Honey Ryder is a London-based British music trio, consisting of Lindsay O’Mahony on vocals, Matt Bishop on rhythm guitar and Jason Huxley on lead guitar. The band’s style of music varies from rock to folk and indie. Zoe had the opportunity to speak with them back in April. First published on her Best British Country Music blog, we reproduce it here. Enjoy!
ZH: So firstly tell me a bit about Honey Ryder as a group and what stage you’re at?
Lindsay: Well we’re on our third album now, the first album had more of a rockier edge to it I guess and we’ve been to Nashville twice now in the last few years and our roots are cemented in Country, we still have influences from folk and rock but we wrote with Nashville writers and recorded there so we were inspired by that scene. I guess ‘Born in a Bottle’ and ‘Marley’s Chains’ are country/pop albums. We’ve been together now for quite a few years so we’ve hopefully made our mark on the scene now, we keep plugging away, we’re just enjoying the ride.
ZH: What would you say the bands main influences are?
Jason: Everything really, I suppose Blues, Pop, Country, I grew up listening to a lot of Folk and Rock like Simon and Garfunkel and Dire Straights, at the time I didn’t realise how Country the Dire Straights were but looking back they did have some country influences in there. Certainly since the Dire Straights finished Knopfler has gone down that country route.
Matt: We like singer-songwriter type music, James Taylor, artists like that. I’m very into funk music as well that influences a few tracks and Rock of course.
Lindsay: Mum and Dad played every genre apart from Heavy Metal to me growing up but they liked Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton when I was really young and they made a big impact on me. Ode to Billie Joe, they played it over and over again when I was young and I was mesmerised by it, I couldn’t believe the lyrics. So country was always a big influence on me but I do like singer-songwriter stuff as well.
Jason: Glen Campbell as well my dad used to listen to that.
ZH: How did you come up with the name Honey Ryder?
Lindsay: It was with John our manager who loves Bond and we were talking about the films and Honey Ryder is a character in the Dr No. film she walks out the sea singing about coconuts or something and he said how about Honey Ryder and we just liked it. We have to be careful though as its also a porn site or something a bit dodgy so you’ve got to be careful.
Jason: There’s also a south east Asian dance troop with the same name only they have an i in their name not a y.
ZH: Can you describe your songwriting process and where you draw inspiration from lyrically?
Lindsay: Lyrically it comes from every day life, ‘Marley’s Chains’ lyrics came to me in the middle of the night, I was jet lagged in Nashville and I had the idea originally because its a phrase from the book Christmas Carol, so I had this idea about the cloak of regret. We think of things on the street and type them into our phones and things.
ZH: Where did you get the idea for ‘Born in a Bottle’?
Jason: It was a combination of things that I pieced together, I got this idea, have you heard the story of Robert Johnson who supposedly sold his soul at the crossroads for fame and glory? He ended up being killed at a young age. So this song is about a young girl who’s family’s a bit rundown, her mum’s a junkie and she sells her soul to the devil to get a better life and ultimately she ends up in prison and robs a bank with the guy she meets, its kind of a Bonny and Clyde story. But it just came into my head.
Lindsay: Often the boys come to me with a riff, especially when we’ve been in Nashville, they’ll record lots of little riffs and ideas and I’ll come up with concepts. Sometimes you have the melody and then the lyric or the other way round, it can be either way.
ZH: Are all three of you involved in the writing process then?
Lindsay: Yeah unfortunately we’re not able to write as much as we’d like, we’ve had quite a few children between us in recent years so we’ve been trying to create music and do that at the same time.
Jason: Not with each other, just to clear that up haha!
Lindsay: No haha! But now we’re trying to focus on this fourth album and really go for it and keep the momentum up from this album. If ‘Born in a Bottle’ does well we don’t want to have too much pressure and think oh we best do a fourth one quick. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
ZH: Whats the strangest thing you’ve ever written about?
Lindsay: Well I reckon writing about a woman who sells her soul to the devil is fairly strange. I tell you what’s a bizarre one, not the song but the situation. We wrote a song called ‘Beautiful Horizons’ on ‘Marley’s Chains’, and we wrote that opposite a sewage dump, and it was called Beautiful Horizon so that was at odds with what we was trying to write about so that was strange to be inspired by a sewage dump.
ZH: Tell me about your trips to Nashville as a band?
Lindsay: We’ve been twice, the second time was particularly good because we played the Bluebird Cafe. We played an open mic night there and at the end of it we got to play again because they knew we were from the UK and they said come and do another song. And then we were in the studio recording with these legendary musicians who play all the time with James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Lady Antebellum, all these guys we got to record with. Nashville’s just a playground for musicians and people who love music so we’re just walking through the streets, going in bars and watching these amazing musicians. So we want to go again, hopefully this year. We sent our track to Paul Worley who’s produced the dixie Chicks and Lady A and he heard it and liked it so he set us up with all the songwriters, the A-listers over there. Mirage we wrote with Tom Douglas who wrote Lady Antebellum’s ‘I Run to You’ and Paul has been kind of executive producer so hopefully we can go out and see him again and he can do some producing with us. So that’s the Nashville story.
ZH: What are your mid-gig thoughts?
Jason: Depending on the gig really, if its a good gig I’m very into it and listening to whats going on, if its a bad gig I’m thinking “I can’t wait to get home and have some weetabix.” But yeah, your mind can drift sometimes!
Lindsay: I’m usually looking at the crowd and if I see someone talking it spurs me on and I think, “I’m going to make you stop talking” so I get more into it. Sometimes I get flashes of mum thoughts because I have a three and a one year old and I suddenly think “Did I tell mum where the spare dummies are?” haha so I have stupid thoughts go through my head. But we’re generally quite focussed particularly with the new album because until you’ve gigged it and gigged it you can’t think about anything else until you’re confident with it on stage.
Matt: If I concentrate too much on the fretboard though I mess up so I have to let my mind wander a bit and then what happens with my hands just comes out naturally because we’ve rehearsed it so much. I do a bit of people watching, pick out people and wonder what they think of us.
Lindsay: If you see someone you know does it not put you off a bit, it doesn’t for me now but it used to, I used to avoid looking at them.
Matt: Yeah I avoided looking at my mum and dad yesterday for some reason but I usually think of home life and what I’ve got to do in the coming week, I have a lot of animals so I think about them, my Alpacas.
Lindsay: You should do a blog, “Alpaca dilemmas: Everyday problems!”
Matt: Their toe nails do need clipping, I was thinking about that in yesterdays gig a bit.
Lindsay: That must be the most original answer you’ve ever had.
Matt: I have to clip their toe nails about once every two months. I love doing it, I can’t wait to do it!
ZH: Do you enjoy doing that as much as performing?
Matt: I probably shouldn’t say yes, but I will anyway!