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Eye Empire interview and show review @ Uli's Haus of Rock 07/26/2012

 M: I’m here with D.C. (Donald Carpenter), lead vocalist for Eye Empire. Good to see you again! It’s been about three months since I first saw you guys light up the venue in Grand Rapids, MI. when opening for Volbeat with Kyng. What’s been going on since then?

D: Everything runs together at this point, it didn’t seem like it was too long ago but yeah, three months I guess. We’ve been focused a lot, been touring around this region a lot still, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, this whole corridor has sort of become our spots. We’ve been building it for a while now, and it’s paying off.

M: You mentioned the last time we talked that you see a lot of these areas you play as blue collar, hard working people states and the people who come out really let loose at your shows.

D: Everybody that really understands what the refuge of music is all about knows that we’re all here to support each other and kind of give each other that extra little boost. Hopefully that’s what we’re providing, a rock and roll release.

M: Indeed. I’ve been following you guys on social media for a while now, and it seems that you’ve had great success with that avenue spreading the word. Especially even more so since the release of your double CD with 24 songs on it which has received great reviews.

D: It’s good,  you know when you think about it, when you do it this way, when you’re out here every night earning every single fan, all those little victories are even sweeter. You don’t need this monumental success or big happenings to keep on going. You just need to see those familiar faces, and them bringing a couple extra people every time, and it’s starting to grow, starting to build. This is an area that’s been a little while since we’ve come through here. We finished up in Chesaning, MI. about two weeks ago before we took a couple weeks off. Now we’re looking forward to being back here and seeing how many people show up.

M: Have you guys played at Uli’s before?

D: I though we had but we hadn’t. I met Uli a couple of times at a few shows here in Michigan and he was always talking to us about making out here to the venue to play.

M: You guys just got back on tour today right? This is your first night back on the road?

D: First night, right. We all actually left my house around 5am this morning to go to the airport and hop on a plane and got in around noon in Detroit. It’s one of those crazy show travel days you know.

M: Last time we talked, you elaborated on the support your family gives you back home. I bet they were happy to see you for awhile, was it hard to head back out so soon?

D: Aww man, it was a little tough. You could almost argue that it’s like staying in battle. You go home and it feels so good, that it makes it even harder to leave but we needed it, our bodies needed it, and my throat needed it. We’re a band that tries to play five or six nights a week and it’s not like we sandbag or anything and we bring it every night. But you certainly need to take a break and rest every once in a while.

M: On the Volbeat tour you mentioned how you liked being the opener, and getting the crowd pumped up for the rest of the night. How do you feel about headlining this time around?

D: Actually this has been kind of backwards for us. We’ve been doing a majority of headlining shows so it’s been a grind, but the Volbeat opportunity was chance for us to get some more experience. Playing a shorter set, bringing out your bangers, just come out and bring the energy to set the tone. But tomorrow we start out with Nonpoint where we’ll be in that same opening position. You have to build the core fans headlining-wise which takes a little bit of time, and it gets hard when you play for those 25-30 people every night. When you can correlate that with a good supporting opportunity that’s where you really start to see an impact and hopefully in the second half of the year we can see some of that hard work pay off.

M: Are there any venues that you’re looking forward to playing in particular this time out?

D: Like I said, we’ve been kind of grinding it out here solo, we haven’t really had an chance to get out with a lot of friends on sort of that tour package, where you can go out and have a lot of fun, be in battle together, and share the moment. I think more than actual venues themselves we’re looking forward to getting out with friends. We’ll be joining up with Sether, Sick Puppies, our friends in Kyng, that’s going to take up our month of October. September we’re going to be heading back out headlining and taking out some bands we’ve discovered and got to know over this last little tour. It’s more the camaraderie that we find every stop a long the way than any particular venue. We’re still working our way up the ladder.

M: Tell me about some of the bands you are taking out with you.  Any notable acts that really excite you?

D: There are a lot of bands out here that are really living on their passion and it’s really hard to expand some times and get some more exposure. I can’t call them local bands because in this day of social media, you can get your name out there. There’s a band called Vilified out there down in Florida, a three piece band, these young dudes with a lot of talent that just need the experience and we’re looking forward to taking them out with us.

M: So will Eye Empire be coming to Detroit this time?

D: Yeah, actually with the Kyng, Seether & Sick Puppies show. We’ll be ending there and can’t to play the Fillmore. We’re looking forward to playing a good sized venue and hopefully get some good attendance. We’ve been kind of slicing through the jungle alone and so we’re looking forward to getting out with our buddies in Kyng.

M: How do you guys feel about the sales of your record so far?

D: It’s nothing that we focus on. A band in our position is not really about how many we’re selling, it’s about marinating momentum and building it the honest way. We’re not trying to get any marketing trend together and trick people in to buying our record. It’s more than just CD sales. There’s a mentality, an overall feeling that’s going to help keep us together that kind of extends beyond record sales.

M: Here in Michigan a lot of cities have been hard hit by the economy and people are looking for a release, an escape.

D: I’ve always heard the argument that pop music is an escape because it’s a type of art, there’s no need to be serious because it’s just people wanting to have a good time. For me I think that’s fine, but I think there’s a way you can get your release and still stay focused on the issues at hand and create a positive environment in order to change certain things. That’s what our music is all about, I know sometimes it seems kind of dark in content but there’s always that light at the end of the tunnel. I think a lot of people are looking for that light, whether it be our record coming out or a new song, or coming to our live show in the area, we hope they come out and get a little bit of that light and hopefully we can all keep each other going.

M: How is the band doing in radio markets? I know you mentioned some prior stations you were getting airplay on in Flint, Tampa, Madison and SiruisXM.

D: We still have a lot of friends in those markets who continue to help us out, along with a lot of internet radio stations. Radio support is definitely important but the reality is there is a lot of different ways to get your music out there and get discovered. It’s such an independent level, completely organic, and until it even becomes relevant for us we’ll just let things happen as they do and focus on the live show. But if the people start demanding it, I guess they gotta play it right? (chuckles)

M: Is there anything else you want to add to the interview?

D: I think more than anything we just want people to understand that music should not just be a refuge, but a refuge that gives you an empowering sense to get back out there to do something in their live and the world. For us we’re trying to find people who want to be a part of something where they’re present and active and they help themselves to grow. In the end I think that’s not only going to sustain not only our career but the music that people come to appreciate. If they are invested in it, then they are going to be there through the thick and thin.

M: Thanks for your time, I look forward to you guys kicking ass tonight.
D: Absolutely, thanks man!