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Interview: Honeyblood on 'babes never die' and riot grrrl.

Interview: Honeyblood on 'babes never die' and riot grrrl.

Honeyblood produces a big sound for a band consisting of just two people, and they have been making a big noise in the music industry since the release of their eponymous debut album this past May. The duo’s songs are snarlingly sweet, and cleverly interweave thrashing guitar with lead vocalist Stina Tweeddale’s languid, honeyed vocals. Since new drummer Cat Myers' arrival to the band, Honeyblood’s appealingly raucous sets have become even more fun to watch and dance along to.

They just released a new track, ‘No Big Deal’, and are set to take on an American tour with Belle & Sebastian later this Spring. We chatted with Stina ahead of their Rough Trade appearance alongside 2:54...

"...these are the girls you want to be surrounded with; girls that are as likeminded as you and doing cool things and the things you aspire to do."

CDM: Congrats on your new track, ‘No Big Deal’! I really love it! This one’s a bit slower and more lamenting than anything on the album. Where did the shift come from?
HONEYBLOOD - STINA TWEEDDALE: I don’t wanna give too much away, but we’ve actually recorded two tracks and it’s a couple of tracks that didn’t make it to the album. They were kinda half-done when I recorded the first album. I felt like there were tracks that were ready to go, and I didn’t want to put them on the next album as well because I want to start with a clean slate. ‘No Big Deal’ is kind of like the slow-jam. I had it for a wee while, and I always felt like it was that song where people went to the bar. When you play the slow-jam, everyone is like, ‘Oh, time to go to the bar!’ And it doesn’t mean that the sound isn’t good, but more that it’s just the slow song. Now that Cat is in the band, the shows are getting louder and they’re getting heavier and they’re getting more frantic, so this song is to rein it back in a little bit.

CDM: But you still think of it as being connected to ‘Honeyblood’?
STINA: Yeah, I think so. I think it’s definitely connected to some of the songs on the album, but it only got recorded in December. As soon as we got off that three-month tour, we just went straight back into the studio! It’s very much the way that Honeyblood is going. It’s good because it’s kind of like the bridge to whatever else we release. I’m really happy with the way it came out, and the response that it got has been really good. I was kinda worried - I thought maybe people wanted us to do something that was more fast and more furious.

CDM: We interviewed Belle And Sebastian recently, and they gave you a great shout-out. Do you have a favourite Belle And Sebastian song?
STINA: How crazy is that?! I still can’t get over that. My favorite song is called ‘Dress Up In You’. It’s been my favourite Belle and Sebastian song for a long time. I love that song! I went to the premiere of Stuart’s [Murdoch, of Belle And Sebastian] film ‘God Help The Girl’ and it’s on the credits for the film. I was like, ‘This song is amazing!’, and that was before we got announced for the tour! And then we got announced for the tour and I thought, ‘I get to hear this song every single night for two weeks! This is so good!’ I hope one day I can muster the courage to do a cover of it.

CDM: That would be epic! You have to do that! Who else would you want to cover?
STINA: Probably like a Dusty Springfield song, or something. Something really odd, but then just thrash it up.

CDM: I’ve read that you were really into Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, and other riot grrrl bands growing up. I feel like that movement has been making a comeback recently. How would you define ‘riot grrrl’?
STINA: For me, it was just a natural position. I was into that sort of music, but it would all be bands with boys in them. I started listening to Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins - all that kind of 90’s vibe - and then I started doing my research. I think that’s the only way you can really get into those bands, because even today, with Sleater-Kinney all over everything and they’ve totally exploded, there’s still not a lot known about that kind of scene. You really need to dig to find it - so I did my digging! I found it, and it just really hooked me in. Nothing has ever hooked me in as hard as that. It’s just a complete identity - every part of it, I could relate to. I was playing guitar at that point anyways, really badly as you do when you’re fourteen, and I just totally loved it. For me, it totally is an identity thing, something that spurred me on. It was at a time when that wasn’t cool, as well. At my school, nobody else listened to that, just me and my friend Joanna. I remember getting boys who were into music saying, ‘Oh my god, how can you listen to that girl scream?’ and we were like, ‘Because it’s amazing! Obviously!’ They just didn’t get it.

CDM: Do you think listening to that music helped you figure out your musical identity?
STINA: Yeah I think so. That certain amount of music created in that time-period, that’s the reason that Honeyblood exists. I can’t say it any clearer than that. I wouldn’t have gone, ‘Right, cool, I’m going to start a band now,’ because I never had the confidence to do something like that until I saw that you could do it. Every band I listened to was boys in bands, it was never girls in bands. In my first band, my other guitarist was a girl and I had another girl play keys and sing as well. We were the only band in our whole school that had girls - there weren’t any others! For me, it was learning, ‘Yeah, you can do this, it’s okay for you to do this.’ Like every girl at school, I was outnumbered especially in music and playing guitar.

CDM: Do you consider Honeyblood to be a riot grrrl band?
STINA: No, I don’t think we’re cool enough to be a riot grrrl band! I always think that, then go, ‘Nah, we’re such pussies.’ Compared to riot grrrl we are far, far too tame. But I would love it if that was the case!

CDM: I definitely think you are! What’s cool about riot grrrl is that so many women would go to those shows and build this camaraderie. A lot of young women on social media are banding behind Honeyblood. You posted a picture on Twitter of your tattoo that reads ‘babes never die’ and said it was in everyone’s honour. What type of relationship do you want to cultivate with that audience?
STINA: Well, the ‘babes never die’ thing is so funny, because that’s something that I said years and years go. It became my slogan, and it’s just something that I said all the time. If I meet someone, like a girl who’s really cool and I totally love them, I’ll say, "She’s such a babe!" It can be anybody at all. It kind of ties in with ‘Killer Bangs’ and all that kind of stuff - it’s about total respect and pushing through. It’s incredible, for me, because when I was fourteen and the only girl I knew who was listening to the music that I listened to, I found a whole community that listened to it! When we started Honeyblood and started doing quite good, playing shows, I met all the other girls, like Pins, and I was like, ‘Fucking hell - these are the coolest girls I’ve ever met in my life!’ These are the girls you want to be surrounded with, girls that are as likeminded as you and doing cool things and the things you aspire to do. I love the fact that Honeyblood is kind of doing that for other girls. That’s what I’m getting on Twitter, and anywhere really - that they’re kind of like all going and doing exactly what I was doing two years ago. I can’t ask for more than that! That’s amazing.

CDM: Like you said, ‘Killer Bangs’ was written about a friend and I know that ‘Super Rat’ was for a friend dating a total jerk. When you write songs for your friends, do you tell them about it?
STINA: No, I never tell them! Well, I tell them sometimes when I’m drunk. One of my friends went to Korea and one of them went to Vietnam, and that’s the two guys ‘Anywhere But Here’ is technically written about. They came back for Christmas and I was like, ‘I wrote that song for you guys!’ 

CDM: That song is such an anthem! Was it written about a specific place, or an idea?
STINA: I hate Glasgow sometimes, but everyone hates where they live sometimes. I was a bit jealous that they were going to nicer, hotter climates. I think it’s always fun to write for your friends because their lives are weird and wonderful, and my life’s really boring.

CDM: How do you guys kill the time on tour?
STINA: Last time we were in America we played this game called Jogging. It’s really good to play in LA or New York. If you see a person that’s jogging down the street, you have to yell ‘JOGGING’ really loud. You get bonus points if they’re jogging with more than one person - if they’ve got any sort of headband or luminous gear on you get extra points. You forfeit points if they’ve got jogging gear on but they’re not really jogging. This game can get pretty heated.

You can catch Honeyblood touring the U.S. with 2:54 and Belle And Sebastian this Spring (ticket info here). Meanwhile, listen to their killer new track ‘No Big Deal’ below...

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