Interview: Honeyblood – ‘We had a go on Dave Grohl’s throne. It was like Disneyland for bands’
Ahead of their Hogmanay gig, Stina Tweeddale talks about supporting Foo Fighters and the can of juice which nearly ruined their second album
You can learn a lot from stalking a band you love on Twitter. You can glean, for example, how much they dug playing alongside Foo Fighters at Murrayfield Stadium; that they've recorded with Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole / Smashing Pumpkins); toured the US with Belle and Sebastian; written with pop Midas, Jake Gosling (Wiley, Ed Sheeran); and bagged a superfan in Garbage's Shirley Manson. Yes, it's been a wild 12 months for Honeyblood.
The raucous grrrl-pop duo have also lost a founder member (former drummer Shona McVicar), gained a fierce new recruit (new skins-basher Cat Myers), seen their brilliant, eponymous 2014 debut shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year Award, and played over 30 festival dates this summer alone. Next up is a slot at Edinburgh's Hogmanay on a bill with Biffy Clyro and Idlewild. Oh, and then there's the matter of making a second album which is, says singer, songwriter and guitarist Stina Tweeddale, 'the weirdest thing I've ever done'.
Weirder than playing to tens of thousands of Foo Fighters fans in a rugby stadium? ‘Oh, that whole thing was just unbelievable,' Tweeddale recalls. 'The Foo Fighters could not have been more amazing: Cat even got a gift from Taylor [Hawkins]. He gave her a cymbal because she cracked one of hers, she was rocking out that hard. Then he let her sit on his drum riser while he blew her kisses. We had a go on Dave Grohl's throne. It was like Disneyland for bands.'
Grohl is not the only alt-rock monarch to be won over by Honeyblood's charms. They recorded a cover of Liz Phair's 'Mesmerizing' with Melissa Auf der Maur after she fell for their debut album, while Shirley Manson proclaimed them to be 'perfectly lovely' on Facebook. 'Melissa's awesome, and Shirley Manson's just the biggest deal,' says Tweeddale. 'I grew up listening to Garbage, looking up to her, and because she's Scottish, she just always seemed the coolest. I took a screenshot of her Facebook on every electric device I could find. I was like, “oh my God, I have to keep this forever!”' she laughs.
Tweeddale's digital diligence does not, alas, stretch to her own creations. 'Oh, I never back up any songs or anything I write; I'm a nightmare with stuff like that,' she says. And that is how she came to lose a record's worth of lyrics for the new album, thanks to a can of juice in a bag that exploded all over her notebook. 'Oh, that was just the worst. It completely wiped everything,' she shudders. 'Everybody I spoke to who's artistic or musical was like, “you could totally write a full album about that alone!” I got really upset for a wee while, but then I thought, “if the songs are good, they'll come back to you. The notes are just there as placeholders”. And I've got to kind of go with that.’
The songs made their own way back, and Honeyblood are set to record their new LP in December, for release next year. 'Doing a second album was such a scary idea to begin with,’ Tweeddale offers. 'The first album is so personal to me; I sat in my bedroom and wrote all those songs thinking nobody was ever going to hear them. My heart's laid out. This time, I was aware that everyone who heard the old songs might also hear these new ones, and that makes you think about songwriting in a completely different way. That kind of shaped my fear at the beginning, but it's also really shaped the new album. It's made it sound completely different from what I'd have expected. It's given it a personality all of its own.'
Have any key themes or influences emerged so far? 'I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that my imagination's gone wild,' Tweeddale offers with a laugh. 'So instead of writing an album from a personal perspective, I've let my imagination run crazy with stories and characters. When we were on tour with Belle and Sebastian, it really got me thinking about the way Stuart [Murdoch] writes music; how he writes stories about people who are not necessarily to do with himself, and I found that idea kind of offered me a way of transition between our two albums.'
Tweeddale has also been writing with producer and songwriter Jake Gosling, whose credits include Ed Sheeran's x and the Libertines' Anthems for Doomed Youth. 'I've been down to work with him a couple of times now and I think he's absolutely magic,' she says. 'I really wanted to get into co-writing because it opens up avenues for me. I love songwriting, that's my passion. That's where my heart is. That's why being nominated for the SAY Award this year was so great. It made me realise that maybe I can write songs. It made me realise that maybe people like them.' Indeed she can. And indeed they do.