Long-running Franklin DIY venue JJ’s Bar and Grill hosted their first show back since quarantine Saturday night. Milwaukee bands Mud Dog and Honey Creek as well as Chicago’s Action/Adventure and Ohio’s Knavery all played sets for Honey Creek’s belated “A Whole Year in Transit” album release party.

Honey Creek consists of vocalist Chris Merisalo, guitar/keyboardist/vocalist Ellee Grim, bassist Dylan Ljujic, guitarist Sam Theno, and drummer Donnie Warren. A pop punk and emo band, they’ve been together since 2015 but have had their current lineup for just over two years. Their name comes from a creek behind Ljujic’s high school. The band’s debut full-length album “A Whole Year in Transit” came out at the beginning of quarantine; Ljujic explains what went into it.

“We just wanted to write songs with the new lineup, and we wrote a few songs – “Green Line, “D.O.G.D”, “Wishbone” and “The Time it Took” – and all of them were about moving forward. Then Ellee got in the mix and we decided to make it a full-length. We wrote the lyric “a whole year in transit” first in “Green Line” and then we wrote the song “A Whole Year in Transit” after that. It’s a quintessential growing-up kind of thing but giving it a certain motion and using themes like taking the bus to get from point A to point B, things like that.”

“It’s also about touring and traveling and experiencing new things,” Merisalo added. “We grew a lot with the new lineup and it became a whole year in the making.”

“We had a lot of shows booked up for 2020 and we were just gonna be on the move,” Ljujic said when asked about how COVID affected them. “The whole point was that we wanted to put out a record about movement, and doing a bunch of touring, and obviously that all went out the window. This was the new beginning of the transit era.”

Grim describes the band’s songwriting process.

“It was way different for “Transit” that it is now. Part of it was written, and then I came in as a co-writer but wasn’t in the band yet, and then we kind of wrapped it up that way. Now everything’s being made more collaboratively; everybody does something and every hand is in it.”

Honey Creek’s first new single since the record is “NPR” which came out this past July.

“That was our quarantine song,” Ljujic said. “We were stuck being unable to do anything and wrote it about hating your job.”

“That was our zoom song,” Grim added. “We did it fully virtually.”

“We wrote it without playing it as a band because Ellee was still in Boston,” Ljujic concluded.

The band’s most recent single “Midwest Summer” dropped just a few weeks ago, which is about the cycle of being a touring band.

“We started writing that one before “Transit” was even out,” Ljujic said.

Finally, Ljujic shares what the band is up to in the coming months.

“We got a weekend with Big Smile and Drying Out in November and then we’re doing two and a half weeks in December down south, and then we’ve got a lot more going on behind the scenes that hopefully we’ll be announcing soon.”

Honey Creek play X-Ray Arcade on November 18th.

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