A Q&A with exPorter
Rising pop-punk-emo from California – here’s Alec from exPorter…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
We actually just released our debut album this May – it’s called NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes and we’re doing a lot of promotion for it right now. Lots of interviews – Thank you On Magazine 😊 – we just did a bunch of summer shows and are now working on some winter dates and are starting to think about what song to put out as our next feature single. The first song we featured was ‘Your Boyfriend’ and we were pretty stoked about how well it is doing with radio folks. It got to #24 on the specialty charts so hopefully people can keep requesting it. As a debut album, there’s obviously a lot that this release means to us. Destin (Alec’s brother and band mate) and I were together for most of the pandemic lockdown and we wrote a ton of new stuff. We had a couple songs that we really liked called ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Lassie’ and once things opened up a bit we got into the studio to record them. They got some really good airplay and we got a lot of good feedback on the songs so we thought, hey, let’s just push for a whole album. Overall it took about a year to track and mix all of the songs but to be able to put out 10 new songs on our own was cool. This album is our little baby and we’re stoked to have people listen to it.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
I think the hardest part for sure was trying to record during a stupid pandemic. Writing the songs came pretty easy for the most part since Destin and I were together in California, but once we had them in demo mode we had to get them to Henry who was living in Colorado so he could figure out drum parts. We also had to coordinate with the studio to make sure we kept everything safe. Sometimes we could go in all together cause some restrictions had been lifted, but then other times we would have to work in a separate space or whatever. Crazy trying to coordinate all of that. But we fought through it. Usually we would pick out the songs that were ready to go and then schedule studio time, we’d try to get a show in town when we could since we’d all be together. In the end it all worked out.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
For NoBrakes we produced it with Elliott Lanam at his Hidden City Studios ins Santa Barbara. We have known Elliott for a long time and worked with him before but this time it was a bit different and we knew he deserved producing credit on the album. In the past when we worked with him, or other recording folks, we sort of would take a song in with ideas on what it was supposed to be and then record. They would have input for sure but for the most part we produced the thing. But for this one, I think we’d learned to trust what he wanted to do AND I think he knew us a lot better as musicians and what WE wanted to do. It’s a hard thing to learn to trust someone like that but he really did know who we were as a band by then. Plus with the pandemic and hectic scheduling it needed to be done that way. We couldn’t sit in the studio for hours just trying stuff out. So we’d have songs in mind and he’d get the demo too that we’d send to Henry. This way he could kind of figure it out. We’d send him reference songs from other bands and say it should be that kind of vibe and he totally got it. For our song ‘Sister Cities’ we said we wanted the guitar intro kind of like The Cure and he totally got what that meant. I think it was pretty special recording it like that and having that trust in someone to add to the songs. We knew when we were going through every step of the process that we were all just working to make each song as best we could. Very cool.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
Really we just want the listener to take away whatever they want from hearing an exPorter song. I think it’s kind of a trap to try and write a song for any reason that you want to get in their head cause what happens if the listener doesn’t hear it that way. I think Destin and I both write songs with something in mind for what it means to us, but the listener is a whole different part of the process. I think for any of our songs, if it has any impact on the listeners that’s more than we could want. And if they walk away thinking we’re not jerks then that’s even better. It’s very cool to have someone listen to your song and then tell you they liked it. It’s a humbling thing too and I hope we keep writing stuff that has that reaction.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
Usually Destin or I will write our songs on our own and then we get together to share what we have. It’s sometimes just a guitar part or bass line from him. It could be a melody and some verses and even almost the whole song. We kind of work through them and then add in some parts or maybe change things and when we’re through that we will usually have a song pretty much good to go. Every now and then we will write a song together on the spot but that’s not the usual way. I think we have close to 100 songs we’ve written together and almost all of them have gone through that process. When we think a song’s close, we then will record a basic demo and send it to Henry so he can start thinking up percussion ideas. And then if it’s a song we’re thinking we want to record we’ll send it to someone so that we don’t waste a lot of time and money in the studio. We’ve paid for our recordings and it’s pretty expensive. Elliott once told us to keep the costs down to know pretty much what the song should be and practice the sh*t out of it… that’s good advice 😊
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Well, if you’re talking project as a band then I’d have to say 90’s pop punk bands for sure. If you’re talking about the album then it would probably the same answer with a few other bands mixed in. In all seriousness, exPorter is at the core a pop-punk band and we owe a lot to the 90’s pop punk bands cause that’s the type of stuff Destin and I grew up listening to. Blink-182 and Green Day are two that made a huge impact on us and helped set our vibe. Tom DeLonge is my hero and is the reason I even play guitar. And on our last show of this summer tour we just did, someone came up after the show and told us they knew Green Day when they were just starting out and that we were just like them. That was pretty cool and I think it shows we’re still putting out the same vibe we wanted to. But I also think we need to give shoutouts to SoCal bands that would play on alt stations like KROQ or KJEE since that’s what we listened to. Social D, No Doubt, Jimmy Eat World. I know Destin listened to a bunch of 80’s stuff and I think that creeps in too. He’s big on Arctic Monkeys but his favorite band is Death Cab for Cutie. Then when Henry joined, he brought his influences too with his favorite band being the Who and now he’s influenced by bands like Turnstile. I think that’s what maybe helps make our songs better and relatable. We’re writing stuff based on what we liked growing up but then a lot more makes it in to the songs cause there are a ton of great bands out there.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
As a band that’s just starting out, our shows have been in California so I guess we’d like to tour the rest of the US to start. We also opened for Hines out here when they played our hometown so maybe we could get out to Spain and open for them again in their hometown. Then since we’d be in Spain we may as well tour the rest of Europe and just keep going. Really though we love playing live and we want to play for as many people that will listen. Obviously we dream of playing huge stadiums but there is something cool about playing somewhere people don’t know you then coming up after saying they liked it. For venues it’s kind of the same answer, we will play on just about any stage that will have us. When you think about all of the great spots and all the great bands that play those stages, it’s pretty cool just to think about sharing that space. I do know that one place we would love to play is the Santa Barbara Bowl back home. Henry grew up blocks away from there and Destin and I have seen so many shows there, it would be cool to do something there.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
That’s a tough one. All these songs are our babies so how do you tell someone to pick your favorite? I think if it HAD to be just one I would pick ‘Carsick’ since that was the first song we ever had on the radio. It’s also the first song I remember seeing fans actually singing the lyrics during a show – that was pretty sick to have that happen. We call that our “hit” song 😊 If you’re thinking about something off the album I think ‘Lusitania’ would be a good one or maybe ‘Boyfriend’ or ‘Venus’. And then if you want a deeper cut maybe something like ‘Nightmare’ which is a pretty stripped down song to give you an idea of what the process is when we’re writing stuff. I know that’s more than one but it’s one depending on which vibe you’re looking for.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
We get this asked a bit and I know our answer is pretty cliché but it is the real answer… as a band we just want to get better with everything we do. When we first got together as this lineup, we all met and decided that we really did want to do this band thing as a real thing which meant we had to get more serious about what we were doing. One of the first things we decided was we wanted to write and record our own stuff. Destin and I had recorded a bunch of stuff for our Hidden City Sessions with Elliott but that was he and I going in and doing 6 songs or whatever and then Elliott polishing them up…he even played drums. So for the next thing it had to be this band and new songs so we came up with our EP ‘Bored’. Then since we had an EP we thought the next thing should be an album so we pushed for that hoping to make each of those songs better than we had. And it doesn’t mean the songs are going to be better and that eventually we’ll write the greatest song ever done…it’s more about just pushing ourselves. And it goes for everything in the band… each show we do we should try to make it better than the last and so on. We try to set new goals and then try to make those happen. For short term goals we’d really love to get signed to a label so that hopefully we can get better support and then better shows. We’d love to maybe play some festivals next year. We just want to find bigger and better things for the band.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
First off, we want to thank you for asking about our band and even more, we want to thank your readers for checking us out. This sounds a bit cliché too but it really means a lot to us when anyone is interested in our band. Henry once said in an interview that he’d like people to know we’re a real band…real people just doing what we like doing. And it’s true, we’re just two brothers and their friend that want to do this band so when anyone listens to us or says they like us or follows us, it’s pretty sick to have that happen. If just one of your readers decides to check us out and they like what we’re doing, that’s very rewarding and we really do appreciate it 😊
For more info visit: exporter.band