Interview With ExPorter

What was the beginning pint for your music career? How did it all start?

True story – Rock Band on the Wii is what started it all into motion. Seeing Destin and I playing that game constantly led to our dad getting us the real thing so for Christmas that year Alec gets a guitar and Destin a bass. From there we went our separate ways, and over the next few years, played in our own various bands. In 2014 I think we started writing songs together and that’s when we sort of had the first real band with the two of us. Since then we have been playing together under different variation of this band. The first lineup had our good family friend Jessica Lord on drums and we called ourselves “adj.” Pronounced adjective and it was a clever marketing angle of using our first initials Alec, Destin and Jess. When Jess left for school we brought on our neighbor Owen (Dawson) and he played drums till he also left for school. But Destin and I felt we had a good little band going and wanted to grow. It all felt very natural when we began writing together and playing as one. The songs seemed to piece together whether we wrote it together or brought it to each other and built it from there.

So right after Own left we were lucky to have another friend that played drums and once (Henry) Kish joined, we knew this was the band. We changed our name to exPorter (from Porter) and that started us moving to where we are today. But the real story is this band started with Rock Band and I hope we can collect some kind of royalties from that ☺

Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?

As a young band there are always obstacles I guess. School was probably the biggest one. We have been playing through high school and then Destin went to college and Kish and I were wrapping up school. We lost two drummers when they had to go to college. And it’s a good thing to get an education but it made it hard to book shows and stuff.  But we made it work as best we could, getting in shows where we could, recording tracks and writing new stuff every chance there was. And then as we were dealing with that we also had COVID to deal with. Obviously we couldn’t play shows during lockdown but we made it work with Destin and I at least in the same house, we did some zoom shows and we got to work on a lot of the stuff that made it onto our debut album (NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes). Which by the way was also a challenge to do because with all the lockdowns or mask stuff we couldn’t always get together at the same time. But we made that work too, recording every chance that we had, with each of us writing our own parts separately then coming together playing shows and rehearsing for recording. 

Another huge bump for any small band is securing shows on your own. The big bands make it look easy, you hit up a handful of venues, get some other bands, and go sell out. Now that we’re in the process of planning and booking some shows to promote NoBrakes, it is more evident how much behind the scenes work needs to be done and for three 20-something year olds trying to make it as a band, it is hard work. I think we put on a really good show and we are always pretty low drama for sound folks and venue owners but it’s hard getting them to trust you. I will say we have been very fortunate to have played some really great venues and the owners always seem willing to have us back but it’s really tough doing this all on our own right now. 

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

I think there are a couple of moments in the life of exPorter that we all agree have been pretty cool. The first two were having our songs on the radio. The first song we ever heard was “Carsick” and it was on our hometown station (KJEE in Santa Barbara) and we were blown away. They’ve played a lot of our songs and have been really supportive of us – love you KJEE! – but having that first one was really special. We had a similar experience the first time another of our songs was played outside of California. We were on a family vacation when we learned “Elizabeth” was on a station in Alabama –  shout out to Monk on Alt 101.7!  Those two radio moments were awesome.

I think another moment was when we were asked to open for Hinds in our hometown….that blew us away. We were asked like a week before the show if we could do it and I think we said yes in like two seconds. Kish was out of town so we flew him in, did a rehearsal and then did a pretty awesome set. Hinds fricken rocked and Destin loves them and we were so stoked to have that show. A band called Hearty Har was also on the bill and that’s John Fogerty’s kids so he was there. I remember it was pretty surreal to have been asked and then next thing you know there’s a fricken rock legend in the audience for our songs.  I think another cool thing about that show was that all of the bands crushed it and both Hinds and Hearty were so nice to our little band.

And then last but not least, if I had to pick the single most awesome thing so far, I would have to add the fundraiser thing we did for Jensens Guitar & Music shop in Santa Barbara. Jensens is this iconic shop and Destin and I grew up taking lessons there. We also started doing annual shows there usually around Christmas and stuff. During COVID we couldn’t do our usual show but we were going to be able to do a zoom thing. In setting that up we found out that the shop, like a ton of other small businesses, was hurting so we decided to try and make it a fundraiser. So we did this show which turned into a little fundraiser with a documentary, it was pretty cool. And then right when we were doing all of this, this other band called the Foo Fighters or something also chipped in with their own fundraiser with this random shoe company called Vans. Chris Shiflett has ties to the shop as well so all of a sudden you had the biggest band in the world and a huge company like Vans and then this tiny little band called exPorter all chipping in to help the shop. I think they raised way more than we did but we’re still pretty humbled to have been mentioned in the same breath as them. 

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

It is your classic pop punk from the 90s. We often get “hey y’all sound like Blink 182” or early Weezer. Kish has called our music bombastic and fun in other interviews and Destin is always saying if you loved the Vans Warped Tour you would love exPorter and I think that is all true. Also, I think it’s funny that once again Vans makes it into this interview so maybe we can get royalties from them?

But really, exPorter is fast and catchy with lyrics that are relatable to anyone who has ever been in love or liked someone or been dumped. It isn’t like some of the new pop punk about partying

and crushes or depression that is coming from huge millionaires that just started writing these songs. We are real with little dough and going through the same things many of pop punk/emo listeners are going through and we just happen to write songs that I think people connect with.  

What is your creative process like?

Typically Destin or I will come up with an idea on our own. It could be just a couple lyrics or a melody, maybe a bass line or guitar riff, whatever. We’ll then get together and just sort of share ideas and things. As brothers we’re together a lot so that can take place just about any time of year. Every now and then we might have a whole song done but usually it’s just connecting with parts of songs and then fleshing them out together. And then of course there are the rare moments where we’ll just get together and blast out a song in ten minutes but that’s only happened on a couple songs. I think we’ve written close to 100 songs together including the 10 on NoBrakes and I think 95% of them have come together with us working them out. 

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

I think it would be great if bands like ours could catch more breaks in the industry. The payouts from streaming services and the strongholds major labels/corporations have on it, is kind of lame. Even after thousands and thousands of streams, we have barely gotten any money made from streams. Getting on to the playlists that introduce you to new listeners are all held by the majors, so its all just extra work to push through that. The radio is even harder as big companies control much of the popular stations. I think there are so many good bands out there and some great songs but I don’t think a band like exPorter has it that easy in getting people to hear us. And I’m not saying we deserve to be heard or anything, but I know we work really hard on our shit and at being a band, and there are bands working harder than we are even, and then some one does a stupid SM thing and they’re huge. Again, I don’t think we deserve to be huge and we know we have to pay our dues and are doing that, but if someone out there wouldn’t mind taking a chance on this band called exPorter, that would be cool. 

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Just go out and play, write songs and keep it up as long as your heart is in it. That is the biggest key, if you like what you are doing , we think it will show and the crowd/listener will be able to tell and appreciate it! We’ve been really lucky to have folks we trust and know the industry give us the same advice and we follow that all the time too. Do this for the love of doing it. If you’re doing it for money or fame or whatever it’s probably going to be disappointing. Also, if you don’t actually like the music you’re putting out then what the heck is the point??

Also don’t let any of the bumps slow you, they will maybe suck in the moment, but they always pass. Just because people don’t listen to you or come to your shows early on doesn’t mean that day will never come. All it takes is one good song or performance landing in front of the right person and it will grow from there. Making connections is your best friend!

What has been the best performance of your career so far?

Well like I said before, I think the Hinds show (with Hearty Har) was pretty good. I really think all of our bands had awesome sets and even though we were really 3 different types of bands I think the show as a whole was great. I think we have the sound board recording of that show for our set and maybe we can prove it was a great set by releasing it as a live thing. 

Another show that stands out in our short career was one of the first ones we did with Kish on drums. We got asked to do this Halloween Haunt show at the SB Fairgrounds. It was the first year they were having bands and we said sure and next thing we know we’re asked to play 3 hours. Henry had seriously only joined weeks before and we were still using “Porter” as the name and how the heck were we going to pull off 3 hours? But Destin convinced us that it would work so we did it. We built this really cool set for the stage with trees and tombstones and brought a fog machine. It was Halloween so we went for it. We rehearsed like once. Kish being a huge Who fan taught us Baba O’Riley, we threw in the Monster Mash, Zombie by the Cranberries, seriously anything we could think of to fill 3 hours. And we did it. I remember after the last set we had all these people yelling for more or encore and it was pretty amazing to think that here’s this band that’s just starting out, we just did 3 hours, and people wanted more. It was pretty special coming off the stage that night.

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?

We all have our own little things I think we could go to if we weren’t doing exPorter but we don’t like to think that way. After we wrapped up school last Summer and Destin took some time off his job, we did a small little Summer tour and after the last show we all sort of got together and said, yeah, we want to do this band thing for real and that’s what we’re trying to do….buttttt, if we had to go back to non-rockstar lives I think Destin could work at a company designing learning courses which is actually on his resume – stuff like sexual harassment training or ladder safety. Kish went to school for Archeology and he actually worked out on a dig in the Midwest, so he’s said he would probably do that. Not sure if it would be like Indiana Jones type stuff but I could see it. And for me, my college experience was in history and I think I eventually may find myself teaching someday. However, I think even if that happened we would all keep music as a hobby on the side because we all enjoy it too much to give up on it. It  is hard work, but it is all worth seeing people dance along to our songs or hear people singing them stuck in their heads so we’ll keep working on the music side for the moment ☺

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?

Well the main priority right now is in promoting NoBrakes. As a band we’ve tried to make each new thing we do better than before whether it’s a show or writing a newer song or recording. When the 3 of us first got together and became exPorter, we said we wanted to do an EP. Destin and I had recorded some demos called the Hidden City Sessions and we figured the EP was the next step. So we did that with our EP “Bored” and we were super proud of that. When Destin and I wrote and we recorded “Elizabeth” and “Lassie” we were stoked with those and got those on the radio with then lead to the idea of doing a whole album. We had all these songs and an idea of making each song as best we could and I think we did that along with (co-producer) Elliott Lanam. We put a lot of work into making these 10 songs and now we just want to get as many folks out there listening to it. The reaction has been really positive and we’re just excited to think people might hear these songs and like what they’re hearing. We have shows lining up for August and have started getting folks to reach out to talk about our band so hopefully this is the next step in the growth of our band. Check out “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” and if you could ask every radio station in the world to play it that would be great. Or stream it a million times…that would be cool too. Or if you’re booking festivals for next year and need a band, give us a call, we can play anywhere from 30 min to 3 hours if you need it!

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