Two may not be a crowd, but it can sure as hell sound like one.
With only two members—singer/guitarist Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar—Honeyblood creates an enjoyable brand of sweet, gritty garage pop that requires no extra talent.
The duo released a 7-inch in October that features “Bud,” a bittersweet number with jangly hooks and clouded, dreamy vocals. The other single, “Kissing On You,” has just the right amount of fuzz to darken its addictive pop energy. Honeyblood’s songs are the musical equivalent of a twee dress worn with studded combat boots—cute and pleasing, but with punchy, punk undertones.
But that’s only the beginning for the Glasgow-based women, who just recorded their full-length debut with Peter Katis in his Connecticut studio. It’s a drastic shift in venue compared to the bathroom where Honeyblood recorded its very first, two-track EP on a four-track tape recorder.
“The reason the tape was [like that] was because we didn’t have anything else to hand,” Tweeddale says. “Even though it’s so shit, like the worst thing ever, it’s just such a good feeling to actually listen back to something you’ve made and have it in front of you.”
The first half of the EP, “No Spare Key,” may end up on the new album in higher quality, though the track list isn’t finalized yet.
Tweeddale says there will be more distortion on the album, and McVicar adds that they’ll be able to capture more detail this time around.
“[The new songs are] a lot faster,” Tweeddale says. “There’s also a lot of slower, sweeter ones as well, so ‘Bud’ is kind of in the middle.”
She says most of her songs are about relationships (“Bud,” though ambiguous, could be interpreted as a jaded, anti-love song), but not always. Other inspirations range from McVicar’s bangs to the macabre short story “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter.
McVicar favors the heavier songs on Honeyblood’s roster, which give her a chance to pound a little harder on her drums. “We’re not afraid to make noise,” she says.
And Honeyblood definitely makes a lot of noise for such a small group, though it didn’t end up as a duo on purpose. Tweeddale says she always intended to have a bass player, another guitarist, a keyboard player, and maybe even more.
“You know, I would love to have a band of, like, 20,” Tweeddale says, but she and McVicar never found the right people to join the group. “We get along so well that it would have to be someone really special.”
A keyboard player may not even be necessary, since McVicar can play the drums and keyboard at the same time. So far, Honeyblood hasn’t taken advantage of this talent—McVicar says she can’t play as well when she’s multitasking—but it’s a trick that the band can keep tucked up its sleeve, and possibly pull out for a second album.
For now, Honeyblood is sticking to its simpler stylings, which sound like Best Coast wrapped in a thick, Scottish fog. They’re not a carbon copy of the West Coast duo, but McVicar and Tweeddale don’t hide their love for the band, either. In fact, they might not be making music together now if it weren’t for Best Coast.
“I remember listening to [Best Coast] and thinking it was really, really good,” says Tweeddale. “It was just everything that I liked, together. That’s kind of how I roped Shona into playing with me. [I said,] ‘That’s the kind of thing I’m going for, if you want a band like that.’ She was like, ‘Oh, I’ll get my tambourine!'”
This came after the two bumped into each other several times—they were each involved in other bands and had met before at gigs.
“Glasgow’s pretty small and there’s not a lot of girls in the scene,” McVicar says.
Tweeddale says McVicar was the only proper drummer she’d seen, and so she proposed Honeyblood to her in a pub post-show.
From there, it was practicing and home recording—your standard garage band antics—but the duo was picked up by FatCat Records after only one show. Following the release of “Bud” and “Kissing On You,” they did a mini-tour of the UK, where the only snag was a car crash in London (and really, car troubles on tour are practically a rite of passage).
Tweeddale says the tour was both trying and rewarding—”You’re constantly knackered and you’re sleeping wherever you can, pretty much”—but there was no backstage drama, and she and McVicar were thrilled to meet their fans. Honeyblood has since settled into recording mode; both members agree that creating a finished product (narrowly) beats the perks of touring.
With its 10-day recording session in Connecticut neatly wrapped up, Honeyblood is expecting to release an album in 2014 and tour the U.S. in February. But, this is a band that’s always looking ahead and searching for ways to tweak its sound—they’re already discussing album No. 2.
If Honeyblood’s full-length debut is anything like the sweetly brooding tunes it’s released so far, indie lovers will be addicted. Keep an eye on these Scottish pop-rockers—they’re set to explode in 2014.