Track By Tracks: exPorter - NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes (2023)

exPorter is an up and coming pop-punk trio out of Santa Barbara, CA starting to get some spins outside of the streaming world. Their self-produced debut album “NoBrakesNoBrakesNoBrakes” has received great radio support across the country with the first 4 singles in Top 50 Spots on the specialty radio charts “Lusitania” hit #15 with “Your Boyfriend (Suckup)” peaking at #24 joining songs “Elizabeth” (49) and “Lassie” (50). Taking shape during the COVID lockdown, “NoBrakes” offers 10 tracks with classic pop-punk vibes with a few 80’s and even a couple ballads mixed in. Read on to find out how the album came together track by track.

“So most people have heard that the album wasn’t really an album to start but kind of grew into an album pretty quickly.” explained Alec Cavazos (Guitar/Vocals). “Destin and I were staying at our parents’ house during the lockdown and we were jamming all the time like when we were kids. We were writing a bunch of new stuff too. We had these two songs (Lassie and Elizabeth) that we really liked so we got into the studio to record those as soon as we could.”, continues Alec. “It was just going to be like a double single or something but once they started tracking on the radio we decided to make a whole album with the other songs we had.”

Added brother Destin Cavazos (Bass/Vocals), “Yeah, at the time it was a bunch of song parts but we had some good ideas and those two really came together quickly…and I think they’re both about similar themes”. “I think mostly out of the isolation of the pandemic but those two songs are about wanting to be with someone so badly. I know Elizabeth was pretty straightforward, in terms of putting it together: I really just wanted to write a 60’s era surf rock track with a girl’s name as the title, and once I got that riff and the oooo’s going it came together pretty quickly. I joke and call it our “angsty Beach Boys number” but that’s pretty much the vibe I was going for. Really, that beachy song-of-summer kind of energy ended up shaping a lot of how I wanted the album to look.”

Once things opened up and the boys could safely enter the studio, they went in to Hidden City Studios in Santa Barbara, CA to work once again with owner (and album co-producer) Elliott Lanam. “Since it was still sort of crazy and we weren’t so sure how long things would actually stay open, we knew Elliott was the right choice since he knew us so well.”, recalls Destin. “It must have worked too cause we got those tracks done in a couple days.” With the tracks completed, exPorter set to release them as a double single and pushed for airplay. Both Elizabeth and Lassie cracked the top 50 of the specialty charts and with the great response, the boys decided to pursue a whole album with the rest of their songs.

Although all three members were separated (drummer Henry Kish was in Colorado), they worked with the studio, current safety guidelines and more to get through the recording process. “It was definitely weird, but we made it work”, said Alec, “We would go in to record our parts, sometimes together, sometimes alone. We would get Henry out when he could, book a local show and then get his drum parts done….not the easiest way to record but we made it work.”

Lusitania was the second song written mainly by Alec during their lockdown sessions. “The song originally called Another Night, and I think it was the second song I wrote and liked during lockdown (Lassie being the first).”, continues Alec. “The song is basically about a relationship falling apart but also being saved by just being together or at least wanting to save it. But the real inspiration for the song was I wanted to write a song with the word ‘inconceivable’ in it. During COVID we were writing a lot but we also watched a ton of movies so I must have just watched ‘The Princess Bride’ and thought I want to write a song with that word in there. The lyrics really just came to me once I started writing them and the story evolved from that.”

Lusitania was our latest featured single”, said guitarist/vocalist Alec Cavazos, “and it’s actually done the best on the charts so far which is really cool for us.” The song has received great support on radio stations nationwide and even Europe and has been played multiple times on Rodney Bingenheimer’s in The Underground Garage show on SiriusXM.

“We all grew up in Southern California and Rodney is a legend. When you think of all the bands that someone like Rodney has introduced, it’s great to think we’re anywhere on that guy’s radar.” added brother Destin Cavazos (bass/vocals). “If you head to his Wikipedia page and just look at all those bands. I mean there are easily more than 75% of bands that have influenced exPorter in some way or another so it’s awesome to be in that world.”

The track “Retrograde” was also completed around the same time as Lusitania. Recalls Destin, “when we got to Retrograde, I got to this idea about that weird place you get to when you find yourself all of a sudden thinking about this random person you thought you were over. Like a lot of the album, I don’t know if it was the whole isolation of COVID or whatever but that theme kept coming back and we got it down pretty quick.”

“It’s basically about when you start to catch yourself thinking about someone you thought you got over; you find them slipping into your dreams, you’re remembering all the positive aspects about them, and you start to trick yourself into thinking “oh wow my life is really terrible without this person”.  You end up fighting yourself, fighting all the growth it’s taken to get over that person, and so this song is about losing out to that emotional side of yourself.”

“For the video we were able to get a lot of the footage from some of the first shows we did after COVID started easing up. I think it’s a pretty good example of just how bad people wanted to get outside.”, says Alec. “It was at the local fair and it was fricken PACKED. People were really itching to get out and do anything so there was like 10,000 people almost every night of the fair. So yeah, we can brag that we’ve played to 10,000 before…don’t matter that maybe people were there for just about anything or JUST to get out of the house, but the stats are the stats” The next five tracks on the album all came during the middle of the recording process and all followed a similar model. Destin and Alec would bring different parts of a song and then work together to flesh out the song. As each song neared completion, the brothers would record a demo and send tracks to the rest of the team. For Henry, it allowed him to start thinking up the drum parts. For Elliott, they would also send links to other artist songs to provide examples of what the band envisioned for each track.

Stick n Poke:

Alec: Stick n Poke was a song I wrote mostly in high school about my friend getting a stick n poke tattoo by a girl he had been seeing. I told him it was a dumb idea because they definitely weren’t going to work out and it was obvious. But he didn’t seem to care and just went with the experience. It is ironic because I ended up doing something similar a few years after. So it really is just about having fun n the moment and that a silly little tattoo doesn’t mean much.

Just Me, Myself, and I Miss You:

Alec: I wrote a lot of this one a few days after a girl broke up with me just as COVID was letting up. It was a relationship that was definitely rushed but coming out of COVID lockdown it felt a lot bigger than it really was. So looking back this song feels like a bit much, but it is true to myself at that time in the immediate days after. I still really like this song for that reason and that just it grows altogether through the song. I took that idea from a few of my favorite breakup songs (No it isn’t by +44 and Best of Me by Sun 41). The bridge is from an older song I had written but I can’t recall which one.

Your Boyfriend (Suckup):

Alec: This song came with no real intention, I just had the idea about writing a song about wanting to be with someone when they already had a significant other, because we’ve all been there,,,right?? Anyways, I was semi inspired by a song SIMP and just wanted something fast and wild. The lyrics just kind of stuck and came easily. The breakdown/end part is definitely my favorite part in just how big it gets and feels.

Suspended in Ether:

Destin: For the main guitar riff, Alec noted that it is very influenced by Blink-182’s Dammit. Starts on the similar pattern just positioned in a different key. The whole song is one we had worked on probably 5 or 6 years ago, but we’d never done too much with just because of how the sound didn’t really mesh with our more fast-paced stuff; always really liked it though, I think that more laid back groove gave us a lot of room to experiment, and I feel like some really cool bits came out of it. The song is about taking some time to disconnect from reality, of fully living in this world of “what could be” rather than taking in what’s right in front of you, and I think those dreamy synths that we put in there came to capture that really well. 

Grace and Forgiveness of the Idle of Venus:

Destin: This is basically my take on the lovesick pop punk anthem; it’s about being around someone you’re just insanely attracted to—I’m talking full looney tunes, steam pouring out of the ears and eyeballs melting from your skull—and the struggle (or rather failure) to keep it cool rather than just like rip your clothes off in a frenzy. That’s something I tried to recreate with the energy of the song, I wanted it to have this fast paced “my skin is on fire” kind of sense to it. I also pulled a lot from bands like All Time Low and New Found Glory, I think they write well to that feeling, of like the weight of a crush. 

With 9 songs near completion, the band knew they had enough material for the album but they also knew there was one more song they had been messing with that they really felt could fit well. With just a bit left in their budget, and a bit left open on their schedule, they pushed to get “Sister Cities” wrapped and included on the release. Destin and Alec wrapped up almost all of the parts in a day then sent the demo to Henry so he could figure out drums. They recorded the track the next day.

“Sister Cities is, to me, what ties up everything I’m feeling on this album, and maybe that’s why we’ve got it situated as my last track on the record and the last track overall.”, recalls Destin. “I just think as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to catch on to the little patterns in my love life; like when you’re young you think the concept of romance is so unique, and everyone you meet is The One, and then you hit this point in your twenties and you realize all your exes look the same it’s like “oh I’ve just repeating the same relationship over and over with different people”. Because there’s always a next The One, ya know? Whether it’s in New York or Santa Fe or San Francisco you’re always chasing someone around. There’s a certain homogeneity to living your life like a lovesick idiot.”

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