Honey Honey: Banjos Plucked Like Foreplay

It's a well-known fact that band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're working hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

Publicist Renee Harrison has a knack for finding us at our most vulnerable (hint: it's when we've almost reached the answer at the bottom of the bottle) and manages to sweetly talk us into articles on bands we'd rather make sweet love to a running garbage disposal than cover.

This time she messed up and caught us sober, and we eagerly awaited the chance to tell her we didn't need no stinkin' nu-metal, thank you very much. Unfortunately, the band she wanted to talk about this time was honeyhoney, and, well, they're really really good. Damn the minx to Hades.

Honeyhoney is so far removed from other bands she has sent us, like Papa Roach, that we wondered if she'd somehow acquired the most awesome brain tumor ever when she made the decision to work with them. They're right in tune with the wonderful rise of Americana that we've been enjoying so much lately, though not the Southern gothic that is our latest got-to-have-it fix.

Instead, their music is bitterly modern, like Chilean wine at full blossom. They're masters of the ironic hipster turn of phrase, but all of it is layered over an amazing folk/string vibe that is just a slight bit too hard to be country and too soft to dance to. The tracks we've picked up off their latest release, Billy Jack, are full of hard sunsets, banjos plucked like foreplay, and Suzanna Santo's harvest goddess voice. It's a low-key paradise of an album.

But that name though... honeyhoney? What are you, e e goddamn cummings? Who's too good for space and punctuation? Not us, for sure, at least to tell by the exasperated emails from our editor. And what' so great about honey? It's not even the best food euphemism for sex. That's peaches.

The only thing to do was crank up the old Ford and head out into the field of dandelions Renee told us they'd be picnicking in that day. Out in the sea of flowers we found them. Santo was making a laurel while Ben Jaffe stroked a mandolin gently. We recognized Nobuo Uematsu's "Edward's Harp." They invited us to sit down with them while we asked them where they'd come up with their name.

"A somber day, several autumns past, as we light a scented candle and began our daily recitations, a fateful drooping sleeve brushed a pool of hotwax onto a gold tablet forming an unintelligible goopy mess on the floor," said Santo. "Later, we heard the Marvin Gaye song, 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine' and decided to name our band after the part where he goes, 'honeyhoney I know!'"

"That's wonderful," we retorted, "But what does it really mean?"

"Cash money," said Jaffe without a pause in his playing. "And potentially ladies of the night."

To be fair, we've heard much more ridiculous stories over the years, and at least they didn't make us bust out the dream dictionary for this one. Still, we were convinced there was more to the story.

As we might have pointed out, we don't really care for honey all that much. It's not a big part of our diet, and what affection we have for the substance comes from the many comedic moments of genius involving bees and Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man. From the basement of our memory, though we pulled an old saying.

You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar... after which Kelly Bundy whispered in our other ear that if you pull their wings off they'll eat whatever you give them. That's some serious Papa Doc shit right there. It made uswonder. Could one really catch more flies with a band like honeyhoney than with, say punks like Piss and Vinegar? We asked Santo this very query.

"Could you repeat the question?" she asked.

We started to do just that when we noticed a dragonfly land gently on the neck of Jaffe's mandolin, flex its wings gently twice, then drop dead into a pile of equally dead ants. We noticed that the buzz of insects around us had almost completely ceased, and bid as hasty a departure as seemed polite with the note from the Mandolin following us like poisoned darts.

Final Definition

Honeyhoney (n): 1. American music. 2. Cash money; ladies of the night. 3. Melodic pest control.

Honeyhoney plays Fitzgerald's Saturday with Joshua James and the Wealthy West.

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