At school I remember listening to the music I loved and getting mocked for it by boys… I pretty much told them to f*ck off and did my own thing.
Honeyblood stand for what’s right in this messy world of music. Their self-titled debut album arrived last year as an unflinchingly honest bundle of grunge-pop, while more recently they’ve been helping young girls access the music industry. We caught up with singer Stina Tweedale to discuss it all ahead of their show at The Fleece this month.
Live shows are certainly the name of the game right now. As we speak the duo are in the midst of a hectic festival season, which Stina admits isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. “It’s mostly just eight-hour journeys cramped into a van,” she laughs. We’ve seen the pair numerous times here in Bristol, but a more recent highlight was Dot To Dot Festival: “That one was really fun because the show was totally packed straight away. Obviously everyone had been out all day so it got pretty rowdy…”
It’s rare for the band to stop by for a stand-alone headline date like this, but perhaps this is exactly what will make the occasion special. “I think it’s going to be better being on its own… it’ll probably be a breath of fresh air for us after doing all those festivals. We always get a good response in Bristol so it’s a really nice and refreshing place to play.” ‘Good response’ might be a modest remark considering they sold out The Louisiana twice in the last year, even before knocking it out of the park at Dot-To-Dot.
We should be able to expect a few new tracks on this month as well. Stina reveals this with a real air of excitement, “We’re hoping to get a new album out next year. Parts of it are written already so we’ve been dropping some new tracks into our live set.” The writing process hasn’t changed much since the debut album though, “I haven’t been writing too much on the road, I find it too difficult. I’ve spoken to people I really respect about it all and they’ve said not to bother, you need headspace to write something good. Being on tour is good for drinking but not so good for writing songs.” Stina does tell us they’ve gotten more creative by collaborating with other people this time around, proudly telling me, “I think the new ones we’ve written are the best Honeyblood songs.”
Anyone acquainted with the first album will be aware of the band’s unmerciful, lyrical stabs at ex-partners (‘You are the smartest rat in the sewer’, sings Stina on ‘Super Rat’, with a sweetened venom). I ask whether it was natural for her to air such personal things. “A lot of the time I’ll sit writing and the personal stuff just comes naturally. If a song’s about someone else then I’ll feel quite shady and have to explain it to them, which can be quite cutting.” It’s this reality and intimacy however that makes Honeyblood’s music so relatable and grabbing.
The band are somewhat wary of sharing everything with their audience though, “I was cautious with some songs, yeah, like some that I thought might be a bit too harsh… but they need to be harsh to get the point across. I think it makes the songs stronger if they come from somewhere important.”
The new ones we’ve written are the best Honeyblood songs.
Outside of all this, the band have recently been championing new project ‘Girls Rock Glasgow’, aimed at providing a safe environment for young girls to write and perform music. Stina donated a lot of her own equipment to the programme, including the guitar she wrote and recorded the first album with, but it goes deeper than that. “At school I remember listening to the music I loved and getting mocked for it by boys. I pretty much told them to f*ck off and did my own thing anyway, but I was one of only three girl guitar players, so I wished I had more of a group to play with… most of the time I was by myself.”
I ask whether Honeyblood would have benefitted from such a programme when they were younger. “Definitely, I don’t think it’s a struggle for myself and Cat [Drums] now because we’re established and maybe hardened to the facts, but when you’re starting out and you’re a young girl, even going into a music shop can be intimidating. It’s not a boys club, it’s not a girls club, it’s an everyone club.”
Whoever you are, you can join club Honeyblood at the end of this month — a must-see sweat-on-the-walls gig poking its head out from a sea of summer festivals.
The girls hit The Fleece on the 28th, with ‘Honeyblood’ out now via Fatcat Records.
Check out ‘Bud’ right here: