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Jack White Babies, Boogers, and Whiskey: An Interview with Sasquatch Artist Honeyhoney

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By the end of this week, campgrounds at the Gorge in George, WA will be inundated with music fans young and old. Sasquatch brings out the best crowd, people who want to make their Memorial Day weekend one they’ll never remember- even if those memories are a little fuzzy thanks to Coors Lights which have been warmed in the sun.

A band that understands what it takes to have a good time is California’s Honeyhoney, who sat down with me to do this interview before their show in Seattle last month. They’ll be playing the Yeti stage Friday at 5pm, and based on my interview, I think their music is best paired with a shot of whiskey and a smile on your face. Suzanne Santo & Ben Jaffe are not only talented musicians- their album Billy Jack is one of my current favorites- but they’re just a blast to watch on stage. Read the interview below, and mark your Sasquatch schedule to make sure you check this whiskey drinking, Jack White loving, country-rock singing pair.

Honeyhoney, Photo via Facebook

Lindsey Bluher (Culturemob): First of all, how is Seattle treating you guys

Suzanne Santo: You know, it’s great.

Ben Jaffe: We haven’t really been here much! We have this RV that we rented because our van broke down, so we’re living this beautiful fantasy.

SS: It’s definently out of the norm. We’re usually in a 15 passenger van that is… it doesn’t come with a fridge, let’s put it that way. It’s been fun, but it’s kind of a funny thing since we can’t necessarily afford it! But you work with what you got.

LB: And weren’t you guys were in Seattle this time last year at the showbox?

SS: Was it last year with Xavier [Rudd]? Yeah that’s right, god that was last year? It feels like so long ago.

LB: Tell me a little bit about how you guys met?

SS: We were both working in LA with our mutual friend known as “The Double,” and he introduced us to do some writing together and we just ended up really hitting it off and we felt like we were destined for rock and roll goodness.

BJ: There were all these really cool kind of catalysts that kept us moving in a direction. Like this French record executive reached out to us and started to bring us around town, and then we won this contest and Mark McGrath gave us a novelty sized check, and there were all these things that happened that I don’t think we ever sat down and said “Let’s make a run at this.” It just kind of unfolded, which has been interesting. Especially because now we’re having to have a lot of that tenacity to keep it moving.

LB: What are some of the artists that you guys listened to that influenced the way you sound now?

SS: I listened to a lot of jazz growing up and just like mainstream shit- I liked Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. There’s some elements of all of those things in our voice. But I mean, I listened to a little bit of everything- we grew up in the era of mix tapes.

BJ: I have an interesting age range in my family so I my dad would just throw on Gershwin and stuff like that. I’d listen to that a lot as a kid when he would put that on when he was cooking breakfast, and Mozart The Magic Flute I probably listened to that every god dammed weekend. So there was that, and then my sister was trying to be all rebellious and she would listen to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and bjork and all this stuff.

SS: Was it like in Almost Famous when Zooey Deschanel gives Patrick Fugit the record and he all of a sudden sees god?

BJ: And yeah, then my mom was like “these guys are on pot.”

LB: So what are you guys listening to right now?

SS: We’ve been listening to this band called Polica- we love them. And what else…Like Polica on repeat.

BJ: With a single tear running down my face.

SS: Just his face, I’m not really a crier.

LB: You don’t strike me as a crier, at all.

SS: No, actually I cry all the time. Just alone, with no one else around, On top of a mountain for like an hour about once a year

BJ: I’m trying to think of what I’ve been listening to… Buena Vista Social Club, the Neil Young Harvest Moon record, which I’d never had so I decided to listen to that a bunch lately. Kinda got stuck on Lucinda Williams Live at the Fillmore record for probably about the past 8 months I’ve been listening to that- almost killing it, but it’s not dead.

LB: So this album seems a lot more concrete sounding than your previous one. Did you guys go into Billy Jack with the thought that you wanted to make it that way?

SS: What do you mean by concrete sounding?

LB: It’s a lot more cohesive, and it jumps around less than First Rodeo. How did you guys go about writing and recording this record in comparison to the last?

SS: There’s two things. The first pretty much half of the songs [on First Rodeo] were songs Ben had written before we’d met from his solo record. And this record is almost right down the middle as far as the writing that we did together and there’s so much more that were just co-writes, give or take 3 or 4 songs. That had a big effect on it I think, it was just a little more personalized as a partnership. But we recorded it independently so we didn’t have access financially to all the bells and whistles. We also wanted to record a record that sounded more like we did live, which is what Billy Jack is.  First Rodeo is definently produced- and it’s a great record but we’ve never recreated that sound live- you know, unless we had robots.

LB: So you guys have been on tour since September straight pretty much right?

BJ: When we were last here, that Xavier [Rudd] tour, that kicked off this chunck of tour, so that month which I believe was May- we haven’t been touring non-stop but at the same time we…

SS: we took two months off during Christmas

BJ: But at the same time, we did play a show at that point, and we don’t have homes so we’re still traveling.

LB: You literally don’t have apartments or anything?

BJ: No, so we’ve been traveling since then [last may].

SS: It has its ups and downs, but it’s like at this point it’s been over a year.

BJ: Yeah, and it’s not fun anymore.

SS: [Putting make up on] My nose is like peeling, and it looks like I’ve either got boogs [sic] or cocaine stuffed up my nose…

LB: Either is a great one to go on stage with…

BJ: Eh, I don’t know about the boogs

SS: Cocaine is  cliché. We were just having this conversation today about how being a cliché rocker doesn’t fly anymore. Because it’s like not cool when you have a drug addiction, or you’re trashing a hotel room and making someone’s job harder, like that’s so dumb. Nobody supports that shit anymore. You know what we’re doing? We’re bringing the movement of being nice to people.

BJ: You comfortable?

LB: You guys did give me cheese-its!

SS: And that was all we had to eat for the rest of the week.

LB: So who would you guys like to tour with, like an ideal pie-in-the-sky

SS: Can we give you top four so we can both get two?

LB: Yes, of course!

SS: Okay, we’re both already going to say Tenacious D- that’s a double. Definently the D… The Givers.

BJ: I was gonna say like Delta Spirit.

SS: We wanna tour with our friends, but if there was like an all-time, ultimate, what-the-balls, on the top-top-tippy, I’d defininetly say Lucinda Williams because we would shit our pants- we would watch her set every night like a bunch of kids going crazy.

BJ: We saw Dre and Snoop last weekend, and that would be a really great thing for them.

SS: Yeah, we’d make it make sense.

BJ: Yeah, it would be great for them, since we could incorporate our audience into theirs, which would really expand their base.

LB: So you guys brought up Tencious D, I’m excited to see you guys at Sasquatch!

SS: And Jack White! I want Jack White to get me pregnant.

BJ: What if he doesn’t treat you nice afterward? What if he just sticks you with his spermen [sic], and then all of a sudden you have a Jack White baby, and you have to love that and project all that love onto it while fucking daddy is gone.

SS: well, I don’t… God strike me down with my idealistic vision of this man, but I don’t imagine him that way. But if he is, then you know what, I’ll be a fucking rockin’ single mom, with the spawn of Jack White, and then I’ll tell everyone he was a jack ass- but I still love The White Stripes.

LB: Two last questions! What is your favorite song to play live?

BJ: Probably ‘Changes,’ and I really like this new song we’ve got called ‘Yours to Bare.’

SS: That’s funny, because I was gonna fucking say that too.

LB: Okay, last one- a lot of your songs are about drinking, which I respect, what are your drinks of choice?

SS: Woodford Reserve on the rocks, but ya know, a nice double barrel whiskey from the Tennessee region is usually what I like. Or Kentucky burboun.

BJ: Chocolatini.