Get ready for some 'unapologetic pop' as Black Honey return to The Wedgewood Rooms

Black Honey. Picture by Lauren Maccabee
Black Honey. Picture by Lauren Maccabee

Indie-rock band Black Honey have that classic last-gang-in-town mentality.

The Brighton-based four-piece have become a tour-hardened unit that is determined to do things their own way.

Resolutely unsigned, they are however readying their debut album for release.

Frontwoman Izzy B Phillips and guitarist Chris Ostler have known each other the longest – their families are friends, and Chris met bassist Tommy Taylor at university. Drummer Tom Dewhurst was the final piece of the puzzle.

When the four finally came together, they knew they had something.

'I've been playing with Chris in bands for about 10 years,' says Izzy, 'There’s been loads of different members, but when we started Black Honey is when it all kind of fell into place, and it all felt right.'

They've released a string of critically acclaimed singles and built a reputation as a formidable live act – as anyone who caught their sets at Southsea Fest or Dials Festival at The Wedge could tell you.

'We’ve been taking it in our own pace, and walk our own path, we don’t like to follow what others expect of us, or do it in a set formula.'

With 'women in rock' being a perennial talking point, Izzy has already found herself the focus of attempts to make her into something she's not comfortable with.

'I’m totally one of the guys – they say the only difference is that I have a vagina – they treat me completely like an equal. They’re like my flesh and blood to me.

'It’s only people outside our world who see it differently.  People around us are so aware of the fact that you’re a woman. At the start it was a bit scary, but we’ve got such a sweet team around us, we’re a squad, you know what I mean?'

The band has been busy working on the new album which they hope to have out later this year, and Izzy reckons it's going to surprise a lot of people who think they know what to expect.

'The album will be a complete cacophony of so many different influences and experiences, a lot of love and heartbreak.

'It’s a bit of a schizophrenic album, which I think was to be expected, but what people won’t expect from the album is that we’re dipping our toes into really different territories of genre.

'And we’ll be going unapologetically pop with this record.

'We’ve got two different producers, Seton [Daunt], who we've worked with before, and Emre [Ramazanoglu] who's worked with like Paloma Faith and Noel Gallagher. I don’t care about what people have done though, but whether I get on with them.

'We had loads of big cheeses over who wanted to work with us and we had all these meetings with producers, and they were like,' she affects an American accent,  '"You guys are like the next indie”. Screw that! We want to have hip-hop beats, and have pop – we want to shock with this record.

'I want people to feel something with this record and not just have them say: "That’s what I expected".'

Early evidence surfaced a week ago with the release of new track Bad Friends.

But the band has also had a strong visual aesthetic that often harks back to the '60s and '70s and draws on the filmic style of the likes of Quentin Tarantino.

The video for recent single Dig, with it's female-led gangster theme, encapsulated this approach.

'I love '60s culture, and the sincerity that I feel when I look at eras before now. Music and a lot of stuff around us now is very disposable, so my way of rejecting the disposability of everything around me now, is by making something more cherishable and analogue – and forever.

'If you listen to the radio, the things that are being played, it’s really bad.'

Last autumn the band supported Royal Blood, playing to their biggest ever audiences on the duo's arena tour.

And at the start of the year, the band were among 20 up-and-coming acts to received backing from the PRS Foundation's Momentum Fund. That must have been nice?

'It took us out of debt  we were in really bad debt from the Royal Blood tour, so it alleviated some of the stresses from that, but as soon as it came in it went straight out.'

But as Izzy lays it out, without a label's backing they have to cover the costs of touring from their own touring – and that ain't cheap. 

'It was amazing playing with them. But every band has to pay lots of money to go on these massive tours. If we were on a label they would pay for it, but we are, so we had to pay for it ourselves.

'All tours are the same, but we love them. We got drunk on tequila every night, and we toured through every city in Europe, we swam in the sea at midnight, yeah, it was incredible. And it was our first experience on a big bus.

'The guys were so welcoming, they would come into our dressing room every day, and I feel really close to them as actual people.

'We’re really good friends with them.

'They’re from Brighton too so it runs a bit deeper  we know all the same people from back home, even if those guys weren’t in a band, they’d be exactly the same.'

Over the past year, Izzy has also had the chance to grow as a songwriter.

'I recently started writing with other people, which is really exciting as it's quite ambitions for me because I feel quite shy about writing  it’s super-personal. I feel exposed writing with people who aren’t in my band. I’m used to them and I feel comfortable with them, I’ve been writing with them my whole life. To write with someone else was terrifying, but it’s a really huge accomplishment for me.

'It was my breakthrough moment from last year, realising that I can write for other artists, and I can write with other people and actually really enjoy it. And I’ve learned I’ve got a unique skill-set from it, and learned to appreciate my own talent from it.'

Black Honey 

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Tuesday, May 15

www.wedgewood-rooms.co.uk