Honningbarna talk to us prior to their gig at Mad Hatters, Inverness on Friday the 9th of November.
I caught up with Edvard Valberg of Honningbarna shortly before they went on stage in the Netherlands and the day before they go on tour across the UK and Ireland.
They’re still a young band, but don’t mistake that for a lack of experience, 2011’s ‘La alarmane gå’ (Let the alarms go) received critical acclaim and people quickly realised that they weren’t just another group of young punk upstarts but a band who genuinely feel they have a message to spread and a band capable of delivering live performances that were achieving near legendary status. Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway recently proclaimed them as one of the ‘best live bands in the business at the moment’ and is fondly remembered by Edvard for his exploits during Go North. Vic was one of the first to get up and start moshing. ‘It was funny, we’re used to seeing young people in Norway getting up and dancing, but here Vic was, not old exactly…. but older than the others, and he was the first to get up’.
They first got together during High School in Kristiansands, forming a band seemed the right thing to do: ‘I grabbed the guys and asked if they wanted to play in a band and that sounds quite nice at the age of 17.’ Of course unusually for a punk band a Edvard plays the cello on the album and during their live shows, ‘The cello felt very natural as I’ve played it since I was 8, when you’re mates you take the instruments that you’ve been playing. It wasn’t a constructive thing to make a cool band, but just to come in with the instruments we’d been playing’.
Songs like ‘Fri Palestina’ (Free Palestine) would also indicate that this is a band with a political message to share. “I guess you can call us a political band, the point is we don’t want to tell people what to do as there are way too many people doing that already. We like to confront people with our strong lyrics, but while still having fun. We want people to think (about their politics) but they don’t have to agree with us”
Whilst they only sing in Norwegian he feels that the energy and passion is still something that audiences can pick up on regardless whether they understand the lyrics. I asked him whether there had been any pressure to record some of the next album in English and the answer was a definite ‘no’. Although there’s been an assumption from some quarters that they will sing in English. “We’ve had some people say ‘you don’t sing in English yet. If you start singing in English it will broaden your horizons’. But we’re a band that wants to live up to the ideas that we promote so we have to stay true to what we are doing and keeping real”.
It’s not been the easiest of years for the band, drummer Anders Eikås died in a car accident in January this year, for some bands this would have signaled the end of their career but Honningbarna are a determined close knit bunch. “People always assume it was a difficult process but for our sake it totally wasn’t. Of course it would have been ok for anyone to walk away if they wanted. But it wasn’t a difficult question whether we should continue, after all we are Honningbarna and this is what we do.”
I asked him about their influences, one cheeky fan on Facebook asked whether A-ha could be considered as shaping the way the band developed, I put this to him and Edvard laughs, “definitely not a fan! I grew up with a father who was a punk and a mother who was a country fan so quite different. All the guys in the band come from different families and had different perspectives to bring. When I was a kid I listened a lot to hiphop but my father showed me some punk records and I was immediately struck by it, it had lots of energy and a fuck you attitude but still intelligent. It was fun too and that’s what music should be about, having fun together.”
A new album is in the pipeline and is planned for release in Spring 2013.
Honninbarna play Mad Hatters on Friday the 9th of November.
Photos courtesy of www.jannicahoney.com