Last week, Honningbarna released their brand new album Opp de nye blanke. In the middle of a hectic promo day and tour preparations, the boys took the time to have a chat with Musikknyheter, and it was a happy group of guys we met at Kulturhuset in Oslo.
Opp de nye blanke is a pretty special release, where the band challenges the album format through the length of the record (15 minutes) as well as the actual physical format. The album was released - as well as digitally and on vinyl - on a USB stick baked into plaster, which the listener has to break in order to reach the actual USB.
-We didn't wanna make it easy for people, vocalist Edvard Valberg explains: Honningbarna isn't a band which makes anything easy for people. We won't throw our music in your face and say "Please listen to this" - if you want to join the ride, you have to join it on your own. And that's the point of this USB-stick, because you'll know that if you want to listen to the music, you have to actually destroy this thing.
- You're never given any choices anymore when it comes to music, everything is everlasting, digitally, but we want people to have to break this thing to reach out music. USe both hands and have a physical barrier. Our music is very physical on stage, and now we've managed to transfer that to the album as well.
The boys explain that some of the reason they did this, is to shake the expectations of what an album is, and looks, and the feedback from critics has been interesting. Some have even felt provoked by the difference of it all:
- We've had to be ok with the reviews being slightly more negative. Older critics who'd rather have their one hour- album the way it's always been. We'll get a lovely review and then towards the end it'll say: "But five proper songs is a little on the short side", that's when you know you're onto something. When old people say: "No, this is something new, we don't like it" and that gives you a less good review, then you're onto something good!
One of the songs on the album which has gotten a lot of reactions - both positive and negative - isHonningbarna er din venn, which the boys are very happy about. The song is different from anything the boys have ever done, and they explain that there is a lot of thought behind the song:
- It's healthy to have that thing on the album, as a little: "Just so you know, we ARE a punk band!". It's something we've done more and more over this past year, including things from our everyday life, samples and sounds and stuff that we hear around us. Our generation is built up of these fractions of reality which you find on the internet; in youtube clips; hear on the radio - you listen to music here and there - everything is made from fractions that joint together becomes the sum of reality.
The boys say the samples on the tune are taken from videos from the Filadelfia parish in Kristiansand, which is something that constantly kept popping up on their facebook feeds, and which they felt were a very different reality to their own. So, they decided to use it in a song. Feedback from the parish has yet to happen though, which they seem almost sad about:
- We haven't heard a thing actually, the boys laugh: - We'd hoped for more. It's not like we asked permission!
Honningbarna played London's The Pipeline a few weeks ago, and the venue was full of Brits singing along on the songs in very broken Norwegian. According to the boys, this happens more and more when they perform outside Norway:
- Like in Finland recently, between songs you eventually just had to stop and ask: "How have you learnt our songs!?", but that's something we love, and something we've talked about a lot, when people don't really know the words, and might not understand what the song's about, but scream along anyway. Even if it's the first time they've heard the song, they join in. That's the best thing that can happen, one of the biggest compliments you can have. It's a kind of desperado-thing: "Fuck if I know what's happening, but this is so awesome I just have to do something".
Sometimes though, they do get questions about the meaning of the songs:
- The singalong tunes in particular, like Ikke la deg rive med, where we teach them the sentence and ask them to repeat it back to us a couple of times, we'll often get someone asking: "... but what does it mean!?".
- I tried to claim it was called Holocaust was a lie a couple of times. The feedback varied greatly, Edvard chuckles, and the band roars with laughter.
Though there are exceptions, Honningbarna har a lot of political and critical songs, and sometimes the songs have gotten them into trouble. Free Palestina (Free Palestine) was censored in Germany, and the boys also remember an episode in their hometown Kristiansand:
- I can't remember which organisation it was, but it was the classic thing that everyone who doesn't understand the conflict thinks we hate jews.
The boys give a tired chuckle: - It's like they can't separate Jews and Israel - even though it's right there in the lyrics.
At last year's Slottsfjell festival, the boys played a fantastic gig, which made them a serious contestant to the title "Norway's best liveband". They have an amazing energy on stage, and involve the audience more than most bands around. This is something that can be tricky to recreate in the studio, but they boys have had no trouble doing this on their last album. They explain this by having recorded the songs live in studio:
- We're all sitting in the same room. It's helps to sit there and look at each other while we play. When we'er writing the songs we always stand in a circle in the rehearsal space, so it would be really weird - when we go into the studio - if we didn't do it the same way. And instead of the tempo being dictated by a pre-recorded click, we control it ourselves. Sometimes it's even being controlled by how fast we're able to play a song.
Another track on the album people have had questions about, is the track Bob Munden, which is the intro to the album's last song Støy støy overalt. When Musikknyher mentions the album and asks what their fascination with Munden is, we get cheerful giggles in return:
- Well, he's a fucking cocky guy! He's so insanely cocky, and there are few things as cool as someone cocky when they actually have good reason to be so. If you watch the youtube-clip we used... He takes this thing which has absolutely no use, and is fucking impressive with it! And the cool thing is that you're kinda only supposed to be cocky when you've done something great - made a difference or whatever - but this guy, there's nothing else for him to do with what he does than just be a showoff! It's JUST cool! And it's just because he feels it's cool, and loves it so much, that he's gotten this good at it, and is cocky about it.
So there's no hidden symbolism in that you play as fast as he shoots..?
- Of course! Before Støy støy overalt begins, the interviewer says: "Ladies and gentlemen, the fastest gun in the world", and then the song begins!
Before saying "goodbye" to the boys, we have to talk about the long tour they're doing with [an all girl poprock-band from Bergen]. The boys are looking forward to getting started, and to travel with another band:
- We have a lot of fun together. They're very similar to us when it comes to sense of humour, and they're kind of a gang. Just like us. We go on tour as a group of friends, just like any group of friends would go travelling together.
They boys explain that the reason for this tour, is that it's something they've been wanting to do since they got to know Razika, and realised they got along well and had a good time together. It's not the making of a record company or an agent because if would benefit the bands:
- It might not benefit us at all, but it's something we want to do, and now we actually get to do it!
And the audience gets the chance to experience two very different bands and perhaps discover a new genre in music they otherwise might not ever check out?
- Exactly! We'd go to a Honningbarna/Razika split gig any day!