We chat to Superfood and Honeyblood about the 1990s, being the ‘ones to watch’ and exactly what they think about music magazines
‘We didn’t take it very seriously, we were quite bored at the time.’ It seems a pretty devil may care attitude, the way Ryan Malcom – guitarist of Superfood – speaks of his early days in the band. ‘We actually booked a gig before we had any songs,’ he continues, ‘we kind of just thrashed out four songs so that we could play the show.’ Cavalier and carefree spring to mind, but, chatting amongst the hustle and bustle of the UK’s biggest music magazine’s radar tour, it becomes clear that the whole doing-a-band-thing wasn’t quite so off the cuff as it may sound.
Ryan sits with Superfood comrade and drummer Carl as the stream of fans flows steadily behind them. ‘The shit two [of the band],’ they brand themselves, chuckling, before launching eagerly into a discussion about their debut album; Don’t Say That was officially released just under a month ago. ‘We’re really proud of the album.’ Ryan looks over at Carl; ‘we put so much work in before hand, saw it progress and develop and [now] we’re really focused on getting the live shows up to scratch.’ There’s an air of integrity in the way they talk, bouncing off one another’s sentiments, and when it comes to ‘it was just what came out naturally,’ you can’t help but believe them.
‘We’ve always made a conscious decision not to let [the press] have an influence over what we’re writing,’ they explain, a mantra easier said than put into practice when picked up so early on by covetous music publications, staking their claim on the next big thing. ‘Having people watching you and watching what songs you’re going to put out there does play a part [in the writing process]’ Ryan admits, but it’s something the midlands quartet have tried to give a wide-berth. ‘It’s the worst position to be in when you’re writing music and you’re writing with the intention of impressing people.’
Impressing people isn’t something they needed to be worrying about, though. Don’t Say That shot straight into the good books of fans and writers alike, its addictive hooks and 90s throwbacks satisfying all those who fell into its grasps. Drawing comparisons to all the Britpop greats, Don’t Say That has more than put the band in good stead for the coming months, but ‘they’re my favourite band from the 90s’ harks not to Blur or Oasis as you might expect. Instead, Carl has other ideas: ‘We should sound more like Steps I think,’ he smirks, reminiscing on being caught revisiting Steps Gold on a recent trip to Berlin.
Despite the recent release, there’s an air of confidence that surrounds future work. ‘There’s always new material that we’ve got in our sights,’ Ryan ensures, detailing hopes of recording ideas throughout the tour. For now, though, it’s enjoying the fallout of the debut they’ve worked so hard to put out that’s the priority, and do you know what? We don’t bloody blame them.
There’s little left of the 1990s that Buzzfeed haven’t got their mucky paws on; breeding sentimentality and nostalgia is, after all, what they do best. But back in 2013, a year after Glaswegian lo-fi indie-pop duo, Honeyblood, first started making waves on the scene, a somewhat unexpected throwback list encroached on the World Wide Web. ‘Here’s Why The Riot Grrrl Movement Will Always Be Empowering’ seems a fairly left-field rambling for a site more concerned with telling you which Friends character you’re most like, but perhaps they’d picked up on something worthwhile this time. ‘They were my role models as a teenager,’ lead singer and all-round girl power advocate Stina Tweeddale explains, speaking of the artists behind one of decade’s most vocal subcultures. Characterised by a DIY attitude and fanzines galore, the riot grrrl movement stood up for female-kind worldwide with an influence still felt nearly twenty years down the line; it’s 2014 and Honeyblood are part of a resurgence.
‘The biggest compliment is if someone references a [riot grrrl] influence that is very close to my heart, it makes me feel that I’m putting across the right ideas,’ Stina goes on to say. For Honeyblood, it’s the ideas that ground the music; grassroots ethics and honesty in both principal and production. ‘I don’t think anyone can successfully set out to make music in a certain way without making it artificial,’ Stina ventures, thinking about their original aims as musicians.
It’s the authenticity of Honeyblood’s debut self-titled release that has earned them a place in Rough Trade’s Top 20 Albums of 2014 and the hearts of many, a series of events that still seem phenomenal to the rising duo. ‘I couldn’t be more thrilled about the reception the album has received,’ Stina enthuses. ‘It makes me proud to hear that people enjoy it; it makes me think we did a good job by the people who like the band.’
And they have; Honeyblood went down a storm, leaving only the future open for discussion. With a support slot for Catfish and the Bottlemen lined up, along with more writing and recording, Stina and drummer Shona aren’t letting up any time soon. For Honeyblood, 2015 is shaping up to be – in their words – ‘really exciting.’
What’s it like being on a tour supported by one of the most popular music magazines in the UK?
Stina (Honeyblood): To be honest, from day to day it’s just like any other tour! The things I have noticed that are different are the crowds. The people coming to these shows have been great fun! They’ve wanted to dance about and sing, and even crowd surf at some of the crazier gigs! When a crowd is like that, I love every minute of the show.
Ryan (Superfood): There’s been a lot of work put into the shows promotion wise. It’s always a bit daunting when you play a show and you don’t know if there’s only going to be like, five people in the room. It’s nice to know that there’s definitely gonna be a crowd!
What has your experience of the music cycle been like over the last couple of years? With the influence of the Internet, it’s a lot easier for artists to get music out there… Have you noticed things moving quicker than you expected?
Ryan (Superfood): There’s been a steady progression with us, even in our live shows. Our last headline tour was to about 20 or 30 people a night.
Stina (Honeyblood): We have been lucky; although the Internet really gave us a big push when we weren’t ready for it, our label FatCat have given us time to develop. I think the Internet has advanced music listening so it can’t be bad! But there are more eyes on the artist now… With Instagram and Twitter, you’re posting about your life to people, and it can get quite personal. Gone are they days when bands were enigmatic!
Do you think music publications have become too interested in ensuring they’re ahead of the up and coming music nowadays? Words like ‘Buzz Band’ and ‘Ones To Watch’ get thrown around a lot; can this have an adverse effect on how people consume music?
Ryan (Superfood): Do you know what, I think it might be the other way around. I think it’s normal for the music press to try and jump on a new band, but I think a lot of new bands try to milk that. If they get a bit of hype then they try to go all out and take advantage of that rather than develop naturally as a band. You see a lot of bands start fast then burn out and by that point, they’ve put everything out there.
Stina (Honeyblood): I think terms like ‘Ones To Watch’ are for the bands who are different to their scene in some way, and that makes them get attention. But mostly, when I read these terms and the bands they are quoting, I’ve seen the acts at festivals or heard their music already; they’ve been working hard to get noticed like that.
Ryan (Superfood): People will [always] dispose of a band if the next hype band comes along. It’s good to have the kind of people that will stick with you through thick and thin and not move on when a new trendy band comes along, with better hairstyles…