It’s starting to seem like PHILTHY’s love affair with Nashville music will never end (Nikki Lane, Those Darlins, Lindi Ortega, Heavy Cream, Tristen, Caitlin Rose…), but they just seem to be churning out more beautifully dusty and twangy rockers than anywhere else in the world… And while Honey Ryder are actually based in London, they have spent quite a bit of time in Nashville, writing and recording with some of country music’s elite. Most recently, they found themselves in Music City to record parts of their third, and latest, LP, Born in a Bottle, which hit shelves late last year. The album is their most accomplished and polished yet; it has them embracing anthemic country, with more than a hint of a sassy pop sensibility and the sunniest kind of southern rock. The band are currently back in the UK, with a handful of fairly huge shows schedule for September and October (including Weyfest and the British Country Music Awards), but vocalist Lindsay O’Mahony recently took some time to tell me about the history and future of Honey Ryder.
Izzy Cihak: So this is kind of a huge question, but you’ve achieved quite a bit of notoriety in the UK but, outside of Nashville, in the US, there’s relatively little known about you: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording, or just your aim as a band?
Lindsay O’Mahony: We absolutely love the writing and recording process and have had the good fortune to record at Karma Studios in Thailand, Ocean Way in Nashville, and LA Sound Studios (West London). After we wrote a track called “You Can’t Say That” from our second album, we sent it to Paul Worley (Producer of Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum), who invited us out to Nashville – he hooked us up with some A-list writers out there, including Tom Douglas and Rivers Rutherford. We learnt a great deal from writing with these people – particularly from a lyrical point of view. Our aim as a band is to try and write songs with relatable lyrics and infectious melodies that different generations can enjoy. We’re not setting any trends, just hope to be making music that will stand the test of time. I guess ultimately our aim is to enjoy the journey as much as possible whilst entertaining people at the same time.
Izzy: And, for another big question, what have been some of the highlights of Honey Ryder so far? You’re already on your third album and have played some pretty major shows.
Lindsay: There have been some fantastic moments for us – several spring to mind – playing at The Royal Albert Hall in London for one, performing a live acoustic session for Bob Harris on Radio 2 in the UK was another, and perhaps playing at The Isle of Wight Festival in the UK would be up there, too… Oh and The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville was a pinch me moment!
Izzy: Born in a Bottle, your third LP, dropped a while ago. Have you had any particular favorite reactions to it, whether from critics, audiences, fans, or just friends or family?
Lindsay: It’s always fantastic to receive compliments from industry professionals, as they get to hear so many bands, so receiving an invitation to play on Bob Harris’s show on Radio was very special, but nothing beats ordinary people telling us in person – or contacting us on FB or Twitter – that they’re enjoying our music… That is always amazingly gratifying – also getting messages from overseas as far as the US, Indonesia, and Australia gives me a buzz. It’s so great to think someone as far away as Canada can sit in their home enjoying something we’ve created over here.
Izzy: How do you think the album compares to your first two LPs? Does it seem like an evolution of sorts, or did it come about in more or less the same way? What would you consider to be the most significant influences behind the album?
Lindsay: Our first album, Rising Up, has a slightly rockier edge to it as I wrote it with Martyn Shone who had strong rock influences. Martyn had to leave the band for personal reasons which is when Jason and Matt came on board and our songwriting naturally evolved into pop music with leanings towards country folk and rock – Jason is into guitar picking and has been inspired greatly by bands like Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac – Matt’s influences are Neil Young and Crosby Stills and Nash and I listened to a lot of the country greats growing up, like Dolly and Kenny Rogers, and also loved singer songwriters such as James Taylor and Carole King.
Although we were moving in that direction before we went out to Nashville, it has definitely helped shape our second and third album. There are some very personal songs on this album, so everyday life has inevitably influenced the lyrics… The first track that springs to mind is “Little Feet,” which is about my experiences becoming a mother… Good times as well as bad!
Izzy: I’m super into “Damn It I’m in Love Again,” which sort of reminds me of a cross between Chrissie Hynde and Jewel. How did that particular track come about?
Lindsay: That track was actually written in London with a friend of mine called Simon Johnson… The subject inspiration was a friend of mine who’d had a few disastrous relationships and decided to go it alone for fear of getting hurt again… And she did go it alone for a long time… Then when she was least expecting it she met someone and started falling in love and confided in me about her reservations and the bittersweet emotions she was experiencing. I must get round to letting her know it’s all about her… Luckily, it’s all going well and she’s expecting a baby with her man!
Izzy: You have a handful of upcoming live performances. What can people expect of the live show? What does it draw inspiration from, if that’s even the kind of thing you think about?
Lindsay: We just try to enjoy ourselves on stage – I think if you love what you do, then providing you’ve rehearsed hard – the result should be infectious! We mostly try to keep our live sound as close as we can to the recorded track – so that people can get into it and sing along… but every now and then it’s good to throw a curve ball…
Izzy: And are there any gigs you’re especially excited to play? You’re playing some pretty huge bills.
Lindsay: To be honest we’re equally happy playing intimate venues as well as big gigs – festivals are always great fun though and we have one called Weyfest coming up in early September. We’re also performing at The British Country Music Awards in October, as we’ve been nominated for three awards, which is really exciting.
Izzy: Finally, how are you hoping to spend the remainder of 2015 and the first part of 2016? Any chance we might get to see you in the states?
Lindsay: We’ve mostly gigging for the rest of the year – we’ve also started working on new material and have two tracks almost finished…We are desperate to get to the US and play some dates… We’re working on it, believe me! Please go to www.honeyryder.com for more info and also @honeyryderband on Facebook and Twitter. THANK YOU!!!xxx