Three years after revealing how darkly decadent they can be, Ben Jaffe and Suzanne Santo are revisiting the "Angel of Death" again.
After getting pretty morbid for that song and the accompanying killer video of 2012, the roots-rocking, sexy/savvy duo known as honeyhoney return for another audacious dance with the devil, and still look drop-dead gorgeous.
Join Jaffe and Santo as they step ominously back in time with the video for "You and I" that premieres today (Aug. 18) exclusively at The Huffington Post.
The song, written by Jaffe and Santo as one of their few collaborative efforts on honeyhoney's third full-length record -- aptly titled 3 -- continues the deadly theme of three years ago, but in a more romantic, love-you-until-the-day-I-die sense.
"Come high water or hell / I'm gonna love you well," Santo sings on "You and I," one of the 12 stylish numbers on the Dave Cobb-produced 3 (Rounder Records) that inexplicably landed earlier this month on Rolling Stone's "30 Great Country Albums of 2015 You Probably Didn't Hear."
"Great," for sure. "Country," possibly in a year when even Jason Isbell is getting that label. But how could "you" let two-thirds of the summer pass without "probably" hearing one of the year's best albums, period?
Regardless, the taut video that the multidimensional multi-instrumentalists wrote, produced and directed with help from their friends at Los Angeles production company Pillbox, plays out like a film noir-ish mini-movie that goes back three years in the life of the murderous characters Jaffe and Santo created for "Angel of Death."
As they explained in a joint email to set up the premise of the video for "You and I," Jaffe and Santo wrote:
"When we put out our last video, for 'Angel of Death,' people kept asking us, 'Hey Ben and Sooze, this video is great and all but why are you killing all these people? What's the POINT?'
"First of all, it's not us. Those are characters, fictional people. ... Secondly, we feel weird about it, too.
"We both love film and the idea of telling big stories, tall tales you know? This video for 'You and I' is a prequel, an earlier episode in the lifeline of these characters. All three of the main characters are Paul Bunyan-y and exaggerated, and the tone of 'You and I' led them into a more dramatic and slightly lurid direction.
"It's the song's fault. We just wanted it to be entertaining and not lovey-dovey, which, with this kind of song, is a real danger to tough-ass folks like us."
Don't let that last part fool you. They may play "tough-ass folks" on videos, but Jaffe and Santo are as cool as a sip of sangria on a sweltering summer afternoon. Off the road for now, honeyhoney can relax temporarily before resuming a backbreaking tour schedule in September that includes a high-profile AmericanaFest showcase on Sept. 17 at Mercy Lounge in Nashville.
Until then, get your honeyhoney fix by checking out the video for "You and I," then read more details about the song, the video and the sweet taste of honeyhoney.
Taking only two days to shoot, the prequel was edited by Sage Atwood, a friend of theirs who also joined honeyhoney on tour this year as a videographer/soundman.
Reprising his "Angel of Death" role, character actor Jim Turner (Arli$$, Bewitched, How to Get Away with Murder) is one of the "ridiculously talented" performers who appears in the video with Heather Matarazzo and Ross Partridge "to lend some CREDIBILITY to this film adventure we're on," Jaffe and Santo shared.
"Angel of Death" also had an intriguing cast of characters in the video directed by Bradley Scott that included Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds), Martin Starr (Knocked Up, Silicon Valley) and none other than Joe Rogan, he of the Experience podcast that reveals honeyhoney at their zany and irreverent best.
Suzanne Santo (left) wigs out in the video for "You and I."
It's obvious that Santo, with or without the blonde wig in the screenshot above, has some acting chops as well, having appeared in TV series such as Judging Amy and Law & Order as well as the 2004 feature film Imaginary Heroes (starring Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels).
Santo, who played classical violin growing up in Cleveland, then put down the instrument when she went to Professional Children's School in New York (and took some classes with singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin), worked as a fashion model and actress before becoming a musician.
During our interview over lunch in Denver a week before the June 9 release of 3, Santo, who turned 30 on Jan. 20, said "I had lost my boner" for acting by 2003 in Los Angeles.
"I started to become desperate and went to book jobs for money and I was 18 and my body was changing and people were telling me to lose weight. And I didn't like that."
Thankfully, that led to her "paramount moment" -- picking up the violin again. With the encouragement of the "stoner" roommate she met on craigslist, Santo decided to play her first open mic night that included a Sheryl Crow cover.
In 2006, a mutual acquaintance, who tried to hit on Santo at a Halloween party, introduced her to Jaffe. After working on solo projects, they soon teamed up for honeyhoney in Los Angeles, a drastic change of scenery for a guy who grew up in Massachusetts but adopted a nomadic way of life, eventually staying in a house in Los Feliz with seven to 14 people at any given time.
"The idea of planting solid and lasting roots, I can't really relate to that yet, at least in a singular way," said Jaffe, who made it a practice to "follow the buffalo" long before turning 30 on July 6.
Finding each other in L.A., truth seems stranger than fiction for Jaffe and Santo. Almost like "You and I," they've practically been inseparable as a professional couple ever since that fateful introduction, with Santo's sultry voice blending perfectly with Jaffe's cowpunkabilly guitar riffs.
"When you feel like you have nothing, there's this really interesting way that life kind of pushes you, propels you to the next place," Santo said. "Because I never for a million years thought that I would play music."
It might not be a matter of life and death, but that sounds like a plot line to a story more intriguing than any Season 2 episode of True Detective.
Screenshots courtesy of the artist.
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