Coming top of Nialler9’s top 10 bands at January’s Eurosonic festival and described as “easily the best band I saw” at that same festival by Irish Times music critic Jim Carroll is high praise indeed but that’s just how these bratty cool Norwegian punks get on with things. If you think IceAge are the main Scandinavian punk band to see this year then think again, Honningbarna are younger and cooler. One of their main instruments is a cello and they have a frontman who wears a blue school jumper who sneers, snarls and actually comes across as a really nice boy by the end of the show. The band are playing Whelan’s this Tuesday the 10th of April and if you’re not there to witness one of the best live bands on the planet right now, don’t come crawling back to us.
Don’t believe us? Let the band tell you themselves…
Your name is Honningbarna, meaning “Honey Children” in English, could you explain where it comes from?
We started out as “Åh, faen” (Oh, fuck), a slightly more vulguar approach on band names. But after some time one of the guys admitted that he had been dodging question about the band from his family, and had grown a bit tired of it. So we had to change it. To Honningbarna.
How did you come to the idea of using a cello in a punk-rock band which is pretty unusual?
We met at school two years ago, and became friends quite fast. So we did what all friends do, start to have fun together and save the world. It felt and still feels very natural to use the cello, when that’s what you have played since childhood, and when you are mates, you take what you’ve got.
When you recorded your first album La alarmane gâ, did you think your music would reach audiences out of Norway and Denmark? Why?
Yes and no. On one side we think that Honningbarna is the greatest band in the galaxy, on another we recognise that all has not had this epiphany…yet.
There is also a language barrier, but I think that what we lose in words, we gain in people knowing the aggression and energy. The EU is fucking up, the youth is struggling to get an education, unemployment keeps getting higher, but we’re quite comfortable in Norway. But in other parts of Europe it’s very real. And that should make people angry and frustrated, and they should come dancing with us.
Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
In great ideas – freedom, love, anarchy and so on. We’re not interested in narrow local politics, or if “the new road should have two more lanes”.
After reading some of your lyrics, it seems obvious that you’re not afraid to speak about heavy matters like the war in Palestine, do you see yourself as primarily a politically engaged band ? Is it important for you that people who don’t speak your language appreciate the message as much as the music ?
The term “political band” has often a way of splitting people up into “you” and “me” instead of “us”. We don’t want that, and neither do we want to tell people what to do (there’s enough of them now), but we want to put people out of their comfort zone so they can think, but while doing that, scream, dance and have fun. That’s the true political project, having fun together. The revolution will begin with skipping ropes.
You’re starting to tour all across Europe, how do you feel about getting out of your “comfort zone”? Do you get as much response from the audience as in Norway?
It’s different, the audience haven’t stormed the stage a single time, and they’re generally more passive than the Norwegian crowds, but that’s good in a way. It forces you to think again and new about how to tear the barrier between the the band and audience down in new ways.
What was the first punk record you bought and when was it?
Ah, my dad has played Punk records since I was a child, so can’t really remember what was MY first record. I think it was ‘Maskiner i Nirvana’ by Raga Rockers when I was 14 or 15.
Where did your musical influences come from?
We come from totally different musical backgrounds, from classical to punk to death-metal to pop but what we found punk bands the most interesting. We played loads of cover songs in the beginning but found out that punk was the genre that had the best headroom for fun together with serious intelligence and energy.
Have you got recommendations for people wanting to know more about the Norwegian music scene, especially punk bands?
I was very sorry to hear that your drummer Ander Eikas recently passed away. As a band you decided to go on, is it changing the way you play your songs, in the sound, but also emotionally?
I think it has changed us more as friends than it has musically. When your best friend dies it changes you whether you want it or not.
What are your plans for the next few months?
Touring and finishing first year at university so we can go touring some more.
Your live show wins over anyone who sees it but if you had only one sentence to convince people to come what would you say?
Anarchy is now, dance it, sing it, create it. Just come to the show, please.