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Special: Indie Rock - Coast To Coast
Chicago rock with Escape From Earth and Supermint 
by Keavin Wiggins

For the next few months we are going to do something special here in the Melody Makers series. Instead of the band profile/reviews you usually find here, we decided to search the country for some of the best up and coming melodic rock bands. 

The term melodic rock covers a lot of ground and there is no shortage of great bands out there producing music that puts the garbage on radio and MTV to shame. 

Over the next few months we will take you across the United States where we’ll speak with indie artists keeping the spirit of rock alive in their respective communities and also show the most promise of breaking out in to the mainstream (if a record exec with any brains or ears gets behind them). 

This month we venture to the Windy City to check out two of Chicago’s rising stars Escape From Earth and Supermint. Both bands are primed to take things to the next level and join the long line of groups that put Chicago on the music map. 


Escape From Earth 

First up we hear from Escape From Earth vocalist and guitarist Chris.

Rocknworld(RNW): The standard opening question, where did your name come from? 

Chris: Would you believe it if I told you we were looking through a college physics book (because everyone knows good band names can be found in physics books right??) and I kept reading about "gravity" and "escaping from earth's gravitational pull" and "escape velocity." The phrase "Escape From Earth" jumped out at me. We added it to the list of about 50 names we had. The day after our brainstorming of band names, I remember walking to my car after work and a bolt of lightning hit me that said "Escape From Earth" is THE NAME!! I simply called the other guys in the band right after that and informed them that we were going to be called "Escape From Earth" and that was that. No questions asked. Very rarely does something him me so clearly, but in that case it definitely did.

Ultimately, the name means that there's gotta be somewhere better out there than this place we live called Earth. There's a lot of crazy bad stuff that happens every day here and sometimes we just need to get away from it all and escape.

RNW: How did the group come together? 

Chris: Paul and I have been playing together off and on in various bands since we were about 12 years old!! In high school, he and I were in a band called Loaded Deck together. Paul's brother, Christopher, used to always come down and bug us to let him play or sing a song with us. He was the annoying little brother at the time. We parted ways for a little bit, and then sometime after high school, Paul and I started playing together and working on new songs. We met Andy at a place we all used to volunteer at and he was looking for a band to play with, we were looking for a bass player. So we played as a 3-piece for a while... Paul, Andy and I. We decided we needed a 2nd guitar player to round out the sound and the live show. We went through a few different guitar players and then finally decided to invite Paul's brother back in to try out. It worked out fantastically, he was a perfect fit!!! And thus is the evolution of the current line-up of the band.

RNW: Who would you list as influences? 

Chris: Our influences include everything from stuff that is out there today including Filter, Linkin Park, Disturbed, to heavier stuff like Slayer and Anthrax to old school stuff like The Beatles and Pink Floyd to pop music like Avril Lavigne and Justin Timberlake. The reason I picked up the guitar was Eddie Van Halen and Nuno Bettencourt. Both guys were absolutely phenomenal guitar players and I wanted to be what they were!!! We are also inspired and influenced by things outside of music... movies, books, friends, culture, art, nature and just about everything else. Oh, and when I was 12 years old, Jon Bon Jovi was about the coolest guy in the world!! :-)

RNW: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it? 

Chris: First I would find out what kind of music they like, then I would tailor that answer to the style of music they are into. ;-) I'm only half-kidding.. I honestly think Escape From Earth has something for everyone. We've heavy enough for you if you're into heavier rock, but we're melodic and hooky enough if you're into more pop-leaning rock music/radio rock. Generally speaking, we're a melodic hard rock band with lyrics that I think everyone can identify with!

RNW: What inspired you to begin making music? 

Chris: For me it was turning on MTV and seeing guys like Eddie Van Halen or Jon Bon Jovi rocking out on stage!! I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and everyone loved these guys!!! They made incredibly cool sounds with their guitars and they were having the time of their lives!!! I knew right away that was what I wanted to do!!! Shortly thereafter I got into a band called Extreme. Their guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and singer Gary Cherone absolutely BLEW ME AWAY and I just had to go out and buy myself a guitar after seeing them play!!!

RNW: You are based out of Chicago, what's the music scene like there? 

Chris: The music scene in Chicago is alive and vibrant!! There's lots of very cool places to play here and lots of kids who go out and support the local scene!! 

Clubs like Metro, Bottom Lounge, House of Blues are all very cool about supporting the local scene and putting shows together for local bands. And there's a lot of amazing talent here in Chicago as well. A great variety of different genres and styles of music. I think Chicago will be breaking several bands on a national scale in the next year or so!!!

RNW: From reading some info on your website you guys sell out the Metro and House of Blues a lot. How did you guys build up your fan base to this point?  Any secrets? 

Chris: There are a few secrets, but I can't share those with you because... well they are secrets!! But I think the usual rules apply.. its important to write great songs, put on great performances, promote shows very well, play play and play anywhere and everywhere you can when first starting off, and ultimately making a connection with the fans. It mostly comes down to hard work... rehearsing, developing a great live show, writing great songs, and spending countless hours getting your product in the hands of potential fans and telling them about your shows.

RNW:  I noticed you also nailed some radio and industry interest. Lonn Friend isn’t a bad endorsement to have. Can you tell us a bit about any of the buzz you’ve generated? Who’s in your corner so to speak so far? 

Chris: We've been getting lots of great reviews on our new EP "Three Seconds East" from a bunch of different publications. I think our persistence in playing out in the midwest as well as sending the music around to various people has been instrumental in generating strong buzz on the band and the music!! Fans of EFE include our producers Bob Ezrin and Rae DiLeo, Jarrod Montague (drummer of Taproot), Chris Brown and Pete Charell (from Trapt), Jason Blume (hit songwriter for artists including Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Dolly Parton and many others), Steve Fisher and James Van Osdol (DJ and Music Director at 94.7 The Zone in Chicago). Chris Payne (Local Music Director at Q101 in Chicago), Ron Platzer (Director at Jeff McClusky & Associates), Lonn Friend (Rock Journalist), and Billy Corgan. 

RNW: Any label interest yet? 

Chris: We've had lots of label interest so-to-speak. No one has made us an offer just yet, but I think the turmoil in the music industry has caused a lot of people to be extremely cautious about what they commit to. It’s a very different musical economy today than it was 3 or 4 years ago. I'm confident we will find a record label home in the near future, and until then, we will just keep doing our thing, playing shows, making great music and having a great time doing it!

RNW: What's your take on where rock is at the moment and how you fit into that picture? 

Chris: I think in terms of trends and fads, rock bands are slightly on the "out" at the moment... pop artists are at a premium and and lot of the singer/songwriter types are "in" at the moment. But I try not to worry and think too much about trends. I think that good songs are ALWAYS "in" and great bands that write great song and put on great performances are always "in." We are definitely a rock band, but I think we offer more than most rock bands. We have a bit of the "all things to all people" sound and feel to our band and I think if I was marketing this band to the masses, you could take the band in any number of different directions. We are versatile and I think that will help us down the road when we are on a label and someone has to figure out how to package our band and sell it to people.

RNW: What's been your proudest moment as a band? 

Chris: Working on our 5-song EP at Henson Studios in Hollywood, CA with our producers Bob Ezrin and Rae DiLeo. Bob is nothing short of the greatest producer of all time!! And Rae DiLeo is a genius producer and programmer!! We were in one of the greatest studios working with some of the greatest producers. It was a truly magical experience and watching the songs come to life in the studio was a really special experience!! I remember the first time we listened back to our song "Without" the whole way through... Rae did a rough mix of the song... we dimmed the lights and cranked it up. I sat there misty-eyed wondering if I was actually listening to a song that we wrote and performed... it was really an amazing moment!!

RNW: What's been your worst? 

Chris: We have had a few rough shows where we have technical difficulties, people knock amps down, break strings or other small issues. Nothing that really qualifies as a "worst moment" for the band though. It’s been all smiles so far!

RNW: What has Escape From Earth done to help set you apart from other new bands and get noticed? 

Chris: I could start to point to lots of specific little things that we do that set us apart from other bands, but I think it ultimately comes down to the fact that we work harder than almost any band I know!! We rehearse several times a week. We put hours and hours into our songs and songwriting, lyrics and lyric writing. We pass out stickers, fliers and CDs and promote harder than most bands. We play lots and lots of shows and then review videotape to learn how to improve the next show! We are proactive about networking and meeting people. We're persistent about getting people in industry to check out our band. And we believe in the product we have developed!!

There's no magic formula to all of this, I think it's just all about hard work and believing in what you're doing!

RNW: How can fans get a hold of your music? 

Chris: A 3-song sample of our material can be found at www.escapefromearth.com/mp3.htm. People in the Chicago area can pick up our EP at Rolling Stones Records and any Tower Records location. Also at any of our shows. People outside of Chicago can mail $6 to Escape From Earth LLC, 6348 N Milwaukee Ave #217, Chicago, IL 60646.

RNW: What do you hope people take away from your music? 

Chris: I hope that people walk away with a positive feeling. Lyrics that they can relate to and know that other people have experienced the same things they might be going through at the moment. I hope people walk away knowing that we are having a blast playing our songs and creating music. And ultimately, I hope people enjoy the music!!

RNW: What's next for Escape From Earth? 

Chris: We will continue to push our EP regionally here in Chicago and work to gain national press as well. We will keep playing shows in the midwest and we are also looking to pick up a few national tours as well. Hopefully we will find a record label to pick us up and properly help launch our career. And I expect we will have a great time continuing to write new songs and play for new people across the world.  www.efemusic.com
 
 


Supermint

Now we hear from Randi Scott of Supermint who are just about to release their second album. 

RNW: Where did your name come from? 

Randi: Believe it or not - Dave Mstaine/Mgadeth..... Kerry was writing songs with him very early on, and one day Dave said "these songs are super...you're gonna make a mint"  So, we just laughed about it and said we should be so lucky.... - it just stuck with us and so we registered and trademarked it ! 

RNW: How did the group come together? 

Randi: Almost on accident! Kerry was doing a showcase for some labels in Chicago and needed a drummer, so he called me. I learned the songs - went to a rehearsal and the guitar player flaked. SO, the bass player moved over to guitar since he knew the parts, and I pulled in the bass player I was working with at the time. All of this had to be done in a week's time. It worked and here we are. 

RNW: Who would you list as influences?

Randi: Any and everything out there !! Beck to Foo Fighters to Znuff to Costello to the Carpenters to Jellyfish to Butch Walker to Mike Viola to All American Rejects to Wildhearts and Cheap Trick. 

RNW: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it?

Randi: Put everything above in a blender with some ice on a hot summer day and poor yourself a glass before you hop in your car on the way to your girlfriends house ! 

RNW: What inspired you to begin making music?

Randi: For myself - I’ve playing drums since.....my parents got me a kit at age 6. The rest is history for me. I always liked the "big band" drummers like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. 

For Kerry - he has been playing guitar and piano forever as well. He got "the complete Beatles" songbook - learned to read music and learned the whole thing. It's a blast to sit around with him and play all those great songs !! 

RNW: You are based out of Chicago, what's the music scene like there?

Randi: I think it's like everywhere else.........there are a few cool things happening all the time. And it's always changing ! 

RNW: A lot of big bands have come out of Chicago, have you guys ever had a chance to play with any of them?

Randi: We have played with Cheap Trick, Off Broadway, and Enuff Znuff, but that's about it. We love ok go - Pumpkins - Chevelle - Alkaline Trio. 

RNW: What's your take on where rock is at the moment and how you fit into that picture?

Randi: I think the only thing you can do as a band, and be honest, is do what it is you do. Trying to fit it with "what's happening" always makes you a little "late" I think. It feels like the movement right now is back to real rock - power and fun - I guess we'll have to wait and see.

RNW: What's been your proudest moment as a band? 

Randi: I think for all of us it was finally seeing your record in the stores and hearing it on the radio. There's nothing quite like that. And it feels new each time you do it. It's a real honor to be doing what we're doing !! 

RNW: What's been your worst? 

Randi:  Probably the changing up of bass players. We go thru em like socks. 

RNW: What has Supermint done to help set you apart from other new bands and get noticed? 

Randi: We have Jimmy Edwards on guitar !

RNW: How can fans get a hold of your music?

Randi: Everywhere - supermintmusic.com, best buy, tower, boarders, notlame.com barnes and noble, amazon.com ........the usual places 

RNW: What do you hope people take away from your music?

Randi: That extra chorus at the end of all the songs.........if they could just take that, we could shorten up our songs a bit . 
Seriously...... A smile and the desire to hear more !! 

RNW: What's next for Supermint?

Randi: The new "Off to Stupidville" comes out on May 11th !!!  Did I mention the new "Off to Stupidville" comes out on May 11th !?!?!  We'll be working behind that here in the states and in Europe as well. A tour here in the summer, and one in Europe for the fall. Come visit us at a show or at www.supermintmusic.com 
 
 


Learn More

Visit the official site for Supermint to learn more and preview and purchase their CDs

Check out Escape From Earth's homepage for more on the band and listen to some of their music.

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