Toronto band Goodbye Honolulu defies any fixed genre, though critics have tossed around “slasher rock,” “garage” or “indie.”
After the band released their newest single, “Mother to a Brother,” they celebrated by hosting a release party at The Smiling Buddha in Toronto. Along with Goodbye Honolulu, the evening’s lineup featured music from Wine Lips and Ruthless Ones.
Before the doors opened, The Medium sat down with Emmett S. Webb, Jacob Switzer, Fox Martindale, and Max Bornstein of Goodbye Honolulu.
The Medium: What was your inspiration for naming the band “Goodbye Honolulu?”
Fox Martindale: It was in a time when I wasn’t in any projects or any bands. I wanted to start something special. I told Jacob this name to get him excited, so that’s where it began. We were a two-piece [band] for a while, just dillydallying.
Jacob Switzer: When Fox first told me the name “Goodbye Honolulu,” the first thing that came to me was saying goodbye to something really nice, like a vacation or a nice feeling.
Emmett S. Webb: That was about five years ago. [Fox and Jacob] had their thing, and we were all apart of different bands [at the time]. When we decided to turn our projects into something, we stuck with the name.
TM: What was the process like behind your new material?
EW: We recorded Heavy Gold [Goodbye Honolulu’s first album] in a live studio in two days. With this new album, we had a year. We would drop in and just record over the course of a year. We had time to make a proper studio record, which we were all excited to do.
JS: We weren’t in the studio every day for a year; it was quite on and off. But we definitely had a long period of time in the studio. We had time to reflect on the songs and think about new parts to add. We redid some of the songs from the first album, but we also did some of the new stuff. So [the new album] came from a lot of different places.
TM: Can you tell us more about your single, “Mother to a Brother?”
JS: It’s not a new song, but it’s a new recording that we did at Noble Street Studios. “Mother to a Brother” was the first song we all wrote and produced together. It was the first cohesive Goodbye Honolulu track, so it just felt right for it to be our first release off this new album. The song encapsulates our sound too.
TM: Tell us about your record label, Fried Records.
JS: In high school, we all had our separate bands. We were also in each other’s bands. So we wanted to create something that could put all these things together. We also love small record labels. We just put the name together: Fried Records.
EW: This was six years ago, and we’ve been slowly building [the label] up. It’s not for any real profit; we just like it and it’s a lot of fun. We’ve made so many friends who have come to us throughout the last year – young, new bands. We love to do this, and we definitely want to continue.
JS: The past year or two is when things started happening. Before, Fried Records was just us. We haven’t done actual presses as a label yet, just online releases. But soon enough, we’ll start getting physical copies out there, and eventually a storefront. That’s the goal.
TM: How do you feel you’ve evolved as a band since the start?
JS: The [band’s] origin was pretty erratic, coming together. But since we formed the band we’ve all been into garage rock, and we still are. Originally, that was the sound we wanted to make. But the last album has kind of moved away from that. Now, [the sound is] less lo-fi. But it has the energy of garage rock.
EW: [We’ve grown] up too. We try to push ourselves more. I think once you get to a point in a band where you’re getting more attention, more people start to care. We want to make better music.
FM: We’re also writing together more. We used to write our own things and bring them together. Now, we’re sitting down and starting from scratch together.
JS: We’ve also just gotten better as players. We’ve all evolved a lot, even in just the past year.
TM: What’s one venue that you want to perform at?
EW: Danforth Music Hall. Growing up, our rehearsal space was a ten-minute walk away [from the Danforth], so we thought it would be great to play there.
JS: The Toronto halls are legendary because we’ve seen so many bands there. It would be so awesome to play those.
TM: Do you have any advice for young artists?
JS: We used to play every show we possibly could; that’s what people told us to do. But then some promoters who put on the best shows started asking us, “Why are you playing all those small shows that no one comes to?”, rather than waiting to build up your audience, playing a specific show and drawing a good crowd. That made sense. We started doing that and it turned out better for us. Select your shows. Not every show is going to help you; in fact, it might cost you money.
MB: At the beginning, you should set up your own shows. Don’t wait for something to come to you.
JS: Also, don’t be afraid to ask bigger bands to open for them. That’s how we opened for Hinds.