In Conversation with the Honeyrunners, Part I

The Honeyrunners are a Canadian band that plays rock and roll spiced up with Motown, neo-punk, soul, and rhythm-and-blues. Their first single, Jet Set,” was featured in a Bacardi ad campaign and their “My Garage” became part of Coca-Cola’s project 52 Songs of Happiness. They’re currently touring their new EP, titled EP II. Recently the band’s keyboardist-vocalist, Dan Dwoskin, took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about the band’s musical influences.

What drew you to music in your early years?
Music was huge in all of our families as we were growing up; a lot of sing-a-long guitar nights and stolen vinyl, tape cassettes, and LPs. Thank God our parents had decent taste. Once you hit thirteen you start to leave the comfort of your hand-me-down music and start developing your own musical tastes. Enter punk, rock, blues, soul, folk, and so forth.

Did you grow up listening to rhythm-and-blues and soul?
Absolutely. I think those were the most prevalent genres for all of us; guys like Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Elvis, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Hendrix, Stones, Beatles, Zeppelin, etc. The grittier, the better.

But as time goes by I find myself getting tired of the blues (though it’ll never fade away) and leaning towards newer music like The Raconteurs, Jet, Mumford & Sons, Ed Sharpe, Half Moon Run, Young The Giant, Haim, Arctic Monkeys?people who borrow from the elders but put a nice modern spin on it.

What was the best musical teaching that you ever received?
Never be scared of space and silence in your music. Read the book The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten; there’s far more to it than just learning to play “the right notes.”

What was the most mesmerizing musical experience of your life?
I once got called up on stage at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto to kick-dance with Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Paul Simon’s South African backing band from “Graceland”). I’ve never felt so white in my life. I’ve also never been so happy.

How did you guys hook up and come up with the idea of doing this kind of music?
We’ve all played in bands together for years; I think it came down to chemistry?just needed some players that could all sing and play the hell out of their instruments. The kind of music just fell into place. We don’t really sit and dictate our genre; it honestly seems to just come out of who we all are.

There’s an intense creative energy in your performances. Isn’t this exhausting? How do you recoup your strength after performing live or recording?
It takes its toll, but having a solid audience helps with the energy. All in all, it’s a pretty incredible feeling, doing what we do. You just have to not get too carried away (eg. if you’re playing 12 shows in 12 days) or your body will shut down on you. We have drinks, hang out and meet fans after shows?seems like a nice way to wind it down. We don’t have the funds yet to destroy hotel rooms.

How did you come up with the band’s name?
The band name comes from a funny story in Keith Richards’ biography, Life: he describes a heroin cultivated by naked kids who run through opium fields, covered in honey (the “honey runners”). It seemed so fucked up, that imagery?how could we not adopt it as a band name? It also happened to be a word in the Urban Dictionary.

Also, a sweet little tip of the hat to Mr. Robert Plant and his old band, The Honeydrippers. It was fate.

(to be continued)

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