On Saturday, The Honey Brothers play a benefit for North Brooklyn’s Open Space Alliance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. We got to chat with band members Ari Gold (who’s also a filmmaker) and Adrian Grenier (whom you might recognize from Entourage) about open space, being bi-coastal, and their next album’s peachy title.
Do you have a favorite park in Brooklyn?
Adrian: I have a new appreciation for Prospect Park. Growing up in Manhattan I didn’t get out to this side of Brooklyn much, but since I moved here it’s been an awesome park. In fact, every time I go running in that park, I’ll be listening to music on my iPhone, and every once in a while I have to just pull over and take a picture of something that looks totally incongruous with what you normally find in the city. I took this picture of a horse tied to a tree with these blooming cherry blossoms, and it felt like I was in a fantasy, but in fact it was Brooklyn, and it was kind of remarkable.
Ari: My grandfather was a collector of old maps, and after he died I found a map of western Long Island from, I think, the early-1800s. And there was a part of western Long Island that had little tiny drawings, and my grandfather had drawn some little streams and bushes. And written on it was “brook lands” around the streams and then near the bushes was “flat bush.” And I was looking at this, thinking, oh my god, this is Brooklyn and Flatbush and they were named actually after brooks and bushes. I’d never put that together before. So, yeah, keep the bushes alive.
How do you balance your other artistic pursuits with The Honey Brothers?
Ari: For me it’s a matter of balancing daytime and nighttime. I really love in the morning, feeling the sun on my face, and I also love staying out late at night. The Honey Brothers is bright and sunny. And for me filmmaking requires more planning and more, kind of, brain power, not just passion power, so it’s a matter of balancing.
Adrian: For me music’s a necessity. It’s like eating or breathing, it’s family for me, and it’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life whether I act or make movies, or end up getting into some other line of work.
What attracted you to this Open Space Alliance benefit performance on Saturday?
Adrian: We were very excited to find out that we could play a show for our local fans while at the same time helping out a very important cause. It’s always a benefit to be able to blend your passions, your work, and also being able to give back. I live in Brooklyn, so it’s a very personal cause, but I’m also involved in the sustainable movement and growing appreciation for green spaces in our lives, especially in New York City where there’s a lot of unnecessary concrete. I think we want to put a little bit more emphasis on the things that are living and breathing.
Ari: It’s amazing also, when you think that there’s so much building that goes on, and the move to privatize every bit of space in the city and even outside of cities. I know for me, growing up in San Francisco, a huge part of who I am comes from being able to be young and get lost in city parks, and feel what nature is like in the city. When there are parks being closed down or threatened to be closed down, or spaces that are abandoned that one side wants to turn into a park and the other side wants to turn into a parking lot, it’s important to support the soul of the people, which I think parks do.
How has it been preparing this show and your next album with band members on both coasts?
Ari: Well, Adrian spends a lot of time on the West Coast as well, and when there’s something happening in New York I come. And we’re actually playing a benefit show in L.A. a week later, so we have a fair number of reasons to be west as well. These days I seem to be flying east more than the other guys are flying west, but that could flip. And I still haven’t really accepted the idea that I’m living in L.A. I’ve had eight sublets here; six months ago I packed one small bag thinking I was going to L.A. for ten days for a little job, and I’ve now had all these months go by, and eight sublets, and it’s easy because I don’t have to choose what pants I’m wearing; I’m always wearing the same pair of pants. It makes life a lot easier. I have lots of underwear.
In a recent blog post you said that you don’t have a title for your next album yet. Have you made any progress in that direction?
Ari: Well, the title we’ve been using internally has been “Time Flies Like a Peach,” and I like it. I’m not sure we’ve reached band consensus yet. The band is built on a foundation of strong democratic principles, stronger perhaps even than the United States in the sense that if there’s one member of the band, if 20 percent doesn’t like something, the other four aren’t happy until the fifth one is happy, so there’s a lot of talking back and forth. We don’t want majority rule, we want consensus. We’re not sure what the release schedule is on that, but hopefully early ’11.
Will you be performing any new material off the upcoming album on Saturday?
Ari: Yeah, lots of stuff. I could have said something more interesting.
Adrian: I think “lots” does it.
Will you be touring to promote the record?
Ari: I hope so. We’ll always play New York, so local readers should be happy with that. But yeah, I’d love to play Alaska.
Why specifically Alaska?
Ari: Because it’s not on most bands’ tour schedules. Occasionally I get fan-mail from Alaska and it’s like, “Oh right, there’s that whole state up there.”
Adrian: It’s definitely been neglected.
The band recently made an appearance on 90210; what was that like?
Adrian: That was actually surprisingly awesome. We had a great time. I got to see my fellow Honey Brothers in hair and makeup, which is something I have to do on a daily basis, and just to see them getting their noses powdered was awesome.
Ari: We had a great time. If you watch the clip online, we look like the happiest band on earth, and we weren’t faking it, we were in a really good mood, it was really fun. Our manager was like, “Are you sure you’re okay with that, is that gonna make you guys feel weird to be on this TV show?” And we’re like no, this sounds awesome. Hilarious and fun. (pause) Sorry, I’m just walking in Williamsburg right now, and I’ve been away for a while and I realize this all hasn’t happened in the last six months, but it seems like every corner I turn there’s a new building that I don’t recognize. The open spaces in Williamsburg used to be abandoned lots and I’m a big fan of abandoned lots. I like the way they look, and we used to play in abandoned lots.
It makes groups like the Open Space Alliance seem all the more important as more and more abandoned lots are built upon, and more and more people moving into these neighborhoods who want parks.
Ari: Yeah. I remember reading a real estate agent’s commentary about the tearing up of parklands in Pennsylvania, and he said, “We don’t need park land,” this is in, like, 1999, “golf courses will be the open spaces of choice in the next century.” And that sentence really stuck with me. So, private property that kids can’t play on or get lost in, that has one breed of grass, non-native, is the only place you want in your community for park land?
Tickets for Saturday’s OSA benefit with The Honey Brothers at Music Hall are available here.