[OC Music Awards Interview] Stereofix Give Orange County Their New Wave Fix
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicked off on January 4th with seven weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic and a performance slot at the 2011 OC Music Awards, March 5 at the Grove of Anaheim. And, the voting is open now!
If you like the soaring alternative-crash of ’90s guitars and the stylish synth-pop of the ’80s, Stereofix will definitely feed your need for a post-punk fix. The Orange County-based quartet create music that serves as a heady intoxicant of those addictive retro power pop chords that never go out of style and a melange of modern British rock, albeit without the pretentious normative of most rock stars of those genres.
Stereofix brings something fresh, fertile, and even a bit homegrown to a sound that has regularly been quantified as too synthetic or cerebral. They do it without losing their confident grit or their insatiable work ethic, deftly balancing their desire for fame with their affable, endearing personal humility.
Stereofix is all about making their musical venture a familial one, both literally and metaphorically. [pullquote quote="It's easier with a sibling in the band. You're so close and you guys can really kind of have the same influences and enjoy the same influences. It just kind of makes sense. You have a tighter band and stuff."]Ray Alexander (vocals) and Kamren Alexander (guitar/vocals) are brothers with Mark Allan (bass) and Anthony Hainsworth (drums) completing their tight-knit sonic “sibling” bond. When I pointed this out Stereofix said, ”Some of our favorite bands are [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]30 Seconds To Mars[/lastfm]: siblings. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Radiohead[/lastfm]: siblings. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Oasis[/lastfm]: siblings.”
Kamren elaborated on the importance of having a brother in the mix:
“It’s easier with a sibling in the band. You’re so close and you guys can really have the same influences and enjoy the same influences. It just makes sense. You have a tighter band and stuff.”
His brother, Ray, explained how he intially asked his brother to make music with him, with Kamren jokingly saying Ray took his “childhood away from him.”
“It was the senior year of high school. I’ve always been interested in starting a band, but didn’t really know how to do it. It was quite weird, I didn’t really grasp the whole concept of how everything came together, but one of our neighbors–he was kind of a punk rocker kid–he was in a band.”
“And so, we’d go over there and mess around and stuff–I knew how to play a couple chords. Finally, he had this one piece of crap guitar there. It was an electric guitar. It was this black thing with no name on it and I bought it from him for 50 bucks. I learned like three chords, wrote my first song, and got really excited about it so I went to Kamren and said, ‘Hey dude. I need you to play bass because we’re going to start a band.’ He was like, ‘Really?'”
“And that’s how it happened…Two or three chords. Having a knack for melody and a sibling to back me up.”
“We don’t beat each other up…We’ve come a long way. We’ve all matured from the beginning of time when we first picked up that $50 guitar. Now it’s pretty organic and pretty orchestrated how we came up with ideas and write about it.”
However Stereofix comes up with ideas, their music is reminiscent of the yearning, alternative guitar riffs of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]U2[/lastfm], the stylish dance-pop clamor of the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Killers[/lastfm], and the distinctive New Wave glam of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Duran Duran[/lastfm]. Ray described his influences and it is clear that Stereofix are attracted to a lot of evocative, provocative dance-pop acts.
“Influences for me because I’m a singer…I’ve always been turned on by lots of melodies and groups that were very melodic…like [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Billy Idol[/lastfm]. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Yellow[/lastfm]. Early U2…Their music is very simple and initially we started very simple. A lot of post-punk era music. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Joy Division[/lastfm].[lastfm link_type="artist_info"] The Clash[/lastfm]…A lot of[lastfm link_type="artist_info"] Supertramp.[/lastfm]“
Bassist Allan described how the band writes their music, attributing most of the creative punch to the ubiquitous brothers:
“Songwriting process, like the brothers mentioned earlier, they really kind of the nucleus of the songwriting. Kamren’s going to be meddling with a guitar riff and it will strike some spark in Ray for some melodies and some words and it really kind of comes together as a core of the songwriting with these two guys there. Then Anthony Hainsworth on the drums and Mark Allan here on the bass, we kind of put the rhythm to what their doing. A round robin kind of thing. It’s a great process and we each have our little input. It’s really cool.”[pullquote quote="We kind of feel like we have a chance because we have that vision and we have the skill set kind of in the realm of the groups we like; they've been able to leave a mark on things and have a certain genre."]
Consummate hustlers, Stereofix is not one of those bands that sits around and waits for success to come to them–they are on a mission and they will not let luck determine their fate:
“We are so driven to have some significance and I know that that is a loaded statement because no one should ever be taken too seriously–especially in the realm of music–but we feel like we have a chance because we have that vision and we have that skill set in the realm of the groups we like; they’ve been able to leave a mark on things and have a certain genre.”
“And so we want to do that too. So, I still want to be earnest and say that we are earnest. We value everything and I think we’re pretty close. If there is a gauge or a metric, I think we’re in that last tier or that final kind of stage.”
Thankfully for Stereofix, the Orange County music scene–especially in the last couple of years–has been nothing but supportive and open to dynamic changes in music.
“You obviously have a passion for what you do and same with everyone in the OC Music Awards. They’re probably here because they really love what they’re doing; there’s no rules to them; they’re really free to act. That’s what makes everything interesting.”
“Orange County…Right now I think it’s a really exciting time for it. I’ve never seen so many bands. If you can reflect back like five years, I’ve never really seen it this fruitful or this inspiring and all these people coming together and having a lot of energy behind it and all this momentum. Bottom line is they really love what they’re doing and they’re doing it without any rules and it’s creating an impact. So that’s rad.”
The 2011 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 4 -February 15 with stops at:
Jan 4 – Detroit Bar
Jan 11 – The District at Tustin Legacy
Jan 18 – The Gyspy Lounge
Jan 25 – The LAB
Feb 1 – Tiki Bar
Feb 8 – The Gyspy Den of Santa Ana
Feb 15 – The Slide Bar
Five Showcase Series finalists in each live category will then move on to the Showcase Series Finals.
Feb 24 – Best Live Acoustic Finals, Fullerton Museum
Feb 25 – Best Live band Finals, The Galaxy
2011 Best Live Band winner will receive a performance slot on the four Southern Califonia Vans Warped Tour stops!
Night Six of the OC Music Awards Showcase Series featured nominees for Best Live Band on Tuesday, February 15th at the The Slide Bar.
READ MORE INTERVIEWS ON KROQ.COM FROM SHOWCASE NIGHT 6 BANDS:
Friday, February 11th- Fiction Reform
Saturday, February 12th-We Are The Arsenal
Sunday, February 13th-Stereofix
Tuesday, February 15th-Echo Echo
You have the power to send one Showcase artist to the Best Live Acoustic Finals and Best Live Band Finals.
Cast your vote and enter to win a massive prize pack from the OC Music Awards partners (To be Announced). Voting will begin on December 27 and will be open through the last Showcase on February 15. The votes will be tallied and the band with highest score will automatically move on to their Series Finals! Click here to vote
LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM