The Sweating Honey Interview: End of an Era?

If you’re reading this, I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard of Sweating Honey. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most of you have seen the band live sometime in the last decade. You may have even heard the talk around town that one of Alaska’s most well-traveled intrastate bands is playing their honest-to-goodness last Fairbanks show this weekend. If so, what you heard is right. Then again, maybe not so much. 

[sws_pullquote_right]What’s your guilty pleasure song?
That Lady Antebellum song, “Need You Now.” I don’t own it, but when it comes on the radio… – Luke Beckel [/sws_pullquote_right]

We sat down with them to find out a little more about the hometown band that has provided the soundtrack to long winters and vibrant summers for as long as many can remember, and to get you the answer to the burning question…

The rumors have been flying – the band is leaving, the band is breaking up, some of you are moving. What’s actually happening?

Sweating Honey: A bunch of us are leaving and going to different places. Luke is going to Oregon, Corwin is going to Oregon, Nick’s going to Albuquerque, Scott’s going to California.

So essentially, you’re breaking up?

SH: I wouldn’t call it breaking up in the classic sense of the word.  I’m sure and I hope that we’ll play music again…

A hiatus?

SH: Sabbatical. We need to become re-energized and re-influenced.

Let’s let that sink in a moment.

What has been your favorite venue to play in town?

SH: For the sound and more of the big show vibe, the Blue Loon, but the Marlin has always been kind of our home bar and we always have a great time playing there. It’s kind of a constant battle between the two. These days we prefer to play at the Loon but we like to throw Marlin shows in there every once in awhile. When we were all kind of cutting our teeth as musicians and Sweating Honey, the Marlin is where you go to do that. You always gotta pay homage.

You’ve done enough of it, what’s the best thing about performing live?

SH: The crowd.

Well, that’s actually a toss-up. Probably the communication, when it’s good, the communication between band members. Performing live, especially in a band setting as a unit that you spend a lot of time with, you kind of get the “group mind” going. The communication between band members, for sure, but also that can extend to the audience and just the overall feeling and energy and vibe of a room once it becomes alive with music.

Band Superlatives: Most Likely to…

  • Jeremiah: …have a career in public speaking.
  • Drew: …be stoic.
  • Brady: …have a book of aphorisms published.
  • Corwyn: …become successful as the frontman for a Prince cover band called Lavender Whisper. Or to have a line of sweaters he’s designed.
  • Luke: …be found busking on a street corner in Portland.
  • Nick: …inherit The Howling Dog Saloon.
  • Scott: …have a teenage fan club. And to get lost at parties in Colorado.

There are some serious inside jokes going on with these Superlative awards, none of which are not exactly fit to print, but we highly recommend asking the band to tell you the stories behind them if you get the chance.

What music are you listening to now?

SH: Dvořák, Jacqueline Mary du Pré, The Band, Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead. Always in the fall, Neil Young, The Beatles Abbey Road, and Nina Simone.

Do you “Give Love a Bad Name?”

SH: Musically, we definitely Give Love a Bad Name. Except for when Corwyn sings, he gives love a good name – a sweet, buttery name. But every time that Luke gets broken up with, we get a great album out of it!

The glance Luke throws at the ring on his finger can be interpreted as a sign that the days of breakup-inspired albums are happily behind him.

What’s your favorite smell?

SH: The dogshit smell of Fairbanks in the fall, it’s like rotting cranberry – it’s one of those smells you just associate with fall and it’s comforting. Marijuana. Old trucks. Sweet lovin. Our Tour Van.

I bet that van is quite aromatic. OK, time to get serious. How do you really feel about the sabbatical?

SH: Feel great about it. When we do get to play music again it’s gonna be all that much better because of it. People have left and every time they’ve come back they’ve had a bunch of song ideas and it’s always been fresh and wonderful. This time there’s a little more permanence to the whole sabbatical side of things, but we’ve worked ourselves to a point where we can get to each other a whole lot easier. There are certain venues in the state, like down in Juneau, where they fly us there on miles anyway, so it’s no different if they’re flying us from here or there. There are these opportunities for us to get together and play again, and likewise we can hopefully meet up somewhere in the states and play.

When we do, it’ll be more about the music, there’s no more – “I have to run home and feed the dog” or “I can’t make it til 8.” That’s a big thing that’s happening, it happens to all bands but especially for us up here, is that there just aren’t enough venues for us to be able to do this full time like we’d like to. So, we have day jobs and we all have families. When we have time to get together, it’s to play shows. In the past 2 years or so, no matter how much we want to get together and spend the time to get to rehearse, we just don’t have that time until we’re together for a show.

We can get things together a lot quicker now after knowing each other for so many years – most of us have known each other for close to 14 years now. When we do get that strange moment when we’re all able to be in the same room and actually rehearse – when someone has new ideas, they happen so quick and everybody throws stuff in so quick since they know what the other guy is thinking. So, even if one of us were to write an entire album and come back, in probably 2 days of rehearsals we could have an entire new album of material roughly worked out, then a couple shows playing it and we’d be solid.

That’s what’s so great about this band, it’s not like we’re gonna stop being friends or that we hate each other. We actually love each other more than ever and can relate to each other more than ever, it’s just life hasn’t really allowed us to do this as much as we’d like.

[sws_blue_box box_size=”700″]Note: While you can tell that they mean to play together again, the nostalgia with which they already talk about the band is palpable. They’ve spent a lot of years on stage with each other and you get the feeling that they’re ready for life’s next adventure, as bittersweet as the break may be. [/sws_blue_box]

The people that are staying in town, can we count on seeing them continuing to play?

SH: It’s in all of our blood, don’t think it’s anything we could stop. Brady and Jeremiah both play with other bands around here. If anyone in the band is considered a full time musician right now, it’s probably Jeremiah. Drew will probably continue to play tons of music at home, we might have to make some fake show so that Drew can get a night on the town (laughing).

How do you feel about the shows coming up this weekend?

SH: I think it’s pretty cool that our last show is opening for Dr. Dog; They are the most similar band to us in so many ways. They’ve pretty much gone through all the same changes we have, they’ve been together the same amount of years, watching their practices on YouTube is like watching us interact. It’s weird.

It’s cool that we can open up for them for our last show, and it’s at the University which is where most of us met and the band started, so it’s a cool kind of full circle.

If you could leave your many fans with some parting words, what would they be?

SH: Definitely thanks for all the support and love over the years, we do what we do because of the audience.

We’re sorry for having so many farewell shows, we’ll see you soon.

Laughter, fade to black. The end. Kind of.

[sws_divider_bar1 barsize=”700″] [/sws_divider_bar1]
Sweating Honey is playing at the Blue Loon Saturday, July 20, 2013, 9:30pm.


About Lauren Hatty

Lauren Hatty is the Editor of and can often be found singing loudly while wearing oversized headphones. She spends an inordinate amount of time on the Internet and is prone to fanaticism.