The first time I heard “Sea Hearts” it felt like I’d finally found the track I’d been searching for. It’s catchy, fun, but there’s something so incredibly ferocious and unapologetic about it at the same time. The track of course, comes from Scottish duo, Honeyblood and their second album Babes Never Die. Whilst the band are in the country, to play an exclusive run of east coast shows, I sat down with vocalist Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale, to chat about the artistry of an album, song writing and creative perspective.
I’ve been listening a lot to Babes Never Die and I love it! I feel like there’s such a sense of furious tenacity to your song writing. Where does that sentiment come from?
I think maybe because I’ve been in a few bands before and other projects, Honeyblood is probably as close as it gets to the true form of what I have wanted to sound like when I was younger. So I guess it just kind of comes quite naturally, that sort of feeling of it. I don’t think we could really do it full time if it wasn’t a natural process.
Have you always been writing?
I’ve always done it, since I learned how to play couple of chords on the guitar. I’ve written songs in all different shapes and forms for all different stuff as well. I guess, I just feel most comfortable in what happens with Honeyblood.
Is there anything in particular that’s really inspiring you to write or create at the moment?
It always stems from what you see really. I keep on saying “Oh no it’s not a personal album at all,” but there are always personal undertones in it, and you don’t even realise sometimes, until after you record the song that you finally get what it’s really about.
I guess other than my own experiences, and people I know and that sort of thing, I put a lot of imagery from movies and books and pop culture. I put a lot of that kind of stuff into Honeyblood songs. A lot of pop culture, art, whatever I’m listening to at the moment as well, especially if I get into sort of an obsessive mood, whatever I’m writing at the time forms from that.
I love how you mention that you don’t often realise what a particular song is about until well after the recording process, does it then bring with it a sense of catharsis when you’re going through that process?
Yeah definitely, it is that sort of thing where I almost use it for that purpose. Even though sometimes I’ll say that it’s just purely for a creative standpoint it’s not emotionally attached but they always are. You’ve got to put a little bit of yourself into it, to make it authentic you know, or it doesn’t connect the way that it should, so that’s always there. There are times where I stand back and I’m like, “Woah, I didn’t even know that song would hit on at that point,” until I actually stand back and listen to it. It’s very strange because you feel like you’re looking at it from a parallel universe almost.
That sense of personability definitely comes through with Babes Never Die and I think that’s why it’s done so well, whatever method you’re using is definitely working!
Tell me more about Babes Never Die, where did that initial inspiration come from.
We wrote it really quickly, we came back from tour with our friends 2:54 and then went on to tour with Belle and Sebastian in America. We finished that tour in about April, and pretty much spent from April until September writing the record. It was such a short period of time compared to the first album which was written over a couple of years. It was pretty much full pelt over that writing period. Writing the first track, “Babes Never Die”, kind of paved the way for the rest of the record. In my head it’s kind of a coherent string that follows you into each of the songs. They all really fit together in this sort of bigger story. They are all like chapters of the same story.
I definitely get the sense that Babes Never Die is an album meant to be listened to and experienced from start to finish, is that that way you wanted to write it?
I’m so glad! That makes me so happy! I feel like we really do live in an era now where people really don’t listen to albums that way anymore. You know, I use Spotify and I don’t have a problem listening to music that way, in fact I mostly use online streaming services. But then I also listen to records and I have a record player in my house as well. It’s really the two extremes isn’t it? You’ll sit and listen to a record, and the only way you can listen to that record is to put it on from start to finish. Or you have this idea where you can shuffle every single song by an artist if you want. Or you can listen to 10 seconds of each song, or just skip to your favourite part. It’s very strange.
I mean I definitely do it, but I think when we sat and did the arrangements for the album and chose the songs that were going to be on the album, and had the bookends of the intro and the outro, the way the album was structured, was to be listened to in its entirety rather then just a collection of songs. Maybe the first album was like that, it wasn’t really as important to listen to it that way but this album is a lot different.
I think it’s important to give a devoted sense of patience to anyone who has really payed homage to that process. I really like getting that story from start to end.
I think actually there’s a lot to be said for that process as well. Having a little bit of patience and getting into the record as a whole. Many people don’t get that full experience anymore.
I love “Justine Misery Queen”, can you tell me a little bit about that particular track?
Me and Cat (Myers) both like that song. I recently asked the collective that is twitter, and that one was really a dark horse. It’s really a fun one for us to play but I really didn’t know that it was a track that people really favoured. The song is about… (laughs) I guess if you could see “Sea Hearts” as like the kind of like the night out and it’s a good night out, whereas “Justine…” could be a bad night out, does that make sense? Justine is like that friend you have who’s hypnotic and pulls in everyone at the party, but a couple of hours later she’s like a riot and is uncontrollable, but she’s so captivating, and everyone loves her but they don’t know why. She’s like a mystery.
From my personal point of view I really wanted to write about character, because for the first time a lot of my songs are very personal and from my own perspective. So I really wanted to give this song a voice and a character and a name. I’ve been speaking with Stuart (Murdoch) from Belle and Sebastian and he really does that a lot. When we were on tour with him, it was all learning from other people and wanting to try something different. I’ve never actually done anything like that before, it was another way of expressing song writing. That was really my first attempt at doing something like that. I’m glad that people like it.
Speaking lyrically, I love the line “I’m a walking catastrophe and wild things don’t get no sleep”, where did the inspiration for that particular line come from?
For me “Sister Wolf” is kind of like… if you think of the songs in pairs almost, “Hey, Stellar” is kind of like the first half and “Sister Wolf” is the second half. Imagine if you get knocked down and your heart broken, “Sister Wolf” is really the empowering side and finding the power that you maybe had hidden. Almost like a werewolf side (laughs), really using that kind of imagery. It’s okay to be a walking catastrophe, I think. As long as you accept it, that’s really what the song is about. You have this danger and this power but you’re enjoying the fact that you’ve got it, and you kind of can really accept who you are, that’s what that song is all about.
I love the way that Honeyblood really tackle the sense of female empowerment through the album. I know Riot Grrrl is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but I think you have this really individual take on the way you present that idea. Is that something that you were aiming for when you were writing the album?
Yeah, it’s definitely an influence, and something that I draw upon. I don’t think we’re cool enough to be a sort of Riot Grrrl. (Laughs) But it’s definitely a source for my writing. I guess you kind of have to write from your own perspective. I couldn’t try and write from a male perspective, but maybe I’ll try that on the third album, try and write from that different angle. The whole album is really about the underdog, the characters are all underdogs. An inclusive thing about all the misfits coming together. It’s kind of a sense of empowering your self-worth, that’s the ethos of riot grrrl. Everyone is welcome.
Your music direction has really changed a lot from your first album to now, you’re already talking about your third album, what direction will we see Honeyblood move towards next?
Oh I dunno yet! We’ve talked a little bit about it, but the options are really open now. We’ve added the bass in, and this is the first album that Cat was on. I think that it’s really open and that we can really try and experiment a little more. I hope, to have a little bit more time to record the album. I don’t think we will have a lot of time to write, I think we will get writing as soon as possible but I’m hoping we will have more than 12 days to record the album that would be my dream. (Laughs), Even three weeks would be fine. I’d be happy with that.
12 days is such an immensely tight turnaround, how did you manage to pull that off?
We just didn’t have any time so we just did it. Cat was only really down for three days, and the rest we just finished it off really. We just worked from 10 in the morning until about 11 at night every day. We just did it until it was done. There’s not really any going back and changing anything either, there’s no time. (Laughs) I think that’s what really gives records charm those little nicks, and that they are human.
You’re in Australia now, it’s such a whirlwind tour! What can Australian fans expect from you in the next few days?
Hopefully we’re going to play as much of the new record as we can. But generally we are just up for a laugh. We love to have a bit of banter with the audience. We are very excited to be here and neither of us have never been here before. It’s such a quick stop and we’re looking to make the most of it.
Honeyblood play The Brightside in Brisbane tonight, before finishing their tour in Melbourne at The Curtin.