The Honey Brothers have returned with a new LP, ‘Time Flies Like A Peach’, and it is every bit as sweet as it sounds! But you might ask, “Who are these curious lads with this incredibly smooth sound? Quite simply, they are one of the most eclectic and ear pleasing bands on the scene! The Honey Brothers are: Adrian Grenier (Honey DuContra) on drums, vocals and guitar; Ari Gold (Hoyt Honey) on ukulele, keys and vocals; DS Posner (Dr. J Carl Honey) on vocals and guitar; Andrew Vladeck (Dory Honey) on banjo, guitar, ukulele and vocals; and Daniel Green (Sonny Honey) on bass. Originally formed as a ukulele-singing trio on the streets of New York, The Honey Brothers morphed into the eclectic, electric band they are today, merging a high-energy post-punk sound with traditional music and pop song-craft. Working under the watchful eye of legendary producer Malcolm Burn (Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith), the band has painstakingly crafted an amazing followup to 2006’s ‘Songs For Your Sister’. “Time Flies Like A Peach” is not only a perfect gateway for new fans to discover their sonic magic but serves as the band’s most fully realized work to date. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Adrian Grenier and Ari Gold to discuss the band’s history, the making of their sophomore album, the challenges involved and what the future holds for this amazing group of artists.
We always aim to give our readers a little background on the artists we encounter. How did music first come into your lives?
Adrian Grenier: Well, I found my mother’s nylon acoustic guitar in storage amongst some Beatles tablature books. I made the discovery that I could actually teach myself to play the songs. Who didn’t love the Beatles? It was a great entry point into music.
Ari Gold: I had a little piano that was always out of tune, which is probably why I ended up playing percussive instruments like ukulele and keyboards. I never quite got the melodies because everything was out of tune!
Who were some of your biggest musical influences who helped to shape the musicians we hear today?
Ari Gold: With five of us in the band, so we all have really varied influences. I love Kraftwerk, Led Zeppelin, [Igor] Stravinsky as a kid, so I am not sure that influences The Honey Brothers but I am also a big ‘60s ska fan, so that probably led into my ukulele playing.
Adrian Grenier: Ari and I share Ween as an influence.
Ari Gold: Yeah, we are huge Ween fans.
Adrian Grenier: I was a big Funkadelic fan and a fan of the classic bands like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, like I said, but Funkadelic was the one band that changed everything for me.
For those just discovering the band. How did The Honey Brothers initially form?
Ari Gold: The band started as an acoustic band with three people singing harmonies and it was really cheesy. One night we were playing and the only two people were Adrian and a friend of his. They made so much fun of us, that in order to be cool, we had to bring them into the band. Then we became electric!
Adrian Grenier: Yeah, I started out not as the drummer but as a heckler! [laughs]
Ya gotta start somewhere, right?
Another little bit of band history, if you would — What is the origin of the Honey Brothers name?
Ari Gold: Very early on we were much more folky and there were all of these brothers bands from the 1930s that we really liked. Honey just seemed like a nice approach. I mean, we love smelling honey. We love to eat honey but then also there was a sense that we were all looking for sweetness in our lives. We were also looking for family. The five of us came together to form a band of brothers — a new family in a band. It seemed like a nice thing for all of us to bring into our lives. It was an internal thing and it made us all feel good.
Looking back on the early days of the band, did you think you would be still going strong a decade later?
Ari Gold: Honestly, I probably didn’t think we would even be going strong as human beings! I am not even sure I thought the world would be going strong! I think still being able to walk down the street and still breathe the air is a miracle in itself.
What brought The Honey Brothers back together for a new studio album?
Adrian Grenier: I guess it has been sort of a long time coming, accumulating songs and realizing we had to do something with them. We didn’t just want to keep them for ourselves. Music is to be shared! We went into the studio and we did it!
For fans who may not have heard the new material yet, how would you describe it sonically?
Adrian Grenier: I think it is our most realized music to date. That is partly because our first album was never really recorded properly in a studio but was rather pieced together out of necessity. I don’t necessarily want to get into it but we had a tragedy in the band and our first bassist passed away. In order to honor him, because he never got the chance to come into the studio, we used one of our live recordings and then recorded little bits and pieces on top of that. This was the first time that we ever really sat down in the studio and decisively made an album. I think it sounds, if I may, pretty great. Sonically, it has a very New Wave, very feel good, sit back and pop it on the stereo vibe. It is very listenable but it has a lot of interesting hooks. I am very proud of it, as are we all.
What can you tell us about the writing process for “Time Flies Like A Peach?”
Ari Gold: It is a mix of elements. Sometimes, one of the members will come in with a fairly, fully formed song idea and watch it get ripped to shreds by the rest of the band! [laughs] Sometimes someone will come in with a tiny little hook idea and then out of a jam, a song is formed. In the end, one of the things the band is pretty rigorous about is making sure that the songs are songs, that they are singable and they are a little journey that can be delivered in a couple of minutes. Even though we will make a lot of noise in the basement for hours on end, we do like delivering something that is a little morsel. It is a democracy with all of the battles and joys which that implies.
Are you always working on potential new material as individuals or is there a point in time where you all sit down to hammer something out?
Ari Gold: We have written songs in hotel rooms before, so it is really wherever the mood takes a person. Usually, each song has an individual that instigated it. Then it gets passed along to someone else and then it gets passed back and then passed around the band. Then we find a sound that works for it. I think once you have added all of our personalities, the additions and add in different the instruments like banjo and ukulele, a song that might have started out as a heavy rock song might end up as a dance song at the end of the day. You never know where a song is going to end up from where it starts.
What was it like working with veteran producer Malcolm Burn and what did he bring to the table for this project?
Adrian Grenier: Malcolm was instrumental in mitigating our political strife! [laughs] We are a democracy in the truest form — we are a family. With a situation like this, there is often some brotherly squabbling, which is great and one of the reasons, I think, we have lasted so long. We share everything and split everything equally but it is sometimes difficult when you are trying to accomplish something specifically on a timeline. Malcolm was really able to sit down and help us get together and find the discipline in a certain amount of time.
What was the biggest challenge that presented itself on the project?
Ari Gold: I think it was unifying the sound when there are five really distinct personalities. That was a challenge because we are used to being kind of a smorgasboard kind of band but we decided before we went into the studio that we would have this album have a flow from start to finish. Smoothing out some of the edges we were used to was challenging at times.
When you look back on your work, can you see yourselves evolving musically through the years?
Adrian Grenier: Yeah, it is funny because at our show on Thursday, we are bringing back some of the old time numbers that we did way, way back in the day. It is funny how much we remember them and how they are sort of ingrained in our muscle memory but it is just a different sound. The songs do really stand the test of time. We have really been having a good time recalling them and playing them. I am sure we are going to have fun sharing them with the audience as well, in conjunction with our new stuff. I would say our older stuff was a little immature, not musically necessarily, but the lyrics were a little more irreverent. Our new sound is more professional and more palatable to a wider audience. You definitely feel the Ween influence in our earlier stuff.
You mentioned the upcoming tour dates. I am sure it is always exciting to share your work with an audience. Do you guys still get butterflies before hitting the stage?
Ari Gold: I never get butterflies but the excitement has never worn off. My favorite thing to do in the band is take the stage and those moments when we look at each other and we are very much in the moment. I think audiences who come to see us, and we have fans who have been with us for a very long time, know that they are going to have a really good time when they come see The Honey Brothers play. It is nice to be coming back to the Bowery Ballroom, which we haven’t played in a while. We always have a really good time there.
Have you guys ever experienced a Spinal Tap moment on stage, where something totally unexpected happens?
Adrian Grenier: [laughs] It seems that is the only kind of moment we ever have! We are not a polished, A&R type band. We are very much in the moment and anything can happen at any time!
Ari Gold: I did a show a long time ago where I smashed my face deliberately with my ukulele. I was thinking that it would just hit my face and it would be a fun moment. I didn’t realize that I was covered in blood until a few moments later when Adrian pointed it out to me. I was bleeding all over the stage from a ukulele impact! [laughs]
Adrian Grenier: [laughs] Gwar doesn’t have anything on The Honey Brothers!
You recently released the first video in support of the album. Are there any plans for additional videos?
Ari Gold: Yeah, we have one more coming out…
Adrian Grenier: No, no. We have two more.
Ari Gold: Oh, OK. Two more.
Adrian Grenier: Yeah, I have been working on something you don’t know about, Ari.
Ari Gold: You see, this is the good thing about having a band full of creative people! We shot one down in Florida that is about the record business and record stores. We shot it in a record store and we hope to get it out in time for Record Store Day. Our album comes out a few days in advance of that, so we are hoping to get it out around then. In addition, Adrian has been making videos in his basement recording studio, The Wreckroom. He has been recording bands and shooting them playing live. We did a song there which Adrian should be putting up soon!
Adrian Grenier: Yeah, that is www.wreckroom.tv. It should be going up tomorrow (April 17th, 2012).
How did The Wreckroom come about, Adrian? I have been checking it out and it seems like you have some really cool stuff going on there.
Adrian Grenier: Basically, it is a matter of making the most out of this beautiful recording studio that I have built. Why not share it? I had the financial opportunity to build it and it is not going to do me any good if I horde it! I wanted to create a place where people could come and record and utilize the equipment and the space. I have so many friends with bands, I was looking to help a community of musicians that already exists and share that community with the world.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for The Honey Brothers?
Adrian Grenier: I am looking to get The Honey Brothers to record some more songs and maybe do our next album in The Wreckroom. I think it could be a good process, especially because when we aren’t paying for studio time, we can really start to experiment and maybe graduate a little bit from ourselves.
Ari Gold: Yeah, I really think it would be fun to do a record there and then take it to the UK. It would be great to tour the UK, which is something we haven’t done yet. And work on our accents!
Anything you would like to tell your fans, old and new, before I let you go?
Ari Gold: Just that we really hope you enjoy our new record and come out to see us at our upcoming shows.
Adrian Grenier: Yeah, we are really excited to share this music with everyone and we hope they enjoy it. Thanks for checking it out!
Thanks for your time today guys! It’s been a pleasure!
The Honey Brothers are: Adrian Grenier (Honey DuContra) on drums, vocals and guitar; Ari Gold (Hoyt Honey) on ukulele, keys and vocals; DS Posner (Dr. J Carl Honey) on vocals and guitar; Andrew Vladeck (Dory Honey) on banjo, guitar, ukulele and vocals; andDaniel Green (Sonny Honey) on bass.
You can catch them on tour on these key dates:
Thursday, April 19 | NYC | Bowery Ballroom
Saturday, April 21 | Dallas, TX | Fair Park
Friday, April 27 | Philadelphia, PA | North Star
Saturday, April 28 | Washington, DC | DC9