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How To Evolve: The Maestro's Interview With Donald Carpenter Of EYE EMPIRE

By Damian J. Cousins aka "The Maestro", Dallas Contributor
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 @ 4:35 PM

"We’ve all done a lot of different things, and the fact that we’re not young egomaniacal teens that are at each other’s throats makes a big difference."

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Sometimes you miss the boat by a couple of hours. I had turned off all my phone’s notifications, including Bandsintown, so I missed out on seeing EYE EMPIRE when they were here in Dallas at the tail end of 2013. I was truly bummed, but then I got a chance to catch up with singer Donald Carpenter by telephone, where he told me they’d be back around this year. So, yaaay! In any event, here’s what we chatted about:

KNAC.COM: I can't believe I missed you guys in Dallas last Sunday!!! Please tell me you'll try to make it back!

CARPENTER: It’s hard to keep up with each individual out there and we just hope that we’re able to put the word out and keep everybody in the loop, but sometimes Sunday or Monday shows can get overlooked. But it felt good to finally headline in the old homestead of Dallas! I grew up in Stephenville, TX and I was born in Fort Worth. My musical journey has had me playing the same streets in Deep Ellum I was playing 20 years ago. We look forward to returning, for sure.

KNAC.COM: So, new album Evolve is out. How does it feel to have it finally available for all the world to hear?

CARPENTER: It feels great. We tend to live with things for a while. We’re self-produced and self-policed so we really put these songs through the wringer by the time the album comes out, and it feels good to finally let go and put it out there with no regrets and our heart and soul in it. And the appreciation from the fans makes all that time and hard work worthwhile.

KNAC.COM: I see. And the fact that you are all veterans of other bands, how has that helped the cohesion in this unit?

CARPENTER: Well, the obvious factor is the experience, which is helpful. We’ve all done a lot of different things, and the fact that we’re not young egomaniacal teens that are at each other’s throats makes a big difference. That respect allows us to be a little more creative and not be battling egos as much. From another aspect it kind of creates a different level of resilience that an independent band that’s grinding it out, like we are, needs to have. You don’t necessarily come by that naturally. It develops with experience, failure, success, failure, success, and that whole cycle of evolution, which is what this record’s about.

KNAC.COM: With that in mind, how does the writing work in EYE EMPIRE since you all have such extensive musical backgrounds?

CARPENTER: It’s just a natural process, you know? We put our feelings down and make music. We don’t really think about it, and everybody’s a writer from previous bands so everybody has the ability to bring a particular vision in and create a spark that turns into a group effort. We have the level of respect and overall appreciation for what everybody brings to the table so we feel it out. B.C. (Kochmit, guitar) brings his riffs in, and Corey (Lowery, guitar) is a riffmeister himself, and sometimes songs start out from a bass lead, which is a little unique, but we get it from all different angles. I think that’s what allows us to have a sound that to me is anything but redundant.

KNAC.COM: Plus I think that all of you have such a storied body of work, from STEREOMUD, SUBMERSED, and such, that the minute an announcement is made that you guys are putting a band together people say, "whoa! I need to check this out!"

CARPENTER: Yeah, that definitely helps. And we know that we have the support of people who listened to our previous ventures, and we know that helps us be able to do this, so we’re eternally grateful for that. But we’re still a new band regardless of our history, so we have to come out and build credibility and earn everything we get, so we’re still working at it.

KNAC.COM: A song like "Live Loud". That's some really great stuff there, and is definitely my favorite. Do you have one in particular?

CARPENTER: I’m glad you like it because that song means a great deal to me. This is a very personal record and there are a few stories that maybe I saved over the years to tell because, I don’t know, maybe I wasn’t comfortable being that honest and open. There’s times when your actions and feelings dictate your reality, and you have to take responsibility for that and realize that everybody has their own path and is gonna make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. And you just have to live within and not judge, just live loud and trust in who you are. Don’t be afraid to admit some of those things.

KNAC.COM: Do you think that an extended period between albums was helpful to the band?

CARPENTER: You know, that first record (Moment of Impact), that’s a crazy little ride right there. We put out three different versions of it; two of ‘em were one-of-a-kind limited editions and the third one was a physically distributed record that was an accumulation of the first three years of our music. I think to be able to put out as much music as we have, which is about three record’s worth in four years it says a lot. We’re pretty busy. It’s been an overwhelming experience. We control so many aspects of this that fans usually don’t experience how the songs come about and we never know where our inspiration will come from next.

KNAC.COM: Do you plan to spend a lot of 2014 on the road?

CARPENTER: Yeah, we’re tour dogs. We have to stay out here. We don’t feed the machine to shamelessly promote ourselves. We earn one fan at a time and touring has always been a big part of this band. We’ll start the New Year with a new single and some tours with some of our brother bands. There’s a lot to come, we’re always working on something.

KNAC.COM: What would you like to say to the EYE EMPIRE fans out there?

CARPENTER: Thank you for your love and support. This is something that has really been a group effort. Not just from our side of things, but our fans truly do keep us going. If there wasn’t a demand, there’d be no need for the supply, and we’re blessed to have those folks out there that support what we’re doing. Other than “Thank you” it’s hard to say anything more. We look forward to seeing everybody out there, keep up with us, and come on out, we’d love to see ya!

EYE EMPIRE’S album Evolve got a great review from me last year, and rightfully so. Now I just need to see these guys live this year and all will be right with the world. At least, the world of The Maestro

You can purchase Evolve in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.

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