What: honeyhoney (with James Morrison)
When: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399
Los Angeles Americana duo honeyhoney is appealingly contradictory.
The pair look harmless enough in photos and videos. If you saw them on the street, you might never guess Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe a rising rock stars. Take the next step into conversation and they’re clearly not the average Jane and Joe. Even then, their opposing characteristics come across as natural. When they pepper their earnest words with some foul language, it feels charming instead of forced.
After dealing with a broken-down van on the way to Seattle, they called up sounding tired but happy. It seems that’s been the norm for them lately. They’ve been touring since the South By Southwest Music Festival in mid-March, with stops all over the coasts and a little bit in between, plus two consecutive weekends at Coachella Music Festival.
“It’s great. We’re so goddamn exhausted at this point that it’s hard to feel pleasure,” said Jaffe, who plays guitar and sings. “But I went into this wine bar across the street from a club and had this great talk with a woman that reminded me that I am grateful. I really am grateful.”
Jaffe and Santo definitely have enough to be thankful for. honeyhoney’s sophomore album, Bill Jack, came out in October 2011 and has earned the duo growing buzz. And with two big festivals already behind them, they’ve still got the Sasquatch Music Festival and Newport Folk Festival ahead, along with dates with Sheryl Crow and this current tour with James Morrison.
honeyhoney’s contradictory nature is on full display in the music, and it’s a big part of the appeal. Take “Angel of Death,” for example. The video for the single captured the feel of the song well. The lovely lady and unassuming gent casually murder on command until they’re assigned to kill each other, and all while the guitar gently strums, violins whine slow harmonies and Santo sings in a sweet but gruff voice.
“We’re really proud of that video. We worked really hard with the director, Brad Scott,” Santo said. “We’re very pretty, but we’re very dark.”
Somewhere in the background, Jaffe pipes in.
“Ben said we ain’t so pretty right now,” Santo adds. “I don’t know what that means. Maybe that’s the darkness [in us].”
It’s somewhat unclear where that dark side is coming from, but the two of them must have their share of fuel for it, because they’re writing songs inspired by their experiences.
“It’s usually just our story — what’s going on right now between ourselves, and our personal lives, and our families, and our friends,” Santo said. “I don’t think there’s any [songs] on this record that don’t have to do with us. You kind of draw from within.”
Still, the material usually doesn’t just write itself.
“I think most of the time, you know, you spend 85 percent of your time slugging it out and 15 percent of it just comes. It’s wrapped up in package,” Jaffe said. “So when it’s not wrapped up easily, we just bring each other ideas and vice versa, and just hammer it out.”
When the duo isn’t touring, honeyhoney is working on a third studio album, which Santo said will be “sonically bigger.” They’ve also been doing podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience.
“It’s another area where you can express yourself and really get involved,” Santo said. “Podcasts are just another opportunity to get to know somebody, and I think it just a wonderful fact of the music industry and the entertainment industry in general. On a really elementary level, we just like to talk to people, so it’s kind of fun to just sit around and do that sort of thing.”
Back on the road, Santo and Jaffe are toying with making videos of all their travels, and finding the inspiration to turn out that third record.
“It’s the first time we’ve really had kind of a span of time that it would be great to get the record done,” Jaffe said. “We’ve had momentum that we’ve never had before. It’s pressure, but its also good because we have a job and it’s nice to have that impetus.”
Now they’re coming to Boulder for a show at the Fox Theatre, and they’re excited to be back in the state that’s treated them very well in the past.
“In Denver, we’ve had some of my favorite shows of all time,” Santo said. “We broke a record at the Ogden in merch sales. The crowd was a new crowd — they’d never heard of us, I don’t believe, and we were just really welcomed with open loving arms.”
“We’ve always had such a great time in Colorado,” Jaffe added. “We played the Fox Theatre, I don’t know, like, four years ago. We’re really fuckin’ stoked.”