What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Destin Cavazos: So this is a true story, like a lot of kids Alec and I grew up playing video games including the fricken awesome 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. I think Santa brought us a bass and a guitar that year. So I started taking bass lessons and Alec started guitar.
Alec Cavazos: And then we even switched for a bit. I remember hating it at first, like nothing worked. Destin picked up bass really quick and started writing songs like the next day.
DC: Out of nowhere though it clicked with Alec and I don’t think he’s stopped playing guitar since.
AC: I remember thinking hey, Tom Delonge does this guitar thing…that is so cool.
DC: And I'd started playing in bands throughout high school. Everybody in a band's always learning guitar, then these guys are like "shit we need a bassist" so I got brought into a few different things with friends. I think I even played bass for a Christian rock group for a little bit there. But I definitely started to pick up a lot about performing and the energy that comes with it.
AC: 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 and that got us started in our band world. We called ourselves “Adjective” (adj.) using the clever angle of our initials as the band name.
DC: I think we should sue AJR for stealing our idea.
Henry Kish: The Wiggles and my dad showing me old concert videos got me started in music.
AC: As far as what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing this, maybe trying to run our record label (maxthedog records) full time though I guess that’s still music stuff. I don’t know, I like history so maybe a history teacher.
DC: In high school I had a dream of opening a chain of themed restaurants throughout Florida, so I probably would have tried to see that through had I not joined a band.
HK: If I wasn’t doing music I still need to finish college, studying anthropology, so probably something in that sphere.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
HK: Lately I've been riding my bike, 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 challenge myself to improve, I've been trying to do things that I enjoy as much as possible.
DC: Does writing music count as playing music? Cause I write a bit. But I think also chilling, playing video games, stuff like that. I think Kish said it best when talking about who we are, he said, “we’re real people” and I think that’s a good answer. People maybe think we are this band all the time but really we do other things too. Which does help with creativity I think. I may be out on a hike and see something out there and think, hey that would be a cool song, or hanging with friends out to eat and someone says something funny that resonates with me. I read a ton so I know I get ideas from books I’ve read.
AC: Listening to music and finding new music always influences me in my writing. I also play video games, Minecraft is obviously a very creative game and love doing whatever I want, that for sure carries over into how I go about writing a new song. Skating is one of my favorite activities to just be me and explore wherever I am!
How long has your band been around?
AC: I think adj. started in like 2015. Then Jess left and we brought on our neighbor Owen (Dawson) on drums and became “Porter”
DC: Some exPorter trivia – Porter came from John Porter who was the Smiths’ first producer. Our dad is a huge Smiths fan and was watching a documentary and threw us that name. Johnny Marr is a fricken stud and Andy Rourke is one of my bass heros so yeah, Porter was cool.
AC: Then Owen left and Henry came on and we knew this was the band. That was late 2018. So that’s the official exPorter start - 2018.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
HK: We all grew up in Santa Barbara and I lived like 3 blocks away from the Santa Barbara Bowl, definitely influential.
AC: We are based out of Southern California and formed Santa Barbara. Obviously SoCal is huge in the music world and there are a ton of bands from there that are a huge influence on us – obviously Blink made a big impact, Social Distortion, Good Charlotte so many others. We also go to a ton of shows and I know we draw influence from those. Doesn’t matter how big the show is either. We once saw Smoking Popes at this small venue, we’ve seen Weezer or the Killers at huge venues, we saw Billie Eilish at the Forum before they blew up – all of that creeps into your head as far as things we could go for as a band.
DC: Yeah SoCal is crazy with music for sure but we were originally based out of Santa Barbara, CA. The music scene in town has always been pretty active, I remember catching local bands around town all through high school. There’s no shortage of groups getting out there and playing music, and there’s a good variety of venues in town. I also think the local radio station 92.9 KJEE is a great station for alt music and play a ton of bands that have been influential – such a great station for alt rock and there are way too many bands they play that have made an impact. They also do a really good job of helping new bands in the area and they for sure helped exPorter build buzz, they’ve played a lot of our songs; they really do a lot in support of the local scene. A lot of different sounds in the scene too—one band we play with pretty regularly is a banjo-based rock group called Trout Club, it’s a really unique vibe.
AC: There is actually a decent little music scene up in SB. It’s a mix of local bands like ours and around growing bands out of University of California Santa Barbara and the college party scene, but it promotes music very well. There are a handful of college bands that come and go through the years and a few that we have grown quite close to in recent years particularly. Some of the bands up here we like playing with are Loc Dawgs, Lizardsmouth, Feel Better and others. There’s also a band called LetFloGo that was from there but moved to Austin…we did some songs and shows with them and I think we learned a bit from doing stuff like that.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
DC: After playing under the Porter name for about a year or two, and after Kish joined 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 always chuckle because to me, an “exPorter” sounds like some guy carrying around all his feelings about his ex, which is a vibe I think rings true in a lot of our music
AC: 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 for any legal trouble that may arise in the future we decided to change it and saw it fitting to become exPorter as we were technically once Porter. We have received a lot of feedback on people preferring the exPorter.
DC: We really liked Porter but exPorter is definitely who we are. When we were working on the album design for NoBrakes… Alec had some ideas for how to write out the name and I was all, “dude, you have to protect the brand…our logo is out there, it’s on our stage banner, it’s on merch”. We had to pay him $50 to go with the cover as it was released but it’s who we are…That album cover with our actual logo on it is us – when I saw the version with the logo on it and the one without, to me the logo made it real.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
DC: At one of our first shows as this band, we got asked to play 3 whole hours at a Halloween event. We had like a couple days to figure out how to do it. It was cool how we managed to pull it together and figure out enough songs to fill the time, especially since we’d only been playing with Henry for a month at the time. We also had a big spooky graveyard set built for the show, which made it a lot of fun. Definitely added to the vibes onstage. For our 3rd set (we broke it into 3 - 45 min sets) we had these painter coverall suits (think Weezer – Pork & Beans vid) and we weren’t really sure if Kish would wear them. He said “hell yeah we should wear these” and we did and we looked awesome. Fricken hot though so Alec and I took ours off pretty quick. I think Kish played almost the whole set in his.
HK: For me it was our show at The Milk Bar in San Francisco (during the Van on the Run Tour in SO Cal Summer ’21). I just remember feeling great the entire time. Our performance was energetic and fun, and all people in that room were moving, and full of energy. It was also the furthest I'd traveled to play a show, so it felt really good for it to be a success.
AC: Well in 2015 when we were adj. we played a set at the space needle, actually it was IN the space needle, while it wasn’t like a sold out crowd of all our fans, it was surreal to look out over Seattle. Aside from that we once sold out Jensens guitar shop and it was just packed and a good vibe all around!
DC: Another show we were stoked to do was open for Hinds at SOhO (in Santa Barbara). Numbskull productions hit us up like a week before and asked if we wanted to do it and we were blown away – Yes! Henry was in Colorado so we told him he needed to get out there, he got a ticket and we did one rehearsal and did the show. Epic. Hinds is an awesome band and we were so jazzed to get that show.
AC: Hearty Har was also on the bill and that’s John Fogerty’s kids so he was there too. It was pretty awesome to be doing our songs in front of that dude. Both those bands were so cool to us and I think all of the sets were awesome. Hinds killed it!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
AC: Jensens shop had a stage that was sort of home for us and always provided a good atmosphere, but sadly it has closed the doors to its stage room. Sucks. We played so many shows there and Destin and I grew up there. It’s such an iconic shop and meant so much to us. You can check out our Sort of Live at Jensens to see how intimate that stage was. As for future places, one day I would love to play at the SB Bowl having gone to some of my favorite shows there!
HK: I'm not sure I have a favorite venue to play at, If people are there to watch me play then I'm happy. Playing the Santa Barbara bowl though would definitely be a dream come true since I grew up like 3 blocks away from it, and it's where I saw my first concert ever.
DC: The (SB) Bowl would be awesome. Our hometown station KJEE did these shows called the “Summer Roundup” which we would always go to. They always had a local band as the first act so we would love to get that slot. KROQ (Los Angeles) also did a similar but bigger thing every Christmas at the Forum. I think if we could get Summer Roundup and Almost Acoustic Christmas at those spots that would be awesome.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
DC: I would love to play a show with Weezer. I think they have a lot of fun onstage and I’d love to be able to share in that energy. Plus we could wear our coverall things again (see above). I also think if Oingo Boingo ever came back around I'd pretty much sell my soul to get on the lineup.
HK: Hmmm that's tough. I think for our band if we got to play in a lineup with bands like Turnstile, Title Fight, or King Gizzard my life would be complete.
AC: Blink 182, Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor and exPorter.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
AC: It took me a long time to accept this but the reality is this is a business. Like if you want to just play music and stuff, that’s totally cool and do it, but if you want to do it professionally there’s a lot of work we have to do to be little rock stars. And we’re just starting out.
DC: Yeah, we have a family friend that’s in a pretty big band and he told us it’s sales and gambling so we have had to get used to that idea. When we were kids playing Rock Band, in our minds we were rock stars, but now that we’re starting to build up our band there’s a lot of work we have to do.
AC: I think another bit of advice I would give and that we follow is we have to enjoy what we’re writing and putting out there. Like this album is what we wanted to do so we worked hard to get it out…it took close to a year. If it sucked or we hated the songs then what’s the point? Enjoy what you’re doing for sure!
DC: I think another thing that we realized is that we have to work to make everything next thing we do better than the last thing we did. When we get to releasing the next album the songs should be better than on “NoBrakes”, the cover should look cooler, merch should get better. We definitely work on that for sure.
HK: Play music you like, if you aren't happy and having fun you're doing something wrong. I wish my younger self would've played along to a click more for sure.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
HK: I would tell my younger self to have an open mind and to listen to more kinds of music rather than shy away from music I didn't initially like growing up. Now that's most of the music I listen to!
DC: I think the Simpsons said it best, if you ever go back in time don't step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future… That and practice more.
AC: Not every show is going to be sold out or have everyone there to see you, but that’s the road you have to walk more often than not when you’re starting out. It’s a struggle sometimes but it’s worth it every time some is singing your song(s) back to you or wanting to talk with you after the show!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
DC: Obviously all of the songs on NoBrakes mean a lot to us. I still think it’s cool that we put together 10 songs that cover a lot of different things musically. I really have a lot of love for Sister Cities, I think it represents the kind of person I am and how I look at the world. I'd written it back in my senior year of college, so it's been cool to see what it's been able to grow into, I feel like I've formed an even deeper connection with it. If you’re thinking songs not on the NoBrakes album, then I think Nightmare is one of my favorite songs. It’s definitely a deeper cut but it’s a cool little break from our usual mosh pit music. It’s a good taste of something a little softer and more intimate.
AC: That’s pretty hard to pick just one cause in the end they all mean something to you. I also find myself thinking of a song maybe we don’t play a lot that all of a sudden means a ton to me. Like take a song like “Rain Delay” and I love just about everything with it from lyrics or them to the violin parts we added, the outro. But I think if I had to pick just one, I think “Carsick” would be the one that comes up the most. That was one of the first songs I came up with a lot of the parts, it was our first song ever played on the radio, and it’s our “hit” song.
HK: For me, Sister Cities off the new album probably means the most to me. It was kind of a late throw in on the album so the first time I heard it was the day before recording. I’m really happy with how the parts turned out.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
DC: Off NoBrakes, my favorite song to play live though so far has gotta be Retrograde. We’ve been using it as an opener - It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and I get to fire off a couple f-bombs. It’s definitely got that classic pop-punk energy. At our shows, though, I think the fans are always trying to hear Carsick, that’s really become like the iconic exPorter track in the last few years. It gets the kids moving. We definitely get that shout out to us a lot.
HK: Our new song off the album called Sister Cities is probably my favorite to play, as well as a part that I'm most proud of, especially considering it was kind of a last-second addition to the album. Our first 'hit' which I always remember getting requested was Carsick.
AC: Retrograde off NoBrakes… is probably my favorite right now as well as when we cover Where Is My Mind. WiMM is always on the set list. That and Carsick are probably our most requested songs.
DC: Yeah, funny one of our favorites is not even ours but we have been playing it forever – “Where is my mind” by the Pixies. More trivia, when we play that song the show is pretty much over, maybe one more encore, but yeah, that’s our closer for the most part. Another cover I love is “Black Sheep” by Metric. I do the bass intro and you can see people perk up thinking, “hey I think I know or might like this…” and when we start singing people react like “shit yeah – this song!”
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
DC: When we first write a song, it’s usually Alec and I sharing ideas and then maybe we track them on his laptop….hearing where songs that started out like that actually ended up with the album is pretty special. As far as inspiration, I draw heavily on my own life. There's definitely a lot I've written about girls I've dated (or not dated), but our ideas really come from anywhere, just different stuff I find in life. Like, "Feel Good" is about the ratty, duct-taped couch I had when I went to UCLA. I'm also big on reading, and I definitely see myself pulling ideas from different books I've read.
AC: Destin and I will usually write stuff on our own. It could be lyrics, or a melody or 95% of a song and then we usually connect to work them out. It’s not always the way but for sure the most common. We have had songs that we have written on the fly in like 10 minutes but it’s almost always the other way, “hey, I have this idea, cool, what do you have”. For inspiration, we joke a lot about our songs being about girls or unrequited love which they are but we definitely draw from a lot of other things. Bands we like obviously inspire us, musically or what their brand is. So take like Blink and they are an influence but then take Tom’s (Delonge) love of skateboarding which I love to do and a song idea might come from any part of that.
HK: Alec and Destin are the primary songwriters, but when it comes to percussion I'm in charge of those parts. As far as inspiration, my first influence ever musically was The Who and there’s some of that in the drums. My goals when writing my parts are to bring groove, energy, and cohesion.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
HK: I want our music to be something people can connect with as all my favorite songs and musicians have created deep connections within me. Hopefully, we bring joy, excitement, and connectivity to people who listen to our songs.
AC: We all go through similar experiences and can relate to each other in that sense and I love for that to come across, but also I want each song to find its own meaning in the listener as well.
DC: I really just try to put my own emotions and experiences on the tracks, because in the end someone's going to resonate with that. Like our songs are about getting your heart broke or kissing cute blonde girls, I feel like there's a lot of familiarity in that, just in love and life. I think trying to get messages across too much though is sort of a catch-22 when writing songs, because everyone's going to connect to it in a different way. Whatever my thoughts and feelings behind a song are, someone else could hear it and have it represent something completely different for them. I mean our songs for sure have meaning to them for the most part but I love the idea of having someone being able to make it their own.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
DC: There is a ton we all agree on but we also have stuff we argue about. When we first sat down and said, hey, we want to be a band, that was one of the more difficult things to get used to. Sometimes we’re not going to agree. And at first it was more like arguing and one of use might get a llittle more pissed than the other but pretty soon we got over that. At the end of the day we have to realize that as a business and a brand we may not always agree on the best way to move forward, BUT we all have to accept the fact that we’re all trying to do what we think is best for the band. That makes it easier. Whether it’s an Alec guitar lick or my lyrics or his or the album cover, we’re all pitching in ideas to make it better. Once you accept that I think it’s easier to move forward.
AC: Yeah, the idea that this is a business too, that definitely took some getting used to and can still be
hard but I know Kish and Destin and I all want what’s best for the band. When it’s unanimous it’s easy, we go forward and then hope the next thing is better like we said. When we disagree, we chat about it, make our case. Someone usually concedes and we move on. And if we’re still stuck we put stuff out to vote, ask trusted friends and stuff.
DC: Like the album title….we started a Google doc and all three of us added titles. Our friends and family threw some in. When we were getting ready to wrap it up we had close to 200 titles on there. So the first go around, the three of us were in a room and we just started blasting threw them. Each had veto power and we just started whittling them down…some went off the list and some crawled back. Some of us made their pitch on some, I think Alec even acted out a commercial for one of the names. Eventually we got it to 10 names.
AC: Then we took a break overnight, and then gave access to some of the professional folks that have supported us…radio DJs, our co-producer Elliott, etc. And we ended up with two tied with the most.
DC: In the end we picked NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes which was actually the one Alec had acted out the commercial for. But in the end, I can’t think of any other title that this album should have. We started with 200 and got down to absolutely what it should be. I think overall we just try to view the band as a collaborative process, it’s not just one person’s ideas. I think we understand that everyone brings something different so it’s important for us to recognize there’s no singular vision for the band or our music. When we do disagree, it really comes down to discussion between us three; if 2/3 of us vote a certain way, it’s only fair to take that as what’s best for the band.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
HK: Eventually graduate college, keep rocking as a band.
AC: We’ve said this before and I know it sounds cliché but really we just want to keep growing as a band. That’s our future plans for sure. Ultimately too we'd love to get signed to a label so that we can keep growing.
DC: Just keep getting better as a band for sure. And obviously last year we spent a lot of focus on wrapping up the album but now the immediate future is promote that album - NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes is out now so I hope everyone’s listening to that, downloading it, buying a million copies right now.
AC: Yep, NoBrakes is out now so our immediate focus is promoting that. We’re doing a lot of press, thank you VW for working with us on these
We’re getting songs on the radio. Figuring out the singles for when. And of course we have shows starting to come together to promote it.
DC: There’s a lot of new music on the album that not a lot of folks have heard so we want to get it out there for folks to hear.. I think fans can expect a lot from this album, right from the opening track we hit the ground running, and we bring a lot of energy throughout the rest of the songs. Anyone that’s heard an exPorter song before will definitely recognize our usual brand of upbeat pop punk, but we’ve tried our best to explore some different genres throughout the album. For instance, there’s some stuff on the album that’s reminiscent of the 60’s surf rock era; on another song we went deep into synths to create a shoegaze inspired ballad, Alec writes lil ballads since the beginning of the band but we have a Destin-ballad that folks should listen to.
AC: We love playing live so it will be cool to get out there for NoBrakes. We started booking for a little summer tour here in California for in July and August and hoping to extend that out.
DC: Grow the band, tour the album and start thinking of the next set of songs, bigger shows. Alec and I have written like 60 originals and I know we want to revisit some of those. And we’re writing new stuff already too. Check us on insta @exporter.band to track what we’re up to!