| Influenced by bands like the White Stripes, Led Zeppelin, The Datsuns and The Checks, Honeybone is a three-piece garage rock band, rooted in blues and delving into other styles like progressive, grunge and hard rock. The Melbourne-based (Dunedin-born) trio recently released their first full length album and embarked on a six-date South Island tour during February.
Formed in May of 2009, just in time for the local university Battle of the Bands in Dunedin, Honeybone
relocated to Melbourne in early 2012, since continuing to develop their brand of swaggering, howling blues and finally completing ‘Talk Back Baby’. You can listen to their new album via live stream at https://honeybone.bandcamp.com/album/talk-back-baby and more of their music is available free from their Bandcamp site. Guitarist/vocalist/keys Drew Handcock
, bassist Peter Jermakov
and drummer/vocalist Rachel Trainor
combined to answer our questions and provide an insight into their ex-pat band life.
NZM: You’re coming back to NZ in February to tour your new album. Congratulations on both counts. How long has it been since you played back here?
We played our last New Zealand show in Dunedin on the 9th of February 2012. The shows were playing for the tour are the first since we left, so were really excited to play in NZ again.
What prompted the move to Melbourne in 2012?
Drew and Rachel had finished their university degrees and we all decided it was time for a change. We basically just had a meeting and decided on Melbourne, as none of us were ever going to stay in Dunedin after we finished university. We wanted to see if our music would be well received in other places, so we thought we’d try Australia.Peter’s sister and cousins live in Melbourne and Drew has an uncle here, so we knew we would have support when we arrived. We also knew a few people from Dunedin who had moved and were doing well. Its said Melbourne is the music capital of Australia, and it certainly seems like it. There are so many venues and gigs on every night, its just amazing. Sydney never seemed like a viable option and Auckland just didn’t feel right as a place to move to.
What have been the bands key achievements in Australia?
We’re still self-managed, which can be challenging, but it’s also great to have complete control over everything. The great thing about Melbourne is that there’s so many bands doing the same thing, and there’s a lot of support for self-managed artists within the community.There are some great, great bands over here, including bands that are of a similar style to us, so there’s plenty of others to gig with. In Dunedin, we were the only garage rock-style band (mostly everyone else was heavy metal or dub/indie influenced), so it was hard to find like-minded people. Here, there is a whole scene for garage rock, which is awesome, and theres so much support within the scene. There’s a scene for every genre it would seem, and Australia is still very much into its rock music, so it suits us perfectly.A key achievement is probably firstly being able to live here (finding jobs and a place to live before running out of money), and now finishing the album. It was great to finally have that done.
What have you been able to achieve in Melbourne that you might not have been able to do in Dunedin or NZ in general?
Moving to Melbourne was great also to refocus the band, and give us a complete purpose, since the main reason we all moved was for the band, so it made us a lot more dedicated than before.Being able to finish the album probably wouldnt have happened in Dunedin, since the work [pay] rates here are quite a bit more so we were able to save more money quicker to pay for recording (and there are also more venues willing to pay a performance guarantee).The best part about Melbourne is just the size of it. It’s so hard to get bored because there’s so many things to do and so many awesome venues and bands to see. Coming from a small city like Dunedin, were still getting used to it, even though we’ve been here almost two years now.
How often have you been performing?
Last year we were probably playing about two or three gigs a month. Although Melbourne is big, the scene is still quite small for our genre so we don’t want to overplay. There’s a few venues we love, Cherry Bar is great and the Penny Black in Brunswick is awesome. Both are well known, so pulling a crowd is never a problem. Being able to play with bands that are of a similar style still seems like a novelty to us, we love it.
How’s progress been? Your first album seems to have taken a really long time to arrive.
The South Island Talk Back Baby tour is actually the first official tour we have done since we formed in 2009. The reason our first album took so long was because at the end of 2011 our second guitarist left the band, so we had to redo all of his parts, and then the move to Melbourne delayed the extra recording we needed to do, since we couldn’t really afford it for a while, as we were still getting set up here.We think the move to Melbourne really helped us focus as a band, and now we have finally finished the first album we can start working on new material, which were all pretty excited about.
Where/when did you record the new album and who with?
The album started as Drew’s project for his honours year of his music degree at Otago University in 2011, so six of the songs off the album are from sessions we recorded with Drew at the helm at Albany Street Studios in Dunedin. We recorded about nine songs there, and decided to re-record three of those after we moved to Melbourne as they werent quite up to scratch.The rest of the album was recorded with Adam Calaitzis at Toyland Studios in Northcote, Melbourne in June of 2013. He’s a great sound engineer, and really understood the sound we were going for. Our budget was roughly around $5000, which was about accurate as to what we spent, all in all.
Your website is pretty simple. What’s your online marketing philosophy?
We mostly use Facebook for online promotion, and Bandcamp for streaming, although we also have a Twitter account and Instagram too.Rachel also has a blog about the band that she updates every now and then. Our website still needs work, unfortunately none of us are very good at website design, so we’ve had our friend do some work for us.The Facebook page is great for a first point of call about the band, and we find Bandcamp is awesome as you can put merch up as well, not just downloads and physical CDs. We find it’s best to update all of the social media whenever were doing something of interest, whether it’s a photo of a band practice or a short live video.
Any advice for other Kiwi musicians/bands thinking about heading to Melbourne? Anything you wish you’d known before moving?
Our best advice we have is just to plan everything. Make sure you come here with a realistic amount of money, as it will take at least a month to find a job and a place to live. We were glad we had family to stay with and enough money to get us by, without that we probably would have had to go back to NZ. The biggest surprise was probably the first two shows we played when we moved here.
There’s a lot of showcase shows that some promotions companies run, which we would strongly advise people against doing. Some are good, but we did a couple during our first year here, and we ended up paying to play because we didn’t sell enough tickets (which was hard since we knew barely anyone here).The problem was that, although they were run by promotions companies, we had to do all of the ticket selling and if we didn’t sell enough, we didn’t get paid and had to pay for the sound guy, for a 20-minute set. That was really the only bad experience we’ve had here so far, it was a bit of a waste of time, since we could have just been booking our own shows for the same cost we ended up paying to play a short set on a Sunday afternoon.
No benefits etc. for Kiwis in Australia – what else do you each do to support yourselves?
It’s a shame Kiwis don’t get any benefits, since we pay the same amount of tax as everyone else. Drew works in a music shop, Rach has an office job and Peter is also in retail. Having a day job can be a drag, but it’s good when we need to pay for things like instruments and recording costs. Also all of our jobs are usually during the day, so it keeps our nights and weekends free for gigs and practising. One day we hope to be in a position to quit the day jobs, but at this point we just have to keep working as hard as we can.www.honeybonemusic.com