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FIRST THINGS FIRST: DIRTY HONEY

Many bands through the years have recorded their first studio collections in Los Angeles. Not Dirty Honey. Instead, the L.A.-based throwback rock quartet decided to leave its hometown and spend 12 days in Byron Bay, Australia, last November to track its self-titled debut EP with Nick DiDia.

“We thought out of the box,” says guitarist John Notto. “We thought it sounded exciting to get out of L.A. and go someplace where we wouldn’t have to deal with our regular lives while we made this record. … Nick’s studio overlooked the ocean; he’s got kind of a remote location. It made for a complete retreat. I think some magic happened there.”

Dirty Honey initially self-released its EP as a five-song digital collection, with the hard-hitting “When I’m Gone” finding a home on rock radio. This month, the EP arrived on vinyl with an extra song called “Break You.”

Notto, a Massachusetts native who grew up in Maine, recently checked in from Los Angeles to discuss some notable music firsts in his life and the band’s brief career.

First albums in his personal collection:
John Notto: “I was always an old-school head, so my first albums were a little bit behind the times. It was Guns ‘N Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II, and Pearl Jam’s Ten. My parents bought them for me in the late ’90s. I was a big guitar-solo guy, so [to me those albums] represented the last era of guitar music. There was Limp Bizkit and Korn [after that], but it didn’t really feel that much like guitar music to me.”

First concert he attended:
Notto: “When I was a young teen, I went with an older cousin and some friends to a Phish festival in Maine, around 2004. My memory of that was, ‘This is crazy.’ They weren’t on the radio, TV or anything, and that festival had like 70,000 people — and they were the only band. I liked the counter-culture aspect of it, how successful they were basically being a word-of-mouth band.”

First impressions of and encounters with his Dirty Honey bandmates:
Singer Marc LaBelle — Notto: “A very self-confident man, and he was a killer singer. I thought he didn’t have the band behind him that he needed [when we met].”
Bassist Justin Smolian — Notto: “I met him at an impromptu jam session. … I was trying to get gigs as a sideman, and by networking around, I met Justin. He kinda looked at me at one point in the jam, and there was definitely a click there, and my impression was that we had a connection a little more special than the rest of the guys in the room. My impression was that was a guy I was probably going to be creative with, and we started doing our own jams.”
Drummer Corey Coverstone — Notto: (Laughs) “I remember really liking his last name. I was like, ‘Coverstone — that would be a great band name.’ He’s got a spacey vibe about him, but he’s funny. Corey was brought in by Justin. He had already subbed on one of our cover gigs [that I didn’t do]. I met him at this gig [we played when] we were loosely called The Shags. We played [covers and originals] in front of this weed shop, on the street with our own PA.”

On recording the first Dirty Honey EP in Australia:
Notto: “We decided to go over there because Nick was the best producer we talked to who was willing to basically make the record and use the record to get [financial support]. He seemed fired up about the music, and he also seemed like he knew where we were musically but knew how to get us where he thought we should be, and we agreed. Basically, he said, ‘You take care of getting yourselves here. Let’s make a record and then go get the money.’ ”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Dirty Honey on tour (schedule subject to change):

Sept. 24: Terminal 5 — New York

Sept. 25: The Met — Philadelphia

Sept. 27: Express Live! — Columbus, Ohio

Sept. 28: Louder Than Life Festival — Louisville, Kentucky

Oct. 3: The Palladium — Worcester, Massachusetts

Oct. 5: Agora Theatre — Cleveland

Oct. 6: The Fillmore — Detroit

Oct. 8: Myth Live — St. Paul, Minnesota

Oct. 10: Chicago Theatre — Chicago

Oct. 11: Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland — Kansas City, Missouri

Oct. 13: Exit 111 — Manchester, Tennessee

Oct. 14: The Pageant — St. Louis

Oct. 16: Saenger Theatre — Mobile, Alabama

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