Call it a renaissance of rock or chalk it up to nostalgia, whatever the reason Canadian multi-platinum band Honeymoon Suite is taking full advantage of it.
“It has been and it seems like it has been coming back for us for years,” said Honeymoon Suite frontman Johnny Dee (real name John DeGiuli). “I think because bands of our era just had really great songs. If they weren’t good songs they don’t remain and if they have integrity they stay a long time. That is why radio stations still play them and people ask for them. There is a market for it and it is a big market.”
For 25 years they have rocked crowds around the world and on Thursday Honeymoon Suite perform at the Penticton Peach Festival at Okanagan Lake Park. They have a legacy of five studio albums and numerous hits including songs such as New Girl Now, Feel It Again, Burning In Love and What Does It Take. Hits that have kept them selling out shows and packing crowds around their stages at festivals.
“I don’t want to knock the new music that people and bands come out with now, but I don’t listen to it. The music now sounds really electronic, linear and there is a lack of feel to it that I miss. Some of the melodies are great but there is a lack of realism and it doesn’t fool me,” said DeGiuli. “I think we bring what is missing in current music to the table, like a lot of other bands of our era. I also think that is one of the main things people are starting to realize now.”
It was when DeGiuli and Derry Grehan (guitarist/songwriter) met through a business manager that things really started taking off for the Niagara Falls, Ont. based band. Although skeptical of the meet up, DeGiuli said he hit it off almost immediately with Grehan and the pair become good friends. Grehan brought with him a couple of songs in the bag, including New Girl Now and they entered it into a Toronto radio contest.
“We also had sent out our demo everywhere and as record companies became interested in it, the radio began playing it because of the contest. It was just this snowball effect. We had a buzz going for our name and the next thing was making that first record,” said DeGiuli.
Throughout 1983 and 1984 the band toured Canada and the U.S. extensively headlining club gigs and opening for acts such as Billy Idol, April Wine, Jethro Tull, The Kinks and Bryan Adams. After releasing their second album, The Big Prize, they jumped on board tours in the U.S. with Heart, .38 Special, ZZ Top, Journey, Starship and Saga. But, it always came a little tougher south of the border.
“Regardless of the hits, you get up on stage in the U.S. and after about four or five songs then the crowd realizes that yeah this is an alright band. In the very beginning it took a little bit to be warmed up to especially with a name like Honeymoon Suite. It sounds kind of wimpy for a rock band. Americans were pretty tough. You are opening for ZZ Top and you get ready to go on stage and hear ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Honeymoon Suite,’ and see people sitting there in their chairs and thinking Honeymoon Suite, yeah right,” said DeGiuli.
They were spit on, had knives thrown at them and were given the bird by Ted Nugent fans but still kept the name and worked to win their U.S. crowds over by simply putting out good music. Still, it is back on Canadian soil where their biggest fan base is.
“The Canadian thing right now is keeping us really, really busy. I don’t analyze it much. All I know is that it is working right now and we are working on getting a new record,” said DeGiuli.
The frontman said they want to get on the radio with new material and as much as Canada has been loyal to them and they are thankful for that, they want to work on earning those fans back and pick up new ones outside the country.
“We would like to get out there with some bigger band, possibly on a two or three week tour and let people know we are still alive. The internet and Facebook and all that stuff has been great for that too and we are constantly being asked to play across the border,” said DeGiuli. We are constantly writing new songs but summer gets really, really busy for us so we are hoping by September/October things will slow down. Derry and I have already put our ideas on the table, we just need to decide what stuff sounds like Honeymoon Suite.”
So DeGiuli’s dream of one day living in the Okanagan will have to wait. For now, he will just get glimpses of the area that he calls “beautiful.”
“As long as I can deliver, I will do this. I love it. Sometimes it gets kind of crazy with the business stuff and travelling complications, but once you get up on stage especially in a place like Penticton it is all forgotten and all good,’ said DeGiuli.
Honeymoon Suite performs at Okanagan Lake Park on Thursday at 9:15 p.m. All entertainment in the park at Peach Festival is free.