bill bodkin speaks with the up-and-coming female-fronted hard rock outfit …
The world of hard rock and heavy metal is usually a boys club — filled with black-concert-T-shirt-wearing, hellbent-for-leather, testosterone-fueled dudes who stomp it out in the pit.
Yet, sometimes like a sonic breath of fresh air, a female voice breaks on through to the other side. In the local hard rock and heavy metal scene of the Jersey Shore, Kate Ortiz is the siren who blows the doors off this boys club. Ortiz is the frontwoman for Vextion, a bombastic outfit comprised of young veteran musicians who have cut their teeth along the Jersey Shore.
On Saturday, Vextion will rock The Brighton Bar in Long Branch along with End Of An Era, Black Tooth Grin, The Divid3 and A Life There After, as a part of End Of An Era’s Night Of The Walking Dead Halloween Party.
Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin spoke with Ortiz (along with a cameo from her bandmates) about being a female in a male-dominated scene, the band’s inspirations and their new records.
Pop-Break: Vextion is composed of musicians who are veterans of the Jersey Shore original scene. What brought you four together to form Vextion?
Kate Ortiz: I started the band in high school with some friends who both eventually ended up leaving for personal reasons. I first met George “Dex” Day [guitar] from New Beginings at The Break Contest that we played in 2007. He heard that we were looking for a drummer, and him and his friend tried out. His friend only played with us for a month [on drums] or two before moving to Florida, but George stayed with us. We then found Bobman [Rob Crowther], formerly of Almost There, who contacted us after hearing us on Myspace in 2009. Max [Orozco, formerly of Through The Grey] joined because a friend of his had heard us and saw that we were looking for a bassist.
PB: Let’s ask the very obvious question — what’s the inspiration behind the band’s name?
KO: I had just been in other bands where the name was so generic that you looked for it and there were a million other bands with the same name. I wanted to come up with something completely original. So…I just made something up. If you google Vextion, you find us. And that’s how I like it. We’re the one and only.
PB: Who are some of the band’s that have inspired the sound of Vextion?
KO: As far as my inspirations go: In earlier years, I listened to a lot of music by Lost Prophets, The Distillers, Michelle Branch and Kittie. Now that I’m older, I listen to Breaking Benjamin, Skillet, Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, Muse and Flyleaf. I feel that all of these bands color my musical style today. Even if I don’t really listen to it much anymore, it’s very embedded in my musical style.
Max Orozco: My influences include: Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden.
George Dey: Story Of The Year.
Bobman: I was very big into the whole Warped Tour/pop-punk of the early 2000s scene with bands like Blink 182, Green Day, The Starting Line and Matchbook Romance. But, my drumming has always had that classic rock feel inspired by bands like Aerosmith and Foo Fighters. Also, my past instructor, Joe Nevolo, was and is a major influence.
PB: The band is coming off a release of a new EP. Let’s talk about the songs that comprise this record. Thematically — where do you guys draw your lyrical inspiration from?
KO: Life. Whenever I write lyrics, it’s just completely based on whatever is going on with me and how I’m feeling. Our songs are like my very public diary — it’s how I deal with anything that’s getting to me.
PB: What song do you think represents the band’s sound the best lyrically and/or in terms of sound?
KO: As far as the EP goes, I’d have to say that “What I Am” and “Unwind” represent our sound very well. They’re songs that are on different sides of the spectrum of our writing style. “What I Am” is heavy and “Unwind” is more of our poppier side. As far as lyrics go, I think that our song “Angel Eyes” is one of my personal favorites lyric-wise. It uses a lot of metaphors and is very heart-felt and honest. That’s one that you can look out for at our live show and maybe on a CD in the not-to-distant future. But I definitely think that our lyrics are very honest and straight-forward.
PB: Where can people find the new EP online?
PB: You’re a female-fronted rock ‘n’ roll band. Do you find it harder for people to get into the band or come out and see shows, especially since this is such a male-dominated musical genre?
KO: I feel like as a general rule with us is the guys are skeptical when we first get up there. But we always seem to win them over with our songs and our performance. I remember one time we were playing a battle of the bands, and a guy who was there to support another band said to me, “Sure you’re cute, but can you play?” I just smiled at him and knew that he’d change his attitude when we were done. And he damn sure did when we won.
PB: Vextion had a solid run earlier this year participating in the annual Break Contest at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J., and The Best Buy Battle Of The Bands. What did you guys learn about yourselves as a band by performing in these showcases?
KO: The band was definitely very new when we played in these multi-round contests. I think we definitely took a good amount from them. We had some nights where everything went perfect and we were on and it was great and we moved on, and we got that great winning high. And then we had other nights where everything that could go wrong did. It helped us figure out how to handle things that can, and will, go wrong and how to be more prepared.
PB: It’s still early in your career, but what have been some of the biggest highlights in Vextion’s career?
KO: So far, our biggest highlights have been getting into the Aquarian weekly, getting onto the WRAT on Jersey Rock Maria Mar’s local show, and one that I will never ever forget is when we played a middle school in Barnegat — the kids lost their minds for us like we were the biggest band in the world. It was really great and really made us feel like rock stars
PB: Finally, outside of the EP’s release, what can we expect from the band in 2011 and early 2012?
KO: As of now, we are planning on making a music video directed by our friend Jeff Masella, who works for the Sci-Fi Network, playing more shows (including radio shows), maybe putting out some singles, and definitely getting to work on another album. We would also definitely love to do a tour in the near future — even if it’s a small one.