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The Return of Honeymoon Suite

The Return of Honeymoon Suite

The Return of Honeymoon Suite

Honeymoon Suite was originally formed in 1981 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Since their debut release in 1984, Honeymoon Suite has released a total of seven studio albums with over 1 million units sold worldwide driven by the success of a string of hit singles such as New Girl Now, Burning In Love, Wave Babies, Stay In the Light, Feel It Again, and What Does It Take to name a few. Their latest album entitled Alive is their first full length recording in 16 years, and it’s now available worldwide via Frontiers Music Srl. Highwire Daze recently interviewed guitarist Derry Grehan to discuss the return of Honeymoon Suite, the amazing Alive, and highlights from an absolutely brilliant career in music. Read on…

What point did you decide that now was the time to do a new Honeymoon Suite album? It’s been like 16 years.
Actually, we put a record out called Hands Up, probably six or seven years ago. So there there has been a more recent release, but I don’t think many people knew about that, but it’s still been a long time. And why did we decide? It wasn’t really a conscious decision to say “let’s do a record now.” We’re not on a major label deal anymore. So, we’re not tied to any obligations of delivering albums. We do it when the time feels right. And we’ve got some songs written. Johnnie and I have some good songs and we just feel it’s time to put out some more music.

What’s the story behind the lyrics for that song Alive?
It’s cheesy, but it lets people know that we are alive in the sense. We’re still a viable band out there touring probably more now than we have in a long time, and we’re healthy and making music. So that’s a good positive thing to put out there for our fans and hopefully new fans. Now, the lyrics in that song. It’s about when you find somebody in your life, whether it’s a relationship or somebody – friend – family. It’s about being with that person and the other things like career and money and all that just aren’t important. If you found somebody that can go through the battle with you. That’s what’s most important and you work other things out. Nothing you say can talk me out of you. You’re the one – let’s just fight this fight together.

Yesterday I interviewed Martin Barre of former Jethro Tull.  Tell me what the experience was like opening for Jethro Tull?
Crazy. Isn’t that crazy? That was our first American tour. It was ’84, or something and we just got signed and we just put our first album out and all of a sudden – boom! We were six night a week cover band in Northern Ontario and then a few months later we were on a tour bus through America opening for Jethro Tull. We’re a melodic rock band opening for this prog band and we’re like, “Oh shit!” But it turned out really well. The audience was really receptive, and they didn’t throw stuff at us.

And those dudes again. Tull is a band that I grew up listening to as a kid, playing Aqualung and covering their songs. So, to be on the road with them and making friends with Martin and Ian Anderson was really cool for us. We were just wide-eyed, and we had a record deal and touring – and these were the elder statesmen of prog rock, and it was fun. We got to hang out with Martin, we would get together in between shows because he played mandolin as well as a great guitar player and I was fascinated by that, and we’d hang out backstage and he showed me some stuff on the mandolin and gave me my first few lessons on that – so great experience!

Your Self-Titled debut album came out exactly 40 years ago. How does that feel knowing that you released an album 40 years ago? And what do you think of that album now in retrospect?
You never think of these things at first – that your band would even be together for five or ten years – but 40 years! It just happened and yeah, it’s crazy. But that’s just a testament to the music. We got real lucky with an album that came out of the gate with four hit singles on it and gold and platinum.

We were so lucky, but we had, I think, the right songs at the right time – and they’re still playing the songs tons on the radio in Canada and in the US. So, I think we’ve been lucky to have those Evergreens if you want to call them. So many songs that we’ve had, hits on the radio – and I think that’s what big part of what sustains us. And as a songwriter, I’m very proud of that accomplishment. Because that’s all I ever wanted to do is be in that position where I’d have songs that would last more than a year or two.

It’s been 16 years since the last full length Honeymoon Suite album. Will we have to wait another 16 years for the next month?
Well, jeez. That’s a lot! I hope not. I’m feeling a new momentum with this record more than previous releases. I’ve already started writing a bunch of songs. I never really stopped writing, but it comes in waves, and if I’m saying to myself now that soon as I finish one project, I’m usually on to the next one. So, I’ve been writing some songs lately that I think if there was another Honeymoon Suite album, these would be perfect ideas to start with. I’d love to do another record if the time is right and the situation is right, and it doesn’t take 16 years. I would want to do it much sooner than later because we’ve got momentum now.

Are there any plans for Honeymoon Suite to tour or do some shows here in the States?
Yeah, there is. As a matter of fact, we’ve started and built in the last year to get a lot more dates. I live in the State’s. I’ve been living in Illinois and now in Tennessee for like 20 years. I’ve been in the States and I really miss touring and playing down here, and it’s been an uphill struggle trying to get the band’s profile back up to the point where we can tour again. Because we did so much in the 80s, but we have to remind people that we are still here and viable but you see all these bands out like Night Ranger, Loverboy, all the bands of our generation are still out there now – and bands older than us playing all over the place – that our genre is alive and well, we just have to get into the mix. So to answer your question, I finally found an agent that’s willing to step up and go to bat for us and we’re starting to play a lot more in the US now, and I hope we do a lot more of that.

What was that experience like for you to have your daughter on American Idol?
Well incredible, of course. Her name’s Leah Marlene. She’s 22, and a singer-songwriter and she just auditioned on a whim. And man, she went all the way to the end – Top Three. So it was an amazing experience to watch her advance through and get in front of millions of people – incredible career boost for her. And she’s working hard now on her own career – and as a father, of course, her and I been playing, I’ve had her playing since she was eight or nine years old. So wonderful to see her dream start to come together.

Are you currently involved in any other bands or projects outside of Honeymoon Suite?
I have a solo album coming out and this goes back to COVID because all us musicians were sitting around for a couple of years with nowhere to play. So, we spent a lot of time in the studio at home just playing every day and writing.  I practiced a lot. I started coming up with all these cool riffs and stuff that weren’t really songs and then after a while I decided – I’ve always wanted to do a solo project. So, I set about organizing these ideas into instrumental pieces and gradually because I had all this time in COVID. I got it done and I just finished mixing it now and it’s going to be a Derry Greham guitar album, like what Joe Satriani would do. No singing, just guitar rock riff things. So it’s a side project and that’s going to come out in hopefully a few months.

That’s one thing that’s kept me busy. And that’s almost done as far as other things. I might co-write with some other people here and there in Nashville, but Honeymoon Suite and my daughter’s career and everything else has really kept me so busy at the moment, so that’s where I’m at.

Do you have any messages for “Honeymoon Suite” fans here in the States, who are reading this article right now?
Just to let them know that the band is still going better than ever, all original members and coming to your town hopefully, soon. So, fans get the new album. Listen to the old albums and we’re there, we’re coming, hopefully…

Johnnie Dee – lead vocals
Derry Greham – guitars / keyboards / backing vocals
Dave Betts – drums
Gary Lalonde – bass
Peter Nunn – keyboards

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Joe Schaeffer)

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