I had a chance to chat with Honeymoon Suites Derry Grehan a week or so before they hit the stage in Hamilton & Mississauga this week.
I can remember walking through the Arnprior Arena when I was (totally guessing here 7 or 8) and seeing the big stage in arena B that was set up so Honeymoon Suite could perform that night for the Arnprior crowd. This was back in the day when bands such last Honeymoon Sutie and Helix travelled around to High Schools rockin the gymnasiums. And rock it they did. Here is my chat with Derry about the early days and how music has changed. Oh don’t forget the boys are play in 2 shows this week in Hamilton & Mississauga.
Corey: Derry, thanks so much for doing this. Its a real pleasure.
Derry: Hey, ya thanks for having me.
Corey: So you boys are headed back into Ontario this month for a couple gigs in the GTA.
Derry: Ya, we got a couple coming up one in Hamilton and the other in Mississauga the following day.
Corey: So with it being close to summer and festival season kicking off how are things looking for Honeymoon Suite?
Derry: Ya that’s our usual cycle. Take the winter off in a sense maybe a few shows here and there but when we get into this time of year everyone is just ready to go. So ya we are excited for the summer.
Corey: This is kind of dating us but I can recall a show you guys did back in the early 80’s at the Arnprior Arena and think back to that being my actual first real experience of seeing a stage set up and the lights and stuff. I didn’t get to take in the show but just remember thinking that WOW.. Honeymoon Suite is playing and thinking how amazing that was for such a small town at the time.
Derry: Ya, I know where Arnprior is, I think we have played a few shows in that area over the years and ya I can image what it was like for a young guy getting a taste of that type of setting. Walking into an arena and seeing the light all set up and the stage its pretty impressionable and cool. I can remember when I was a kid and if I ever got close to a concert it was just awesome and gave me chills. I guess I decided then that music was what I wanted to do and it stuck with me. And we might just have something coming up in Arnprior soon so be sure to check back on our website www.honeymoonsuiteband.com.
Corey: Let’s chat about what it was like touring in the 80’s for a band like Honeymoon Suite. A band that had some great success south of the border and obviously a very strong Canadian career. Maybe tells us what it was like to play shows starting out like the Arnprior shows and then moving up the ladder to bigger shows in the US and bigger arena shows across Canada.
Derry: Ya Corey, we were really lucky. When we started out it’s hard to believe now but there was no internet. Think of that early 80’s no WiFi, no email and stuff. I can remember when email first started in the early 80’s so what a completely different business it was compared to today. Back then you got your band together and you went and worked 6 nights a week for months or years. You hit places in Northern Ontario and you got your shit together and you wrote your songs on the road and you worked hard. You sent your demos out and if you were lucky you got your deal. You know, its a lot different now. And then with the success for us to go from playing Northern Ontario and getting our album out and having it explode right out of the box. All of a sudden we are on a tour bus for months in the States opening for bands like Jethro Tull. It was a huge shock to us but it’s all we wanted. To be down in the US as a bunch of young guys and just touring around, what a great time.
Corey: You touched on writing on the road. Let’s talk a bit about the writing you have done for Honeymoon Suite. You had pretty much taken on the brunt of the load after joining the band in the early 80’s. You wrote hit songs like New Girl Now and Wave Babies to name a few. I am a huge fan of song writers and was curious on some of the influences you may have had writing some of the hits.
Derry: Sure, it’s funny. It’s like they say in Nashville, it all starts with the song and you haven’t got anything unless you have a great song. It’s all I wanted to do is be a song writer. So you start young and you write a bunch of bad songs and then sooner or later you start getting better and writing good ones. I wrote New Girl Now in an hour back in college. It was just sitting around the kitchen table with my guitar and practising riffs and chords and then you get a progression. And out of that a melody and that is usually the way things kinda of fall out of the sky for me. The writing process, ideas come at you all different times. With Honeymoon Suite I was fortunate, by the time I hooked up with Johnnie I had already written New Girl Now, Burning In Love and all that so we had a base for the first album. Then we wrote Stay In The Light and Wave Babies while we were on the road making the record. So, fortunately I was churning them out and bringing them to the band and basically finishing songs. Things moved fast and fortunately I had the tunes ready to go and I always tried to prepare for these records and tried to do as much writing as I could because I knew the next album was coming. It’s a job man, and I love doing it.
Corey: Inspiration for some of those songs? Such as Wave Babies and Feel It Again or Bad Attitude. How did those ones evolve into songs?
Derry: Well, New Girl Now as mentioned I wrote in college. I was pretty young (21-22) and I had broken up with a girl in my hometown to move away and go to college and be free of that relationship. So I sort of had a base in that for New Girl Now. When I had first met Johnnie he loved the song cause he had just got thrown out of his apartment by his girlfriend. So, we could kind of relate to it. Burning In Love just again, I had been dumped by a girl at one point and feeling pretty down and sad. You know, relationship songs. Then Wave Babies, I was living in the beaches in Toronto and I would go down to the boardwalk and there were these girls on their roller skates and their bikinis hanging out at the beach. What guy doesn’t like that in the summer. And I had this tuning on the guitar some cool chords, you know sometimes the music tells you where to go. It gives you the flavour it gives you the tone of the song. The music of Wave Babies told me that it had to be lighter and talk about beautiful girls and the lyric has to match the music. And then Bad Attitude you know we have all run into people with Bad Attitudes, people who bullshit you or they say one thing but do another and aren’t honest. We all know those kinds of people and nobody likes to be around somebody with a Bad Attitude it just brings everybody down. If you listen to the music of Bad Attitude it’s aggressive and it’s heavy and I think the lyric really suits the music So ya, that’s how I approach it.
Corey: Derry, we really want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. It’s been a pleasure and hope to catch a show soon.
Derry: Thanks man for having me great talkin’ with ya.
Don’t Miss Derry and the rest of the boys of Honeymoon Suite LIVE tonight in Hamilton at the Moslon Canadian Studios. There are a few tickets that remain but I wouldn’t wait till after work. Grab them now HERE!