The Honey Brothers claim they’re “the only hard-rockin’ pop band with ukulele” and since we don’t know too many other rock-pop bands featuring ukulele, they get our vote.
Starting out as a dual-ukulele singing trio on the streets of New York, The Honey Brothers have ripened into a full-fledged band that draws comparison to Ween and the Silver Jews and is worthy of rocking out at a haunt like the Mercury Lounge (see details about tonight’s show after the interview).
Perhaps their sweet sounding name strikes a memory cell? Well, that could be because the career of their movie/tv star drummer, Adrian Grenier, is hitting a high note right now and garnering the band some page six-type publicity. Adrian, who is known in Honey circles as Fluffer, is joined by Hoyt (aka filmmaker Ari Gold), Dorian (aka solo musician Andrew Vladeck), and Carl (aka Psychiatrist Dr. Dan Posner).
Their self-released EP Honey 4 U is unfortunately no longer available but fear not, they have a new “yet to be titled” album ready to go.
Let’s get this out of the way, where did your band name come from? Are you guys really brothers?
Carl: If your definition of ‘really brothers’ includes ‘not really brothers but now so caught up in self-mythology that it’s getting hard to tell” than yes.
Hoyt: We started calling ourselves "The Lomax Brothers" because we were harmonizing to the Alan Lomax collection of folk music. My twin brother called from L.A. and suggested "The Honey Cow Brothers" because of a Hawaiian song we sang that sounded like "ho-ni-cah." We dropped the "cow" because of the smell.
Dory: We're actually blood brothers. When we were in college together we were riding a tandem bicycle when we wiped out and skinned our hands, knees and elbows. We put them together and have been brothers ever since, and together we sing like honey. Hence: The Honey Brothers.
Fluffer: Hi, I'm Fluffer.
What are some of your early performance memories?
D: The best was walking down 7th with twin-attack ukuleles and singing "Sloop John B" to pick up girls.
H: We had no ambition. But at one of our first gigs, at the Living Room, Adrian (who became Fluffer) and who I'd worked with on his documentary, showed up with a bunch of friends and started shouting "gay pride!" from the back. Needless to say, being straight but "feeling gay", that was the password to joining the band.
Are you guys true to your musical beginnings?
C: We can still sing without instruments (I hesitate to use the dreaded word, a cappella to describe this talent).
H: But we've moved away from country-folk ballads and more towards something in the grand rock tradition of bands like Mr. Mister.
What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?
H: I came here at 17, and remember sitting on a rooftop with a beautiful girl who wouldn't give me the time of day. But the nice view made me feel romantic about myself.
D: Personal is growing up visiting my grandma in Brooklyn, and from her window I could hear all the cars honking around Grand Army Plaza, and I thought that was the most whimsical sounding thing I'd ever heard (wish I still felt that way).
What’s your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
C: It involves glue traps, baking soda and the Internet.
H: My least favorite was getting scammed by a couple grifters who pretended to be in trouble. I was idealistic and helped them get into my bank account.
D: Biking with my brothers over the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise.
What’s your favorite place to drink in NYC, and what’s the best night to go out?
C: Best night out is Sunday to avoid HBO.
H: We like the mojitos at Nipplestix, an illegal underground bar in Bushwick.
D: Or drinking at Central Park's sheep meadow. Any night where the weather is nice is the best night to go out in NYC; everybody's out and in good moods. This Monday and Tuesday were amazing. If it's raining, stay inside.
What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York? Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan versus Brooklyn?
C: New York has some pretty serious audiences which is annoying, yet bad. Arms crossed, expressions like minutemen with ‘rhoids.
H: In Brooklyn, we have a huge fan base among the Kurdistani immigrant population, so that's always fun.
Does New York inform/influence your music? If so, how?
C: Practice spaces the size of morgues, bass players who actually grow on trees.
H: The lack of practice space means New York bands can't get their amps to sound right. So we all tell each other to turn it down while we turn ourselves up.
Now, finish these statements:
You know you’ve made it when…
you envy yourself (see Spinal Tap). Or: you can take a cab to a gig (but Hoyt always goes to gigs by bicycle, for political reasons.)
It’ll be time to pack up the gear for good when…
my publicist won’t return my phone calls.
I’ll never forget the first time I…
I’ll never forget the first time (insert another band member’s name here)…
Carl (Dan) played a guitar solo in the wrong tuning. Hoyt (Ari) smashed a ukulele on his own head during a show, and then Fluffer (Adrian) came up to sing and Hoyt spilled blood all over the drum set.
Now time for some word association. Give us your immediate feelings on the following (if you’ve got no discernable feelings, make something up that won’t embarrass you in the morning):
YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY BABY. Go home.
I give them a 7.3 for using of words like walpurgisnacht to describe a bassline. Incredible interview with Silver Jews recently. Did you read it?
Or simply: 7.3
Bridge & Tunnel
With a hey and a ho and hey nonni no!
Very large pictures of models: thirty foot high thighs. Ankles of tremendous girth, yet slender. We love Times Square. Fun to bike through and have multi-ethnic bonding sessions with the passers-by watching the black-jew-racist contingent.
Some questions inspired by movies…
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man’s existential dilemma (in 10 words or less). (Reality Bites)
Man must negate the playa hata within.
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
We were just talking about this viz a funeral one of us attended: can’t remember the answer. The music, I think. No no, it was the misery.
And a few last questions to close things out…
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup…your all-star Olympic team of rock?
David Lee Roth, Geddy Lee and the Tegan Sisters. It’d be like the Lee Brothers and the Tegan Sisters. The not-quite-handsome family.
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
C: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Although I haven’t listened to it yet.
F: Sebadoh's "Freed Weed" deluxe box edition with bonus gift inside.
And finally…if Josh Schwartz, creator of the OC, asked your band to perform on his tv show (as Modest Mouse, the Killers and the Walkmen recently have) would you?
Umm…short answer, yes.
Long answer: um, the rent is due on the first, so let me think about this for a few seconds. Hi Mom!
The Honey Brothers play tonight, Friday, August 12, at Mercury Lounge with Marwood, Waltham, Valeze and Exit Clov. They go on at 7:30pm. Tickets are $8, no advance sales.
And you can give them a listen at MySpace.