Students’ band attracting a national audience

They’ve made their mark on Blackfriars. Now, a trio of Year 12 students hope to make their mark on the Australian music scene.

TOWNHOUSE performing at Fitzroy Football Club.

Dan Heath, Cooper Smith and Matthew Burgess have formed the band TOWNHOUSE.

Their original songs, Better Now and Kitchen Nightmares, now feature on national radio station’s Triple J’s Unearthed website.

The boys have a Specialist Maths class to thank for bringing them together.

“Cooper and I have been jamming since Year 8, that was like the start of it,” says Dan, who is also Blackfriars’ 2022 Head Prefect and Music Captain.

Cooper, the band’s drummer, adds: “We were always looking for another person, but we didn’t consider looking outside the (Blackfriars) music program.”

That’s where the maths class came in.

“We (Matthew and I) were always mates, but we weren’t particularly close … and then in Spec Maths last year, it was a class of four of us, so we all knew a lot about each other by the end of the year,” Dan says.

“We realised that we both really liked making music … and we thought, ‘why don’t we do it together?’. And that was that.”

Their first live gig was about two months ago, at Fitzroy Football Club, where Dan has played for more than a decade.

“Then, our most-recent venture was writing and recording the songs that we put up on Unearthed,” Cooper says.

“We wrote our second song just in one afternoon. In a couple of hours, we did pretty much the whole thing. And then, this last school holidays, we recorded and now we’ve handed that into Triple J and we’re looking to do more gigs.”

And while writing the songs may have been easy, the process of recording, mixing and mastering them was anything but.

“With the recording, we did that completely by ourselves,” Dan says.

“Normally, you would go into a studio and record there. But we pulled together all our laptops and our equipment, set up the worse microphones you could possibly imagine in Cooper’s shed.

“We recorded different parts at separate times and we put the phone on voice memo on the other side of the room, just to try to get another mic in there. If anyone walked in, they would have thought we had no idea what we were doing.”

Matthew adds: “It was a sound engineer’s worse nightmare.”

Dan and Matthew then mixed and mastered the tracks themselves.

“It came together really, really well. We could not be more happy with it,” Dan says.

Cooper says their relative success can be put down to the fact they all “gel”.

“I think we’re all pretty educated in music,” he says.

“Dan and I have done classical training (at Blackfriars). Matthew’s done constant practise with the production side of things, as well as his own instrument. So, I think having our standards high goes well with how we gel, because we all have the same expectations to make something that isn’t mediocre.”

The reaction from the Unearthed audience has been “more than we expected”.

“We always expected our mates at school would be super supportive, and our parents,” says Matthew, who plays bass guitar. “But on the Triple j website, when you get reviews from people like in Melbourne, that we couldn’t possibly know, that’s super exciting that they really like the music. That’s someone you wouldn’t expect to reach as just a high school band.”

Dan and Matthew are now eyeing careers in music. Dan hopes to secure a place in the Bachelor of Arts (Popular Music), at Adelaide University’s Elder Conservatorium, while Matthew is considering a Bachelor of Music (Sonic Arts), also at Adelaide University.

Cooper wants to study to become a vet, but also hopes to “keep doing gigs” with TOWNHOUSE.

Meanwhile, a band that counts Blackfriars old scholar Kevin Mach (BPS’21) among its members landed itself a spot as one of five finalists in Triple J’s Unearthed High. Read that story here.


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