Gold Coast garage rock quartet Honeygum have spent the last couple of years developing their sound into a charming – if frenetic – sonic schtick that brings the rock energy in spades to their live appearances. And now, with time and funds on their side, they’ve finally hit the recording studio, releasing their debut single ‘Touch and Go’ onto the world in early May.
Pairing crisp and upbeat guitars with driving bass and punchy drums, Honeygum have channeled the garage-rock stylings of their inspirations The Velvet Underground, The Strokes and The Saints on their debut track, which premiered on triple j Unearthed’s TOPS show ahead of its wider release.
Keen to capture the energy and sound of the band as authentically as possible, the group’s members Keegan Brown, Jack Merriman, Stephen Molan, and Mathew Bell opted to live-track the recording at Bedlam Records (Brisbane) with producer Keelan Sanders (WALKEN, Electric Zebra) in late 2019.
We caught up with Mathew Bell and Jack Merriman, who are currently in their first year of the Bachelor of Music at TAFE Queensland in partnership with Southern Cross University, and got to know them a little better.
Mathew picked up his first guitar 10 years ago at just 14 years old, when he asked his father to buy him the video game, Guitar Hero, and instead received an acoustic guitar – and hasn’t looked back since.
“I mostly taught myself how to play and I’ve been trying to start bands for a few years now, but it wasn’t until I enrolled in the Diploma of Music at TAFE Queensland that things really happened for me,” he said.
“Being immersed with musically-minded students and learning from more experienced musicians really helped me to expand my horizons and experiment with sounds.”
It was at the TAFE Queensland Coomera Creative campus where Mathew met Jack, a 25-year-old professional drummer with a thriving career to his name, who was a key member of the already-established Honeygum.
“Within the first few days of class we had a bit of an insight into everyone’s musical background and what instrument each other played, and Mathew asked if I wanted to jam to show me some song ideas he had,” said Jack.
Prior to enrolling in the Diploma of Music at TAFE Queensland, Jack had a 10 year musical career, which saw him support renowned international artists such as Smash Mouth, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and more.
The Upper Coomera local also performed at the 2012 and 2014 Big Day Out festivals, and toured both Australia and the Philippines with various bands.
Even though Jack already had a rewarding drumming career, he made the decision to formally study music to enhance his practical skills and further develop his knowledge.
“I enrolled in the Diploma of Music at TAFE Queensland to further understand the theory behind music and explore new skills in production and song writing, as well as obtain a nationally recognised qualification to hopefully teach music one day,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mathew had studied other courses in the past but kept being drawn back to music.
“It wasn’t until I got let go from my apprenticeship in 2018 that I finally decided to stop kidding myself and jump into music with everything I had,” he said.
“It was definitely the best decision of my life, as I have accomplished more in my career during the one year at TAFE Queensland than I achieved in six years of trying to do it by myself.”
Both Mathew and Jack graduated from the Diploma of Music last year and decided to continue their educational journey in the Bachelor of Music, offered at the TAFE Queensland Coomera Creative campus in partnership with Southern Cross University.
Mathew said the fundamental reason he decided to continue on to the bachelor program was because of the teachers.
“I learnt so much from each of them, as they are as eager to impart their knowledge of the music industry as we are to ask about it,” he said.
“The value of three extra years on campus to pick their brains about music and having the opportunity to develop working relationships with them cannot be overstated.”
Jack agreed and said the teachers provide valuable insight into how the industry works and are happy give advice based on their own personal experiences.
“Studying at TAFE Queensland has led to the formation of a vast network of industry contacts, not only from the teachers but also sound production students, film students and graphic design students, whom I have already been able to collaborate with.”
‘Touch and Go’ is available on all streaming services now. For more music releases from Honeygum, follow them on fb.com/honeygumband and @_honeygum. For more information about TAFE Queensland’s music programs call 1300 308 233 or visit tafeqld.edu.au.