On Saturday, Forget the Box had the pleasure of catching up with the three handsome fellows of Honeyman and the Brothers Farr at Shaika in NDG. Their debut album Behind the Veil, Behind the Veil, launched in 2010. The album is a strong debut which showcases the combined talents of James Farr, Eric Farr, and Simon Honeyman. They first caught our attention during their soulful folk performance at Sala Rossa a couple years ago and we’ve been keeping an eye out for them ever since. The three friends took some time out of their busy schedules to chat with us about what they are reading, their favourite places for coffee in Montreal, and, most of all, what inspires them.
FTB: How did you start playing music together?
Simon: Eric had moved to Montreal and he invited me to go to a show at The Yellow Door. There was an open mic afterwards. So we played and Holly [Flemming], the coordinator of the Yellow Door Coffeehouse, invited us to have our own show. So we got together and practiced a couple of songs. We were awful. So at that show James was there to support; to be a good brother. As is the custom there was an open mic afterwards and James played and Holly said “The three of you. Get in there and do your thing’.” So he did and we played a lot of shows at the Yellow Door and they were a wicked learning curve.
Eric: They were a lot of fun, it’s such a wonderful atmosphere there. It’s a very forgiving atmosphere for people figuring out how to do these things.
James: It felt a little bit like a circus in a way. I’d come to town and we’d rehearse a night before a show, sometimes the night of, and then we’d go play these wild sweaty shows. Near the end of it The Yellow Door was packed at capacity, maybe 60 people, all good friends of ours basically. It would be so hot in there and we’d be playing, screaming, and I’d tear my shirt off at the end of every show. It did feel kind of like a circus I guess, but it was a real learning experience.
Eric: In that scenario, there’s such an intimacy at the Yellow Door where you are actually sitting with everybody at the same level. I think that created within us a real love of playing together and also just kind of hanging out with the audience. I think that conditioned how we interact and approach performing.
FTB: What are you guys reading these days?
Simon: I’m in the middle of Moby Dick. I had somebody say that if you are gonna read something, read something worthwhile. I guess that’s true for most things. He told me that about eight years ago and I never got around to reading it until now. His idea of good novels are books that are really thick and have too much information going on. So I’m sifting through Moby Dick and trying to figure out exactly what I enjoy literarily about it.
Eric: I’m reading a collection of short stories by Barbara Gowdi, who is a Canadian author, called We So Seldom Look on Love. It’s a beautiful set of stories. Very difficult to read a lot of the time but it’s written in a very gentle way, it’s written beautifully.
James: I have a couple books going. I’m reading The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf a book by Bahá’u’lláh, who is the prophet founder of the Bahá’í faith. I’m also reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I’m liking that a lot. I just finished Infinite Jest.
FTB: Do you find that what you read trickles down into your songwriting?
James: Yeah I think so. Part of it is that I seek out literature that sort of reflects something I’m going through or thinking about. I think Infinite Jest was certainly like that for me in terms of thinking about the way people struggle with addiction and the desire to be entertained. That was something I was thinking about. The Brothers Karamazov is about the total human experience and certainly the writings of the Bahá’í faith inspire my art a lot.
Simon: I can’t remember when I last wrote a song from start to finish but yeah, I’ll take lines of poetry that I find kind of intriguing, that have some kind of weight to them, and I’ll structure a song around them. That’s been an approach. I actually insert it into the song but the context is shifted.
Eric: I find that by reading sometimes there are some words that sound really nice and are evocative and you can structure a whole song around that word. Especially with Barbara Gowdi.
Keep reading part 2 to find out what inspires the boys from Honeyman and the Brothers Farr and more!