Phoenix fans of the Tempe-based outfit Eyes Set To Kill have another reason to love the balmy Valley winters -- they keep the beloved band (fronted by sexy rockers Alexia and Anissa Rodriguez, both listed on Revolver's Hottest Chicks in Metal roster) in town and off the tour bus due to cold weather on the east coast, near-death experiences on icy roads, and four totaled vans.
The band chooses to rock out on stages throughout the Valley during the holiday season instead, and this year is particularly special.
The band's newest album, White Lotus, released in August, represents the band's rebirth much like the metamorphosis of the said white flower. The young members have spent years concealing their true identity (in part because it was suppressed by labels, in part because they were still discovering their sound and concept), but now collectively feel like they are representing who they truly are as musicians.
Since 2003, Eyes Set To Kill have carved out a melodically metal niche in the local scene, with an emphasis on chugging guitars, tortured screams and Alexia's soaring vocals, ranging from delicate to aggressive. With more than one million views on their YouTube page, they are one of the local scene's major players and have a loyal underground fan base that sports tattoos of song lyrics -- even some of Alexia and Anissa's faces -- and follow them to shows around the country.
Singer/guitarist/pianist Alexia Rodriguez sat down with Up On The Sun to talk about the difference between older and younger rock fans, totaling three tour buses, male groupies and the concept behind White Lotus.
Eyes Set To Kill is scheduled to perform Friday, December 30, at the Clubhouse in Tempe.
Up On The Sun: You guys have said White Lotus represents a rebirth, and that Eyes Set to Kill has finally revealed their true identity on this fourth album, what changes lead to that?
Alexia Rodriguez: I think the major change was not having our old guitarist [Greg Kerwin] in the band anymore. He caused all the drama and I was dating him and it became a distraction, and I think I lost a lot of focus because of that. After he quit I felt I could see everything a lot better and see what direction I wanted to go more clearly. When there's drama with one person in the band, it affects everyone in the band. When that factor was gone we all got along better as songwriters and as friends. You know, it's like when you have a close knit circle of friends, and two people in the circle start dating, and it throws off the whole balance. You called [previous album] Broken Frames a concept album of all the memories you wanted to forget. Was there a concept behind White Lotus?
Not really lyric-wise, but something that was different about the lyrics I suppose was that it was a less negative album. I'm kind of a darker, negative person at times as an artist and I wanted to show the lighter side of myself. On this album is probably the first positive song I've ever written about love, "Where I Want To Be." [Laughs]. I think that song gives an example of how we've [widened our scope], our variety of what we sing about. Usually it's about relationships gone to shit; broken relationships and things that don't end up the way I want them to be. But on this album I broke through that. [It's] more about being hopeful and forgiving the people who don't believe in me and forgetting the people who have ruined me in the past. I'm focusing more on positive things
Do you have a favorite track that you think will be most powerful to fans, or does it vary day to day based on your mood?
I think for all of us, my favorite song is "Forget" because it's a lot different from most of our songs. My vocals also changed a lot for that song. I think that's a good track for people to see a different side of us, if you compare White Lotus to Broken Frames. It's a huge example of how we are trying to mold our sound still.
Yeah, that's a great song.
On Broken Frames, you also had a very emotional song called "Ryan" about your vocal coach that passed away. Did that experience make you want to continue to take lessons to become a better musician (I mean, obviously the raw emotion it caused you created some amazing music), but as far as lessons go, did you ever get back into them?
No. It was actually guitar lessons. But I did try to take lessons after that with a different teacher but it was just weird...every teacher has different methods. So...I felt like what I started with Ryan was unfinished and I felt like it was wrong to finish it with someone else. I don't think I'll take guitar lessons again. But, I would be open to vocal lessons.
You guys started your own record label, Forsee Records. What do you think is the best and worst thing about having a record label?
The worst thing is we didn't know where to start. The best thing is that it's just us doing it ourselves and we have full control on just everything. When we were on another label I felt like I lost what I wanted to do, because I was getting so many opinions spat at me from our label owner and everyone there. It was really really tiring to hear what everyone else thought we should be instead of, you know, digging into what we want.
Do you think that's one of the reasons that the band has gone through so many band members?
No, I think we just have poor judgement with people [Laughs]. You know, some people can't stay out on the road for too long without going crazy. Some are high maintenance and not cut out for the road. There's no room for crybabies on the road. We roll with the punches but we've had a lot of past people on the road with us that whine and it ruins it for everyone else. That was a main factor in why we've had so many members.
What is something unique about Eyes Set to Kill that a lot of readers wouldn't know?
Maybe a lot of people don't realize that I'm the songwriter and I write the majority of our material. Even my boyfriend thought I didn't write as much as I did..which is pretty depressing.
So you write the lyrics, the guitar and bass lines...everything?
Yeah. I feel like a lot of guys especially don't think I write the riffs or the lead guitar, which is crappy! Especially for my boyfriend [Laughs]
After you and your sister were nominated for the Hottest Chicks in Metal, did you ever had any issues with male or female groupies? I'm sure several guys just want to talk to you girls because you're hot.
For me, I think a groupie is sort of someone that tends to the needs of the musicians, especially sexually. We've never had that as girls, maybe the guys in the band have. But there's been some really cool people who have come to shows and had people buy drinks for us, but we've never been one of those bands where guys come out and buy hotel rooms and shit. I don't know. Me and my sister aren't really those type of girls. Even the guys in our band don't seem too interested don't that stuff. I think they are pretty clean. But there have been lesbians who have come to shows and tried to make moves on me! But it comes and goes!
I've read that you've had panties thrown on stage at you before [laughs]
Probably at festivals! I think in that happened in Tucson.
If you could nominate another female musician for the hottest chicks in metal title who would it be?
Probably Ashley [Costello] from New Years Day. She's a good friend, a great musician and has a unique voice.
I heard somewhere that you and your sister create your own jewelry and sell it at shows? Is that true?
Aneesa makes jewelry and I paint posters for our band. I've always been an artist, painting and drawing. But I sell prints of posters to fans. We sell them at our shows. We have thought about doing them online but I think I'll wait until I have a wider portfolio. Aneesa's jewelry is like feather earrings and clutches and stuff like that. It's something to get done on the long drives.
What's your future touring schedule like?
We usually take a break around Christmas, except for local shows, because it's scary to tour on the road in the winter in the US, like, the eastern part. We've had three vans and we don't want to total this new one!
You guys have totaled three vans? Mostly from weather issues?
Well one was from us not taking care of the van well enough, but the other was sliding on black ice and we almost flew off a bridge. The back window busted and Aneesa almost rolled out from the bunk in the back of the band. It was really scary. We don't really want to encounter that again it makes me not want to tour!
What musicians inspired you and your sister growing up?
For me it was Kurt Cobain; Nirvana, Hole, the Cranberries, like alt rock stuff from the '90s.
Is that the main influence on Eyes Set to Kill's sound?
We all have different influences from growing up. Like I love alt rock but I also love metal; like Darkest Hour or As I Lay Dying. That's where I get, I guess, parts of my style. But the other members listen to stuff like newer scene metal, I guess what metal has become bands, like Of Mice and Men, underground scene metal bands. I'm not really into that stuff..I haven't really been into any music at all lately. I stick to new music by old bands. I'm scared through because I'm starting to think that I'm becoming one of those older people who only listen to what they liked when they were younger! I'm going to be a bitter old women who only likes old metal and '90s alternative.
But that music is so good!
True! But we'll see what comes out in the future that I get really excited about.
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I understand what you mean, though. I get really into older '80s and '90s metal and rock because it's so good. A lot of music nowadays is so branched out and not concentrated. Speaking of music scenes, what do you think is the best and worst thing about the Phoenix music scene?
I think there are a lot of loyal fans, but sometimes the younger kids in the scene are the ones that jump from genre to genre. Like they jump into whatever they think is hot at the moment. The older fans are loyal, they support bands by like buying their stuff instead of downloading it like the younger generation. I think that's the scene everywhere though.
Eyes Set To Kill is scheduled to perform Friday, December 30, at the Clubhouse in Tempe.