Interviews

A Conversation with Honeybadger: On the Greek Stoner Rock Scene, Why They Love ‘Twin Peaks,’ and their New Album: ‘Pleasure Delayer’

If you’re a Stoner Rock fan, you already know Greece’s Rock scene is teeming with talent. Bands like Nightstalker, Planet of Zeus, and Puta Volcano have put Greece on the map as far as Stoner and Desert Rock goes.

It looks like we may have some new Titans of Greek rock on the way.

Honeybadger is a heavy Desert Rock band formed in 2014, and they’re coming to obliterate your stereo system. The four-piece band from Athens, Greece, has already achieved local success for its killer live shows.

The band just released its first full-length album, Pleasure Delayer, and, trust us, you’ll want to check it out. The album consists of eight songs and totals just 35 minutes. But each minute is packed with energy, enthusiasm, and catchy riffs.

We talked to Honeybadger recently via email and gained insights into their new album, how they’re dealing with COVID-19, and some of their biggest musical influences.

Before we get started, here are the band members in 2020:

Dimitris Vardoulakis – Vocals, Guitars
Dimitris Giannnakopoulos – Guitars
Dimitris Yannopoulos – Bass
Vaggelis Oikonomou – Drums

Honeybadger Band Picture

Honeybadger on the Greek Stoner Rock Scene and Staying Busy, Despite the Pandemic

Monster Riff: So we know you guys are from Athens, Greece. The Greek music scene has been a hotbed for Stoner Rock talent. Can you talk about the rock scene in Greece and Athens right now?

Honeybadger: As a matter of fact, right now things are moving very slowly due to the virus. There’s not any noticeable live action, though some creation and production are going on. But just before that, it was all very promising. We’re hopeful and looking forward for things to bounce back. Greece has a spark for Stoner and Heavy Rock, and for Psychedelic, Alternative Rock, and Heavy Metal. We’re sure if you’re familiar with some great Greek bands–they don’t get as much attention as they deserve. Just before the pandemic, the situation was starting to change. Let’s all wait for the best to come.

Monster Riff: What’s it like for the band right now during the pandemic? You released the first single for Pleasure Delayer in December 2019, and then the second single in April 2020. How have you been staying busy and marketing the new album despite all this social-distancing stuff going on?

Honeybadger: The Pleasure Delayer material was on the go for some time, and we started releasing tracks little by little just to see how it bounced. The pandemic hit us hard. We had our first full album release and some live arrangements going on, and we were held back, as every musician. However, we tried to take the time to be more creative and thoughtful about things despite social distancing. It’s true we also marketed the new album in the best way we could, and we have the feeling it’s going well, taking the whole situation under consideration.

Monster Riff: You guys mention on your website how you’ve played some cool venues in Greece and some big festivals. What’s been your favorite concert memory so far since you’ve been playing live as a band? 

Honeybadger: The first was opening the lineup for Gyftopoulou Street Fest in Athens, where Planet of Zeus was headlining. Lots of people, a great rock street festival, and good vibes from everyone. The second one came when we were voted winners for a contest to open for Nightstalker and Breath After Coma at the Gagarin Live Music Space in Athens. The place was packed from the first note and full of an energetic audience. We enjoyed that, too, and gained experience. All the people involved in those two gigs were dope, very helpful. We had a hell of a time with them.

Honeybadger on Forming the Band, their Biggest Musical Influences, and What Makes a Great Guitar Riff

Monster Riff: We read that you guys formed the band in 2014 and developed a reputation for playing great live shows. How did all four of you originally meet and form Honeybadger?  

Honeybadger: We started rehearsing at the end of 2014 and shaped as a whole at the start of 2015. We were a bunch of musicians from the north and east suburbs of Athens listening to similar music and going to the same bars and concerts. We started getting to know each other (some of us were already friends), and we ended up with a Heavy Rock band with great chemistry going on. With some of our newly created tracks then and some Rock covers with a Desert/Stoner vibe, we managed to play a big number of gigs in Athens based on our live energy. At the start of 2017, we boosted what was going on with our first digital EP called The Rain and then bigger gigs. Festivals followed, alongside more experienced Greek bands (Nightstalker, Planet of Zeus, Breath After Coma).

Monster Riff: You say on your website that some of your biggest influences are Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, and Monster Magnet. Listening to Pleasure Delayer, we can hear the Clutch influence loud and clear. What makes Honeybadger unique from some of these Stoner Rock icons?

Honeybadger: We like both the American traditional and new Rock sound. That’s probably obvious, yes! We also adore Black Sabbath and The Beatles (not a rare thing) and the Seattle Grunge scene. The uniqueness comes from ourselves. Even if we wanted to recreate music like Clutch, Monster Magnet, or QOTSA, we would still be different because we all led different lives and had different experiences. Them, alongside other bands, are our inspiration and the little sound playing in the back of our heads when riffing, singing, doing everyday things. We could be the unique north suburb of Athens guys that paved the music way out of their own personal desert!

Monster Riff: When you’re inspired by bands like Clutch or Monster Magnet, riffs are everything. What factors go into making a great guitar riff? Our favorite riff from the album is from “The Wolf,” one of the singles.

Honeybadger: It’s good if it gives you the chills, we think. You have to feel the hair on your skin moving. It helps if it feels a bit familiar, but also kind of strange. And, in the end, if you have a “Hell yeah!” reaction, then it’s a keeper for sure! We had this kind of reaction with “The Wolf.” That’s why we released it as a single.

Honeybadger on the Inspiration Behind the New Album’s Title and the Band’s Love of Twin Peaks

Monster Riff: Where did you get the idea for the title of the new album? It struck us as odd – usually, for a Stoner Rock band, we think of hedonistic pursuits. Yet, you’re talking about delaying pleasure. Why on earth would you do that?!

Honeybadger: It’s a tricky title, that we can agree! It was an original idea of our drummer, Vaggelis. He was inspired by a line in the movie, Vanilla Sky, and it has a more subtle meaning than its first impression. It’s about the type of people that have the discipline to hold back their pleasure and wait until something more essential and bigger emerges. That’s one of our principles in how we lead this band, and, for the time being, we’re feeling good about it. After delaying the action, the pleasure gets bigger. If you take it to the hedonistic level, you could see it as Tantra.

Monster Riff: What would you say are the biggest themes running through the lyrics on Pleasure Delayer? We noticed a lot of lyrics referred to troubled relationships with some cold-blooded people.

Honeybadger: Human relationships and buried feelings that come to the surface are some of the main themes, yes. One can integrate them into their own lives. A cold-blooded woman could easily be a cold-blooded partner or man. Almost everybody has their share of similar but, at the same time, different experiences. However, the distinction between bad and good in human action isn’t real, anyway. We try to draw that picture inside the lyrics. Somebody can be seen as bad and be full of good actions and vice versa. Life is blurry, and we’re trying to enjoy the blur of it. I’d like to take the opportunity and say that, except for our singer Dimitris Vardoulakis, two of our songs’ lyrics (“Good for Nothing” and “Holler”) belong to our dear friend, Stephanie Stephanides.

Monster Riff: So, we’re guessing you guys are big Twin Peaks fans, as one of the songs on the new album is called “Laura Palmer.” What inspired you to write a song about her and the show? Do you like to geek out about it?

Honeybadger: Dimitris wrote the lyrics when he was watching Twin Peaks for the third time. He’s a big David Lynch fan–we all love his work. Laura Palmer is a character of a lost, dreamy, and gorgeous girl that doesn’t really act inside the series but holds the whole plot of it. The trigger was these buried meanings and hidden messages she unveiled. The view and smell of the fir trees in a misty mountain town that’s full of mystery, the spark of Dale Cooper, the face of inexplicable death pictured by Bob. We don’t wanna spoil it more, but everybody should watch this amazing piece of cinematography and listen to our track!

Monster Riff: Now that your first LP will be released this month, what’s next for the band? Have you been able to play any live shows, despite the pandemic? Did you have to cancel any touring plans?

Honeybadger: We had booked a release gig in Athens in an indoor venue, but that’s probably going to be held off for a while. We would be touring Greece shortly if it weren’t for the pandemic. We couldn’t even manage to book it because of the situation. We’re examining our options about an outdoor release gig, rehearsing, and creating new music, planning to shoot a nice video clip for one of our LP tracks, and thinking about releasing a new song sometime soon. Not sure about the timeline yet, but we have some great ideas.

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