Recently I spoke with Alexia Rodriguez, lead guitarist and vocalist of the Metalcore band Eyes Set To Kill. The group, which formed in 2004, has just released their third disc, Broken Frames. The band has toured the world relentlessly over the past few years and they will once again be taking their brand of metal to the masses when they embark on the Vans Warped Tour this summer. Alexia and the other members of Eyes Set To Kill; Anissa Rodriguez, Caleb Clifton, Greg Kerwin and Cisko have built a strong following based on their high energy in-your-face live performances. With the release of the new CD and a subsequent tour they are hoping to share that energy and passion with the rest of the country. The band was named one of Alternative Press Magazine’s “100 Bands You Need To Know,” and they have even hosted an episode of MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Here is what Alexia had to say about the band and their newest release, Broken Frames.
Now that your brand new CD, Broken Frames is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Alexia: I am so proud of Broken Frames because of the effort and time we put into this new album. I felt like the last two records were rushed, and lacked a more thought out vision or plan. Reach was partially written in high school so not all of the songs structures and themes were as mature as on the World Outside. What I didn’t think we accomplished in Reach, we tried to accomplish in the World Outside, which is maturity and more emotionally attached ballads. The only thing I wish we could have had more of on the World Outside sessions is time. We wrote some good songs but didn’t have the time to rip the songs apart and “write them the right way”. I feel like tearing the songs apart and taking out small things that may not fit in, this is really what songwriting is about. We finally got to do that with Broken Frames. Working with Andrew Wade was a great experience because he pushed the musician in all of us and I feel like we learned a lot about songwriting. There were a lot of stressful moments but that is what made finishing this album, so rewarding.
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Alexia: We start writing all of our songs differently. Some songs we start off with a guitar riff and go off of that. Then others could start with my lyrics or a melody I have. One song I am most proud of writing with Anissa is “Ryan.” We started that song with Anissa’s piano part that she wrote over vacation. When she showed me her material, I automatically knew that it could be a good song because a melody came to me right away. I wrote the lyrics to the whole thing before she even finished playing and before we decided it should be an Eyes Set To Kill song too. I think those are the best songs; the ones that just come so easily.
The lyrics on this disc seem a bit darker than on your previous releases. What was your inspiration for these songs?
Alexia: The first song that we wrote, “Broken Frames,” inspired the theme for the rest of the album. “Broken Frames” is about a memory of a love I had, but the desperate want of forgetting it. “I’m left with all the memories, behind the broken frames.” So basically, all of the songs are about memories that I wish I could have never made, memories I wish would leave the frame in my mind. “Ryan” is a song about my guitar teacher/friend who killed himself, and in the song I talk about how I wish I could have changed what happened or just forgotten that time in my life even occurred. Every song is a memoir of a dark happening in my life, and how I wish they could have been different.
Do you spend a lot of time trying to vary your music from release to release or is it something that just comes naturally?
Alexia: We try to evolve on each release. But it is really hard because we know what we want to be, but in the back of our minds, we know what our fans want too. And I think those are two different visions. It has been hard with so many member changes, but I think people are starting to realize the Anissa and I started this band and we know where we want Eyes Set To Kill to go. So if fans are going to be unhappy because we are “not metal enough” or selling out, then I guess they are not Eyes Set To Kill fans, but fans of only one of Eyes Set To Kill albums.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Alexia: Playing songs live is the real fun we get out of being musicians. Feeding off the crowd and knocking into each other is what we don’t get to do when we are recording. Those are the types of things that make touring addictive. Talking to kids who understand and love the songs makes me the happiest person. When I write, I write alone and I am usually pissed off or bothered. So it is awesome to know that those songs that I wrote are the ones that people are relating to and applying them to their own lives. Makes me feel not so alone any more.
When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Alexia: Oh for sure! While out on our UK/European tour that we just completed we would see odd or strange things quite often. When going to the restroom at one of the countries we found that a lot of times the toilet was just one big hole in the ground, or there would be rotating toilet seats. Another thing I can remember was that there wasn’t Ranch dressing anywhere to be found, and they gave you mayo as dipping sauce for your French fries. It’s only strange to us though because we’re not from there, but we embraced it all none of the less.
When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Alexia: When we were in Brazil, we were renting a sprinter van and a makeshift of a trailer. When we were all passed out (besides the driver) we were woken up by a noise that sounded like a giant can that was being ripped open. We all turned around in our seats and saw right through the window that our trailer had ripped off of its hitch, and was skidding across the road. Then it flew into the air and twirled 360 and spit out our luggage and guitars like a confetti popper! All of my clothes were spread over the median and some guitar cases split wide open. It was a nightmare and what made it worse, was that we had two shows to play in that one day that we were late to. Thankfully, nothing was ruined except for my suitcase zipper.
Do you find it difficult being away from family and friends for such an extensive period of time? How do you cope with the separation?
Alexia: It could get really hard being away from my mom and the rest of my family. I am not much of a conversationalist over cell phones so it is hard to stay in touch with people at home. Sometimes I feel like people at home are changing over time, more than people like me who are constantly moving around city to city. It is ironic how that works out.
What is the one thing you travel with that you just can’t live without?
Alexia: I can’t be on the road with out my iPod, notebooks and pens, and my acoustics. There is so much downtime on the road, and downtime to me, means time to either have fun or be productive, which leads to a lot of creative writing. I always bring street chalk out on the road because believe it or not, it could kill hours. Anissa and I love to doodle on our spare time so whenever we are allowed, we draw on streets, paper, or even skin.
Do you have any touring plans made yet?
Alexia: We are playing the entire Warped Tour this year so we are all really thrilled for that. I am going to play a show on the off date on July 4th at six flags and we are all getting to play there for free so we can’t wait for that either. We are working on some tours for after that but nothing final yet. We are definitely going back to do a Europe tour either at the end of this year or beginning of next year. Europe was a blast and we got to meet so many fans and made lots of new friends there too.
Any closing words?
Alexia: Come out to warped tour! We will be playing new songs from Broken Frames on the Ernie Ball stage so hope to see everybody who supports us there! [ END ]