Honeyboys Frontman Ari Eisenberg Talks Progressive Pop and the Slocal Music Scene

Ari Eisenberg, frontman of the SLO-based, genre-bending band Honeyboys, is humble. This isn’t to say he shies away from the spotlight; you wouldn’t be able to detect his deference onstage. But when we sat down to talk the formation of Honeyboys, the death of the genre, and the SLO DIY scene, Ari told me Honeyboys is a project far beyond himself.

In the past, he’s been the lead singer in alt-rock bands and put out hip-hop influenced solo projects, but when he met Matt Sato, Grady Gallagher, and Erin O’Rourke at a Cal Poly music production club, they set out to build Honeyboys as a collective.

“I realized, I’d rather it be about the brand and about the image rather than about me. And that’s why I didn’t have Honeyboys be like, ‘Ari and the Honeyboys’ or something like that. I wanted it to be about the music that all of us create.”

And Honeyboys was to set its sound apart from the indie-rock that dominates SLO’s DIY scene. It’s a sound Ari describes as “genreless” and Honeyboys’s Spotify bio describes as “progressive pop”. I ask him to break this down for me.

“I feel like a lot of bands stick to like, ‘I’m a punk band, I’m just playing punk music,’ or ‘I’m a rock band,’ or a psychedelic band, or funk band, or whatever it is. With Honeyboys we really wanted to combine hip hop, jazz, and pop and just really produce the hell out of it. So I think ‘progressive’ just kind of means trying to combine as many genres as we can into one.”

This anti-genre is cognizant of the “I listen to a little bit of everything” listener that Ari and many of us identify with. He idolizes trailblazers of genre-fusion like Dominic Fike and Brockhampton and is adamant about making music he would listen to.

On a local scale, Honeyboys has definitely made headway. They performed alongside bands Skogen and Couch Dog before the world closed, and while they are keeping on through these UnPreCeDenTed TiMeS, Ari reminisced about the house show intimacy we all miss dearly, despite the grime and sweat COVID has made us hyper-aware of. 

“I really like how supportive the SLO DIY scene is. We were pretty new into it, like mostly played smaller shows, but then I threw some house shows at my place and had some other bands play, and it was just really fun to have a community come together in an intimate setting. And it seemed like the reaction was really positive.”

On a larger scale, Honeyboys is on the up and up. Both “Grapevine” and “I Just Wanna Know” individually have over 100,000 listens on Spotify, and the band has amassed well over 6,000 monthly listeners. While this is impressive to say the least, Ari told me his next goal is to reach 100,000 monthly listeners.

“That’s kind of a checkpoint for a lot of artists because that means you can support another artist or go on tour yourself. And one of the biggest long term goals is to go on a California tour. Because as much as I love recording and producing and doing all this fun stuff, I love performing live, like more than anything. So that’s really what I’m hoping to do. Just to play at some bigger venues.”

In the immediate future, Honeyboys is looking to expand their brand by growing their team and experimenting with new forms of media, like Tik Tok and live-streaming platforms. Until then, they plan to release as much quality-over-quantity music as possible.

“I mainly want to just put out music that I really love and that I feel like is perfect. Reese is also a perfectionist when it comes to recording and stuff. We realize that when we release something, it’s going to be out there forever. So why rush anything?”

If you’re into music that blurs the lines of indie pop, jazz, rock, hip hop, and all else, Honeyboys’s EP is coming soon. In the meantime, you can peruse their discography and stream their new single “Maple Blue”, out now on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your music.

Delaney Faherty is .WAV’s Content Editor, she wrote the article. Image Credit to Honeyboys Music. Header Image Credit to Olive Robertson