Fireworks Magazine Online 68 - Interview with Honey Ryder


Unfairly labelled as the British Lady Antebellum in certain areas of the music press, Honey Ryder are about to release their third studio album. Entitled 'Born In The Bottle', it is an album that should dispel any doubters about the band's talent and should solidify their identity, thus removing the unwarranted label mentioned earlier. Dave Bott caught up with lead singer Lindsay O'Mahony for a lengthy chat about the album's creation and the hopes attached to it.

Honey-Ryder Interview

It must be something of a relief to finally see the fruits of all your labours over the last few years since the release of the critically acclaimed 'Marley's Chains' CD?

We've just received the first batch of finished CDs in jewel cases Dave. I'm absolutely over the moon with the way it's turned out because it's been really hard work. Matt (Bishop) and Jason (Huxley)are coming down to London early next week and we'll be spending time signing all the copies for those that pledged to have an autographed copy of the album. Hopefully they will be in the post in time to reach everyone before the Christmas madness begins. I just hope it is well received then we can begin the process of trying to achieve some radio play.

Musically 'Born In A Bottle' is quite a varied piece of work. Do you see it as a progression for the band or is it just a continuation of everything you achieved with 'Marley's Chains'?

Yeah, there is an element of progression but working in Nashville has a big influence on the overall sound. I think it has a little bit of everything on there that we like. There is some rock, some pop, alongside some folk and country and I like to think we are on an upward trajectory after 'Marley's Chains'. Obviously Fleetwood Mac come to mind quite a lot when listening to our music and there are a couple of tracks on the new album that have that feel, namely 'What If We've Only Got Tonight' and 'Damn It, I'm In Love Again'. Of course we never go out of our way make a song sound like Fleetwood Mac but I really love harmonies and an organic feel about a band. I'm a massive fan of a male and female voice working together. When we play live Jason gets to show how good his vocals are and we have actually just completed a new song called 'Gambling Man' and Jason will be singing lead for the first time. It adds to the variation and hopefully makes it more interesting for our audience. We never have a particular style in mind when we start to write. We just sit down with a guitar and see where the ideas take us. I'm more than happy to say 'Born In A Bottle' is a pop album with leanings towards folk, rock and country. We'd never say we are a country band and that is certainly true when you listen to the CD.

This is the first album that Matt has been involved in, though he has been playing as part of Honey Ryder for a few years now. Has his involvement had any real affect on the sound?

You know, Jason and Matt work really well together. When we play live Jason concentrates on the acoustic guitar and Matt will generally play electric and take some of the lead work. We know now when we are writing that Jason will take the acoustic parts, including mandolin and bazuki because that is what he loves. Matt will work on the electric guitar and the result is that they compliment each other really well. We've all found our niche in the band now and we all play a part to create the sound. We all have so much inspiration, we all have families and there are just so many ideas for songs. We actually already have 3 songs for our fourth album.

'What If We've Only Got Tonight' is my personal favourite song on 'Born In A Bottle'. The melodies are really strong and I think they flow perfectly, it would make a great single release. With that in mind do you think ahead about which songs should be selected as singles and sent out for radio play?

We're hoping to make an approach to radio in February with our first single and we welcome all suggestions from people when they first hear the album. Obviously radio is a very important medium and a fantastic way to raise the band's exposure. Radio 2 generally have a playlist meeting and they will listen to the first 30 seconds or so of songs that have been submitted and make a decision based on that. It is so important to choose the songs, songs that impact on listeners almost immediately. We have to make calculated decisions about what the first, second and third singles are likely to be. They should be songs that highlight all aspects of the band. It is so difficult because every song means something to you in a different way. It's exciting to think that every one of the album's 11 songs could be considered strong enough to be a contender for single release. We don't follow trends, we're not that type of band. We just hope our music is something that can be listened to years from now and still be enjoyed.

The title track opens the CD and is certainly something new for Honey Ryder style wise. It has a Cajun feel and conjures up images of the deep South USA.

Jason wrote the song 'Born In A Bottle', it's the only song I didn't have any involvement in. It comes in at the beginning of the album with something of a bang. It has a great vibe, a feel good vibe, and in fact some of the songs we are working on right now kinda have that vibe too. I feel as though the band has found a sound now and it's a sound I want us to carry on with. We are still learning about who we are and evolving but in general I'm happy about where we are musically. Recognisable and distinctive I hope.

Some parts of the recording were done in Nashville and some parts in England. You've worked out in America before so does the environment lend itself to the whole creation process? You've already mentioned that the Nashville experience influences the sound.

We've been to Nashville twice now and will be heading back out there again in a few months. We've written with a number of people there and they are really into storytelling, that's the main feeling you get and they are fantastic lyrically. We've learned a lot from those that we've worked with. The song 'Mirage' is the biggest example of the whole storytelling concept on the new album. We just like the way they work out in Nashville. We can go into a studio with a drummer and a bass player and it's no exaggeration to say that we can get 6 or 7 songs done in a day. We will bring the songs home to finish them off, edit and layer them, but it is just so productive when you are working with such experienced musicians. It costs money to go out there obviously but in the long run it works out cheaper because of the quick recording process and the organic nature of the studio work. We will have the songs written and stored on a dictaphone and we just write the chord sequences for the musicians who will be playing with us. We can do a few takes of each song and use the parts that we like.

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The pledge campaign was obviously a great success, judging by the email updates I received on a regular basis, and I actually ordered my copy of the CD using that process. I know financing is a big part of the music industry and can determine in many cases just how well an album turns out. How did you decide on the pledge benefits that were made available to everyone? One of the ones that caught my eye was having Honey Ryder come play in your living room.....the logistics for that must be quite interesting?

Pledge is such a really good platform for getting your music out there and I don't see any reason why we wouldn't go through the process again. We reached 125% of our target and also raised money for cancer research along the way. We had actually already made the album with our own money and the finances we received from the pledge campaign will help us when we go to radio. It can cost thousands just to make an approach to get your songs played and there is no guarantee even then that it will happen. Hearing the songs on the radio is a big part of the album promotion process and obviously it helps in reaching a wider audience. We just sat down and brainstormed about what we would like if we could interact with a band that we loved. We've included guitar lessons, names in the album booklet credits and I've even offered some of the clothes I've worn in our music videos. We've played in someone's living room before and thought it would be fun to add it again to the pledge campaign. We just turned up with our guitars and the family that had us in their house laid on a buffet, got loads of booze in and we ended up ordering a curry at 1 in the morning. It's intimate of course but we don't need any microphones, amps or speakers, we just turn up and play. Normally the families are fans of the band anyway and invite all their friends and neighbours along.

I'm always impressed by Jon's production. Does he come from that kind of background or is it something he just took upon himself, being involved in the band?

Jon is first and foremost a musician. He was in cover bands for years and I actually met him for the first time when I was still a teenager and in a band with him. He's a drummer and a keyboard player and sang a bit (though he may disagree with that....laughing). He was also in a band called Ultra who had some number one songs in other countries, such as Italy and Australia, as well as a few top 10 hits in the UK. After that band split they all went into business as producers and writers. They worked with the likes of Bryan Adams and Kylie Mynogue and acted as producers for pop band Liberty X. The first Honey Ryder album was the first that Jon worked on solely. He's a very creative person and I love the way he produces. It would be great if Jon could receive some recognition for what he does on the back of our CDs.

I suppose you could be considered to be still relatively early in your recording career. When you look back at the first track you recorded for the 'Rising Up' album and make a comparison to how you work now do you think there has been a lot learned?

I remember the first track we recorded for 'Rising Up' was 'Numb'. It was quite a difficult process I guess because at the time it was just Martyn (Shone) and I. We had the songs written but we didn't have a band, it was just the two of us. It was difficult for Jon more than anyone else because, working with session musicians, it was almost like he was creating a band around us for the song. It's much easier and less time consuming for a producer if you have a band and can jam the songs before going into the studio. Speaking for myself, singing in a studio is so much different than projecting on stage because a microphone picks up every sound. Also, I know it may sound strange, but I used to write a lot of songs in the wrong key, something that Jon can pick up on really well. That side of things comes a lot more naturally to me now.

How many songs actually come to fruition before a decision is made on the album's finally track listing?

We get through a lot of ideas but I'd say there were possibly 20 songs that were being considered for inclusion on 'Born In A Bottle'. Some songs can be written off quite quickly but some have obvious potetntial and just need more work. There is always the option to put songs to one side and see if they can be developed for the next release.

I'm guessing we can expect a lot of Honey Ryder activity in 2015 to promote the album?

We want to play in more places in the UK and are also looking at touring more abroad. We are getting some radio in Denmark and have someone who is interested in acting as an agent for us across all of Scandinavia. It would be great to get a support slot on a big tour but we will certainly be playing plenty of shows on our own, maybe around April/May time. We recently supported Romeo's Daughter on 2 dates in London and Nottingham and judging by the number of CDs we sold we went down really well.

I've always wondered Lindz just how you balance raising a family and concentrating on a music career? The travelling for one thing must make it difficult?

You rely on your pool of help within the family and you're right, it is difficult. My parents and Jon's parents help with the kids but if we ever got to the stage where we were doing an extended tour we'd just take the kids with us because they are still too young to go to school. Everyone in the band feels the same I think. We'd all uproot and go anywhere but not to the detriment of the family. At the end of the day Dave we're doing something we really love.

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