exPORTER – interview
exPorter is an alternative rock band formed in 2014 in Southern California. They recently released a new full-length album called NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes, so below you have an interview in which the band talks about their music, inspiration and future plans
Introduce your band, and describe your latest release:
Henry Kish – Hello, I am Henry Kish and I play drums in exPorter. Alec and Destin might write most of the songs but percussion is mine!!
Destin Cavazos – Hello External Terror! I’m Destin Cavazos and I play bass and sing in the band.
Alec Cavazos – I’m Destin’s brother Alec and I play guitar and sing as well.
So our current featured single is called Your Boyfriend (Suckup) and it’s off our debut album – NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes. The album came out in May so it’s pretty brand new and the single is doing awesome. We just found out it cracked the top 25 in the sub modern specialty chart and we’re pretty blown away by that.
What’s the hardest part about being a band in this day and age?
Alec – I think for us it’s mostly about getting exposure and getting out there. “Boyfriend” is doing awesome but the chart that it’s on is for specialty radio and internet shows. There are some stations playing it but it’s really hard to get regular airplay. A lot of the DJs we’ve connected with will say they love our stuff but they can pick maybe 8 songs a year or something small like that so airplay is hard. We’re super stoked any time anyone plays us and it’s humbling to get to the top 25 of any list but it would be cool to be able to get more exposure for sure.
Destin – Yes, if all you readers could call your radio station or ask folks to get us on playlists that would be great
I think another hard part of being a band today is that the business side really takes some getting used to. We’ve been lucky because we have had some great support and feedback from people in the business but they all keep saying it’s a business and that took us awhile to figure out what that meant.
When we were kids we just wanted to rock and write songs but as we got bigger and more serious about being in a band you learn you have to really promote who we are, we had to build out what our brand was and we have to protect that all the time….it’s not like really hard work but it’s work that we have to do all the time.
Alec – I think what makes that harder is when you see a band that’s clearly a manufactured thing and then they’re just sort of everywhere. We’re real people really writing these songs and we love doing it. We’ve played shows with a ton of great bands and we’re all hoping for catching any breaks we can.
When did you realise that your project had the potential to be much more than just a fun idea?
Destin – If you’re talking about the band in general then I think as soon as Kish started playing drums with us, we knew this was the lineup and the band for sure. Alec and I had been playing together in different bands and we’ve always been comfortable writing songs and stuff. But something clicked when Kish joined and we all sort of sat around and talked about if we want to do this band as a real thing and what that meant. We all agreed we should write and release more songs which led to our EP “Bored” and then the album. We all wanted to play bigger and better shows. That all started in 2018.
Alec – Part of that idea was making every next thing we did better than the last which was sort of how we got to the album. We’d released Bored and were super stoked with that but we kept thinking, well if we did an EP then the next thing should be an album. So during the pandemic Destin and I were living in the same place and we were writing a ton of stuff. We had these two songs we really liked called “Elizabeth” and “Lassie” and as soon as we could get into the studio we got in and recorded them. They got done pretty quick and we started getting some airplay on them. They were at like 50 and 49 on the chart and we thought maybe we just keep going and make a full album. Those two songs started us down that path.
Tell us about your latest release, why should we check it out?
Alec – “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” was recorded over the course of about a year and it includes 10 tracks that we put together. It was kind of crazy recording it because you would have lockdown and Kish was in Colorado. Every chance we had we would get him out for maybe a show or thow, then hit the studio. We were really lucky because I think our co-producer Elliott (Lanam, Owner of Hidden City Studios) has known us a long time and there was this trust we all had so even though we might not always be together we all knew we were working towards the goal of making each song the best we could. I think that resulted in a pretty solid album and I think people are enjoying the tracks on there.
Destin – Yes! “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” – hopefully people are listening to it already! I think anyone that’s heard an exPorter song before will definitely recognize some of the tunes or vibes in the songs, but we’ve tried our best to explore some different genres throughout the album. There are a few that are straight up pop-punk songs but we have a few ballads in there too. Usually Alec will have one on something we record but this time you get a sad tune from both of us. I think some of the stuff that Elliott brought in definitely added a lot of depth to our songs too so there’s some really good stuff happening on the album.
How does a song typically come together for you?
Alec – Destin and I write our songs, usually out on our own and then being them together to flesh hem out then we head to Henry to really bring it all home. We have had folks like Elliott add something different to some songs so we will give out writing credit to folks like that too. But at the core they all usually start with some idea Destin or I will have.
Destin – Alec and I sort of share songwriting duties, I write some tracks while he writes the others. There’s not necessarily a process for who’s writing what, usually we just share what we’ve been working on with each other and put together the rest of the songs that way. Every now and then we’ll either have a song that’s almost done or sometimes we’ll write one in like 10 seconds but our show and tell writing process Alec and I go through is pretty much our approach right now. I think we have close to 100 songs that we’ve written and almost all of them go through that process.
Henry – Once a song is pretty close they’ll send me a demo so I can start to think about parts I’d like to add. Alec and Destin are definitely the primary songwriters, but when it comes to percussion I’m in charge. My goals when writing my parts are to bring groove, energy, and cohesion.
How would you describe your sound to an unfamiliar reader?
Henry – I think I have used bombastic and fun as a way to describe us in a lot of interviews so I am going to keep using it. exPorter is bombastic and fun.
Destin – Yeah, we’re a 3 piece band and I think we get a lot of sound out of our live shows. We are straight up 90’s pop-punk meets emo meets alt rock. Alec and I grew up going to a lot of Van’s Warped Tour shows, and I think that influence is really clear on a lot of our music; that sort of rough-edged radio rock is really the core of our sound.
If Van’s would just bring back that tour I think exPorter would fit right in with that lineup.
Alec – Our dad once said it’s like if Blink and Smoking Popes had a baby you would have exPorter. We are obviously heavily influenced by the 90s pop punk scene and 80s pop rock scene, with bands like Blink 182, Green Day but I think if you listen to some of our stuff, definitely on NoBrakes, you will hear The Cure or bands like The Smiths and their vibes in there as well.
What do you want listeners to take away from listening to your band?
Henry – I want our songs to be something people can connect with as all my favorite songs and musicians have created deep connections within me. Hopefully, we bring joy, excitement, and connectivity to people who listen to our songs.
Alec – I think Destin and I both really like the idea of the listener making their own connections with our songs. I know for me I’m usually writing from a personal space but we all go through similar experiences and can relate to each other in that sense and I love for that to come across, but also I want each song to find its own meaning in the listener as well.
Destin – It’s hard to expect or want someone to connect to some specific thing on a song that’s coming from me. I think trying to get messages across too much though is sort of a catch-22 when writing songs, because everyone’s going to have their own take on it. I really do just try to put my own emotions and experiences on the tracks, because in the end someone’s going to resonate with that. Like our songs are about getting your heart broke or kissing cute blonde girls, I feel like there’s a lot of familiarity in that, just in love and life. Whatever my thoughts and feelings behind a song are, someone else could hear it and have it represent something completely different for them. I mean our songs for sure have meaning to them for the most part but I love the idea of having someone being able to make it their own.
Where would you really like to tour that you haven’t done so yet, and why?
Alec – I think the first time we got asked this question we were all separated but we all came back with our answers that we would love to play the Santa Barbara Bowl. I thought that was pretty cool so I think the bowl has got to be on our list of places we want to play.
Henry – Yeah, I grew up like 3 blocks from there so getting to play the SB bowl would be a dream come true.
Destin – The station we grew up listening to in Santa Barbara is this great alt rock station called KJEE and they would always have this show called the Summer Roundup where they would have some local opener and I think exPorter for sure should be that band. We could also get to be this huge band and play it on our own I guess but I think there would be something special about playing that show if they ever bring it back. It’s an awesome venue.
Alec – I think for touring though, we just want to get out and play shows for people that want to hear us. We love playing live and I think our show has grown to include a lot of stuff that people might like. So far our shows have all been California based but we would love to expand. I know we’re talking about Spring shows in Denver and we would love to get on some festival lineups for 2023 too.
Destin – For us it’s always been about playing wherever we can, whenever we can but up until now we’ve always had to deal with maybe school or jobs or stuff like that. But with this album coming out and all the promoting we’ve been getting some interest so it would be cool to get on a label that sends us all over the place.
How would you say that the sound of your band has progressed over the years?
Destin – At the core I think you’re always going to have exPorter as this pop-punk band because that’s the music we really liked growing up, but I know we have really opened up about including other sounds or influences into our songs. I think you have to with as many influential bands there are in our lives. So if you listen to an early song of ours like “805” it’s 3 instruments and vocals and it’s a great song. If you listen to some newer stuff we’ve added strings or synth in there not to really change the songs or our vibe, but because I think we have grown as writers to think, “hey, what it we added this or what if instead of referencing a Blink song for a musical theme we pull out something from an 80’s vibe in this track”. It’s still going to be an exPorter tune, but maybe it’s just a bit deeper in what we record or try to play. Someone came up to me and told me how much they loved “Suspended in Ether” off NoBrakes and said they weren’t expecting that type of tune from us. I knew exactly what they meant because it was a bit of a departure but that’s what the song needed. It’s still an exPorter song and it’s about similar themes we always write or think about.
Alec – I know for my songs it took me a bit to get used to the idea of allowing them to grow from what I had originally intended. When I wrote Carsick it was the first song where I had written all of the parts on my own. When Destin and I got together to go through it he had some ideas for lyrics which was pretty common. But I remember thinking that maybe for this one I should stick to the song as is. In the end I’m glad we added the changes cause it made the song better but I was pretty protective of may songs. The same thing happened when we started recording our stuff where I would go in with this idea of what the song was and no one was going to change it. But by trusting those around me I think we made the songs better. “Rain Delay” off of our EP Bored was always supposed to be just acoustic guitar and maybe some noises but then someone had the idea of adding strings, we messed around with the ending a bit, and I loved how that song came out. I think if I was stubborn about what I had in mind maybe the songs wouldn’t be the best they could be.
How excited are you for 2022, and what can fans expect from you?
Alec – We’re stoked for how 2022 has turned out and we’re really excited about getting out to play live for fans. We spent almost a year doing NoBrakes and once we released it in May we have been non-stop promoting this album. Our featured single is called “Your Boyfriend” and we just found out it cracked the top 25 on the specialty radio charts which just blows us away. We love that people are liking what we are doing and now it’s time to get out and do as many shows as we can. We still have other songs we will probably feature off the album and some videos we want to do but getting out and playing live is was we really love doing.
Destin – We have a pretty cool tour going all around California and we’re stoked to be in bigger venues like Casbah in San Diego or Strummers in Fresno, I mean these are iconic venues that have hosted some of the best bands in the world so we would be stoked to grow that trend on this tour. Our band will really play anywhere but to have some of these venues and promoters reaching out hopefully means we will get to play for more people. Even if you haven’t heard us or have never seen us, I think you could expect to have a really good time at an exPorter show. We have a lot of fun playing the songs we do and think that comes across to anyone that comes to check us out.