Behind The New Music – INTERVIEW – Lusitania, exPorter

Welcome to the feature where we talk to musicians and artists to find out in depth information about their brand new singles and music. Today we speak to the Southern California alternative rock band exPorter. The band consists of brothers Alec and Destin Cavazosand friend Henry Kish (on Drums). The band have recently released the single Lusitania and so I thought it would be a great time to catch up with them to find out more.

Hello exPorter tell us three unknown facts about yourself?

Alec Cavazos: Well, we all love cats! Both Destin and Henry have cats and I really really want one. I guess that’s a little exPorter fun fact: if you want to get us a gift, cats are always welcomed!

Destin Cavazos: Yea maybe one day we will have a cat mascot like what Bowling for Soup used to do with their dog; we met them and the pup in 2014 at Warped Tour Ventura.

Alec : Another fact is I think we would all be teachers if we weren’t doing exPorter things. We all did this interview when we in 3 different places at the time. The question was what we would be doing if we weren’t in a band and all 3 of us said something about teaching. That was pretty funny but also cool, especially if we got jobs at the same school….then we could just keep the band going. 

Destin : I think maybe the 3rd thing would be that our band actually got started because of “Rock Band” on the Wii. Alec and I grew up playing that game all the time. One day our dad came into the room and saw us rocking out and said, “if you’re going to be pretend rockstars you can learn to play real instruments”. That Christmas Alec got a guitar and I got a bass and that set everything up for exPorter. 

How did you get into music?

Destin : The Wii thing is the true story! I mean, we grew up in a house where music was a big part of everything, Henry did too. There were concerts and music was always on but that Rock Band day really started it. 

Alec It’s true. Destin for sure got into playing pretty easy. I think he was in a band from the start. 

Destin : Yeah, bands always need a bass player so I started playing in bands early on. 

Alec : For me on guitar it took a little bit longer. I just didn’t connect with it when we started. I think I was still into looking cool so I would pretend a lot. I started putting stickers on my guitar to look cool like Tom DeLonge. But I hated practicing. Then one day I thought about Tom playing guitar and how I was sort of doing the same thing and it clicked for me. I don’t think I’ve gone too many days since without playing guitar. 

Who do you find your inspirations? 

Alec : Tom DeLonge and Blink or Angels and Airwaves. 

Destin : We always talk about Tom being Alec’s hero.

Alec : He is. But I think really inspirations can come from anything we do. 

Destin Yeah, Alec and I write most of the stuff and I think we both draw inspiration from just about anything. I read a ton and I know there’s stuff from the books I read that will make its way into a song. Every now and then we’ll think it would be cool to write a song about a specific thing but most of the time it just comes out of no where. Our song, “Feel Good” is about this couch I had when I was in college and I don’t think I woke up with the idea of “hey, I should write a song about a couch.”

Tell us all about your latest single Lusitania?

Alec : Lusitania was originally called Another Night, and I think it was the second song I wrote and liked during lockdown in 2020 (Lassie being the first). When COVID hit Destin and I were staying at our parents’ house and we just wrote a ton of new stuff. Since we were kids we would get together in our room and just play songs so it was pretty much like it was then…the two of us jamming and writing stuff. That’s how COVID went for us and we ended up with a bunch of new songs and thought we could do an album.

How long did it take to write the song? 

Alec : This one came up early on during lockdown and it was one of the first songs we recorded so it didn’t take that long to write. The lyrics really just came to me once I started writing them and the story evolved from that. The song definitely changed and evolved over time since the first demos, from the lyrics to the way the chorus was sung, but that’s how almost all songs work, sit with it and you’ll change or mind or get recommendations for how to improve until you get the final product.

Where does the inspiration for the song come from?

Alec : This one really all started with me wanting to write a song with the word “inconceivable”, I must’ve just watched Princess Bride. We watched a lot of movies during lockdown and Princess Bride has always been a family favorite so that word probably just crept into my head.

Anyways, the song is basically about a relationship falling apart but also being saved by just being together or at least wanting to save it. Now this wasn’t exactly something that was occurring in my life at that moment, but it’s something I had kinda felt before. 

Tell us a little bit about recording this track in the studio – what were the highlights and challenges?

Alec : Recording Lusitania and really the whole album was a weird thing because it was done right in the middle of a pandemic. When the studio (Hidden City Studios) first opened up, we couldn’t all just head in at the same time. Elliott (Lanam) was great to let us get in but we kept it pretty safe cause we didn’t know what we could or couldn’t do, how close we could be, it was weird. 

Destin: Normally we would all just have gone in and hung out while recording. Sometimes we’d be in the same room, sometimes one of us might go in to work on overdubs with Elliott but another would just hang around. 

With “NoBreaks” we couldn’t do that. If we were all in the studio, we’d usually all be in separate rooms, wearing masks unless we were singing. 

Alec : But it’s also something I think we will always remember as a pretty cool experience too. Writing and recording took around a year and it was all coming out of this dumb pandemic where no one knew what the hell was going on. 

 What is your favourite lyric in the track?

Alec : “But we’re sinking from the hull, grab the bottle, let’s go home”.

What is the most challenging thing when it comes to producing a record?

Destin: During a pandemic or after? Actually, the challenges for either are probably the same. First thing is probably how do we pay for it. We’re a young band and we’re hoping to get someone to sign us to help with the costs but so far we have self-released everything. Elliott has been great to work with and great to our band in keeping the costs down but it still costs money. He did tell us early on though to keep costs down we need to practice the crap out of a song and we’ take that to heart. He doesn’t let us waste a lot of time in there. 

Another thing that’s been hard is scheduling. When we first became exPorter and wanted to record, all 3 of us were still in school. So you always had to wait for something to be able to even get in. Even when I graduated I then got a job so it’s always been a challenge to find the right time. But we want to record so we’ve always just found a way to make it work. 

Alec : For me I think one of the most challenging things is knowing when a song is done. When we first started recording stuff I was really particular about how a song should be but you have to learn to let that go. Like Destin said it costs a lot to record…every new session is more money. But I also had to learn to let go of a song otherwise we’d still be recording. A lot of getting over that comes down to just trusting the people you’re working with. At the end of the day, none of us want to release a bad song so it will go through a few rounds till we all feel it’s ready to go. 

How do you warm up for a show?

Destin: As a band, I don’t think we have any really solid rituals we go through. All 3 of us love playing live and I think we’re all pretty comfortable getting on stage. Usually we will try to get in some rehearsal time like a week before then it’s time to get on a play.

Alec : We will get together just before a show and get the setlist together. Once we’re all down with the day’s set we will usually just chill and watch other bands on the lineup.

Also let’s talk tour – will there be live shows coming this year?

Alec : Yep. We’re actually doing a couple shows later this month. We’re also working on our Summer plans. So far as a band we’ve played up and down California but we’re going to play all over the Western US. We’re still working on a name for the shows so let us know if you have any suggestions. 

What is one of your favourite songs to perform live? 

Destin: Off the debut album (NoBreaksNoBreaksNoBreaks) I think Sister Cities has been one of the favorite songs for us to play for sure. There are all these little bits in that song that appeal to each of us both individually and as a band. 

For our covers I also really like playing “Black Sheep” by Metric. We start out with just me on bass and you start to see people looking up like “hey there’s something familiar about this” as we start doing the drum or guitar parts. When I start with the verse there’s this aha moment on people’s faces and it’s pretty cool to see that.

Alec : I think as a band we all really like playing “Carsick”. That was the first song of ours on the radio and it was the first one that people started asking for at shows. We call it our “hit” song and it’s always fun to play.

What is the toughest songs to perform live and why?

Alec : When Henry first joined the band we played Baba O’Riley by The Who. He’s a huge Who fan and it was really cool to do. And I think we did it really well with just the three of us. But I would sing the breakdown part and I wasn’t able to hit that high a note. I guess we could try to figure it out for me but it was pretty funny….I sounded like a kid hitting puberty trying to sing that part. 

Destin: Yeah we need to bring Baba O’Riley back into the set.  As a whole though I think we get through all of the songs on a set pretty well. We’re a 3 piece band, guitar bass and drums, and we are pretty true to that in the songs we write. So when we’re playing live and it’s the 3 of us, it’s all pretty familiar territory. You might not get some of the second guitar parts Alec or even Elliott may have added on the recording, you maybe don’t get all of the harmonies but the core of the songs are still there. 

One song we’re still trying to figure out if we want to do live is “Suspended in Ether”. We tried it once or twice and it’s hard cause there are a lot of moving parts on that one. Even without the synth part there’s a lot going on. 

Our site also is about improv – in a music sense, what have been some of your favorite improvised melodies that you have created and been able to use in songs and why?

Alec : There’s a line in Carsick that goes “I press the pedal, and I drive by” and we’ve started to do the “I drive by” part differently every time we play it. I don’t know how we started doing it but it’s pretty fun to do,. Sometimes it’s maybe the way I sing it, other times it’s the way I move when I sing it. A couple times it’s cracked Destin or I up to the point where he can’t sing the next line cause he’s laughing at me. 

Destin: That next line I sing is also improvised sometimes too, well not really a true improvisation I guess…..the line is supposed to be “I picture you on the passenger side” but every now and then I sing “I picture you underneath the tires”. Those were actual lines we messed around with but I think we agreed they were pretty dark. But still, every now and then I’ll switch them up. 

What are your plans for 2023?

Destin : 2023 is all about promoting the debut album and doing as many shows as we can. I think long term maybe Alec and I will connect on new songs and I know our dream plans would include getting signed but there’s still a lot more we think we can do with “NoBreaks” for now. We’ve had 4 songs released as singles and all 4 got airplay and all cracked the top 50 on the specialty radio charts so I think people like them. We have a couple more we think we can feature as a single and a couple of videos we’d like to do. That’s a lot. 

And finally why should people check out your music?

Alec : I think the main thing people should know about our songs is that we’re writing songs we really like to put out and it’s really cool when people connect with them. I think there are a lot of manufactured bands putting out crap songs and it’s more about money for those. Our songs are about stuff we like and want to sing about and in a genre or style that we love. I think listeners that are fans of 90s or pop-punk alt rock hear that. 

Destin : Henry once said in an interview that he wants people to know that we’re a real band with real people just writing songs they like. I think that hits on what Alec said. exPorter isn’t a manufactured thing, just 3 guys writing songs. 

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