Honeyhoney's music built on friendship
When it comes to the Nashville-tinged, indie-roots duo honeyhoney, friendship comes first.
"If we're not friends, we're not going to be a band," said California-based Suzanne Santo (vocals/banjo/violin), who is joined in the group by vocalist/guitarist Ben Jaffe. "We have too much fun and we love each other, platonically, too much to work together if it wasn't working friendship-wise. That's always been the indicator of how great it felt to be a band together."
Santo and Jaffe moved to Los Angeles -- she from Ohio by way of New York City and he from Massachusetts -- and met via a mutual friend. They immediately found a powerful shared chemistry.
"It was pretty quick," Santo said. "We met just to write together. He was playing guitar with me. I was doing solo stuff, and the second song we wrote together was a tune called 'Come on Home,' that's one our first record. It's our closer for every show, just about. It was a really powerful song to write together. We were like, 'Whoa, this is cool.' It was instantaneous and our friendship came about before we started to write together. He's my favorite person. He's the best. It started from friendship. That's a huge nucleus in our band."
Honeyhoney began its recording career in the mid-2000s when, encouraged by French record executive Bertrand Lamblot, the pair entered a radio contest and won $25,000 to make a record. In 2008, honeyhoney sent to stores "First Rodeo," its effectively titled full-length debut. After wrangling to be released from its label, honeyhoney began work on its sophomore effort, "Billy Jack," which hit outlets in October to critical acclaim.
"We like to tell stories, and pretty much they're always about our lives or people we care about," Santo said about the inspiration behind the collection. "Of course we embellish sometimes. They're basically our stories from the past couple years. We've been working on some of the tunes for a long time. Others we sort of recently picked up toward the deadline of our recording date. Just kind of going through the motions of life -- I know that's pretty simple but it's true."
The band, which toured earlier this year with pop songstress Christina Perri, already has begun writing its third album, something Santo said came organically.
"Lately we've been writing everything together, which has been really cool," said Santo, an avid Cleveland Browns and Indians fan. "It's a little more fun that way. I love it. Ben will play songs that I've written or I'll play songs that Ben's written. That's always fun. I love his songwriting. I really admire him as a songwriter. When we write together, it's fun. When you create with another energy, another person, it can be really cool. It's like dancing by yourself, as opposed to a friend."
Having recently wrapped up a U.S. jaunt, honeyhoney will perform at Cleveland's House of Blues on Dec. 27. Santo said she is always excited play songs from "Billy Jack."
"They're a good time for sure," she said. "Ben and I have a few different sort of shows that we play, a duo show where it's just Ben and I, or it's a full band. With these new tunes, the full band really facilitates a bigger sound. These songs sound so much better as a full band."