“If I tried to please people, I’d just get it wrong,” Izzy Bee Phillips admits, vocalist of British indie-rock band Black Honey. Across two studio albums and a handful of EPs, the Brighton-based four-piece have dabbled in everything from Spaghetti Western rock to smirking disco punk without fear of what’s been expected of them. “I wouldn’t want to write music if I couldn’t go and explore all the different sounds and feelings,” she adds. Their third album, A Fistful Of Peaches (out this Friday), once again sees the band dart off in an entirely new direction.

After a few unsuccessful writing attempts over lockdown, the band realized it might be fun to create a record that pulled from the 2007 indie sleaze scene “because that’s the music we grew up loving.” Taking influence from bands like the Strokes and the Killers, with a nod to the pop punk of that era alongside a bit of Nirvana, A Fistful Of Peaches is “a love letter to all that music, but it’s unapologetic about it,” Phillips says.

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“We had to change what we were singing about,” she continues, with a lot of those 2000s guitar bands making songs that were either “this weird objectification of women or white men moaning.”

“I had to rewrite the narrative and give space to the queers and neurodivergent people of the world. I wanted to repurpose that space,” she explains.

Black Honey were really inspired by all the different voices that have found success over the past few years. Phillips namechecks Lewis Capaldi and the way he’s “deconstructing the pop prince image,” Self Esteem who’s “doing away with the idea what women should be seen and not heard wonderfully” and Arlo Parks, with her “beautiful, queer-as-fuck love songs.”

Then there’s Wet Leg. “I adore them a ridiculous amount,” Phillips says. “Everything about them is genius. I love that I can watch the BRIT Awards and feel like it’s such a good time for guitar bands.“ It helped Black Honey feel confident enough to fully champion themselves with their new album.

With the release of A Fistful Of Peaches drawing near, the band are currently cramming in a few last-minute rehearsals ahead of several tours and festival appearances. Any nerves about releasing the album were squashed last week during a listening party filled with their fans, the Bad Black Honey Club. Phillips had to really focus on not studying everyone’s face because that “would have been a bit weird, wouldn’t it?” Luckily, someone had the good sense to book an Elvis tribute act to perform as well. “That really took the edge off,” Phillips says. “It made the whole thing feel lighthearted and silly, rather than heavy.”

A Fistful Of Peaches is the sort of raw album that could easily stray into “heavy” territory and stay there, with songs that tackle mental health, sexual assault, being neurodivergent and generally feeling overwhelmed. Black Honey deliberately made their third record sound “sparkly and wide,” though, which helps it from being “fucking miserable all the time.”

“There’s an optimism underneath all the critical conversations I’m having. There’s always hope and music is most useful when it explores nuance. I wasn’t interested in writing about simply being happy or sad,” she says, taking influence from The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows.

The first iteration of Black Honey formed while Phillips and guitarist Chris Ostler were still at uni and bonded over a shared ambition. “He really loved Muse and wanted to be in a band that could play stadiums. I loved the audacity of it,” Phillips says. “I thought it would be fun to play big shows.” After a few different lineups and name changes, Black Honey released their debut single “Sleep Forever” in 2014, with a self-titled EP following the same year.

In the years that followed, the band made a name for themselves with fantastical, cinematic songs that leaned into otherworldly escapism and drama. Inspired by films like Twin Peaks, Paris, Texas and the works of Quentin Tarantino, Phillips also thinks that a lot of that came from “needing to run away to a safe place where you can control the narrative and choose your own ending. As a woman, you feel like you don’t have choices all that much,” she says. “You create fantasy because of your traumas.”

By comparison, A Fistful Of Peaches is driven by a need to be as vulnerable as possible. If 2021’s Written & Directed was about “villains, empowerment and rewriting your own path,” Black Honey’s third album is what happens if you “strip away all that and see what is going on behind that need to create a fantasy.”

It’s a result of Phillips starting therapy and learning how to articulate her emotions better. “That instantly gave me a different entry point to writing songs. It felt like you had to be braver from the get-go,” she says. “I leant into the things that I was scared to address before.”

The chunky “I’m A Man” is a song about consent, sung from the perspective of a bloke who feels entitled to do whatever he wants. “Sexual assault is a very confusing thing for anyone to talk about,” Phillips says. “It took quite a lot of raw female energy to find the courage to confront it in a way that felt like we were doing it justice, that wasn’t just us preaching from the stage.”

Phillips wasn’t scared about writing the songs but talking about them in the press is a different story. “I thought about not doing it, but I’m not doing anything useful if I’m just shying away from my reality.”

“I've been constructing an entire false reality for so long that it's now time to start ripping that off. It’s time to say ‘OK, here's what a mentally ill person looks like.’ That can still involve being hot and being a woman who doesn't traditionally present as neurodivergent, but I need to start exploring that identity so that other people can exist in this space. I just don't think I'd be doing much for people who are already silenced by not speaking up,” she explains. “I'd just be holding up more patriarchal nonsense.”

“Ultimately, I want to know that whatever happens, I tried to shift the dial. I think change happens in micro shifts but culture is incredibly powerful in making a difference. We’re at the point now where unless you’re breaking things like the patriarchy down, you’re just upholding it.”

Writing A Fistful Of Peaches was such a cathartic process, it’s the first time Black Honey have finished an album, and Phillips is fine if they never make another.

That said, she’s already working on new music. “I have to write. Otherwise, I’ll get really neurotic about how the album campaign is going. It’s helping me process the stress of everything, but there’s a couple of songs that are feeling good.”

Tracks like the dreamy “Up Against It” act as a letter to Phillips’s younger self, full of all the things she wishes she’d been told but also offering the guidance she needs now while the anthemic “Weirdo” is a big, communal call-to-arms. Then there are songs like “OK,” which are driven by empathy and understanding.

“My dream is that someone will hear this album and be kinder to themselves,” she says. “I like the idea that someone could walk away from a Black Honey gig and show themselves some more compassion in their day-to-day lives. Judge your life by your own standards, don't put yourself down so much and give yourself a fucking break.”