Honeymoonphase is finding its perfect balance 

Honeymoon triangle

The Rochester band Honeymoonphase — (left to right) drummer Greg Maslyn, guitarist-vocalist Ryan Bailey, and bassist Shane McCarthy — will play Small World Books on Friday, March 22. - PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • The Rochester band Honeymoonphase — (left to right) drummer Greg Maslyn, guitarist-vocalist Ryan Bailey, and bassist Shane McCarthy — will play Small World Books on Friday, March 22.
The Rochester trio Honeymoonphase plays atmospheric, subtly layered music that evokes a sense of nostalgia – not for any one place or thing, but for an idealized place in the mind. With moody rock and pop overtones, Honeymoonphase is a band poised to make an impact on the local scene, beginning with its Friday show at Small World Books alongside the popular Rochester bands Anamon and Televisionaries.

It all started over six years ago at a house show in Central Square, a village north of Syracuse. Guitarist and vocalist Ryan Bailey was visiting his friend and bandmate in the Rochester surf rock band The Huckleberry Fins. There, at an annual Central Square party for local musicians – one of the few places where bands could play in town – Bailey met his future drummer Greg Maslyn and bassist Shane McCarthy.

Maslyn and McCarthy had both grown up playing music in the same social circle. McCarthy – who also plays bass for Mikaela Davis – was barely a teenager at that point, and Maslyn was playing in a high school art rock band called The Modells with McCarthy’s brother. “That seed was planted a long time ago,” Maslyn says of his musical chemistry with McCarthy. Maslyn and McCarthy each moved to Rochester in 2016, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2018 that the trio coalesced.

The Huckleberry Fins were a trio, a configuration Bailey wanted to stick to with Honeymoonphase. “If you’re just one person, you have total control over everything, but the sound can be kind of limiting," he says. "Or if you have a huge band, you have tons of sound, but there are so many different people, so many different opinions, that it kind of becomes cluttered. But I think the trio is the perfect balance, to where you can all be mentally locked in and on the same page, and also produce a large sound.”

Bailey refers to it as “the magic of the triangle.” The trio setup also resonates with Maslyn, an experienced multi-instrumentalist who had never played the drums before Honeymoonphase. The trio allows each musician to see, hear, and respond to one another, he says.

The band’s process typically involves Bailey bringing in a song idea. The musicians begin to hash it out together. If something works, they keep going. And if something doesn’t click, they stop to talk it over and try a different approach. Maslyn points out the nonjudgmental music-making environment. “I never feel like there’s any censorship in this band at all,” he says. “We don’t edit it to fit any kind of scene or genre.”

Honeymoonphase’s sound – with its textured melodies and chorus-pedal timbre on the guitar, and danceable, mid-tempo grooves in the rhythm section – is reminiscent of the new wave group Echo & the Bunnymen. But Honeymoonphase doesn’t seem eager to be pigeonholed. “Don’t call us an 80’s band,” Bailey says. If he identifies the music with a particular label, it’s shoegaze. And while the songs aren’t improvised, he’s also inspired by bebop and jazz, with its melodies, chordal vocabulary, and freedom of expression.

For a group of musicians as dialed into one another as Honeymoonphase is, the band is still in its nascent stage. With only two shows in the bag, a full-length album is already on its way in the coming months. Honeymoonphase’s quick pace makes more sense after hearing Bailey talk about the creation of the trio’s new single “Telempathy” – now on YouTube as a music video.

At a recent rehearsal, Bailey introduced a song he had just written, and after a half hour of learning it together, the trio was ready to hit the record button. After just one take, Bailey mixed and edited it, and “Telempathy” was ready for the world. The single is also notable for its instrument switcheroo: here, Maslyn takes the bass, and McCarthy plays the drums. “When we’re playing music, we’re really just there,” Maslyn says. “We’re not thinking about what was, or what will be, but just what sounds cool right now, what’s fun right now.”

Honeymoonphase will play with Televisionaries and Anamon on Friday, March 22, 9 p.m. at Small World Books, 425 North Street. $5-$10 suggested donation. 232-6970. facebook.com/smallworldbooks; honeymoonphasemusic.bandcamp.com.
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