WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A pair of Purchase College graduates and two White Plains natives, who formed a rock band in Brooklyn, Honey Wild, will play the North by Northeast festival in Toronto in June.
After college, Joe Stevens formed a band, starting with Andy Payne, who has lived in Valhalla since graduating from Purchase College. Payne’s college roommate was in the conservatory program with Steven Laing, who said he had been looking for a project.
At their mutual friend’s post-graduation going away party, the two discovered their shared interest.
“He was looking for someone to play bass,” Laing told Daily Voice. “I hadn’t had a music project in a while and I was like, ‘yeah, I’ll do it.’ It’s funny how that happened.”
After their guitarist Dan Scott left the area earlier this year, Stevens called on a childhood friend from White Plains, Alex Rainer, to fill the spot.
Laing also lived in White Plains while attending Purchase, and discovered that his apartment on North Broadway was on the same street on which Stevens grew up. Rainer grew up in the Battle Hill neighborhood. Laing spent his senior year at Purchase living in Port Chester.
“There must have been so many times we were at the (White Plains) City Center together and didn’t know it,” Laing said.
The local connections don’t stop within the band. Since three of the four members moved to Greenpoint in Brooklyn, Laing said they have noticed a lot of Purchase College kids in the area.
“It’s funny being in Brooklyn now. I hear people talking about how Purchase is the undergrad for Brooklyn, because everyone who goes to Purchase basically goes to Brooklyn,” he said. “It makes sense. People at Purchase are definitely hipsters. They thought they were too cool.”
Honey Wild draws its name from the Beach Boys song and was heavily influenced by melodic 60s rock, as well as what Laing called the “weird” pop sound of Vampire Weekend, who are also from Westchester, and the Projectors.
Honey Wild released its first EP, “Mea Culpa,” in spring 2013, and then a 7” double A-side, "Garden" / "Magnifique Inncoent." The band is finishing up a new EP, which Laing said features more mature song writing and a drastically different, grittier sound.
“If you listen to Vampire Weekend’s new stuff they sound different. That’s just what happens when you progress as a group. You’re always exploring, trying new things, trying to find something different.”
Honey Wild will perform at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn on June 15, and then head up to Toronto for the North by Northeast Festival, the sister festival of South by Southwest, from June 18 to June 22.