The Scottish duo known as Honeyblood is set to release their third studio album, Babes Never Die, on October 28th via FatCat Records. Recorded in only 14 days, the record centers around Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale’s mantra, which is also its title. In her own words, “I just used that term as being like a cool dude who was really amazing at doing what they’re doing and totally killing it, and then that kind of changed into this babes never die because I guess it’s when someone underestimates you and you come back fighting.”
It’s a mantra that serves the duo well, as they have spent long hours criss crossing both the U.K. and North America, experiencing all the people and sights the lands have to offer. The extensive touring and long nights in the studio have shaped Honeyblood into a band ready to breakthrough on both sides of the pond.
ARTISTdirect’s Christopher Friedmann caught up with Stina to discuss the new record, find out if the lyrics or her tattoo came first, and to find out why Babes Never Die.
Christopher Friedmann: Your new album Babes Never Die comes out in November and you’re about to set out on a U.S. tour. How is the mood in camp?
Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale: Good. We are currently a little busy at the moment, but we are planning into the studio to start rehearsing for our tours because we have one U.K. tour first and then we’ll come over to the states and then we come back and do another U.K. tour, so we’re not home for three months. So, enjoying the time home just now, but preparing definitely, getting all out new toys and gear together and trying to make out what this show is going to be like.
CF: You’ve played with a variety of acts, from Foo Fighters to Belle & Sebastian to Courtney Barnett. Has there been one common behavior that you’ve noticed in these artist’s approach to music that has informed your own view of craft?
ST: All those people are some of the most loveliest musicians I’ve ever met. I think we’ve been very fortunate that they are all really really nice and humble people, and they are all still really enjoying what they do.
Obviously Courtney is doing phenomenally well in the last couple years, but Belles and Foos obviously are kind of giants. They still really enjoy it, and it’s refreshing to watch them, especially Foos everybody kind of knows them. They would just stop if… they don’t need to do it. And Belles as well, watching them every night was a joy because they were touring that new album and it was so different for them and enjoyable. It was really good.
CF: Are you still enjoying yourself on the road?
ST: Yeah. I was actually speaking to one of my friends who is in a band also who tours a lot, and I said to them how I was just so worried because we’ve not been on tour for a year. We’ve done festivals, but it’s just not the same. The last time we were on tour was when we were in the States with Belle & Sebastian, so I was kind of worried I’ve become too much of a homebody, which I am, but kind of hate being at home as well, but I was just worried that it was going to be too much of a shock for me, and she was like, “No, definitely not. You’ll enjoy it once you get out there,” and that’s kind of the way that it works. You’re so nervous for a couple days, then once you get into the swing of things then you can’t really remember what life’s like just being at home because it becomes so natural for you.
CF: Can you tell us something of the personal and professional treats and challenges of a U.S. tour?
ST: Depending what time of the year it is the weather can be the biggest challenge. We’ve done winter tours and I don’t know how people who live in Minneapolis or that kind of place, around there where it’s minus 15 degrees or whatever. It doesn’t get that cold in the U.K.. Scotland it just rains, it doesn’t get that cold. And the cold is something we don’t react well, especially if you’re just in a little van driving for hours and hours and having to move gear out in the cold, so it can be really really tough.
Last year when we drove from that side, and we got to Seattle, and by the time we got to Seattle it was like the end of February or beginning of March, and by that point we got out and it was sunny, and all of us took our jackets off and were like, “ahhh the sun.” Like most bands we do a cross, so you get a whole variety of weather.
CF: Your last self-titled album you recorded in 10 days. How did that differ from your experience recording Babes Never Die?
ST: Not that much. We had maybe four more days, so we do things quickly. Not out of choice, it’s the way that it happens. We always end up; “You’ve got to record this album in two weeks. Go do it.” But I am a believer in that if you gave me the time, gave me a couple of months or whatever, then the album would have changed so vastly within that that I would have re-recorded stuff and done it again and maybe it wouldn’t have been the same energy that the first couple of weeks that you do something has. It was a very similar sort of process, drums, guitar, I mean you can’t being a two-piece, and gel as well as we do, you kind of have to it that way a lot of the time.
I think for this album, I probably had a lot more control over the process and the sounds and they way that I wanted the songs to be presented, as I’ve already done one album, so I learned a lot in the process on that one, and I could use it while doing this one. The first album I can of just walked in and was like, “I don’t know how to make an album, cool.”
CF: Babes Never Die was produced by James Dring, who is well-known for his worked with Jamie T and Gorillaz. What did James bring to the studio that made this record unique?
ST: He is a total geek (Laughs). He’ll hate me saying that. He is a total nerdy, geeky, techy guy, so he just loves making weird noises, a lot of the time we would spend ages looping guitar through weird pedals and making crazy alien spaceship noises, and we would just record that for like an hour, and be like, “Oh that sounds cool. Let’s do that on a track somewhere. So that kind of stuff was really really fun. He’s such a genuinely lovely person, very chilled person, and I’m quite like… I’m quite chill, but an intense person, so I think we worked really well together because I’m so in your face all the time, and he’s like not. But I think for him, his dedication to it was really, you couldn’t ask for more.
I think a lot producers, that’s the important thing; you’ve really gotta get in the zone because it’s not your songs, I wrote the songs, they belong to me, so I feel attached to them, but he also needs to get equally attached to the music, so he can help with the process. But it all kind of worked out in the end. He was really good and I think that we’ve made something that you can tell he’s worked on it absolutely 100 percent, but also was very close to the direction I wanted to go in.
CF: Going into the studio you might have had a conception about how you wanted the record to turn out and coming out of it you’re clearly happy with the result. But did your conceptions change throughout the recording process?
ST: For some of the songs yeah. I think for some of them I was hitting a brick wall, and I didn’t know how they were going to sound and then we like changed some parts or whatever and James was just like, “How about we do this? How about we try that?” Sometimes with a fresh pair of ears, someone who has not written the song or played the song in rehearsals can make the world of difference, so there were some things that did change structurally or the way that it was played or even lyric wise there were some that I had a few different things for one line, and I would ask his opinion of what sounds better, so he had a real input into the way that it shaped.
CF: You have the words “Babes Never Die” tattooed across your ribs. Why do these words ring so true to you, and (how do they) promote your own personality and perspective?
ST: It’s something that I’ve been saying religiously for about five years and all my friends think I’m weird. It goes back to me being super intense and every one is just like, “shut up, can you just be normal.” It’s just like for when I started making music, I was really influenced by so many amazing women that I was making contact with, and men as well actually, just like people who were really cool, and I was like, “These people are total babes,”
I just used that term as being like a cool dude who was really amazing at doing what they’re doing and totally killing it, and then that kind of changed into this babes never die because I guess it’s when someone underestimates you and you come back fighting, they thought that was the end of you, but you come back steaming ahead, so that’s where this ‘mantra’ came from.
Yeah I got it tattooed on Valentine’s Day two years ago. I had it before I wrote the songs, and I was like, “I’ll never get my own lyrics tattooed on me, that’s so lame I’ll never do that.” And now I have to say that tattoo is before the song and so it is still sort of true that I haven’t. If only I had known.
CF: You worked with Thomas James on the video for “Ready For The Magic”. Can you tell us something about the collaboration, and what inspired you to create a video filled with murderous children?
ST: (Laughs) Yeah, the video idea came from my crazy head and we’d already shot the cover of the album, which is a picture of Darcey. So I met Darcey, I met all the other girls as well because I did a shout out and was like, “Does anybody know any little girls who want to be in a music video?” And I know I wanted to have a little crazy, feral, wild girl/guy in the video, so I kind of sent these ideas with a lot of images and the style of what I wanted to Tom, and so I sent the ideas to him, and he was so happy with it, he really wanted to run with the idea.
I think it’s really good when you can collaborate with a director who is happy to take your ideas on board. I think that it is such equal pairing that way because a lot of people would not have wanted to do that. So i feel fortunate. I love working with him. I think we have a great connection actually for putting what I see in my head when I see my song for him making this come alive. But he came up with this gruesome story and all these little intricate bits, which I just love. It’s like a mini film, and I was so happy when I saw it.
CF: Honeyblood has been around since 2012 and you also played in bands beforehand, and are sure to have had number of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ experiences across the course of your career. Could you share with us a moment of a more grounding nature, something that harkened back to a more human element inside you?
ST: Touring is half being on stage, half being in a van. It’s probably more than half being in a van, and you end up doing really boring stuff. I mean our tours in America… our last tour was my most favorite tour we’ve ever done, and we toured with our friend’s band, 2:54, and we shared a van. We just went on a little splurge, and I think that’s probably something that… with a tour manager and a sound engineer, we all become so close knit and we experienced kind of this weird touring experience together that I don’t think we could recreate even if we wanted to, like just that in itself.
So there’s eight people in a van just having the time of their life and we ended up doing just loads of things that we all really wanted to do across the drive. We are all really into nature and the great outdoors, so we all ended up on crazy beaches and beautiful woodlands and hanging out, and a lot of the time you go driving, venue, pack your gear up go to the hotel, get back in the van, drive to the venue, go to the hotel, and that was just really nice to do things in these beautiful places in the world together with these people that you really care about. I feel very humbled by that experience. I think that’s going to be one of the things I look back on and know that I had an amazing experience doing that.