In Conversation With The Honeydogs

honeydogs_05When I reach Honeydogs main man Adam Levy on an early December morning, he is trudging through three inches of freshly fallen snow that had graced the Minneapolis area.

“After having experienced such a beautiful fall season, I shouldn’t be surprised that winter has indeed arrived,” Levy says.

For the past 15 years, The Honeydogs have been making some of the most original and consistent rock records to emerge from the storied City of Minneapolis, a city that groups such as Semisonic, The Replacements and Soul Asylum have all called home.

After having released two independent records, The Honeydogs signed to a major label for the release of their excellent 1997 record Seen A Ghost. While the record might not have launched the group into the stratosphere of success, it did lay important ground work for what would follow: a record by record, genre-jumping group who chose to follow their own path rather than be slotted into where others felt they would best fit.

“We have never felt limited that we had to worry about what kind of record we were making,” Levy says from the comfortable warmth of the school where he teaches by day. “We haven’t worried about that since Seen A Ghost.”

“Our label at the time had picked and chosen material to include on that record and they tried to slot us into the Americana genre with bands like Wilco and The Wallflowers.

“Every time we have made a record since then, we tend to explore different genres and different approaches to how we make our records. We have made a conscious effort not to make the same record twice.”

Levy’s last statement couldn’t be truer.

While The Honeydogs’s 2001 record “Here’s Luck” might have been one of their most commercially viable pop records (in my opinion at least), they have explored everything from power-pop through ambitiously intricate concept albums (“10,000 Years”) over the past eight years.

The group’s newest effort is “Sunshine Committee,” a six song EP that sees the band dabble with a horn section in Stax-influenced territory. Released in March 2009, the EP is one of the most upbeat collections of songs released by the band in the past decade.

These days, The Honeydogs don’t hit the road as often as they might like. A combination of familial commitments and good ol’ logic keeps the group close to their home base.

“We haven’t done any widespread touring for a few years. There are a number of babies that have been born to band members and people aren’t that anxious to leave home- I don’t blame anybody for that,” Levy says. It is hard for any of us in the band to justify hitting the road and becoming vagabonds when we’ve got mouths at home to feed.

Instead, Levy has been busy with solo shows, but the prospect of a group tour isn’t out of the picture.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to do some solo shows with people like Aimee Mann. It ends up being much more affordable for me to play solo shows then to cram our seven-piece band into a van. We have talked about revisiting touring at some point down the road. I am doing a lot of songwriting now and as a group, we are figuring out what we want to do next,” he says.

Now before you go thinking that it is just a matter of time until The Honeydogs cease to exist, Levy wraps up our chat on an encouraging note:

“I have a lot of other musical things percolating right now. As is typical with musicians, each of us in the band has a number of other projects on the go to help support us doing what we do.

“I have no doubt that The Honeydogs will continue making music in the future though.”

For more information about The Honeydogs, I highly recommend you visit their website at www.honeydogs.com.

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