Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
Destin Cavazos: exPorter is straight up 90’s pop-punk meets emo meets alt rock. Two brothers and their friend ready for the Warp tour to come back. Alec and I grew up going to Warped Tour every summer, 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.
I told someone we pay homage to the wonder years of pop punk, when all the kids were lacing up their Vans and screaming along to songs at the skate park. I think we write some good melodies, and clever lyrics that maybe aren’t too clever with enough spiky guitars and angst to keep people pissed off. Music and lyrics between sensual and self-deprecating, I feel like a good deal of our songs hit on a more playful brand of pop-punk.
Alec Cavazos: Our dad says it’s like if Blink and Smoking Popes had a baby you would have exPorter. Our style in music is heavily influenced by the 90s pop punk scene and 80s pop rock scene, with bands like Blink 182, Green Day, The Cure and The Smiths as some of the bands that shapes us
Henry Kish: Bombastic and fun, that’s exPorter.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
DC: Alec and I have been playing music for more than 10 years, even longer if you count messing around on Rock Band. That’s actually how we got started playing, our dad came into the mancave and saw us rocking out on the Wii and said if you want to be real rock stars you better learn how to really play instruments. So I started taking bass lessons and Alec started guitar.
AC: And then we even switched for a bit. Then one year I did this rock camp thing and our good friend Jessica Lord played drums in that same camp, and after that we all thought it would be cool to be a band. We started as a three piece in 2015 consisting of us two, Alec and Destin, joined by Jess on drums. That band was called “Adjective” (adj.) and it was the original lineup and it remained that way until mid 2017, when Jess got into school.
DC: As brothers, we always had the benefit of just jamming at home growing up, and we realized we really enjoyed playing and writing music together. So we thought, hey let’s just make a band! Until Jess had to quit because school. So we brought on our neighbor Owen Dawson to play drums, and we became “Porter” and then he left for school. We used “Porter” after legendary Smiths producer John Porter by the way – some trivia for ya.
AC: Two bands two drummers but Destin and I wanted to keep a band going so we were stoked to find Henry (Kish), someone I had played baseball with. That was in October of 2018. Since then we have had the same lineup.
DC: I always think it’s funny, our first show with Kish was his first time playing in front of an audience. After playing as Porter for about a year or two, we started getting bigger as a band and we started looking to upload the tracks we’d been recording, but we knew there was another band out in Mexico using the name Porter. We took inspiration from our idols in blink-182 and threw the “ex” up front to differentiate ourselves and the band was officially born! I
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
HK: My first influence ever musically was The Who. I was introduced to them in kindergarten and I haven’t looked back. Currently I’ve been significantly influenced by bands such as Turnstile, and Fleet Foxes as they kind of give me both sides of the musical spectrum which balances me out really well. For life in general my parents have really influenced me, I’ve been able to learn from their own negatives and positives in life as they shaped me into the person I am now.
AC: Definitely blink 182 is my main influence in a lot of aspect but mainly musical and I think that shows. Modern baseball and field medic are other influences that I have started to draw upon in more recent years. Outside of music skate culture and the 90s is my go to outfit inspo for sure.
DC: Musically, it’s hard not to cite all the pop punk and emo bands I began consuming in sophomore year of high school and beyond as a big part of our sound. Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco, all those guys shaped what it meant to be an eyeliner-clad rock star with a sensitive soul. I think lyrically, groups like that really pushed the boundary as well, there’s a knack for weird metaphors in a lot of that music that I think influences a lot of my songwriting; the song “Cuck’d” off our first EP “Bored” hits on that sense of abstract imagery quite a bit.
I also grew up listening to a lot of late 80’s alternative music, bands like Crowded House and the Smiths. I think that sort of lo-fi groove shows up in a ton of our music–certainly on some of my basslines.
The Riot Girl era of female-led 90’s rock bands also had a significant impact on me; bands like Garbage, The Cranberries, and Lush, they put out such a punchy, pithy brand of rock music, I don’t think there’s a lot that really holds up to that genre in terms of energy. You see some of that flavor coming back these days too, with artists like Snail Mail, Cherry Glazerr, etc. and I think it’s exciting to see that fiery feminine energy becoming more mainstream again.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
DC: I want to get out see the world, spend time with the people I care about, and hope to share some of my good vibes along the way. If I can make it all happen while I’m out touring exPorter’s latest album that would be the sweetest.
AC: For this band – to mean something to at least like 15 people, have them feel something through our music and create their own story. I still am blown away that these songs we’re putting out connect with someone. When I was first learning to play guitar I would dream typical rock star dreams but to have at least that part come true so far is cool.
HK: Pretty much since I’ve been playing the drums, being a professional musician has always been my dream. Performing live, recording, and working with others, really drives me.
AC: And I think for goals, at least for the band, I think we just want to make everything we do better. Like if the next song we do is better than the last, the next performance, just make everything better.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
AC: 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 (Lanam, producer on NorBrakes….) add something different to some songs so we will give out writing credit to folks like that too. I’m hoping the following year will give us time to get into a studio, all us to work on some new stuff. In the end they all end up being mostly about girls and stuff.
DC: 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. Most of our songs are written about people in our lives, and perhaps more so, our experiences in love and loss. I can’t speak to Alec’s experience as much but I know that I’ll usually write about what’s going on at that time, I sort of process what I’m feeling by trying to put it into a song. So usually our songs end up being pretty true to life. We also wrote “Feel Good” about a couch so we cover it all.
HK: 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.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
AC: Right now it’s through various social media apps and word to mouth. We also have worked with our local radio to help promote our local shows, KJEE (in Santa Barbara) has been very kind to us the past couple years now. We’ve also done a bunch of videos for our songs that I think get decent views on YouTube. But that’s definitely an area that we need to work on. You hear it a lot that this is a business and it took me forever to get that, but it is. On top of the stuff we were already doing we had to build out a brand, make sure we do SM posts that reflect that, and keep building on it. For the new album for example we started doing tons of interviews, getting out songs on the radio, and whatever else we can think of.
DC: Alec is sort of the business side of the band, so we leave it to him. I always say just tell me where I need to be and when and I’ll get there J We also need to make sure Alec only puts up pics that represent the band in the right light. We definitely get on him about some of the posts. I guess Henry and I could pick up the slack but then we couldn’t blame Alec.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
AC: It’s cool and all from a listener’s point of view but when you look at how payment relates to the artist it kinda sucks. Still a great way to get your music out there to everyone and we love that opportunity. But we make so little money off the streams. Someone is making money off our songs but it ain’t us.
HK: If people are listening, I have no issues.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
AC: I Miss you by Blink 182, it’s one of those songs that no matter who you are you’ve probably heard it. Not everyone will know the band, but you play it and everyone instantly knows it.
DC: I feel like it’s cheating because I’ve definitely pushed to make this a part of our set lately, but I wish we wrote “Black Sheep” by Metric. I think they’d decided to cut it from the album they were putting out and thank god it was picked up and added to the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack because it’s a rock song for the ages. I’m probably biased but the bassline on that thing is insane, you feel it everywhere. The whole song is just so sonically immense, you’ve got such a driving force of headbanger energy but also these big, dreamy riffs and harmonies. It’s incredible.
HK: Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes. It connects to me on every level and expresses what I would want to say in a song.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
DC: I don’t like pens with caps; whatever plastic they make pen caps out of is just a weird material to me. Plus you’re always losing the cap and then your pen dries out. Also, not a big fan of fluffy or shaggy dogs, somehow they’re always looking dirty as heck.
HK: Bad Drivers, people who don’t flush.
AC: Honestly I don’t know. There isn’t much out there that I would consider a pet peeve.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
DC: I’m really impressed with some of the venues we’ve played. To get to play a show somewhere that one of your idols have played before is such a cool feeling. A while back we played for 3-hours at a venue in Santa Barbara that I’d seen Glass Animals play at just a few years prior, it was just so neat to be in the same room playing music. We’ve played venues that have like Green Day artifacts up on the walls, or venues that iconic punk bands have come through before, it’s cool to really feel like you’re a part of that world.
AC: I think hearing our band on the radio always is a proud moment, our hard work has paid off at that point, the DJs don’t think it sucks and it has brought us closer to those guys which opens up some good opportunities for us.
HK: Probably playing on this album!
AC & DC: I think another thing we’re super proud of is the Jensen’s project we did during COVID Jensen’s is a local music shop in Santa Barbara. We learned how to play music there and it’s a really special place for our band. Every year we did shows there with other local bands and obviously during the pandemic we couldn’t, so we went in and were going to livestream a show. As we got closer, we learned the shop was obviously hurting like a lot of other small businesses, so we turned it into a fundraiser. It was a little mini documentary, some new songs, a live CD and stuff. Just as this was getting some notice in town, the Foo Fighters also did a fundraiser for the shop with Vans. Chris Shiflett has ties to the shop…it’s a pretty special spot. So all of a sudden you had the biggest band in the world and the smallest, you can pick which is which, doing their parts to help the shop. It was pretty cool having that connection and it was all because we were trying to help this place that means so much to us.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
AC: Well we actually have our debut album “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” that’s getting out there. It is a culmination of songs written as far back as 2018 to songs written May of 2021. We began recording in early 2021 with a few tracks “Lassie” and “Elizabeth”, that we had written fairly early in 2020. Once they were out and received some success both online and in radio play (charting in the Top 50 SubModern Charts), we decided it was time to make a full album.
DC: Yes! We’ve got our debut album “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” – hopefully people are listening to it already! There’s a lot of new music that not a lot of folks have heard. Anyone that’s heard an exPorter song before will definitely recognize some of the tunes, but we’ve tried our best to explore some different genres throughout the album.
AC: So at the moment we’re really focusing on promoting that album. When we released our EP “Bored” we just sort of put it out there and asked people to listen. Then we did some videos and put those out but for this being our first full album we’re working hard on the business side of promoting. There’s a lot of work behind being a rock and roll band. And then of course, even newer music is being worked on. Destin and I have about 60 originals some of which we’d like to revisit and we’re always writing new stuff.
DC: Doing interviews and starting to work out radio play. Trying to get the album singles in order, maybe a video or two. We’re also starting to book some shows this Summer to promote it as well. And yeah, writing newer songs. When we got the new album set for release you thought you’d take a beat before writing but there were all these little bits that surfaced and are starting to turn into new songs.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
DC: All of our music can be found on the usual streaming platforms—Spotify, Apple Music, etc. From our first demos on the Hidden City Sessions Alec and I recorded as Porter, to Bored, to various singles and home projects to our new album NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes is out there
Apple music – https://music.apple.com/us/artist/exporter/1460540045
And you can check out our videos on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvx6hOKk578Wzau8PSNWkew/featured
Our website www.exporter.band also has links to our music and we’ve got some merch for sale on that site as well. T-shirts, beanies, coloring books…everything exPorter related is there