No matter how many times it vindicates you, “less is more” is an expression you have to be repeatedly convinced about. It just doesn’t sound fulfilling or inspiring, reinforced by its three-syllable brevity. But time and time again the most raw and simple songs prove to be the strongest musical mainstays - be it humble folk ballads, uncompromising pop or, in Honeyblood’s case, perfectly imperfect and simple garage rock.
If anyone knows how to make a noise much bigger than themselves it’s these two twenty-something gals from Glasgow, who not only pull off huge rock jams on record but go far beyond expectations live. We’ve been excited about the pair ever since they dropped “Bud” last year and were frankly blown away by their set at The Great Escape festival in May. Now we have the chance to catch a few moments with lead singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale before the release of the band’s self-titled debut album this month, learning that they pen music in the shower and might not always be just two girls, a guitar and a drum kit…
One of your aims in music is to encourage girls to play music. Where do you think this desire-to-inspire comes from?
At my school, soon after my higher year, there were only three girls including myself who played guitar with like 20 boys…and I guess I always felt inadequate. Now, that feeling gives me a sort of confidence. And I’m sure girls are still feeling this. It used to be a sort of exclusion I guess but I wanna turn it into a secret club.
What was the catalyst for picking up instruments in your young teens?
My dad is a musician. He plays guitar, so I was always around them as a kid. He encouraged me as a child, making sure I was always around music. At school it became my passion and since my early teens I’ve always written songs. I was also really lucky to have some very encouraging music teachers who were so great to me when it came to advice on performing.
Did you have music rammed down your throat growing up or was it more of your own discovery?
It was definitely encouraged, but only when I began to want to learn how to play and sing. And my dad used to hate the music I listened to as a kid, the usual parent “turn that crap down! It doesn’t even sound like music!” vibe.
Tell us was like when you first met/started writing together
I was writing songs and had the idea of starting a new band. A mutual friend told me about Shona (McVicar) who was drumming in another band at the time. We actually met properly by chance in a bar in Glasgow, and I asked her if she wanted to jam out some songs I had written. She was up for it and here we are two and a half years later!
What’s the music scene like in Glasgow at the moment? Any band recommendations?
The scene in Glasgow is great. It’s the reason I moved to the city. It’d be better with some more small venues. The rest of Scotland I couldn’t really comment as such. I know Edinburgh could be doing a bit more, but I love the venue Sneaky Pete’s. And bands? We like Poor Things, Algernon Doll and Siobhan Wilson amongst loads more…
You were on tour with Courtney Barnett recently. Tell us about that?
Courtney is awesome. She’s super sweet and really loves her boys (Bones and Dave) whom she plays with in the band. They are having the best time and it was a pleasure to tour with them.
What and who influences you musically?
Musically, a whole load of stuff. PJ Harvey, The Breeders, The Smiths along with a lot of Blur and Bikini Kill. It’s always hard to pin-point your own music I feel. I write a lot of songs for my friends as well as myself. Our album has tracks for a few of them on there.
Describe your song-writing process?
I have written songs all sorts of ways. They mostly all start out from me just singing with a guitar in my room. I’m a proper cliché! I’ve written melodies in the shower, or while drifting off to sleep, which is a pain because I have to get myself up to record it. There have been times where I’ve fallen back asleep and regretted it dearly in the morning. Then I take the ideas or sometimes fully finished songs to practise and we jam them out. I then find it easier to change structure or completely rewrite the music. It all depends on the song really.
What was it like recording your debut album in the US with Peter Katis (producer of albums by The National, Frightened Rabbit)?
At the time it all seemed a little surreal. Also, because we only had 10 days to finish 13 songs, it seemed a little impossible. At the end I was a bit like - “fuck - we are in America recording a debut album with Peter Katis…” - but at the time we just got to work and did it. He’s an amazing producer who really was a brilliant choice for our first LP. He took the essence of our live show and gave it a little polish.
At this stage in your career, do you still have to hold down day jobs in between tours, living each month to the next?
We do work still sometimes, which is proving more and more difficult. It’s kind of nice to come back to some sort of structure after tour and not just stay in bed all day.
How would you like people to respond to your music? Is it more about deep emotional connections or simple fun/music for art’s sake?
It’s very much a mixture. Most of our songs are fun. We like to have a laugh and we do that when we play music. Some of the songs on the album are definitely a bit more emotional for me than others and I think that comes across, especially in the last track “Braidburn Valley” and I guess “Bud” in a way also.
Do you ever see your sound changing from the type of garage-rock you write?
Who knows…I’m excited to see what happens next. Honeyblood is just the songs I wanted to write naturally so I have no idea how the sound will develop.
Would you ever expand Honeyblood beyond a duo?
I have always said that it’s a definite possibility. Although I really love the fact we are a duo and it works! But I’d love to get some more harmonies in the live set up, maybe even a string-section or a few trumpets?
We can’t wait.
11 September - Tolbooth, Stirling - tickets
13 September - CCA, Glasgow - tickets
16 September - The Cluny 2, Newcastle - tickets
17 September - Old Fire Station, Sheffield - free show
18 September - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds - tickets
19 September - Soup Kitchen, Manchester - tickets
22 September - The Louisiana, Bristol - tickets
23 Sepember - Sebright Arms, London - tickets
24 September - Portland Arms, Cambridge - tickets
25 September - The Scholar Bar, Leicester University - tickets
26 September - Hare & Hounds, Birmingham - tickets
27 September - The Hope, Brighton - tickets