Interview: Stina Tweeddale from Honeyblood at Sailor Jerry’s Open House

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Sailor Jerry rum unlocked the doors to Jerry’s Open House; an all-in month-long pop-up in Glasgow from 15th February to 15th March. Set in an old warehouse on Houldsworth Street in Finnieston, this co-created space is inspired by the legendary tattoo artist Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins and will be open to local creatives and students.

Events kicked off with a gig from Honeyblood, before An Audience with Frank Carter this week, followed by a rare acoustic gig. Artists are currently competing to have their work displayed on the venue walls and there’s some tasty rum cocktails to try. When not hosting, the open space will be available for band rehearsals and society socials.

We called Stina Tweeddale, singer with Honeyblood – one of Glasgow’s most interesting and beguiling bands. Their album Babes Never Die is a cracker.

She told us about the set at the Open House, how impressed the band were with the improvised venue and we started talking about the importance of places to rehearse and play music in the city.

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In terms of access to places to play and rehearse for musicians in Glasgow, how does that fit in with your view of the music scene here?

It’s that kind of place, isn’t it. Where people start bands and try to do something about it. I think it’s a good hub for that sort of stuff. Recently, we’ve had a bit of a licencing change as well [to protect music venues from developers]. King Tut’s and SWG3, places like that.

That’s really good. I try and keep tabs on that because it’s so important. If those venues close, then it would catastrophic for the scene.

I do think people have got to be aware of that and make sure that they are supporting it as much as possible. Because the bands just won’t grow if there’s nowhere for them to play, if there’s nowhere for them to rehearse, there’s nowhere for them to meet like minded people. It just won’t happen.

They don’t just pop out of thin air, you know [laughs]

You moved to Glasgow. Does it help to be somewhere there’s a groundswell of bands playing gigs, heading out on two, recording albums? Is there an opportunity to exchange ideas and bounce off each other?

Oh yeah. 100%. Lots of bands have helped us in the past, like they have a good relationship with all the bands around town. A few of the Scottish greats as well. Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian, people like that who are just doing good, being supportive of upcoming new artists. So it’s very important.

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You are working on your third album at the moment, what stage are you at?

We’re kind of halfway through. We’re writing. We’ve got a few that are definitely going to be on the album now. So it’s starting to take shape. But I don’t feel like it’s finished yet.

We’ve definitely got a few in there now that I feel are going to make it, which is quite exciting. It’s a good place to be, really.

Do you tend to work around a theme or do you have a definite direction for songs on the album?

I’m a sucker for a theme. That’s pretty much what I like to stick to, but I think this one is going to be a little more lax than Babes was. Because Babes is really… everything is kind of settled, the whole album slotted together closely, and there wasn’t any movement in it as such. So I think for the next one, it may not be as singular as that record was. I don’t even know yet, but we’ll see.

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Are you taking a different approach with this album?

I guess so. The difference is that we have … I was going to say we have time but we don’t really have enough time. You never have enough time. I guess we don’t have anything to prove, though. Because I feel with Babes we had so much to prove. Especially with Cat joining and all that. So there was a lot to live up to. But with this one I feel like we did it, in a way. We proved what we set out to so maybe it’s got a bit more of a creative spin. It feels more relaxed in a way, but you can never completely relax because you’ve still got to be better. You’ve got to write something better than the last one, right? [laughs]

Right! With your live set, are there particular songs you really enjoy performing or that always get a reaction?

Playing Bud. Killer Bangs is always a fun one to play. It depends on the audience. You could have a show where everyone starts crying because you played a slow song. It depends what mood people are in.

How much time are you going to get to spend in Glasgow over the next few months?

I’m not even in Glasgow right now. I’m in London. I think we’re probably going spend a lot of time at home, though. Compared to what we have done in the last couple of years. And Cat’s just moved to Glasgow as well, which is exciting. Maybe we’ll get a little bit of time so we can be homebodies, but we actually do miss touring a lot.

Clearly, you couldn’t be doing it if you didn’t enjoy it. I’ve watched a lot of people just give up the ghost because its too hard and they miss home too much. It’s a difficult lifestyle. But once you’re into it … It’s a love/hate relationship.

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What about introducing Cat to Glasgow properly, showing her where Honeyblood will be hanging out from now on?

She’s proper vegan, so we’ve been to Stereo pretty much weekly. The Hug and Pint, we’re big fans of there. She’s pretty much been everywhere already to be honest. We love a good pub, so the Allison Arms on the Southside. That’s probably where we spend most of our time.

Are there any more tour dates coming up?

The only thing we’re doing at the moment is we’re supporting Garbage. Shirley [Manson] has been in touch with us before and posted a couple of Honeyblood things and been supportive. For this tour, they are having all female bands in support which is great. It’s an act of choice but it is also giving that platform. It’s bands that hopefully deserve it as well.

We’ve never played the Barrowlands before, so that in itself is exciting.

What would you say to musicians just starting out in Glasgow?

Both me and Cat would probably say to practise constantly. Record everything. Do it night and day. I know that’s a cliché but that’s what it takes basically. And take control of the business side as well, and do that well.

Be nice to everyone, be sure that you’re a good band that’s not talking trash. That’s not a good thing to do. So that would be my advice. Be nice. Practise. Do your homework. I sound like someone’s mom. But it’s true though. And I think that if you’re really dedicated to it then there’s no reason why you can’t do what you want to do.

At this stage, are you still in control of your own music?

When it comes to the creativity, we have complete control over that. There’s no one big corporation telling us what to do. No way. We’re just like an indie band, we don’t have those pressures.

I think label are just happy if it’s good, and they like it. But if it’s not, they will tell us what they think of it. At the end of the day we have complete control over everything that comes out.

Or if we do take advice from people, it’s people we trust. So maybe they know it a little bit better than we do. You can’t say, even though you’re the artist, that you know everything. That’s definitely not true. But we don’t have … we’re not tormented artistic souls in that way. Not at all.

Honeyblood supports Garbage at the Barrowlands on 5th September. You can find out more about Sailor Jerry’s Open House here.