Hobbies: Collecting records and feeding a burgeoning bubble tea addiction.
Where I'll Be In 10 Years: 29 and in a lot of student debt.
Honey Tree is nice and sweet
March 22, 2021
Self-described as “A whole bunch of dudes that play music and sometimes eat burritos…” Honey Tree, the group of Dolan Binder, Logan Studer, Ethan Neid, and Tyler Norman, is characterized by a youthful exuberance that betrays an incredible amount of skill, insight, and heart. Following the smash success of the group’s Kickstarter, which was launched in November of 2020 and managed to raise 200% of their donation goal within the first 30 hours, the group headed into the studio to begin work on their debut LP, Bitter, which is out this spring.
We sat down with the band to talk about growth, the anxieties of releasing an album, and to find out just who exactly is the eponymous “Shelly.”
LeSabre- You guys have gotten together fairly recently right? It’s only been a year. How does it feel to be releasing an LP after only being together for 12 months?
Norman- Pretty good.
Studer- Pretty crazy actually, yea.
Binder- I don’t know, we don’t have anything to compare it to. It just feels like the next thing we should be doing.
What do you think is the next thing you should be doing?
Neid- World tour.
Binder- If I could tour the midwest I would be happy.
Norman- Get some gigs, tour some singles, some EP’s that sort of thing.
Binder- I know specifically, Tyler wanted to do shows a lot sooner but things have been closed down.
Neid- I think the reason we have an LP at this point is because we have had all this time to write music rather than performing it.
Binder- Yea, we haven’t had anywhere to go.
Neid- It’s been a lot of working on the same thing, but also getting it down and making it better and better each time.
Binder- Probably a blessing and a curse, a little bit of both.
Neid- I feel like the whole pandemic has been a blessing and a curse. I don’t think we would’ve had the motivation to do this if we did not have the time
About the album being a product of being trapped inside for 12 months, not that it’s a thesis on it or anything, do you think that it would be better had it that extra time to mature or that it would be worse because you wouldn’t be dedicating as much time to it?
Studer- I think it would be worse because one: we wouldn’t be giving as much time to it and two: if we were playing out more we would be more susceptible to people’s opinions. That’s the thing about making it during lockdown. We can’t play it out and get people’s opinions so we have to like it.
Neid- I think it’s a mix of both. If you did spend more time on it, then as you play more you grow as a musician so you bring more skills into your music. It is nice to have this done during our first year of being a band because it shows how much we can grow, if we just keep doing this. Where we are is such a good place right now, it feels cohesive and it feels like an album so it’ll be cool to see what we can do in the future.
Studer- Probably set a lot of good habits for writing songs in the future for sure.
Binder- I was gonna go off of you [Ethan], you bring up a good point. I didn’t think about that then, but I was pretty fixed on the idea that it would be worse. A lot of where we stood, with our opinions of music and stuff, when we started the first little gig that we did and it wasn’t really a gig it was just the Sabre Showcase. We were so concerned with that, and we loved the feeling of playing out. I don’t think we would have developed our sound and our abilities to nearly the same extent we would’ve just wanted to replicate the same feelings [of being on stage].
Neid- That’s what I’m torn on. That’s the mixed element of it because like that [not being able to play shows] definitely made it worse but the betterment of it still being able to have a foundation and being able to build off of that. It’s not good or bad that we couldn’t perform out. It was just what we were given and we benefited from what we were able to do with that.
Binder- Just gotta go with the cards you’re dealt.
Studer- Yea, after we did the Sabre Showcase that was just a couple of days before we got “Two weeks off of school” you know?
Binder- The next day they were like “Oh boy, I don’t know!” and then the day after that everything closed. It was crazy. It was weird.
Neid- At that point, we had a song and a half. “Social Cues” was the only song that we had structured. We didn’t start developing more songs until summer. We barely worked during that spring lockdown, so I feel like it was just writing music for three months.
Norman- If you compare “Social Cues” to the songwriting process we have now it’s very different.
It feels different just hearing you play it, having been with you guys on that journey. It’s a marked difference between that and how you are now.
Neid- Going back to the first demo we had for “Social Cues” it’s so weird, there is no confidence behind it.
Studer- I haven’t done that, and I have no intention to.
Neid- Even lyrics aside it’s just a different feel. The progression from the demos to that performance was better, but the progression from that to our tracked recording in the car is such a big transition. We can look back and go “That’s where we started,” a year ago.
And those tracks in the car are not even mastered yet; those are still demos.
Binder- They are not mixed or mastered.
Neid- And they sound great. I play them to my sister and neighbor on the way to school, and they are singing along to all the songs. It’s at the point where it sounds good there are 20 mics with different things but once it gets mixed it’ll be fun.
What is the scariest part about birthing this LP into the world? This is your baby. What are you most afraid of?
Neid- Taste. We are more like an indie band so I’m afraid people will just say: “Oh it’s just indie music.” We have songs in there that could be “radio hits.” There are definitely songs on there that everyone will enjoy as you heard from “Social Cues” and “Shelly.” I’m just afraid that we won’t get as much attention as we are hoping for. We just want to be able to play music
Norman- My worry is that we cover a lot of different sounds and genres, that’s why we are an indie band and not a pop band or a funk band.
Neid- It’s weird because we don’t know the reception.
Studer- I find whoever brings the chord set drastically changes the song. Usually, if Dolan makes the chord set it’s gonna be indie and if Tyler brings the chord set then it’s gonna be funk.
Binder- Yea I find that usually, they mix together a little bit, it’s a bit of both.
Neid- I feel like all bands should be able to experiment more than having just one genre. A few of our songs sound similar structure wise but everything can stand alone by itself. Especially the songs that we have as kinda interludes, the in-betweens, they just do everything together. They all just work as a cohesive story to the album.
Binder- I think “Frog” is my favorite song and I think no one’s going to listen to it.
Neid- My favorite song is “Honey Tree”. The lo-fi sound of it, especially when you add reverb and lo-fi sounds to it, just sounds so peaceful because it’s just so simplistic and it sounds really good.
What do you guys think your biggest influence sonically, either as a group or individually?
Norman- That’s an interesting thing, at least for me, because a lot of the “influences” are like inspirational influences. I don’t make things that sound like Vulfpeck or Hers, but they inspire me to make music. I think our music sounds like OUR music so I can’t be like “hey our music sounds or is inspired by the sounds of this”.
Binder- For context Vulfpeck funk band Hers indie band
Norman- We don’t make Vulfpeck funk
Neid- I think it’s nice that we started as an original band. We had an original song before we worked on any covers and we barely work on covers. That’s not something we focus on, we focus on our sound. We have our life experiences and influences that have brought us to this place which helps with anything that people go through. I think the inspiration doesn’t build our songs, it’s there but as a group, we just build our songs.
Binder- I think that there are certain groups that I definitely really latch on to
Neid- Oh yea, my favorite band is Foster the People. I don’t bring any of their influence into this band because they are two different worlds. I enjoy music but I enjoy our music, I can listen to both.
Binder- Yea I listen to a lot of stuff that’s kinda in the same genre. I like a lot of that kinda surf-fuzz guitar, chorus, things with vibrato, and just like interesting chords in general. I enjoy kinda jazzy stuff. But I find a lot of what I like influence-wise is more so the emotion that a certain song can bring. If something really nails being a happy song I’m like “hell yeah that’s a great song”. Take my obsession with Ritt Momney or Peach Pitt, they just put out bangers. My obsession with Ritt Momney is it’s not that his genre is my favorite genre, it’s that he tells a story and whenever he puts out a song and wants to nail a certain emotion you immediately can feel it. I like emotional things.
Binder- She doesn’t exist, she’s a story I made up the first time we heard the chord set about a Mormon girl whose parents were mad at her because she wasn’t a Mormon girl from Ohio. I went on a rant for like 5 min about this girl named Shelly, how she was always sad and wouldn’t leave her room. Then how she went on this big journey to go discover herself, she got into trouble, and came back. Her parents saw the errors of their ways and she learned a thing. I made this little story and Tyler was like “hey, that’s really neat, write lyrics about it” and I didn’t.
Neid- The song morphed into something more broad rather than specifically someone named Shelly. I don’t know how to explain this. You explained it, Dolan, about there’s that person in your friend group that’s Shelly. Every friend group has a Shelly.
Binder – Not even necessarily that friend group, everyone has someone in their life who is Shelly in some way, shape, or form and is hurt in that way. That’s kinda what the song was written for.
You can follow the band here to keep up to date on announcements:
Honey Tree’s debut album, Bitter, will release this spring.