Honey West. I went to see them play and I thought there was a lot of good energy and a lot of potential for something really good. I saw it as an opportunity for me to get involved in something serious and significant again."

McDonald describes Honey West "an alt-country band with quite heavy rock leanings," which he helped steer into more of a straightforward rock direction that hearkens to classic, riffy conventions of Mott The Hoople, The Move, the Kinks and others. "I probably brought more of a pop sort of structure to the group," says McDonald, who plays primarily guitar but also some saxophone on the album, which also features longtime Joe Jackson bassist Graham Maby on three tracks. "That's what we were aiming at, your basic two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. It's not all hard rock beginning to end; There's a variety of different styles, and I'm really enjoying being in a band like this again. I never felt I was finished with my career. I've always felt that I needed to do something else. I love making records, so it's really great to be involved in something to get excited about."

Honey West is hoping to hit the road during the summer, with plans currently being formulated. Meanwhile McDonald is waiting for word on what role he'll be playing in Foreigner's 40th anniversary tour this summer. The group has said that McDonald and other founding members will join the band for select shows, but McDonald says that so far he's only been told about a New York area date during July and details have not been finalized yet.

"Some of the guys, myself included, have been invited to do two or three songs, but it remains to be seen. I haven't said yes to anything yet," notes McDonald, who was with Foreigner for its first four albums. "There's talk of putting on a show later in the autumn, maybe October or something like that. Nothing's been firmed up or agreed upon." And despite an acrimonious parting of the ways in 1980, McDonald still has positive feelings about his time with the band.

"I'm proud of it. We did some great things, especially those first couple of albums," he says. "I have trouble processing time in terms of years and weeks and months. I mean, it's 40 years, almost 50 years for King Crimson, but it feels like milliseconds. It's a lot of good work, though."