A gig in a bowling alley: We chat to Honey Hunter before their most interesting show yet

A gig in a bowling alley: We chat to Honey Hunter before their most interesting show yet

Words by August Billy

Going down as part of Ballarat’s Be_Hear/Now festival.

Ballarat indie-rockers Honey Hunter are gearing up for their most interesting show yet, which will see them perform a gig from a bowling alley on Friday November 27 for the Be_Hear/Now festival.

It’s a Ballarat-centric event, with limited-capacity gigs taking place at other curious sites around Ballarat including a disused bacon factory and an eccentric motel. For those outside of The Golden City, all three weekends of Be_Hear/Now are being livestreamed via the event website.

Honey Hunter are regulars on Ballarat’s spirited local music scene, much of which revolves around the Music Victoria Award-nominated venue The Eastern as well as the iconic Volta which previously went by the name of Karova Lounge. The band formed three years ago out of a budding collaboration between songwriters Arian Lane and guitarist Floyd Quinlan-Baskett.

Bass player Jedd Linke-Nagel and drummer Griffin McGookin round out the Honey Hunter lineup. Together the band members hold a wealth of experience that belies their young ages, with all four being just 23 years old.

“All of us play in other bands as well, so we’re all pretty busy,” says Lane. “I’ve known our drummer, Griffin, for years and years. I’ve always wanted to have him in my band because he’s just sensational.

“I really wanted a good rhythm section so I didn’t think we’d be ready until I had my eye on a bass player too. But we all came together at different times and were jamming as a two-piece and a three-piece and then ended up as a four piece after a couple of false starts.”

Lane and Quinlan-Baskett had some loose stylistic aims when they started writing together. Lane’s background is in folk music, while Quinlan-Baskett fronts the psychedelic-blues band Ivy Streep. Lane says part of the motivation for forming Honey Hunter was to move away from folk.

“When Floyd and I started practising together, I was in a folk band full time and we were doing all the folky festivals. I was getting a bit fed up with it because I really wanted to do the rock side of things as well. I do love folk music, but it was just getting a bit stale only doing that and being a young angsty youth that wanted to express myself. So Floyd and I started doing dreamy, poppy, folky stuff initially and then as we got a band, we could make more noise.”

The sound of Honey Hunter has evolved over the course of the last three years, but there are some staple influences buttressing the band’s sound.

“Cat Power is a huge one and the ‘90s sound in general,” says Lane. “The most recent couple of songs we’ve written are very shoegazy and we’ve got a bit of a hip hop influence as well, which you probably wouldn’t even hear, but when we’re talking about outfits that influence us and songs that we really like, it’s big on the rock and the hip hop and shoegaze.”

After establishing themselves on the Ballarat scene and regularly coming into Melbourne for shows, Honey Hunter self-released their debut album, Sweet Enough, in August 2019. They skipped the usual process of putting out a few EPs and singles and instead came out of the blocks with an LP.

“We just had all of the songs ready to go,” says Lane. “We’ve all got so many things on – Floyd’s the frontman of another band and two of us work full time – and so we kind of thought, if it’s going to happen, it’ll just happen; if we’ve got the songs, we’ll just put them out.”

This year has been difficult for obvious reasons, but Lane hopes to start work on album two in the coming months.

“I think 2021 we’ll be putting out some more music. We’ve got a single that we just need to record. It’s really catchy and fun. So we’ve got some stuff in the pipeline, but I wouldn’t mind taking a bit more time next time and refining [the next album].”

Honey Hunter’s Be_Hear/Now performance takes place at Oz Tenpin Ballarat on Friday November 27. The other performers include The Devil Goat Family String Band, Bronwyn Blaiklock, Hip Hop Existence, Elektra-lite, Ruben Riley Band and DJ Ramdaddy.

“I’ve known [Ruben Riley] since he was born,” says Lane. “Pretty much all of those bands are bands that we’ve played with regularly. But they’ve curated such a good lineup for each of the other two nights. I’m glad we’re the third week because I get to watch the other weeks and see how it all works before we play. I think it’s going to be awesome.”

Before Honey Hunter’s Be_Hear/Now show on Friday November 27, a gig will be going down from the Mid City Motor Inn on Friday November 20 that will be headlined by Freya Hollick and her band. The second week of the three-week festival will also see The Dead Salesmen Duo, City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band, Malë Kël Loc Kël and DJ Corey Issac perform.

The first week of Be_Hear/Now took place on Friday November 13 and saw the likes of The Narcoleptor, Inka, Geoffrey Williams Loop Choir and Alison Shirley perform from The George Farmer & Co Building.

Be_Hear/Now goes down on Fridays November 20 and 27 from 7pm. It will be streaming live via the festival website.

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