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  • Writer's pictureSammie Starr

Portland-Based Math Rock Band Honeybender Release Mint Nuanced Single, "Tropical Fish God Complex"

Portland Oregon math rock band Honeybender releases their new dynamic and nuanced single, "Tropical Fish God Complex," part of an upcoming LP via Spirit Vision Records.

When it comes to the road of creating a band and making music in the rock genre, there are always bands within the genre that take themselves far too seriously. That's never been the case with the creative individuals behind the sound of the math rock band, Honeybender. Brad Wood and Josh Kaplan had been playing together for nearly fifteen years when they were introduced to a common acquaintance, Jesse McDonald, who after some time in the military relocated to Portland, OR to play with Joshua. They would form an immediate bond and give birth to Honeybender.

When we get into a room and push ourselves, there is no limit to the creativity that can stem from it. - Brad Wood

With influences that span from post-punk, math rock, indie, lo-fi, and hip-hop to bands and artists such as Interpol to Frank Ocean, Honeybender has crafted a brand new single, "Tropical Fish God Complex." Honey Bender has developed a compelling and dreamlike experience that the math rock genre will appreciate, with a stunning melodic cadence, dynamic guitar structures, vibrant percussion energy, and wistful math rock vocals. While the band is still relatively new to the music scene, their devotion and experience much outweigh their mint presence. The path to success will be challenging for any band, but acts like Honeybender show that enjoying life and taking breaks along the way are as significant as the process itself.

What started Honeybender?

Brad Wood: Josh and Jesse have been playing together for around 15 years, and in 2017, I was introduced to them by a mutual friend. We had instant chemistry and set a goal to open for TTNG in our first practice. In 2019, we archived that goal for the 10th Anniversary of Animals in Portland, OR.

Josh Kaplan: The lighting of the 17th beam of Kath-rand’ir

Jesse McDonald: I moved up to Portland to play music with Joshua. We’d grown up playing music together, and it was much needed after some time in the military. Brad joined shortly after, and we hit the ground running.

What are your musical influences? I know you guys perform under the guise of a math rock band, but there is so much more going on here, I feel.

Brad Wood: I enjoy a wide variety of music—post-punk, math rock, indie, and hip hop—including artists like Interpol, Tera Melos, Arctic Monkeys, and Kid Cudi.

Above all, I enjoy listening to Lo-Fi while hiking through the mountains with my boys.

Josh Kaplan: Our influences are daytime talk radio and silence.

Jesse McDonald: The Story So Far, Blink 182, Polyphia, and Frank Ocean

How was your creative process for "Tropical Fish God Complex" different from anything you have done in the past?

Brad Wood: This song was the first one we wrote that was written around the bass. We all utilize the same DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), so over the pandemic we began learning how to record our parts and email stems back and forth to create a song structure, then meet in person to hash out the transitions and details.

Josh Kaplan: It was created without the use of our hands. All the instrument sounds you hear were created by rubbing each other’s skin in a shared interactive simulation in Elon Musk’s mom’s boyfriend’s wine cellar.

Jesse McDonald: Brad and Josh did the composition, and the drums came in last. My favorite part is towards the middle, where we have a repeating phrase that increases hits with each repetition. One, two, three, and four. Figuring that part out and mapping it in Reason taught me more than any single phrase this band has made.

In what way did you challenge yourselves to go beyond those releases instrumentally?

Brad Wood: With our debut LP, we wanted to do something fresh and challenge our songwriting and musical abilities by exploring new dynamics and song structures.

Josh Kaplan: We didn’t. These songs are easy.

Jesse McDonald: Double kick was my favorite addition. The drums have slowly grown with each release, and they feel mighty comfy right now.

Lyrically, what is the single "Tropical Fish God Complex" diving into?

Brad Wood: Josh likes writing songs about snow and mountains, and I believe TFGC was about hiking and pushing through to get where you want to go. We enjoy spending summer days backpacking in the forests and mountains of the PNW, which I’m sure will inspire future songs and themes over the next couple of years.

Josh Kaplan: Good question, haha. It’s about dying alone on a mountain.

Jesse McDonald: I think I remember Josh saying it was about hiking and pushing through to get where you want to go. I could be wrong, except I’m never wrong.

What have you taken from this release that was not in your previous EPs?

Brad Wood: When we get into a room and push ourselves, there is no limit to the creativity that can stem from it.

Josh Kaplan: We are one step closer to removing the ancient curse.

Jesse McDonald: I want the listener to have feelings of sexual arousal. At all times.

What do you want listeners to take from this release that was not in our previous EPs, whether they are fans now or just getting into your music?

Brad Wood: It’s all about having a good time and being grateful for those in your life.

We consistently say we’re just three best friends who sometimes like to play music together.

Josh Kaplan: We would like to stress that we are not friends and DO NOT like each other. DON'T TRUST ANYONE. PUSH AWAY YOUR LOVED ONES. FIGHT STRANGERS.

Jesse McDonald: I want the listener to have feelings of sexual arousal. At all times.

What is next for you guys?

Brad Wood: We will be releasing another single next month, followed by our full LP on Spirit Vision Records and a summer tour.

Josh Kaplan: Some sort of meat dish and a nappy nap.

Jesse McDonald: Blink 182 World Tour I’m just going to watch, but it’s still the most important thing I can do for the band.

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