Q&A: Honeystone

A residential rooftop in Chicago’s South Loop became the latest stop in Honeystone’s collection of intimate showcases this week. The four-piece rock band, who has regularly been performing private parties, charity gigs and Sofar Sound shows throughout the city, says they enjoy smaller performances because it allows them to interact with fans. They make sure to take time before and after sets to speak with audiences and show their appreciation, knowing their support system plays a role in their success.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate with a lot of good friends and fans helping us out, [letting us know when someone] is looking for new bands for an event,” says lead guitarist John Nordquist.

The boys may be too humble to admit it themselves, but their success doesn’t solely lie with the word-of-mouth marketing of their friends. Honeystone has spent the past year creating a sound that brings together the best of old and new rock. Their well-crafted tunes along with their level of professionalism on stage have brought them to a number of musical milestones. With their summer tour complete and a batch of singles almost ready for release, Nordquist, bassist David Koslovsky, drummer Nathan Taylor and vocalist Justin Honigstein share what’s next for the band.

Listen Live and Local: Honeystone released a new single called “Tides of Time”. Is that song part of a bigger project, or is the band working on single releases?

John Nordquist: It’s kind of a song that can take on several meanings depending on who you are and how you interrupt it. It’s about going with the flow and how time passes by and you can’t necessarily control the good and the bad, the ups and the downs. It’s about watching the time pass; letting it be and letting it ride. It’s fun. I think it’s definitely a development for us as a band.

Justin Honigstein: As far as what we’ve released, we started with a 10-song album. Well, we put out a single but that was the very beginning of the band. Then we put out a 10-song album when we were truly Honeystone [and] two singles since then. This summer we put together some singles, so we’re going to release two more in the next couple of months.

David Koslovsky: It seems like the best [thing to do is to] always be putting out content. Doing an album takes a lot of time so the ability to just release singles that are all great and standalone is what we’ve been focusing on. We’re still a very young band. We’ve only been doing this for just over a year, so we’ve been continuing to hone our craft as a group and being able to get into the studio whenever you can and keep working at that. We feel like the last time we went into the studio was one of our best sessions. We were able to just come in, do what we needed to do and go away with the product we wanted.

Nordquist: In this day and age, to listen to 10 songs when they only know one, verse getting them to listen to 10 songs at different times is a lot easier. I think conceptually the idea of a larger album is very appealing, but we’re trying to be strategic about our output for now.

LLL: In February of this year, Honeystone released a debut album Scout’s Honor, named after the band’s dog and unofficial fifth member. Can you talk about this record and the writing process behind it?

Koslovsky: That album is very interesting because it’s like the coming together of the band. We all came from separate backgrounds. John had some songs, Justin had some songs, I had some songs. We were just kind of digging what each other was doing so we worked together and put final touches on them and formed our [album]. The first practice we had with John, we showed him “Gone”, one of the songs on the album. John immediately took and made out parts of it because he heard something the other three of us hadn’t heard. It’s a very open and collaborative effort. It’s the four of us in a group creating the song as opposed to one of us bringing the song to the table and being like, “This is what we’re doing.” It’s very unique and very organic because it comes together with the four of us just jamming it out. It seems to keep getting better.

Honigstein: The reason the album was able to happen so quickly was because these three guys are unbelievable musicians. They got on top of it in two seconds and wrote the most delicious parts you could ever imagine. Dave and I happened to move into a place. We call it the Honey Hive. It was just a place we could practice at any time of the week, any time of night, so we were able to have one to two practices every week and just work on these ten songs. Over the course of two or three months we had two days in the studio then we had a couple of weeks off where we practiced. Then two more days in the studio and one final day to finish everything up with the ten songs. Then it took a couple weeks after that for the mixing and mastering.

LLL: Describe the band’s dynamic.

Nordquist: We like to smash. We like to slice. We like to give back rubs and give many good pats for Scout. I think it’s cool how we switch instruments. Justin will sometimes play guitar and sing. Sometimes he’ll just go straight rock and roll and grab that mic and get down. Nate, I’m blown away at how talented he is at drumming and singing at the same time. It’s the epitome of multitasking. The same thing with Dave. He’s switching off between bass, guitar and singing.

Koslovsky: John is definitely the one who pushes us out of the box and gets us to really explore some new creative elements.  He’s good at pushing our limits. Justin is kind of the mediator.

Nathan Taylor: Justin is very much a showman [and] the peacemaker. We always go through him.

Honigstein: John is born and bred on guitar. He’s a guitar player through and through. He also plays bass and keys and writes songs on all of them. Nate’s the one who will drink too many beers and forget to set his alarm, so we have to knock on the door.

Taylor: They showed up at my apartment the last time we recorded. I do my best to show up on time but it’s 50/50 at this point.

LLL: Honeystone is playing a show on Friday, October 20th opening for The Stone Foxes. How did that gig come along?

Honigstein: We just did an East Coast tour in August. We went to New York, Philly, DC and Boston with a good friend of ours who is a Boston band, Big Jon & the Mattress Factory. Jon told me [they] got a show at The Middle East upstairs, which is a venue in Boston, playing with The Stones Foxes. I’m like, “Holy epic, good for you guys. That’s a really fun band.” Then I looked at their tour and they were coming to Beat Kitchen. Kickstand Productions booked us a couple times and I emailed them and [asked if] that bill was full. They said “no” then came back to us two weeks later and said, “You’re in.”

Taylor: The tour was pretty awesome. It was 22 hundred miles and we’ve never done four gigs in a row like that.

Honigstein: We’re working on getting to Minneapolis this fall. In April we did Nashville and St. Louis, so we’d like to get back to, if not both, at least St. Louis because it’s a quick drive and we have some fans there. We’re trying to work the Midwest for now then head back to the East Coast in spring. [We’re] definitely trying to play as many cities as we can.

LLL: This interview wouldn’t be complete without asking about the dog. How is Scout doing?

Honigstein: That’s John’s favorite question.

Nordquist: Yeah! He’s such a good boy. He’s about 23 years old, or about 3 and some months. He likes to party. He likes to woof in the background. He’s best at singing, but if he could try any other instrument it would be drumming because he loves sticks. He’s a very good boy when we practice. He always comes to our practices and he went on our first little tour to Nashville and St. Louis, which was very fun. He’s great at riding on laps.

Honigstein: It’s funny because I think he has songs that he likes more than others. He’ll come over and sit down in the middle of us while we’re practicing. He’ll also sing a little bit. He knows if he has to go to the bathroom, he waits until the end of the song and he talks to dad. He just turned 21 so he hasn’t been to a lot of our shows. He will start coming once his ID comes through.

Nordquist: We have to get him special ear protection too. [Tonight’s show] would have been good, but I’m a little occupied. I got to designated a DB. You got to have a “Designated Bubs” watcher.

Taylor: He’s a very good boy. I don’t know if we mentioned that.

Honeystone’s next show will be on Friday, October 20th at Beat Kitchen. The night will also include performances from The Stone Foxes and Gazebo Effect.

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