We got an early Christmas present this year in the form of an interview. While Honor Society is hard at work on a second album, drummer Alexander Noyes took time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about the new album, their work with XtheTXT, Christmas, and a host of other subjects.
The Christmas season is coming up. Do you have any specific plans for the holidays?
It’s actually kind of exciting. We all grew up in New York and our families all still live on the east coast, so when we moved out to Los Angeles it was kind of a transition period for us, working on a new record and picking up and moving our lives across the country. So for me personally, my family is coming out to California to spend Christmas with me. So it’s kind of exciting to show them around and show them the apartment and where I live. They have seen pictures but haven’t actually experienced a California Christmas.
That’s going to be a big change with the difference in the weather.
Definitely. They are excited. I was looking at the weather out in New York City and it was 22 degrees yesterday, and I believe out here it was 75, so I think they are looking forward to it.
Can you give us any hints about when the next album is going to be out?
We have been working on the next record for a while, basically since we wrapped up our Here Comes Trouble tour last May, so we have gone into the next chapter of just writing and demoing the next record. Right now, we are giving people a sneak peek of what the record is going to be like. If you visit honorsocietymusic.com, we have this thing called the honor system. The honor system is just our way of giving bak to the fans who have been so loyal and have supported us through the years, and also give them a sneak peek into what the next record is going to look like. Every Thursday on honorsocietymusic.com a brand new song is posted for free download, and it’s either a song that we have been writing for the next record or it could be a song from Fashionably Late or even an older song that we sort of re-imagined and re-recorded. All the songs are really cool, and I am really excited for people to hear it. The fans have absolutely loved it. Every week, they get a new song and just to hear their feedback, what they like, what they don’t like, it’s just a really creative and exciting process.
Electronic media is a big part of your connection with the fans, but with things like iTunes, do you feel you get the same exposure as in the days when people went out and bought the entire CD versus sometimes just 1 or 2 songs?
It’s definitely a paradigm shift in the music industry and it’s ongoing. That is actually one of the reasons we started the honor system, because let’s be honest, most people download music for free now. So, instead of fighting and swimming upstream against that, we are confident in the music we are putting out. We think people are going to like it, so by giving it out for free on our forum I think we are trying to adapt to that culture. It is a different culture. Also, I think those people still exist. I know, personally, I love to get the physical CD, look at the artwork, and have the actual product. There are plenty of people out there who still like to get the record, still like to buy vinyl, and for those people the record is still available at Targets and Wal-Marts across America and for people who are into the singles, our music is available on iTunes. If you want the really new stuff, you can go to our website.
Do you have plans for a new tour? Is that going to be after the new record comes out?
We are taking it one thing at a time. Touring is such a huge thing for us. Since Fashionably Late came out, we were on tour for a good year and a half. So, it’s been good to just focus on the music and focus on recording the best record possible. We will be back out on tour. It’s just a matter of when the next record finishes up and when we feel like we are ready to go back out there. We had a show last Thursday out here at The Roxy in Los Angeles and it was basically to celebrate the year, sort of an end of year show. We played a lot of songs off the honor system, a lot of the new material, so for the fans that have been downloading it and asking for a new show, we were finally able to deliver and give them something. It was really exciting because you get to draw from a much larger catalog having almost 2 albums written and recorded, so you really get to put together an ideal show. You aren’t limited to just one record’s worth of material. It was exciting going back and re-imagining the set and putting in different parts and adding different songs. It was an awesome creative process, and I can’t wait for the next tour because we are going to have even more material to pull from. We are really excited about the stuff we are writing right now.
You are working on your second album, you’ve had multiple headlining tours, been in a movie. What is the next goal you have set as a band and you personally?
I think our goals are still the same. We aren’t interested in accolades from outside, it’s more internal. We want to put out the best music possible. I know it sounds cliché, but that is really what it’s about with constantly pushing each other especially in writing and the creative process gearing up for this next record and this next tour. All these things that are lining up in the future, I think it’s really just internal. We have this incredible opportunity, let’s make the most of it and put the best album that we possibly can. Growing up as a kid, you always want to put out a record. That’s the goal. And now that we have done that and reached that goal, I think the next one is to really push ourselves artistically and see what happens from there. That is the only thing you can control.
What has been the most challenging aspect of gaining more exposure versus when you were playing local clubs?
I guess its size. It’s easy to have word of mouth spread when you are dealing with a town or a city or something like that. When you are dealing with a country or nationwide, putting out a record, it’s very complicated. But, I think we do the same things we did back when we were in New York and New Jersey and just starting out. You know, we are constantly on our Twitter pages, reading our @ replies, responding to people on our Facebook page. It’s funny because oftentimes, people ask us are you sure that is really you? Are you sure it’s not someone from your label? And it is really us. We are the only ones with the passwords, so if you get response from us, it’s one of the four of us. I think that is such a big part of Honor Society, the community that is being built between the band and the fans and the fans within themselves. So many come up to us during shows and will say stuff like, “I met my best friend at an Honor Society concert. We were waiting on line all day and just got to talking, got to know each other, and now we are best friends, we talk on the Internet, it’s just so cool, I can’t believe it. Thank you guys so much.” It’s just really cool to have that community, especially in a fan base. It almost reminds me of The Grateful Dead or Phish or something like that. We have these incredible, passionate fans, so whether it was back in Rockland, New York or now on a national scale, I think our fans have the same energy and same enthusiasm, and we have the same enthusiasm and energy. We try to give that right back to them.
How do you feel like your music has evolved since you have been playing together?
I think we come from such different backgrounds musically, you know, Mike went to music business school at NYU, Jay went to Berkley and studied writing, Andy studied jazz, so it’s interesting to see where they manifest themselves, whether it’s a small part in a song or an entire concept derived from some little nuance that one of us has or has picked up on. I think also that writing in a collaborative manner, not just one person writing and bringing the material, we all sit down and write together, so you get a lot of different genres, whether it’s pop, rock, hip hop, or more soul style. I think we offer something different, and I think that evolution has continued from Fashionably Late to the next chapter. It’s not going to be a huge departure from Fashionably Late, but like with anything else, you grow, you experience more, and the material you are writing about changes.
What question do you wish people would stop asking you, particularly in interviews?
You know, it’s funny. There is no real question that sticks out in my mind. We want to be taken seriously as a band and as musicians, so I think one of the biggest things for us is we just want people to come out and see the live show. I think touring and the live show is such a big thing for us because lets face it, you can fake the funk on a recording. You don’t really know who is playing the guitar or the drums, or if they are real drums. There are so many ways to cheat the system nowadays, and I think we have a lot of respect for live music and we would just encourage people to come and see our live show. I think more than anything, we don’t get asked about that enough.
Talk to the person who has never listened to your music or been to your concerts. Tell them why they should listen to Honor Society.
If you have never listened to Honor Society, the headline is that it’s a rock band with pop undertones. We have always approached music like Prince or Michael Jackson, not to compare ourselves to those artists because they are obviously legendary, but in the same way that Prince would have a band and when you would see Prince it would be this incredible live experience where you are listening to pop songs but it’s performed by a rock band. I think that is what we are trying to do. Like Maroon 5 seems to have the same mentality, they are making pop records, but with rock instruments; it’s real drums, real guitar, real bass and that is basically the Honor Society sound.
Honor Society has gotten involved in X the TXT. Can you tell us more about the program and about your involvement?
Sure. That is a program we are doing with Allstate, and actually, our good friend Jordin Sparks, who has been working with Allstate for a while, first brought us on board. She has been really passionate about this program, and she has gotten us involved as well. It’s very simple. It’s basically just to put down your phone while you are driving. I will be the first to say I have been guilty of this in the past, but it’s a growing issue out there and just looking at the statistics, so many people are getting in accidents at an alarming rate. It is specifically geared towards the youth culture because we are the ones who are always on our phones. It’s not moms and dads who are text messaging while they are driving. So, it’s a message just to put down your phone or if something needs to be responded to immediately have a designated texter. Have a friend in the car with you riding shotgun that can answer the text for you.
We did get a chance to ask a couple of fan questions as well, so these are for you guys!
What is the one song you have written that you feel defines your life?
I don’t think there is one song that has that reach, but the one song that sticks out to me personally is a song off our first record, Don’t Close the Book. For me, that song was written in a moment of extreme transition in all our lives. We were about to move out to California and embark on this incredible journey. We had just gotten signed, were going in to record a record and with all those crazy, great things happening, we have to leave home, leave a lot of loved ones behind. So, Don’t Close the Book for me sort of defines that moment in my life specifically. Basically, the message is don’t close the book on me. There is another chapter yet to be written.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
I might not admit the worst advice, but the best advice is not a specific saying. My parents, and I think all our parents, instilled in us from an early age to always be very humble and always appreciate the things you have in the here and now. So, I don’t think we have looked too far into the future, again as far as accolades and things. We really try to appreciate the here and now and celebrate life in the present.
The members of Honor Society definitely have a lot to celebrate in the present, and are sure to have lots to celebrate in the future as well! Merry Christmas!
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