Honey Revenge: “Confidence is a state of mind”

HONEY REVENGE prove they’re worth all the buzz with their vital debut album.

A musician Devin Papadol is exactly where she had planned to be right now. After spending years honing her craft, her band Honey Revenge are about to release their infectious debut album ‘Retrovision’, a name she had picked out for her first record before Honey Revenge even existed as a band.

Honey Revenge’s backstory is a little different from a lot of bands on the alt-music scene, with Devin beginning her musical career by studying at Hollywood’s Musicians Institute. “It definitely sounds more glamorous than it is,” insists Devin. “Have you ever been to Hollywood? I call it the armpit of LA!” 

“Honey Revenge would not be the band it is without me having the knowledge and experience I gained at MI. It gives you a chance to practice and get mistakes out of the way before entering a real scene of music. I started out on the vocal performance and songwriting programme before switching to the independent artist programme, where I learned how to market my music – how to make your brand and find your fanbase. With the industry how it is right now, it’s the artists’ job to do most of the legwork. It’s important to have control over how you want to be perceived.”

Incredibly self-aware and honest, Devin knows this all may sound a little calculated to the DIY music purists. “What would I say to anyone who said we were manufactured? I would just show them the pictures of us playing in a shed! There is literally a venue outside of LA called The Shed which is just in some guy’s backyard.”

While Devin’s music savvy has helped her navigate the pitfalls of the modern music industry, giving Honey Revenge the marketability that has made them accessible to so many people, it hasn’t always been an easy ride. No amount of planning and learning could prepare anyone for the pandemic that hit and derailed so many music careers. 

The band Devin had formed while studying at MI had just begun rising through the local circuit and had finally got a booking agent. During that time period, guitarist Donovan Lloyd had messaged Devin on Instagram after seeing a video of the band playing in a skate shop. They were moving to LA from Georgia, having just graduated high school, and were wondering if any bands were looking for a guitarist. 

“We’d just lost our guitarist and were down to a three-piece from a five-piece, and then somehow, it became just Donny and me. Suddenly this 18-year-old kid is in charge of all of the instruments! I’m so thankful that they trusted me because I can only imagine how scary it was for them. They came into this thinking they were joining a full band, and they ended up with one other person who doesn’t know any chords!

“I was in a very vulnerable place when Donny joined the band. They watched me lose myself for a second because everyone I had created this project with had left, and when you’re the last person standing, you can’t help but start to wonder, is it me? Am I the problem?”

It’s hard to believe that Devin and Donny had never met until a few years ago; such is the bond and sense of community they’re created through Honey Revenge. Watching them perform together, they positively fizz with a shared energy: this is the band that Honey Revenge were meant to be.

Being essentially forced to work together as just a two-piece not only allowed the duo to nurture their addictive pop-rock sound but to also grow and encourage each other as people.

“Donny has transformed in this band,” beams Devin with pride. “When I met Donny, they weren’t sure how they wanted to put themselves out there in the world. They’re so much more comfortable with the way they express themselves now – they got more comfortable wearing make-up and wearing exactly what they want to wear and not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks. We’ll be in the middle of who-knows-where Florida, and they’re on stage in a skirt. They don’t care: we put ourselves out there so everyone else will put themselves out there; that’s the most empowering thing.”

It’s this strong sense of self-acceptance and honesty that makes Honey Revenge such an irresistible prospect. Devin explains that it was always important for them to create a strong sense of community for their fans, with all the bands she admired growing up making her feel like she was part of something. 

“We call the fanbase The Swarm because we want everyone to feel swarmed with love and in a place they belong. Growing up, I had Twitter friends and friends on fan accounts that I’m still friends with, and though I may not listen to those bands as much, those people are still part of my life. I want our fans to feel like they have a place with us.”

It’s hard not to fall in love with Devin’s super relatable attitude; for her, empowerment is about embracing her dorkiness and expressing her own self-deprecating humour. ‘Retrovision’ is not just about jumping through different eras of style and aesthetic, but looking at things in retrospect, or being “enemies with your own expectations,” as Devin sums it up.

“A lot of the lyrics are about how I’m impatient and let my expectations get the best of me, but then the songs are really upbeat and bubbly and make you want to dance. It’s a sarcastic play on my own self-deprecation; I mean, with ‘Airhead’, I’m calling myself a dumb bitch essentially! I’m saying that no matter what my intentions are, I can’t seem to get it right.

“I wish I could be that sexy, confident person, but the best advice I can give is that confidence is a state of mind. When I was in the local music scene, I was on top of my shit; I knew I was a good performer and songwriter for what I was working with. Now I’m in the touring world; there’s no going back; I have to be on my A-game. But I’ve found that if you act like you know what you’re doing, people will fucking believe it!”

Though Devin is now living what she has worked towards, and her time studying at Hollywood’s Musicians Institute has certainly given her an advantage in terms of navigating her way through the music industry, she knows it’s not all grind mentality and that she has to stop and smell the roses sometimes. 

“We were on a plane to Vegas to shoot a music video, and I was so tired, but I had to stop and realise, damn, our silly little rock songs are flying us somewhere right now! I can’t stop talking about how I feel, and now we’re on a plane to make a video about it!”■

Taken from the July 2023 edition of Upset. Honey Revenge’s album ‘Retrovision’ is out 23rd June.