Band Interview: exPorter
Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are pleased to bring you an interview with pop-punk/alt-rock band, exPorter.
1. How did you get started as a band?
Destin Cavazos (DC): Alec and I have been playing music together since we were kids. We started playing Rock Band on the Wii and then our parents made us play real instruments so I took up the bass and Alec took guitar lessons. As brothers, we had the benefit of jamming at home practicing for our lessons, and we realized we really enjoyed playing and writing music together. So we thought, hey let’s just make a band!
Alec Cavazos (AC): I did this band camp at where we were taking lessons and our good friend Jessica Lord played drums in that camp. So we started as a three piece in 2015 consisting of Destin and I joined by Jess on drums.
DC: We called ourselves “adj.” pronounced adjective and was made up of our first initials – Alec – Destin – Jess. It always looked like there was going to be “a dj” on flyers but I still think it was clever. AJR totally stole our idea!
AC: That was the original lineup and it remained that way until Jess worked on getting into college and school work. We then got our neighbour and good friend Owen Dawson to join us, and then pretty much after joining he too went off to school.
DC: The band with Owen was called “Porter” after John Porter who was one of the Smiths first producers. We grew up listening to a lot of the Smiths cause our dad’s a huge fan and I think Alec and I have for sure been influenced by Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke so we thought that that was a clever name.
AC: When Owen left Destin and I wanted to keep a band going so we were stoked to find Kish someone I had played baseball with as a kid. That was in October of 2018. Since then we have had the same lineup.
Henry Kish (HK): My dad played drums in their dad’s band and they asked if I could do drums for a show they had at the Avocado festival (in Carpinteria).
DC: The Avo fest was Kish’s first time playing in front of people but he crushed it. I think we had one rehearsal and that was it. For our next show as this band we got asked to play 3 whole hours at a Halloween event. I don’t know how we could do 3 hours but we went for it. For our 3rd set we wore these suits (think Weezer – Pork & Beans vid) and we weren’t really sure if Kish would wear them. He said “hell yeah I’m in” and we did and we looked awesome. I think we all knew this was the band from that moment on.
HK: We played “Baba O’Riley” by the Who…that was fun!
AC: Yeah, Henry brought the Who into our band from the start. I liked doing Baba but I can’t really sing the high part so we don’t really play it. But it sounded fricken awesome otherwise. Anyway, that Halloween show we were still “Porter” but as we grew as a band we knew there was already a band from Mexico under the same name. Growing up fans of Blink 182, we know the story of their name and how they were faced with a similar problem. Instead of waiting to get sued and because we technically were this new band and we all played in a band called Porter, we settled on “exPorter” and it’s been that since 2018.
2. How would you describe your sound?
AC: We’ve told people before that if Blink-182 and Smoking Popes had a baby you would have exPorter and if you know those two bands, I think you really would get a sense of what we sound like.
DC: I tell people that exPorter sounds like a band you would have had on the Van’s Warped Tour. exPorter is straight up 90’s pop-punk meets emo meets alt rock. Alec and I grew up going to Warped Tour a lot, 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.
HK: Bombastic and fun. That’s what I’ve been using to describe our sound. When we play it’s going to be bombastic and fun.
3. What bands/artists would you say have influenced your style of music?
AC: 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 we draw from. That’s 20 years of music right there so there’s a lot to pull from. Like I think if you look at our video from “Simple Minds” you would for sure get a Nirvana vibe in the video so yeah, they made an impact. That band was probably one of the biggest to come from that era so I think it’s not a bad influence.
I know for me personally, definitely blink is my main influence…Tom Delonge is one of the main reasons I connected with playing guitar. More recently I know bands Modern baseball and field medic are other influences that I have found.
HK: My first influence ever musically was The Who. Aside from playing “Baba” I know the percussion side I bring draws from the Who for sure. Currently I’ve been 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.
DC: It’s hard not to cite all the pop punk and emo bands I began picking up in high school and beyond as a big part of our sound. Jimmy Eat World, 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 made an impact on me as well, there’s definitely a lot of intricate and obscure metaphors packed into some of those mid-2000’s emo anthems. The Arctic Monkeys “AM” album is another influence, that’s probably the album that’s made the biggest impact on me as a musician. In my eyes, that’s one that really set the bar for big bombastic basslines.
I’d say the Riot Girl era and female-led rock bands also shaped a lot of our sound; bands like Garbage, No Doubt, Blondie etc – they put out such a punchy, pithy brand of rock music. You see some of that coming back these days too, with artists like Charly Bliss, Snail Mail, Cherry Glazerr, etc. and I think it’s exciting to see that fiery feminine energy becoming more mainstream.
4. Has the rise of YouTube & music streaming helped or hindered you as a band?
DC: Can it do both? I think for sure it’s helped in that we’ve been able to put out a lot of music and videos and it’s all been pretty well received. That’s pretty special when someone finds it and comments on it. Just thinking that these folks we don’t really know like our shit is very very cool. It’s humbling in a way. And we know we couldn’t make that connection without our video channel or all of the streaming services. But at the same time, think about how many other bands are doing the same thing. You’re not only competing with them but you’re also possibly oversaturating the content with every new release.
AC: Yeah, we get asked about that and it’s cool and all from a listener’s point of view or that anyone can check out our channel and we’re on their screen. But if you think about how payment from streams or views relates to the artist it kinda sucks. I think we have been fortunate to make even some money but I’m sure someone is making money off our songs but it’s not going to exPorter.
HK: If people are listening I have no issues but it would be cool to maybe get more from it.
DC: I think aside from the money aspect, I do wonder if the over saturating thing also hinders a band like ours. I joke a lot that exPorter is a band that you would see on Warped Tour, well, it’s not a joke – Vans should definitely bring back Warp and hopefully have us on it, but if you went to those types of shows you only had access to a limited amount of bands. I think maybe fans appreciated those bands more than they would now. If exPorter was on a lineup back then, would it have been more special.
AC: But still, at the end of the day we do get a lot more exposure out there. Having anyone hear us or see us is really special. There’s no way we get out to that many people and for that we are grateful for sure.
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
DC: We did an interview where I think Kish put it perfectly about who we are – he said, we’re real people..” and that resonated with me. We are real folks who do real things. I love working on songs and playing for sure but I also love doing normal things like playing video games, reading books, going on hikes.
HK: Lots of bike rides, playing disc golf, watching baseball, or playing video games. Each kind of hit’s a different niche in my daily life, whether it’s relaxing, or trying to improve myself, I’ve love to do things that I enjoy as much as possible.
AC: When I’m not making music, it’s still a part of my like and I’m always listening to music and finding new music. You hear a lot of cool stuff and it for sure influences me in my writing. I also play video games, Minecraft is always a solid choice. Just about any baseball game is fun to play. And skateboarding is one of my favorite things to do. Whether working on stuff or to just be me on my board and explore wherever I am!
6. What are your future plans musically? Tours?
HK: Musically I think getting out to promote the new album will be fun. I’m really proud of making this album so hopefully, we can get out and bring joy, excitement, and connectivity to people who come out to listen to our songs.
AC: Yeah, having just released our debut album “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” , there’s a bunch of new songs getting out there so we really want to focus on promoting that.
There’s a lot of work behind that and we want to try to do it right. Before when we released stuff we just kind of put it out there and hoped people would listen. Maybe we did a video and folks took a look. Really cool but for this album we’re trying to really get it out there.
DC: Doing interviews and starting to work out which songs get promoted on the radio. We’re also starting to book some shows this Summer to promote it as well. Right now it’s Southern California but who knows…I saw Jimmy Eat World is touring with Charley Bliss, maybe they need exPorter to tag along in the Fall?
HK: I think that people can expect something that’s fun, energizing, and hopefully relatable when listening to the album. I think eventually I’d like to graduate from College too as a future plan.
AC: As far as touring and playing live, we LOVE playing out there. We just did a car show on a golf course to help out our friend Phat J from KJEE (Santa Barbara) and it was the first time that some of the new songs were getting out there so we would love to get a ton of shows lined up to keep touring the album.
DC: Other future plans obviously include writing newer songs. So far I think Alec and I have close to 100 original songs and I know we’re coming up with newer stuff. We have to have somewhere to go with those.
AC: And lastly I think, and we say this a lot and I know it sounds cliché, but we just want to keep growing as a band. Once we accepted the fact that being in a band is really a lot like running a business we had to set goals for ourselves to try and get better with everything we do. That is something we really work hard at – every next thing should be better than the last. Each new song we write is hopefully better, every pic we take we hope to look better…every interview we give should sound better. I hope we did that here.