Black Honey in Conversation with CUB Magazine

Fin talks to indie icons Black Honey about new tunes, surviving lockdown, and the merits of various party mascots.

It’s an exciting time to be a Black Honey fan. New tunes were teased at their Green Door Store gig in January, and now we’re finally getting to hear them. Whispers of the announcement of a second album are bandied about, like whispers of a new sheriff in a saloon. ‘Beaches’ has already dropped, and at the time of writing ‘Run For Cover’ is due in but one day. Eager to learn more, I recently had the great privilege of interviewing frontwoman Izzy B ahead of their gig at DIY’s 100th issue celebrations, to talk about the lockdown, music videos, partying, and what we can expect to hear from Black Honey soon… 

Fin: How are you all, and how have you coped through lockdown?

Izzy: To be honest, the lockdown was really brutal. At points, it sort of felt like we didn’t have a purpose anymore. I guess that a lot of people during a pandemic feel quite lonely and isolated. Obviously, it works out better than death, if the biggest problem during quarantine was not having a purpose, you know you’re doing alright. It definitely feels good to be back now, in the studio and rehearsing, getting back to what we do best and what we enjoy.

F: On the topic of structure and being a band, why did you guys do fewer live streams than many other bands?

I: We watched a few people do them and didn’t think it gives justice to the work and product that you make as a live band. Livestreams always sound dank with whole bands because the loudness distorts in an iPhone mic, it’s not built to take music from live bands, so that was off the cards unless we spent a bunch of money on making a really fancy set up. I know some bands have done really well with that, like Biffy Clyro. If the pandemic had gone on, we’d have maybe looked into doing something like that. We talked quite a lot about doing a drive-in cinema, just things that felt like they could be a solution to the quarantine situation for us but still felt representative of what we wanted to make. I think there was then a bit of fatigue, everyone was overdoing it.

F: Of course, you released ‘Beaches’ during the lockdown. What was it like to release a brand-new track from what will be a new album into this sort of atmosphere?
I: Mate, it was ridiculous. Like, just the feeling of putting out music. So many of the songs we’ve sat on for so long, we finished the record and so its been weird to sit on it fully formed, even with some of the videos already shot. We’re so ahead of it that its almost like we’re thinking about album three now and what and what we want to write next. We’re always a step ahead of what the audience is seeing, so to finally put something out felt like a huge relief, because in our heads we probably built it up.

F: From ‘Beaches’ you’ve had that fan video come out, what inspired that and what’s your impression of how it’s turned out?

I: What sucks is that the fan video has done so much better than our video, that we spent so long trying to make and edit. But yeah, everyone’s loving it. I think it’s really nice because the whole point of what we do in Black Honey is to bring people together. I think with having a community it’s important to show and explore and celebrate the people that are part of our world and make them part of the story. I don’t know if there’s any particular inspiration, but we’ll probably do more stuff like it.

F: Can you drop any hints for anything upcoming, whether it be new tracks coming out or even the album?

I: What I can say is that our next single is called ‘Run For Cover’ and it drops in like two or three weeks? (Note – it wasn’t two weeks) This song is like, imagine a 1950s Pulp Fiction hand jive party thing, but with like a giant zombie apocalypse which turns up and eats the party. It’s ferocious and fun as well.

F: I’m looking forward to that dropping. I think Chris said that it’s his favourite you’ve ever done.

I: Yeah, it’s also one of the hardest ones to play, everyone’s just realising that.

Alex: It’s painful!

Chris: Yeah, it really hurts.

F: Yikes… Is there any sound that you want to explore that perhaps you haven’t been able to do yet?

I: I would like to say that there are sounds that I want to explore, but I’d say that I’m such an explorative, creative person that I’m always dabbling in different shit. For this record we did loads of referencing to Motown, we’ve got a really sick brass section. They’re these Scottish, alcoholic legends, they drink like a bottle of whisky then improv a take and they’re one take wonders. I feel like we’re always kinda exploring, but now I know where my net spreads and I’m gonna go in deep on the things I know I’m a fan of rather than testing the waters. I know we’ll always be a heavy rock band at heart, and I feel this record is very much about us being our authentic selves. This next record is Black Honey on steroids, it couldn’t be more us, we’ve just like absolutely nailed it. People might not care about what we say, and that’s okay, but I feel like from where we stand it’s a really sick position to be like we’ve never been more confident in a piece of work.

F: As a band, you seem quite into visual art as well as music. Do they inform one another, or is it just something that’s happened?

I: I think I’ve always been a really visual songwriter, and arts and visual stuff come very naturally to me. When I was like 12 I got an arts scholarship, and I’m a drawer and a painter. Music for me was the challenging one to try and explore, so once I got into music and started to really get stuck in, it’s like the visuals followed suit. We ended up writing songs with these cinematic perspectives in mind. They kinda come together; I see the stories and the scenes when the lyrics come[…]I don’t question it, it just happens. 

F: As you’re rehearsing for your first gig in what, eight months, how does it feel for you to be in this situation where you’re coming back to the stage?

I: It feels bittersweet. It’s been really nice to have the time to take a break and reflect, and its also really nice to come back to something and be like this is what we do. We’re really excited about it. I mean it’s gonna be shit and the crowd’s gonna be weird, but in terms of what we can bring it’ll be Black Honey harder than ever before. Nothing changes what we do, just the world around us changes. We have no control over that, but what we can control we’re gonna make the best of. It’ll be weird to try stuff that makes people feel connected but is not touching and sweating and spitting on each other.

F: My final question is: who would throw a better party, Larry the Lobster, or Jerry the Flamingo?

I: Oh my god, this is such a vibe. So, we have a new person in that context, the cut-out of Elvis is now going to be our touring companion. Larry and me, you know, we go back. Definitely Jerry threw the biggest parties, I think we can confirm that he was the party animal. That’s why we lost him in a hot tub in Spain. Larry just never turned up to anything, he was a shit boyfriend. He’d lowkey be like I’m gonna come hang with you, side of stage, and then be off with another fan every five minutes. He didn’t last more than five minutes, that was a short-lived experience. Elvis, I’m feeling quite ambitious for. It’s quite obvious if a giant cardboard cut-out of a man runs away with someone, but we’ll see. We’ll see how tomorrow goes, only time will tell.

You can listen to ‘Run For Cover’ now on all good streaming platforms. 

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