Honeyblood, an interview with Stina Tweedale
It’s that time of year again – chilly damp nights, the clocks have just gone back, hastily ripped T-shirts of Halloween-diehards still sticky with fake blood… and in-keeping with the atmospheric mood, Honeyblood are releasing Babes Never Die. We caught up with the lovely Stina Tweedale, half of the Glaswegian duo Honeyblood, to discuss the release of their triumphant second offering from its conception to playing it live for the first time this autumn across the UK and US.
“The album does follow a continuous theme of creepiness”, admits Tweedale, laughing as she recalls bandmate Cat Myers’ initial reaction to the “ideas that came out of my head” right at the start of song writing for Babes Never Die. The themes on the new album certainly seem darker than they were in Honeyblood’s more loved-up self-titled 2014 debut, and mostly concern, destruction and heartbreak – but the songs are made more light-hearted by Tweedale’s catchy, sassy lyrics.
Tweedale refers to Honeyblood and Babes Never Die saying that for her, “if you listen to them back-to-back, I think they’re so different in loads of ways”, and really, this is unsurprising given how far Honeyblood has evolved as a band since 2014. The first album was a product of Tweedale and Shona McVicar’s collaboration, but on parting ways in 2014, Myers became the new half of the band. Tweedale notes the effortlessness of the relationship between herself and Myers as bandmates, recording a brand-new album having only played together as Honeyblood for one year, yet “we learned how we worked musically…to be honest, it made it easy to go into the studio, we had a very common goal.”
In writing and recording Babes Never Die, Honeyblood “wanted it to be faster, and we wanted it to be heavier…but we wanted it to show off our live shows and how we are now. I feel like if you listen to the first album now, that is not a true representation of how Honeyblood is now. This new album is where we are at,” concedes Tweedale.
And certainly, although playing live is undeniably important for any artist, Honeyblood’s whole approach to their music seems to stem from the desire and pleasure of bringing it to life for an audience. This is reflected in the excitement of their live shows so far, which Tweedale proudly notes “have all been packed so far”. This is definitely a band with a devoted fanbase. Despite this tour purposefully being very much “a showcase for the new album” with very few songs from the back catalogue being played – something that Tweedale feels “can be quite daunting for an audience” – it seems that instead “people [have been] on the side of Honeyblood and the new album”.
Both Tweedale and Myers share the same favourite track on Babes Never Die, the intoxicating ‘Love is a Disease’, which “helped us to open doors musically”. ‘Cruel’ is another personal favourite for the band – “even though it’s pretty soppy” admits Tweedale, a self-confessed “sucker for sad songs”, and its lyrics are certainly depressing and introspective, with “when I do things to hurt you, it’s to my own affliction”. Both also agree that the hardest track to record was the ethereal ‘Walking at Midnight’, as “it’s about an atmosphere…trying to nail that atmosphere became really hard”.
However, given that they only spent 13 days recording the album, Tweedale recalls making Babes Never Die a smooth process, and this was also thanks to the support of producer James Dring – who has worked with artists including Gorillaz and Jamie T. “Yeah James is probably the perfect match for us…he is very focused and he listens really well,” Tweedale comments, crediting Dring with letting Honeyblood take control of their sound – “Cat and I wrote every inch of these songs” – as well as bringing his expertise and experience from having worked with other alternative bands. Tweedale notes that Dring helped Honeyblood open up to being more experimental on the record, adding a synth and electronic elements to tracks such as ‘Wolf Sister’ and ‘Gangs’, without taking away from their “grounded sound”.
Fans who have already heard the singles which have been released so far, including ‘Sea Hearts’ and ‘Ready for the Magic’ will know that this “grounded sound” and the “melodic simplicity” so characteristic of classic Honeyblood tracks such as the feisty ‘Killer Bangs’ or the dreamy ‘Fall Forever’, remain on Babes Never Die. ‘Ready for the Magic’ starts off fun and upbeat, reminiscent of Best Friends’ ‘Cold Shapes’ or Haim’s ‘Honey & I’ and then builds to a grungy climax more in line with Wolf Alice’s thudding ‘You’re A Germ’ – in a similar way that ‘Sea Hearts’ grows to Tweedale shouting “hey, hey! it’s just a little heartbreak!”
Babes Never Die reflects Honeyblood’s feisty lust for life and is definitely worth a listen when it is released in November. But it is a record that really comes into its own live, so watch out for their remaining tour dates ending at Glasgow in December!