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OCROCK.NET Views and Reviews Updated: 11/03/2003
Let me start by saying Exploiting Eve is great interview. I arrived at The Coach House and chatted with the band on a lazy Wednesday evening just before their set and was greeted with sincere enthusiasm from all five of the band members: Janelle Barreto (vocals), Vincent Ramos (bass), Andres Ramos (percussion), Victor Lozano (rhythm guitar) and Michael Jost (lead guitar). Most bands give fledging interviewers like myself the responses I want to hear. Exploiting Eve gives responses spawned from true feeling which is a rarity in the local music scenes façade of realism. Just listen to this:
OCR: How exactly do you exploit eve?
Janelle: In as many ways possible. By playing good rock shows is the primary way.
OCR: You guys have received a ton of musical awards, but for some reason you guys arent signed.
Vincent: Thats right!
OCR: So whats the secret to getting all the awards?
Janelle: Well I think that the level of talent and musicianship in the band has a lot to do with why weve been awarded or at least recognized by the music scene here in L.A. and Orange County. I think us not being signed has everything to do with the fact the music industry now in 2004 is pretty much crumbling before our eyes and hardly any bands are being signed right now. So theres no money in the industry, which is cool for us because we have our own label and our own publishing company and it forces us to have to do everything on our own which makes us that much batter as a band.
Vincent: You know what? If we were worried about a record contract every single day we couldnt do music. We play good music and if people like it, its great. Thats the bottom line. People smile, we have a good time, and we love it. We love the music first and foremost, thats the reason we play with each other.
OCR: You guys have been together since 1997.
Janelle: This February it will be seven years.
OCR: So youve lasted longer than most bands.
Janelle: Yeah. Longer than most relationships, too!
OCR: So why should somebody pay $10 - $50 to see your show?
Vincent: Ten to fifty? Good, I like your thinking! Well, because we put on a kick-ass live show.
OCR: So whats your definition of a kick-ass live show?
Vincent: Great songs, high energy and simply making people have a good time. Theres not death and destruction in our songs.
Janelle: Its more like a high energy, kinda like a party vibe. I also think that were a band that actually has something to say. Our lyrics are thoughtful and were hoping to affect the youths, in fact, any age range. Were hoping to make an impact on the crowd and then the other part of it is just general escapism; for people to just come and be able to not think about their job and their laundry and their bills and just be able for forty-five minutes to an hour celebrate being alive and good music. I feel like thats worth it. You know a bad movie is more than ten bucks.
Vincent: How about a bad date?
OCR: So you kinda already touched on it, but what does future hold for the music industry as a whole, with online music sharing, or stealing? Where do you see it headed?
Janelle: Its really interesting, because I feel like right now its kinda like the Wild West. There is no legislation against it, no laws or rules about downloading it. Everybody is trying and scrambling to figure something out. Just recently they placed about 250 lawsuits, right after that, about two weeks later it seems like record sales actually improved, so maybe they are legally going to get some things together. But you know, as sad as I am that its hard as a musician, harder than ever in the history of music to make money as an independent musician, Im kinda stoked that the industry is having to kind of crumble and reflect on how they are doing business, because maybe it will give artists a chance to negotiate a little bit better because we own the fan bases and we own the product but I only make seven or eight cents an album. Maybe its actually a chance for us to be liberated in terms of our industry.
Vincent: Thats what it gets down to. Big brother, record companies, have always had just a heavy hand on the bands and as Janelle says, its the Wild Wild West right now. Its simply put that you can make money now and not have the record company. You can go out and have a tour and have it sponsored by a different company and make money other ways. Sell your stuff online. Theres so many ways. Selling music or giving away music free, thats a weird thing because you spend a lot of money recording it.
OCR: So you guys think theres an opportunity to cut out the middleman.
Vincent: Yeah there is an opportunity, but you still need them. You still need a record company.
Janelle: Its sad that artists arent getting paid for albums anymore. Thats sad because we should be able to make money off our records. However, the one thing about artists is that under any circumstances, were able to adapt because of the nature of our industry and we make the product. We own the product. And, I think it will be cool because fat, lazy A and R guys will have to get up out of their fucking desk, stop fucking golfing, roll up their sleeves and get out there and hustle just like an independent artist. I dont know. Well see. Only the future will tell.
Vincent: Come talk to us in three years and Ill bet you it all will be different. Go back to 8 tracks!
Janelle: But were not going to wait for the industry to pull it together. Were not going to wait for some label guy to come and say, OK nows your chance! You know, fuck it. Were just going to keep playing and keep selling albums and keep getting fans. Were not going put it in someone elses hand to create our musical destiny.
OCR: OK, so Ive hit up so many different bands websites, and you guys have a better website than so many bands. So how do you do it, because, either you guys arent lazy or theres got to be some sort of secret behind it.
Michael: Well the whole band doesnt get high!
Vincent: The real bottom line is that it kinda stems from the music. Everybody in the band believes in each other. That creates an outer circle for us. We have a couple people who work with us who believe in the project. Having a website is a very important tool. People want to know more than just the simple stuff. We use ADM Designs.
OCR: I want an answer from everyone on this one. Whats the first album you ever bought?
Andres: It was either Devo Freedom of Choice or Power Rage AC/DC
Michael: (I apologize, Michael told me and the tape I recorded it on didnt pick it up e-mail me Michael, and Ill make it up to you)
Victor: Well for me, it was the first album that was given to me. It was Yes, Close To The Edge or Over The Edge. I
Janelle: I think mine was Sergeant Peppers.
Vincent: I had Zeppelin 4!
OCR: Now I got to ask this. Whats the best part about being in a band?
Andres: Just basically writing songs, collaborating with musicians. Thats my favorite part of it.
Janelle: Mine is rocking out! My favorite part is all the work you have to do for the forty-five minutes just to rock out.
Vincent: For me everything about being in a band is cool. From writing to rehearing to getting ready for a gig to doing the
Victor: I like putting the gear up on stage!
OCR: Now its time for my signature writing technique: Five Random Questions! Number 1: Duracell or Energizer and why?
Michael: None of them! Eveready at the 99-cent store. Im very particular about that.
Janelle: Duracell, because it last and lasts and lasts.
Vincent: Yeah what do you use them for?
Janelle: No, no. I have no need for that.
Vincent: No need for a pocket rocket, eh?
OCR: Whats the best cartoon ever?
Andres: Speed Racer probably.
Vincent: Fantastic Four. Oh wait; The Legion of the Super Friends was kick-ass!
OCR: Paper or plastic and why?
Janelle: Paper. It burns easier. Its not as harsh on your throat as plastic.
OCR: Boxers, briefs or commando style?
Andres: Whats commando?
OCR: Free balling.
Janelle: I think thong! Thats kind of a sexist question!
Victor: Free balling.
Andres: Free balling.
Vincent: Yeah, free balling.
OCR: Collectively between the band, whats the credit card debt?
Janelle: Maybe a million.
Andres: Well I guess my bankruptcy let me start over.
Michael: Were fucked.
Janelle: Theres not enough zeros.
Michael: How much it fucked?
Exploiting Eve, offered me their latest CD, which is a sneak preview of their full-length album due out early next year, and we parted ways (to all you other bands: what a novel concept of giving the critic a kicked down CD just a hint though, take it for what its worth).
Exploiting Eve have many familiar undertones that you can hear in their music. Janelles voice as she sang through the set was very powerful, almost like that of 90s rocker, PJ Harvey. The band obviously has had many different musical influences and through many of their songs, the guitar riffs are reminiscent of early Black Crowes and many of the seventies super groups.
The conservative crowd seemed pleased with the set, even as the band experienced technical difficulties with the drums. Andres worked through the glitch well though, and the band went into what I felt was the best song of the night, Sideways. Before the song started, Janelle said that it was a tune about looking at the same thing in different ways, which reminded me of how a L.A. rock band like Exploiting Eve looks at the local music scene, versus a suburbanite in an O.C. band looking at the local music scene.
A local L.A. band like Exploiting Eve takes a risk when traveling to the doldrums of South Orange County. The fans are very reserved and extremely hard to connect with. Exploiting Eve took that risk playing the Coach House and though the dividends of that risk may have only been minimal, the fact they took it in the first place says a lot about how serious the band takes their music.
All risks succeed or fail, but bands that are willing to take a risk will create an avenue for success. Resting on your laurels, like a lot of local O.C. bands do, may get them somewhere, but it is only by luck. So a band like Exploiting Eve has to ask themselves a question, and it is a question that they have already answered. Would they rather get lucky and succeed or would they rather work and succeed? Its the same thing, but you can look at it two different ways just like the song Sideways says. I think Exploiting Eve realizes that the only way to produce something truly great is by hard work, and dedication and thats evident in their live performance. A lot of O.C. bands could learn from the work ethic of the L.A. based, Exploiting Eve. The problem is, most people who are in an O.C. band already think they are taking the steps that Exploiting Eve is. The reality is theyre not, which bodes well for the five members of Exploiting Eve, who seem to be doing everything possible to create good music and their musical destiny.