Honey Beard is an Irish/Canadian Electronic Dark-Pop duo from Toronto, Canada. The band have been creating music since 2012 building up a reputation for their frenetic live performances with edgy songs that tear apart typical pop arrangements while balancing dark synth with bright thumping beats. Honey Beard has just released an EP, and apparently a new single is already in the works! We caught up with the duo and get the inside scoop on what is next for the band right here on Entertwine!
Entertwine: How did you all form as a band?
[Gaz] Tom and I first met through the medium of Australian Rules Football (AFL). When I first came to Toronto in 2011 I joined a local AFL team called the Toronto Dingos so I could get fit, learn a new sport and make some friends. Not long after I joined I got to know Tom, a Montreal native now living in Toronto, and from there we hit it off. I had come over to Canada with the intention of starting a band and Tom always wanted to perform live so it was a perfect match.
Where did the name, Honey Beard originate?
[Tom] We get asked this a lot, most people assume it’s one of those wanna-be-cool hip names that are wrought up after hours of word matching but really it came from when Gaz was unemployed and living in his home country of Ireland.
[Gaz] The economic bust was ripping through the country at the time and I was made redundant at work and living at home with nothing to do, unkempt with a big crazy beard, getting stoned and playing my smashed up guitar.
[Gaz] At the time I was in another band where a lot of my singing was at the upper register of my abilities so I was constantly treating my throat with hot water and honey. It was during this time I found myself on a few occasions playing an un-tuned acoustic guitar at 5 in the morning, inebriated with blobs of honey stuck on my beard in a pathetic attempt to keep my throat in order, so essentially I had a ‘honey beard’. That silly memory always kept with me and so the name Honey Beard originated.
If you could describe your sounds in three words, what would they be?
[Tom] Hard to describe it perfectly but we fall into the generally described criteria of:
Tell us about your new EP, “Thousand Million Things”. What went into the writing and recording process to make this EP possible?
[Tom] The Toronto music scene is just chock a block with top shelf artists and we were just really beginning to gig after a few years of deciding what sound we were going to pursue. So we felt a little behind where we should be and that was really the motivation behind recording an EP, to have professionally recorded music out in the public domain as soon as possible. This meant that we needed to write songs so a lot of writing work happened in a short space of time. At one point we had a writing frenzy of 7 songs in a month, most of which made the EP so unlike most bands who tend to put their first recording together after years of writing and performing together we did it all very quickly.
[Gaz] Looking back what’s more surprising to us is that for a few years Honey Beard was an acoustic guitar vessel and not the electronic space ship we perform with today so this type of music was completely new to us. The time from when we began messing around with synths and midis to the time we began recording was probably under 9 months so again we were surprised how well the EP worked out considering.
Which track would you say is your favorite? How about a favorite to perform live?
[Gaz] My favourite is probably the final track Super Stellar, it’s a synth heavy ramble that gets a little epic at the end. We usually perform it at the end of our shows, the second half of the song is just an instrumental and playing it live still gives me goose bumps. Lyrically it’s a song about the conscious transcending to the super conscious through an internal fist fight so its not all synth pads and arpeggiators!
[Tom] My favourite track is probably Drive. Drive was essentially the first song Honey Beard ever wrote. It originally had a completely different structure and the verse melodies were nothing like the finished track. Gaz had originally sung the chorus and somewhere in his rough guide vocal track mumbled the words “three thousand million things”. About a year later I was messing around with a vocoder and the chorus melody that Gaz had laid down for his guide vocals in the original song came to mind. I made a little vocoder song out of that and when I showed Gaz he loved it. We ended up finishing the final version of Drive in a few hours. It appropriately made our EP as the lead off song, and the title of our EP “Thousand Million Things” came from Gaz’ original mumblings.
What is your current single that is in the works?
[Gaz] Right now we are in the middle of recording two songs which we hope to release individually over the first half of the year. The first song will be called Celestial Bodies and the second is called Humming Bird. Both are lyrically connected but have very different vibes between them.
What can listeners expect to hear from this single? Anything different or new sounds?
[Tom] The first song we hope to release is called ‘Celestial Bodies’. This song always gets the biggest pop at our shows, being our fastest song it tends to get a few revelers up dancing. It has a great energy, like a festival energy to it which we hope will translate well to our record, it’s also one of the many sides of Honey Beards music that we get to show case. We hope it becomes a front runner.
The next song is called ‘Humming Bird’ which has an altogether different vibe, a more chilled electronic song that we think folks will like. It’s got those dance floor beats but has a little sadness running through it.
What are your main goals for your summer tour?
[Tom] Like the last tour our main goal is to just get our music out to as many people as possible. Social media is extremely important but it can never replace the engagement and exposure a tour gives you.
At the start of every year we build up a massive milestone chart on white board and agree on targets we want to reach. It’s a good way to keep your eye on the prize. We have a special one for our summer tour which covers everything from merch sales, network contacts to blogs and door numbers. There is great emphasis to build upon last year and to grow two fold; so when you ask about our goals we actually have them in metrics, not very artsy but definitely essential. We also want to make the tour as efficient lean as possible, to learn and evolve as we go so were not wasting time and money. We want to earn that experience so we get better from a logistic perspective.
Apart from hard numbers and kaizen philosophies we really want to connect with these cities, venues and audience members by improving our stage show, refining our songs and creating great memories but above all else we want to enjoy and experience as much as possible.
Any unique locations that you will be performing at? Any favorite?
[Gaz] We’re still in the process of booking these venues so we can’t really say. Our last tour brought us up and down eastern Ontario and into Quebec, there wasn’t a place we didn’t enjoy and really can’t wait to revisit. In terms of venues, because our set up is very technical, any venue that has a good sound system, tidy stage and gives us a sound check is an instant favourite in our eyes!
Your influences include acts like, Depeche Mode, The Doors, and MGMT. What is it about these artists that inspired your music?
[Tom] Its funny, most of our musical inspirations are all guitar based bands such as Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Metallica, Nirvana, RHCP, Tool and can get as eclectic as ABBA, Jean Michelle Jarre, Slipknot, Ice Cube, Pennywise etc. But when we speak of our influences that most relate to the music were doing now, apart from Jean Michelle Jarre, we tend to note The Doors, Depeche Mode and MGMT as being inspirations.
[Gaz] The Doors has had a profound impact on how I enjoy music, how I think about music. That band was just so cerebral, it felt like they didn’t take for granted their music. I always felt for me that each second of each song on each album was almost precious to them and in turn to me. They have their great songs and not so great songs I felt they put love in each one. From a lyrical perspective Jim Morrison is widely loved and derided, especially his poetry but for me it’s a glimpse at a man within and beyond his time, he was almost too intelligent for his own good. His words whipped up a kind of sexual melancholy with exotic and ancient imagery that always sticks in my mind. I lament we will never see the like of him again and it’s something I think about when writing and performing. I am also a baritone singer like Morrison but I could never sing in that chilling yet loving way that he does.
[Tom] Depeche Mode is more musically aligned to what we do and many people make the connection when they hear us play which is a great honour. The band became more of a recent inspiration to us than anything else. Their dark and brooding melodies humming over some clever and jarring synthesizers was always intriguing to us. Even some of their 80’s albums which have songs that have aged badly are still fascinating to hear. I may be wrong but I think these guys kind of lead the way for the type of dark electronic pop we hear today and they are still pumping out some great album, most notably ‘Delta Machine’.
[Tom] Another band we get likened to is MGMT and when their popular album Oracular Spectacular first came pumping out of the radio stations we were definitely left smitten, songs like Kids, Time to Pretend and Electric Feel are just seminal electronic pop songs and have undoubtedly have influenced our sound and song writing.
What is in store for Honey Beard in 2016?
[Tom] 2015 was just so jam packed with an EP release and subsequent tour, a TIMA nomination and festivals but our plans for 2016 aim to completely eclipse that.
Firstly we are back gigging in February with a show at the Silver Dollar in Toronto but then after that we have 2 music videos, 2 singles and a summer tour all planned for this year, not to mention we will be playing a show in Ireland in June and hopefully playing some big festivals in Toronto and over in British Columbia.