This secretive Brighton four-piece combine dark grunge with sweet, sticky Americana – but argue they couldn’t have come from anywhere other than these isles
Unleashed on the festival circuit for the first time earlier this year, Brighton quartet Black Honey gained an insatiable appetite for touring. “Imagine being locked inside your house for six years,” says frontwoman Izzy B Phillips, “then you’re suddenly allowed to go out, and you’re like, ‘Oh my God! What is the world? Where are we?!’ That’s what we’re like about just getting out on the road.”
Until recently, the only visuals they provided were those on their single artwork – a guarded move designed to place their music front and centre – so for a long time the only way you could learn more about them was via text, after they casually published their mobile number alongside last year’s attention-grabbing demo ‘Teenager’. It’s a plan that paid off, says Phillips. “Everyone who’s reached out genuinely gives a shit and wants to be friends.”
Like the rest of their music, ‘Teenager’ is brimming with ideas and references. It’s a canny pairing of Western-spiked guitar and Phillips’ vigorous, femme fatale voice, which has earned comparisons to Nancy Sinatra, Debbie Harry and Lana Del Rey.
That makes it all sound vaguely American, which it does – Phillips loves diners and Warhol’s Factory scene – but clarifies, “We are quintessentially a British rock band.” They’re influenced as much by The Beatles as by Lou Reed, both of whose CDs they’ve been blasting out during their marathon tour bus journeys this summer.
Their 2016 calendar is already bursting: an EP, album plans, festivals, a video directed by Dan Kendall – the man behind Swim Deep’s brilliantly retro ‘Namaste’ vid – and, as bassist Tommy Taylor puts it, “as many shows as we can play”. A record deal seems imminent too, but – you guessed it – it’s a secret.
BLACK HONEY: THE DETAILS
Starts as nebulously as Nancy Sinatra’s menacing ‘Bang Bang’, before being catapulted into chaotic, screaming Spaghetti Western territory.
Singer Izzy worked in American eatery TGI Fridays for four years. “The Americana seeped into my bones from that,” she says