FTB: What inspires your songwriting personally?
Eric: I think for me… James and I are both Bahai’s. And so, faith and the struggle of trying to lead a good life in a world which can discourage has inspired me. The thing that triggers the creative impulse the most for me is just longing to experience beauty in some way, to capture beauty, and participate with it in some way. Which is ultimately a frustrated attempt cause you never get there and that feeling of remoteness, that separation, is a painful but productive space to live in and participate in.
Simon: I tend to wallow in it [laughs]. It’s a bit of a woe is me type of thing, at least it has been. I find it, for lack of a better word, sort of comforting in this kind of spiral effect of that. That’s where I kind of wind up anyway. So I guess I’ve come to a point where I’m comfortable with this never ending cycle of not being at the level I’d like to be at but acknowledging and accepting at least where I find myself. So I write some pretty sad songs.
FTB: What inspired the song “From the Dirt”?
Eric: That was a solo song I was playing for a while. I have a slight congenital heart condition. It’s funny, but at the time it wasn’t particularly funny. I have to get my heart checked up every year or so to make sure everything is okay. So I got it checked once and they still have my parents number in Chelsea so the nurse called my mom. I dunno what she told her but my mom got it into her head somehow that I needed to get heart surgery the next year. I know I need to get heart surgery in the future sometime. Presumably, when I’m fifty or something, or that’s what I’d always been told. Suddenly, I was being told I needed to get it done next year. So, the thought of getting your chest ripped open and there is the small chance with these things that you might die. Death is something that I think about a lot. It’s a fascinating thing. It is the only certain thing in life and it’s the biggest mystery. Everyone spends their life wondering ‘what happens when you die?’ Thinking about that is what sparked that song. I originally played it on the piano but it didn’t quite work on piano with the band. I switched to the guitar, James switched to the slide guitar, and Simon changed the melody and made it higher. It just had a groove, it felt a little bit more together and just really worked to have a soft acoustic song. It was the first original song that we arranged as a band.
FTB: What’s your favourite place for coffee in Montreal?
James: Well I don’t drink coffee, but my favourite coffee shop to go to is Santropol. I think that it has the best atmosphere of almost any restaurant I’ve been to. People are really nice there, it’s always busy. They have great sandwiches.
Simon: I will say Shaika but my favourite coffee isn’t from here. My favourite coffee, at the moment, is from Cafe St-Henri. I always buy the beans there and I always get the free coffee that comes with it, because I can’t wait!
Eric: I’m so not a coffee connoisseur. I just drink the worst coffee on the go.
Simon: It’s Tim Hortons isn’t it!
Eric: It’s probably the coffee I drink the most but my favourite place to get a coffee is here [Shaika]. There are some nice associations here. Simon used to work here.
FTB: What’s your favourite venue that Honeyman and the Brothers Farr have played?
Eric: I would say the Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, one of the best venues. Top three. There’s a real sense of community there. The people who come to the show are either the people who live in Wakefield or drive all the way for the show so they actually wanna hear and see the show. It’s right on the river and it’s beautiful.
James: I love the Blacksheep Inn. The closest thing that we have to it here is probably Casa del Popolo. I really have enjoyed playing there. The sound engineers are great, the venue is very fair. It’s another place characterized by community rather than big scary lights or anything like that.
Simon: I would say the Blacksheep Inn. I would also say, and I haven’t played there with these guys, but the Company House in Halifax. It’s a bar basically but the people that run it are part of a larger community of musicians and actually promote good artists to come in. I played there with Gabrielle Papillon a few times. It’s a lovely crowd and Halifax is just a lovely place to be in in the first place and it seems like all the right people go to the Company House.
Eric: We are hoping to get back in the studio this summer and really knock out our sophomore album. We have a bunch of great songs that we really like playing. Hopefully we can do that. It’s been challenging because I live in Toronto now. So this year has been a bit difficult although we played Pop Montreal and had a couple great shows over Christmas break. So we are negotiating how we continue to exist despite being in different cities.
James: We might end up in the same city next year. I think one of the things I really like about this band is that it seems to me that these guys are friends of mine for life and that there’s no big pressure to get out and do anything we don’t want to do or aren’t ready for. We can pick this up anytime we want. It’s like seeing an old friend again who you don’t see all the time but whenever you do, you pick up with right away again. It’s very much like that with the music too.
Simon: I’m going to be playing Canadian Music week with Gabrielle Papillon soon. I do a lot of choral singing so I’ll be doing some of that in the next little while. I think ultimately we wanna get a record out by the end of the summer and then really push it. We are hoping to get more Montreal musicians involved on this record especially since we’ve been welcomed so warmly into the community.
James: I think this new record will be kind of a love letter to everyone that we’ve met and really admire in Montreal. There have been a lot of them. I think it will be more informed by collaboration and characterized by musical transgressions than we had on the last one.
Photos by: Chris Zacchia