“My earlier records are angry and abrasive, this is much more vulnerable” - hmv.com talks to Honeyblood
For most of their career, Glaswegian powerhouse Honeyblood have been a duo, consisting of singer Stina Tweedale and a series of different drummers. Now though, Tweedale is going it alone after the departure of stickswoman Cat Myers back in 2018.
Tweedale was determined to keep going though and returns today with In Plain Sight, a fiery, powerful and ambitious new album. Recorded with Blondie/St Vincent man John Congleton, the LP sees Tweedale embracing synthesisers and electronics as well as her usual taste for visceral guitars and driving choruses.
As the album hits shelves, we spoke to Tweedale about striking out on her own and becoming a live canvass for the LP’s cover...
This is the first time it’s just been you on your own, how’s that going? Has it changed much?
“It’s been really great, actually. It has been daunting, but so freeing. I’m so comfortable now, both within myself and artistically. I really hope people come with me because I feel like I’ve unravelled something.”
Last time it was you and Cat, was her departure amicable?
“It was and it was a long time coming. She was doing so much work as a session player, she played with Mogwai and then with KT Tunstall and I was stuck waiting for her to come back. This is my life and my career, I needed to take charge. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I had to do it. I was writing on my own by then and it just felt like the natural step to take.”
Did you have a goal of how you wanted to move on from Babes Never Die?
“That album was based on the live show, it’s got all the tricks we used live and I really didn’t want to do that. I’ve been doing that for three or four years and I didn’t want to rely on them anymore. I wanted to move away from classic rock guitars and to make the guitars do something different. That’s why he worked with John Congleton, he makes guitars practically into synths. I wrote a lot on piano and used synths, I wanted this record to have more to it.”
What did you decide that John Congleton was the way to go?
“Sharon Van Etten, St Vincent, Angel Olsen. That’s a power trio right there. I loved those records and to get the man who helped make them was ideal.”
What was he like?
“He was great. He likes to work very fast and so do I. He railroaded over my doubts and he made sure we didn’t do the same thing over and over again. We did 11 songs in nine days. That was big for me, I hate doing that, for me, it sucks all the power and inspiration out of music. Quite often your first idea is the best and he really buys into that.”
What kind of record is it lyrically? Is there a theme?
“There is a theme that runs through it and it’s me trying to give myself some advice. I didn’t know that at the time, obviously, but listening back that’s what comes through. It’s a lot more insightful, my earlier records are angrier and more abrasive, this is much more vulnerable.”
How are lyrics for you? Do you need a melody to be there? Or do you just write all the time?
“I write constantly. Sometimes it’s poetry and I write a melody that. Sometimes I wrote a hook line and then I fit words around it. It depends on the song.”
Is there a song on the record that took a particularly long time to come together?
“Not really. ‘Kiss From The Devil’ was written as a very sad song, almost a ballad. Then I tried to record it and I thought ‘Nah’. Now it’s a stomping glam rock thing. I love it.”
When did you decide on In Plain Sight for the title?
“About halfway through. I’d written all the songs and I was thinking about the cover. When I got Cecilia Paredes on board to do the cover and I wanted to bring it all together. It makes sense, this is an album of me trying to give myself some advice and unravel the riddle of what I’m doing with Honeyblood. That was staring me straight in the face.”
It is a very striking cover, where did you find Cecilia?
“I went down a Google rabbit hole and I found her work. It was breathtaking. I contacted her and asked her and she said yes. She told the next time I was in Philadelphia that I come to her studio and she’d paint me. So I went and she painted me.”
What was it like seeing it back for the first time?
“During it, I was just really cold. People kept telling me I looked amazing, which was nice, but it didn’t stop me being cold! Once the photograph was taken I was blown away. It’s so striking. I still find it emotional to look at.”
How’s your summer looking? You’ve got a few festivals in there…
“We’ve got Latitude and Citadel. We’ve also got The Boaty Weekender with Belle & Sebastian, which is going to be a Glasgow summer holiday. Then later this year we’re finally doing our own Halloween show. I’ve always put on Halloween shows, but never played my own, so that’s very exciting. I cannot wait…”
Honeyblood’s new album In Plain Sight is out now in hmv stores.