A Chat With: Goodbye Honolulu
We had a chat with Toronto's garage rock band Goodbye Honolulu, made up of Jacob Switzer, Max Bornstein, Fox Martindale and Emmett S Webb before their gig in Montreal. We talk bangers, families, hanging out with famous people and see how they take part in the community with Fried Records!
How did you guys start making music?
J: I guess we all started making music separately and we’re influenced by different things and our families and whatever. Together we started making music at the end of high school and we each kinda had different bands. Max and Emmett were in a band together, then I joined that band. Fox and I were in a band together, then we kinda merged them altogether and right after high school and we made Goodbye Honolulu.
As kids, you guys just picked up playing?
E: Yeah well, me and Max have been playing together since grade 5. We were always in a band and we fell in love with pop punk when we were little guys. We had a bunch of bands, a bunch of incarnations
J: Basically we all started at different times when we were young, but we actually took it seriously, like as a career after high school
In an interview you guys said you’d be making a full album but now an EP is going to come out, why the EP and not an album?
E: I don’t know we fucked up, we made a mistake and said an album
J: We figured having 2 EP’s would give us more time to promote for the first EP and for the second as well and spread it out for a longer period of time
M: I think it’s easier for people to listen to 5 songs at a time than it is to 10. Especially since singles are coming out, then its like 'oh I've already heard these songs' leading up to when the EP comes out
F: Especially if its a new band, I don't think people want to listen to a whole record unless they're super fans
J: Yeah, and in the Spotify age which were in right now, you hear one single and you’re like 'this is great i’ll save it' but you don’t even check out the rest of the album most of the time. I’m guilty of that and I feel like a lot of people are the same way so having a couple, 4 or 5 of your catchiest songs on each EP I think is easier for people to wrap their head around
I wanna do a track by track of the EP, so let’s start with Back 2 Me
J: Okay, Back 2 Me stemmed from when I first started getting panic attacks and I was just feeling super whack and then I wrote a song about it. That’s it basically
E: There’s a really big bridge
J: Oh yeah that we got together! The verse and the chorus are the same thing it just gets louder and quieter so then we were like ‘okay we need to have a bridge that does something different’ and then me and Emmett got together and was like ‘what about this right here’.
The next one is Mother to a Brother, how about that one?
E: That was written like, I don’t know I was looking at my phone and I had a demon dating like 2014
F: First song we wrote together I think
E: It was just parts forever and we used to play it in our old band and it was kind of different and we had a recorded version for a little bit. But yeah that was our first song trying to write for Goodbye Honolulu as this sound we’re going for. So that was just a fun party, big track and on the verse Jacob is kinda rapping so its fun
Then its Bloody Hands
Goodbye Honolulu: ???
F: next… what else is on that list?
E: I think we forget whats on the EP
J: I think that came from basically wanting to write a song that was good and I tried my best to do that
E: That's a big one too, it's a big song. There's a powerful chorus
J: Yeah, basically when I wrote the chorus I was like this needs to be a banger, this needs to go hard
E: Like that Miley Cyrus album, what was it?
M: With a ‘Z’
E: Oh just Bangerz? That's what we were trying to go for like a one song banger with a ‘z’ sort of thing
J: Also, it has a little bit of a country vibe in it, a country banger
Then its Where You Wanna Go
E: That song is about telling the person you love that you’re willing to go wherever they're willing to go. I remember I was on the subway when I wrote it, I was all tired and I started writing it in my head. But yeah, its about being in love and being willing to do whatever you wanna do for that person
F: As long as there’s no scraps or anything
E: Yeah, like not weird shit but like normal life stuff. You’re willing to go wherever they wanna go
E: Jamaica? You wanna go to Jamaica, I’m going
J: wherever YOU wanna go
F: I’ll meet you there, I’ll get there before you
E: It’s a lovey dovey song
It's the sensitive side of Goodbye Honolulu
E: Yeah, its there, you gotta show it, gotta dig a little deeper
Yeah, and then its Typical Me
F: Yeah I wrote it. At first I sort of wrote it, I thought it might be too chill of a song for Goodbye cause it's usually hype party songs but the boys liked it so made it a banger. We threw it on bangers.
E: Big chorus, we got the dynamics on that. Its good, it’s moody. Another side of us
J: All of our songs are pretty moody if you actually think about it
Going back to Heavy Gold, Lorry Can’t Love was your song (Fox), why did you guys decide to twist it and make it for Goodbye?
F: I guess we thought since we were throwing it on something new and something we found polished and revised, you know, we’d switch it up a bit just for people’s interest almost so we thought editing it would appeal
J: Basically Fox had his own version and we all liked that song and when we made Goodbye we took a lot of songs from each other’s solo things. And then on the new album, Mike Turner who produced it, he was choosing a lot of our songs thinking what would be good for the album and he really liked Lorry Can’t Love but we were like ‘ we already did that again’ and so we thought of new parts for it, some new dynamic shifts and stuff
E: But there’s another version of Lorry Can’t Love out there that’s not out yet
So it's making a come back
E: Yeah, there's another version lurking in the shadows that’s gonna drop
M: There’s like 9 remixes coming
E: We might do a remix album! But yeah, we just started playing it cause we were pulling from each other’s solo songs cause we were just fans of that song
What other solo songs did you guys take?
J: Hardly Speaking was originally one of my solo songs. Slip Inside Your Mind is from the band joined in high school Ghost Daze and we played Mother to a Brother as that band as well
E: A couple ones. Heavy Gold is our early stuff we pulled and revised
So its just a bunch of remakes
E: hey we’re just a bunch of fakes, we haven't written a new song in 5 years
F: We’re going to put out an album with all the originals
J: That would be kinda cool
E: We’re coming up with new strategies here
F: Fried meeting going on during the interview
How do you guys write together? Do you do your solo stuff then bring it in?
E: When we started we had a ton of back log of songs that we had and probably could’ve chose from a bunch of songs but yeah, on the EP most of these songs are co-writes. This was us experimenting with co-writing and adding parts and writing together and coming up with guitar licks together because it was usually done independently. And then everyday we’re pretty much writing, a lot of the new stuff we’ve been coming up together
J: Sometimes someone will come with a basically done song and we’ll just workshop it for a sec and sometimes it'll be like ‘oh I have an idea’ and we actually work on it together and make a fully new song
Or you’re like ‘this is shit’
J: Yeah that actually does happen
F: Yeah, then we have to take them outside and talk to them like ‘hey man this isn't us’
J: We actually lost Timmy because of that
E: It’s a hard life but yeah we’ve been writing more as collaborators, its fun, it's changing
Jacob, your dad helped with the making of Heavy Gold and your mom directed the video for Typical Me, how is it working with your parents?
J: I’ve been working with my parents since I was really young. I was acting in my moms movies when I was like 8 so I always kinda took direction from her even though I wasn't the star of the video so I don’t know how it was for you guys being directed by my mom
M: It was a funny connection. She was totally the director in charge of the video but then there was times where she was totally a mom. I was sitting at the drum set and I was cold and she came up behind me with a blanket
J: We shot it at Wasaga Beach and actually my grandparents live there so we were chilling there as well, it was like family time
E: He has a very creative family. We did a music program at Seneca College and his dad is the program head so we took classes from him. And I think I was in his classes at the time we were shooting Heavy Gold and I remember being like ‘Yeah I’m going up north to record with John’ and everyone was like ‘woah he’s producing your album!’ and ‘yeah’.
J: Basically we did the program and he obviously heard of Goodbye Honolulu and he was like ‘you guys need to have some stuff online, you need music’ and he invited us to the studio he knows people at and it took 2 days. But yes, to answer your question, its chill working with my family. They're creative and they've always supported me doing artistic things. My mom’s a filmmaker and my dad’s a musician
You're well surrounded. And how about your families? What do they think about you making music and having Fried Records?
F: We all have very creative and very supportive of the arts parents
E: All of our moms work in the TV or film industry. Both of my moms and his (Fox) mom work together. Max’s mom was a news anchor, badass,
M: Entertainment reporter
J: We’re all super blessed to have that
E: It’d be weird if we weren't doing something creative. Anyways, we are very lucky to have grown up in creative house holds because it is really awesome, it’s a lucky thing to have and we appreciate it
Yeah, I wish I had that. How was it filming the Typical Me video versus Mother to a Brother?
E: Totally different worlds
J: That’s what we wanted though
F: Mother to a Brother, we just said everyone have fun we’re just going to be shooting it. We set a up a few things and was like ‘just have fun in this shot’
J: Also, one of our friends was directing and shooting it on a VHS camera and he was equally as wasted as everyone
E: I think we had a budget of 100 bucks. Oh, we rented the hotel and that was whatever, and then the only budget we had was for beer so bought a bunch of beer. We literally just had friends over. And it was over an awkward amount of time, it was like 6 hours. It wasn't like one party, it was late, people were fighting, people were way too drunk, it was good though
J: Typical Me was like we drove up at 8am, we got there on time. There was a cameraman shooting in infrared, we didn't know him my mom had met him through the internet and we didn't want to fuck around with his time so it definitely a lot more serious. But yeah, those videos are very fun and different, was good to have those 2
E: We were conscious of it
J: We can't do another crazy, messy video, we wanted to do something crisp and nice and clean. Next video we’ll get even crazier!
E: Or get even lamer
J: Its gonna be an office video where we just cut our fingernails
What is the craziest encounter with a famous person you’ve had?
J & E: Ohhh we’re about to go there right now?! We’re going there?!
J: Very recently was the craziest experience we’ve ever had, who wants to describe it?
F: Selena Gomez came over to my apartment because my girlfriend is a public figure and so is her sister so that was probably the craziest. Other than that she took us to The Weeknd show two nights in a row and we were backstage playing video games with Abel, The Weeknd
J: We were smoking j’s in the backstage of the ACC which is the hugest venue in Toronto
E: With Selena (she wasn’t smoking) and The Weeknd playing Mario Cart on the new Wii on the biggest TV I’ve ever seen
F: Also, fund our next record Abel
E: Actually I’m going to say this as an exclusive, he’s going to produce our next record. But yeah we met them and they were super nice, and we hung out, really chill
J: Also how we chilled at Jared’s house in Atlanta, as a band
F: Oh yeah, we love the Black Lips and we went to Jared from the Black Lip’s house when we were playing with Hinds on tour
J: That was pretty cool. It was one of the girls from Hinds birthday and we were chilling at his house and we order Dominos, it was pretty surreal
Moving on to Fried Records, why is it called Fried?
E: I don't know we were little fucking stoners in high school and thought it sounded cool
F: We also like fried food
J: Its catchy and quick
F: I think people understand the genre when they hear Fried Records
E: It works
J: and also, weed is in y’all, what can we say
J: Max doesn't smoke though, people are gonna be like ‘I heard you guys were mad stoners!’ and you(Max) can be like ‘I’m not’
What is your involvement as a label with the bands?
J: Basically, Fried Records started off because we had so many bands, we wanted to put all of that under one name and the first artists on that was all of us under different incarnations. And then, people started to like that and our friends started bands
F: We wanted to create a community, something to fit into. Just be a part of something
J: We didn't feel like garage rock or the music we were really into at the time had a scene we could access so we wanted to make an all ages scene for people that enjoy type of music and hopefully bring those bands to us
E: And now we have a bunch of sick bands and we’re really happy with it, it's going well
What do you guys do for the bands?
E: We use Facebook, that’s kind of what we’re using right now and through social media we promote, release music and premiere music videos and get the word out. We’re kind of another arm, another source to get to. We like to think of it as a roof where if you like this type of music or one band, you’re probably going to like other bands under this little roof. Its like building a community. Um, we’re going to start working on doing physical releases soon, just need more money but we do everything online right now with the band camp
J: Yeah, we basically do online released and promotion mostly but we also promote shows and we usually book bands from our label on the shows with other Toronto talent that we like. It's mostly online right now in terms of distribution but there’s more to come
And do you guys think more as promoters at the moment?
J: Yeah, at the moment it seems like our main thing is promoting shows in Toronto but we also release music on the band camp so people can go to one place and find a bunch of similar types of music they might like
Do you guys have any plans to expand to Montreal or other places?
J: We do a little bit, we just released Sad Birthdays album which is a Montreal band on our band camp
E: The Corks that are playing with us tonight are good buddies, they’ve played shows with us on tour and stuff
J: And our friend Will Spratley does a lot of the visual art for Fried Records and also has his own music Oolong and his art is Yuckhaha and he lives in Montreal so we have a few Montreal connections. I think we have a lot of bands so its pretty set right now with how many we have cause its already overwhelming but we’re definitely going to expand in that direction at some point but right now we’re looking to help the bands we have more
What is one thing you really want to accomplish with Fried Records this year?
J: We have a big idea that we’re looking at now but its total speculations. I don't know if its this year but our end goal is to have a store. Like have a space where we actually sell stuff out of. A physical space to have merchandise, clothing, music, a cafe and maybe a little bit of a venue
E: Yeah, have something out in the real world, something physical. A space to build a community and have people go there. But yeah, release more music, put on more shows and bigger shows, we have some things in the works that I think we’re excited about.
Check out the Fried Records band camp here : https://friedrecords.bandcamp.com/music
Photos by: André Varty & Coralie Daigneault