At Mercury Records, there are sure things, such as John Mellencamp, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Hanson, a few others. Where the Minneapolis roots-rock quartet Honeydogs fit in is a mystery even to lead singer Adam Levy.
“I don’t think they treat our record in the same way, as far as how much they work it or spend on it, but I think they have some measure of hope for this record,” Levy said recently of the group’s third album, “Seen a Ghost.” “I doubt if they have huge sales expectations for our record, but we’ll see what happens.”
Levy and band mates Tommy Borscheid (guitar), Adam’s brother Noah (drums) and Trent Norton (bass) know where they stand with former Mercury president Ed Eckstine, who made them the debut act of his new Mercury-distributed label, Debris. Though “Seen a Ghost” was released on Aug. 26 and has been a slow sell, Mercury hasn’t given up. It will release “I Miss You” as the next single on Jan. 26.
With lots more touring ahead, who knows, maybe the Honeydogs could become the next Wallflowers. Adam Levy says the band is up to the challenge.
“I’ve always wanted to play the kind of music I really liked,” he said, “and I think in some ways you don’t get a super-young audience doing that kind of music. I guess the way people write songs now is different than 20 years ago. If people are interested in it, that’s great, but I know we’ll always run the risk of not being ‘in time.’
“We like to play our instruments well; we like to listen to older songwriters and draw from that. It doesn’t sound like Bush and it doesn’t sound like a lot of the newer rock music kids listen to. But our audience cuts a huge cross-section of people, young and old, people who like country, rock, blues. We can appeal to lots of people.”
On a monthlong North American tour in September, the Honeydogs turned out to be the last group to open for INXS before the suicide of lead singer Michael Hutchence.
“We did that tour and they were off the road for a while and were getting ready to do a tour of Australia, which they hadn’t done in quite some time, something like four years,” Levy said. “They seemed excited. They felt like the Australian press had given them kind of a hard run over the last couple of years, so they were treating the tour with some measure of excitement, a little bit of leeriness.
“But they were really nice to us, and we hung out with them quite a bit. They were very welcoming from the get-go. We were a little scared when we went on the road, and we didn’t know what they were going to be like and what kind of attitude they would have over a little fledgling band.”
Levy said they heard the news of Hutchence’s death after doing a show in Grand Forks, N.D. He was surprised to learn that Hutchence was 37.
“He looked like he had been through a lot, he looked a little bit older,” Levy said. “He had been doing this for 20 years. He was 17 when he joined the band, which is pretty amazing.
“What was enviable about them was that they didn’t have a hit when they were out there (on tour) this time. They were touring for the enterprise of just going out there. It was costing them a lot of money and their audience was older; it wasn’t like they were winning over this huge young audience. They loved what they were doing, and that was inspiring to us in a lot of ways.”
BWF (before we forget): The Honeydogs album discography – “The Honeydogs” (October Records, 1995); “Everything, I Bet You” (1996); “Seen a Ghost” (1997).
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