Stina Tweeddale is on a train as we talk. Friday night socialites in the background sound raucously energetic. If you’ve heard Honeyblood’s 2016 album, Babes Never Die, you’ll know it’s similarly exuberant and forthright: “I think there’s no better feeling than releasing your anger, especially when you play music. It’s probably the most therapeutic thing I can think of doing. I’m probably not as pissed off as people think I am, though. Maybe it’s a warning for people – don’t piss me off, or you’ll get a song written about you.”
It’s been a landmark year for the duo: “We’ve just had the one-year anniversary of the record being out. It definitely is a time for us to be reflecting. It’s been pretty wild. We went to Australia and Singapore for the first time; we did a lot of festivals – played the main stage at Reading and Leeds.”
When I asked whether they’d really expected the album to make such an impact, Stina responded, “For us it was a big deal, because it was the first record on which Cat’s been able to be a part of the creative and recording process. At this point, she gallantly broke off the conversation to rescue a helpless stranger who couldn’t find the button to lock the toilet door and ran the risk of being exposed, mid-business. When she’d done her compassionate bit for humankind, we spoke about what Cat Myers has brought to Honeyblood: “She is such a phenomenal musician. She certainly drives me to push my boundaries. When we started doing the live stuff together, it was so exciting. Everyone who came to the shows really embraced her. There was no looking back as soon as she joined.”
“Don’t piss me off, or you’ll get a song written about you.”
Cat was fortunate to receive the dream call-up to fill in on drums for Mogwai on their current tour. Who should be giving Stina the call-up next?: “Nobody has called so far. It’s T-Shirt Day and I’ve still got my Breeders shirt on, so I guess if they wanted a second guitarist, or if PJ Harvey needed someone to duet with, you could pass my number on.”
That phrase, “babes never die” still resonates as strongly a year on: “I’ve got it tattooed on me. I’d been saying it for years and eventually went and got it permanently written on myself, and then I wrote the song after that. ‘Babes…’ is still one of my favourite songs that we’ve ever written. Recently, people have been sending me pictures of their own “Babes Never Die” tattoos, which is insane. When you communicate with your audience on a level where they carry your words around with them every day, it’s really moving.” Even if they’re not inked under your skin, it’s easy to end up with Honeyblood lyrics etched on your brain.
Their 2016 album cover has an engaging cover, featuring one of the feral girls from the ‘Ready for the Magic’ video: “Her name is Darcey. I had an idea about a tribe of girls who had to fend for themselves. They’re crooked and weird, with a vicious, horrific side to them – something you don’t normally associate with little girls. The director we worked with, Thomas James, took my idea and ran with it. He made it more twisted than I had ever imagined. I guess Darcey represents the way you are when you’re a young kid. You have all this passion and fire. So the image of Darcey being strong, and yet quite vulnerable, left in the woods to fend for herself, shows two sides to the album title.”
“When you see a venue you’ve played that’s in jeopardy, it really gets to you… If there’s nowhere for the bands to play, there’ll be no music.”
Forthcoming new material alert! “We’re writing. We’re in full swing now. We’ve got our last little run of December shows and then we’re just in the studio until we have our next album. It’s very exciting; we’re back to the creative process, which is super scary, but enjoyable when it clicks and you can see where things are going.”
Aware of the threat to Thekla, the venue they play on 18th December, she backed it wholeheartedly: “When you see a venue you’ve played that’s in jeopardy, it really gets to you. Some of my favourite venues in Edinburgh and Glasgow have shut down over the last couple of years, ones that have become part of our own history. It’s really disheartening when closure’s potentially down to a noise complaint, and that could be avoided. It’s depressing when you’re trying to keep live music alive, if there aren’t venues of the right capacity to help emerging musicians develop. If there’s nowhere for the bands to play, there’ll be no music.”
This will be their first headline show below decks at Thekla; expect a party: “Last time we were in Bristol, we played The Fleece and ‘show day’ was my birthday. Cat had arranged halfway through for me to have my own karaoke session, because I love it. I sang The Coors’ ‘So Young’, because I’m always singing it but she hates it. She’d organised for me to have a blue screen with the words on and a bouncing dot over them. It was pretty special.”
Honeyblood play Thekla on 18th December. Babes Never Die is out now on Fat Cat Records, with their third effort due next year.