“It was nice to feel like we were in a different world,” begins drummer Shona McVicar, thinking back to the recording of Honeyblood’s first full-length with esteemed producer Peter Katis. “There were no distractions or anything. We’d just be in this cool little house: you would go into that world and that’s what you were there to do.”
“He had the most amazing cat!” excitedly chirps guitarist and vocalist Stina Tweeddale. “It’s a really famous cat actually, called The Wolfman. He’s huge! Like an actual wolf, and he acts like a dog. I think a lot of bands have made friends with this cat, and he was just there all the time. And I love cats, so I was like, ‘Yes! We’re recording and there’s a cat here!’ It’s just such a serene place. It’s just a big massive house in a suburb in Connecticut and there’s nothing to distract you.
“We’d just wake up in the morning and listen to what we had recorded,” she continues, “have some breakfast, and then start recording until late at night. We didn’t check our phones or anything at all, they would just be left downstairs. We literally spent ten hours in that attic, every single day, without coming down. Sometimes we would eat at midday, record until ten and then we would eat at ten. Some days, if we were really struggling, Peter would be like, ‘right, okay, I’m gonna make a lasagne or a stew’, and he’d go cook this amazing meal. All of us would go downstairs - Gregg, who works as his assistant, Eric from Augustines who was about the whole time and his son, sometimes his wife - and we’d just eat this massive meal and we would talk about recording, but we’d also talk about other things. We pretty much lived there.”
"It was a really tight squeeze; there's a sense of urgency on the record."
— Stina Tweeddale
Giant cats, domestic bliss and suburbia aren’t the only things that Honeyblood encountered whilst spending thirteen days recording with Peter. Despite admitting that they “didn’t even leave the house much”, there were a few unexpected twists to their trip. “We sometimes walked to the local supermarket,” throws in Shona. “It was quite a rough area though, you wouldn’t go out by yourself...” It’s easy to raise an eyebrow; after all, the duo’s hometown of Glasgow has never had the most pristine of reputations. “Oh, this was worse.” “Much worse!” laughs Stina. “They’ve got guns, haven’t they?”
“There was a big police incident outside the house once,” Shona reflects. “A man on PCP drove into a house across the road,” Stina explains, “and into our friend’s car and loads of other cars. Then he took all his clothes off and ran about and loads police were trying to catch him. We were all watching him like, ‘Ahhh!’”
The chaos outside of their surroundings wasn’t the only challenge they had to deal with during their time in Connecticut: the two-piece knew going into the making of their record that they had set themselves a high bar, and things were always going to be a little tight to pull off. “I think it was hard because in ten days, we did thirteen songs,” admits Stina. “That’s more than a song a day. Also, we just flew in and then had to adjust to the time zone. I got really sick at the beginning and lost my voice, so the whole pressure of that… It was a really tight squeeze, but I think if it [had taken] any longer, it wouldn’t have been the same. You can tell that there’s a sense of urgency on the record.
“It’s such an emotional thing, recording an album,” she muses. “It really is. You think it’s just gonna be a happy time, but it’s not.” The pair burst out laughing, before the subject turns serious once more: this time, it’s about ‘the break’. “When we were in there, Peter was like, ‘You will have ‘the break’.” It’s easy to imagine what ‘the break’ entails. “He was like, ‘You will have it. I don’t know when it’ll happen, you don’t know when, but it will happen’. It happened to me on the second last day! I literally just had to go away for a while, sit down.
“I had a talk with Peter that day and he was like, ‘You’ve got four or five songs left and two days to go. I don’t think you’re gonna do it. I’m just telling you!’ So, we had basic tracks done for all of those songs but we didn’t have maybe all the vocals or other guitar parts. So, he sat me down and told me we needed to make a decision to decide between the songs that we wanted to keep and the ones we didn’t. The thing is, the ones that we really wanted, we had left until the end because we knew we could do them the best. I was like, ‘No, I have to do them all!’ and he was like, ‘Okay, it’s up to you.’ I’m so glad I made that decision because we did.”
Whilst the pressure may have got to the guitarist before their time was up, the pair managed to overcome. They’re just not entirely sure how... “I have no idea what happened,” interjects Shona. “It got to 8pm on the last night and then we were like, ‘Oh, woah, it’s done.’” “Nobody knows how it happened!” laughs Stina. “The last day, I can’t really remember how we did that, but it did happen. It was an emotional roller coaster! We had a little drink at the end, and a little bit of a celebration because it was a bit of a feat.”
“I think we would’ve definitely preferred more time,” Shona reminisces, “but we’re quite lucky that, because it’s our first album, we’ve been working with the songs for a long time now. We know the songs off by heart, so we were able to go in and do it, luckily, in the time. It’s a big thing to do, your first album. It was really stressful, but we did it in the end.”
Taken from the July issue of DIY, out now. Honeyblood’s self-titled debut album will be released on 14th July via FatCat Records.