It’s only been two years since Feasterville’s Tyler Lewandowski decided to embark on a professional music career. But during that brief time span, the 24-year-old Neshaminy High School alum has undergone quite the transformation, physically, mentally and artistically.
Last summer, Lewandowski frontmanned the post-hardcore band Moral Support, which had the coveted honor of performing at Vans Warped Tour at Camden, New Jersey’s BB&T Pavilion. Lewandowski, rocking bubblegum pink hair, commanded the stage with a dynamic presence and intense, screaming vocals that surely garnered the band a few new fans.
Ever since, things have been quiet on the Moral Support front. That’s because, for the time being, its members have amicably parted ways. For Lewandowski, the disbanding has allowed him to recognize his true musical passions, which aren’t, in fact, as heavy as he originally thought.
On Sept. 9, Lewandowski unveiled to his social media following a solo project he’s been working on quietly behind-the-scenes, one that he holds especially close to his heart. That day, he reintroduced himself to the world as the short-haired, bandana-sporting Honcho MacGuffin – a rap/hip-hop artist.
“I’ll be honest. I did not grow up on heavy music. I feel like I was the biggest fake in that scene. It was fun and that was always a huge inspiration for me, but I went into the heavy side of it just because I was like, ‘Oh, this is kind of cool.’ I was listening to Beartooth and a lot of those types of bands,” Lewandowski said. “But I grew up listening to mainly hip-hop.”
When Lewandowski approached former Moral Support guitarist Evan Seeberger last year about helping him flesh out the new project, he went into the process with an open mind about what it would sound like. Though five songs were quickly written, all strongly influenced by the ‘80s pop/rock vibe of The 1975 and Bleachers, the vocals proved to be a challenge for Lewandowski.
“I was so down on my luck. At the time, I was listening to a lot of Mac Miller, a lot of Logic, a lot of Brockhampton,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know what would be a great idea? Maybe I’ll try just rapping over them.”
Admittedly, he had never once attempted rapping. But something about it just felt right. Naturally, Seeberger was taken aback when his friend started spitting lyrics during their meeting, telling Lewandowski he’s the “most confusing human ever.” Still, he agreed that it worked.
The end result was Honcho MacGuffin’s first single “Hello,” released on all digital platforms on Friday, Sept. 13. Produced by Seeberger and recorded in Lancaster by Jeff McKinnon, also a former Moral Support member, the track holds fast to its original ‘80s sound, with added blends of funk (drawn from Miller’s final album Swimming), hip-hop and, of course, rap.
“I wanted that. I wanted a beat under the song,” Lewandowski said. “I don’t mean this in any cool way, but it doesn’t sound like anything. It’s just different. It’s a mix of the feel of a 1975 song nowadays off their newest record, then it takes in some Logic, and it all kind of meshed in the right way.”
In retrospect, Lewandowski said the recording process was smoother – and less stressful – than when Moral Support’s debut EP Nowheresville was created.
“I used to get freaked out the night before I had to record any other stuff before this. Once you step into a vocal booth and put headphones on and hear yourself, that’s just the most daunting thing in the world,” he said. “I get in my own head all the time with this stuff. But doing these past couple of songs, I’ve just felt so comfortable and enjoying the time doing it. And that’s why I feel this is all going to make sense and do well. That’s the hope.”
If “Hello” does become the next big hit, Lewandowski is fully prepared to answer what’s sure to be the No. 1 question – how did he land on the name Honcho MacGuffin? Initially, he toyed with the pseudonym “TLew.” It sounded corny, but nothing better was coming to mind.
While at a “Sad & Boujee” party with his longtime friend David Lisowski, a fellow Neshaminy grad, Lewandowski pitched the “TLew” idea to him. Lisowski instantly shut it down, adding how he thought Lewandowski would pick something “weird” like Honcho MacGuffin. Though the name was suggested jokingly and sounded like the result of an online rap name generator (which has been used by industry giants like Post Malone and Childish Gambino), it had a certain ring to it.
In order to add some validity, Lewandowski Googled the definitions of the two words. “Honco” means leader, and “MacGuffin” is an object or device in a movie or book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot. Combined, he managed to find powerful meaning in the name.
“I’m the leader of driving my plot. I’m the sole reason that I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m not doing it for anyone else,” he said. “When I heard it, it was weird but it just felt right. I didn’t feel like I was trying to prove anything.”
Throughout the rest of 2019, a handful of Honcho MacGuffin singles are slated to be released, with the next hitting Spotify, iTunes and SoundCloud toward the end of October.
“When you hear it, it sounds like it is coming at specific people. It’s not dissy, but it kind of is. These kids are all looking up to these hype beast, face-tattooed, popping-pill rappers that aren’t rappers. They’re just making music that’s not good, and that’s my opinion. It’s just sad,” Lewandowski said. “I want to contribute in a way that brings it back to what rap was. I don’t do any of this for the attention. I am in my box with everything. I do this because I love it. If I woke up every day and wasn’t doing music anymore, I don’t know how I’d be doing. That’s super important to me, and that’s what I want to convey.”
Keep up with Honcho MacGuffin at facebook.com/HoncoMacGuffin.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org