SEXTILE: CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT
photography by alex the brown
Brady Keehn: I’m kind of opposed to telling people what songs are about. It ruins that person’s connection to them and how they relate to it—if they listened to the lyrics and they relate to something that happened in their life, and then the artist comes in and says, ‘Actually it’s about fucking pizza,’ then…
Melissa Scaduto: That’s not true because most people don’t read interviews. It’s cool when that person finds out because no one would expect it.
Brady Keehn: It takes away the magic or the mystery. It’s like when you read a book and you think about the imagery in your head. It’s your imagination—and then you go see it as a movie and it’s terrible because that’s not the way you saw it.
Eddie Weubben: I can see both sides. Me personally, I want to know what everything’s about. When I find out, the mystery is not ruined—I feel very excited.
Give something to the nerds who are searching out the interviews.
Brady Keehn: OK—when I wrote the demo, my Poly 6 had died. It was one of the first synthesizers that I got and it was dear to my heart. I wanted to intertwine the dying of electronics into what I felt was happening in society or what I’m seeing around me go on, so it was like … death by slow corrosion is a mystery, so like corroding metals and all that stuff … power hungry circuits are beginning to feed, it’s fuckin’ weird-ass shit … [laughing]
Is the album title Albeit Living a Circle X reference?
Melissa Scaduto: Yes. How’d you know that? Fuck—is everyone going to know that? I thought ‘Albeit Living’ would sound cool, but also because some of the themes Brady talked about that are supposed to be within those songs … I thought that title made sense.
Brady’s lyrics about the power hungry circuits remind me of Albeit Living’s opening lines: ‘No, it’s not amazing that the scum should rise to the surface. Obviously the top is no place to be.’ It feels so pertinent wih the current political landscape. Was it meant as political commentary?
Melissa Scaduto: Yes, that’s basically what it’s in reference to. I thought it fit as political commentary also, you know? It was both. It made sense for everything at the time, and I thought if anyone got the reference, that would be fucking cool. Even these guys didn’t know who Circle X was, and I was like, ‘they’re kind of a weird obscure band’ so it made sense. It’s awesome that you know who they are.
I was doing my research—I didn’t know who Circle X was, but it was interesting reading about them, and then hearing that song was like, ‘Fuck, that’s heavy.’
Melissa Scaduto: Also Albeit Living didn’t sound bad off the bat. It’s just one of those titles that … you know, some you have to question, or some you like.
Melissa, in a 2015 interview that you said you were trying to start a scene here—
Melissa Scaduto: Oh, really? [laughing] I said that? I wonder what context … Maybe meaning to find the right fit. When I first got here, my only exposure to L.A. was the garage rock scene. Little did I know there were a bunch of bands playing that we are now friends with. I still hope more people will start bands. It’s the one thing that I don’t actually understand—people who will actively go to shows and talk shit on Facebook about bands they don’t like. People are so comfortable to talk shit on the internet. It’s hilarious because it’s a way to be confrontational about all of the things that you’re pissed about without having to be present and saying it to somebody. I think, ‘I get it, but you should go start your own band. Rather than talking shit on Facebook, you could be playing guitar and figuring things out.’ It’s a bummer because these kids have a computer, and with a computer, not only can you make your own music, you can make a video, you can send it around to everybody … and if it’s good, it will get put out. We live in such a crazy world that the actual opportunity to make art is easier than ever. Even though we as artists make less than ever. I guess it’s laziness no matter how you slice it. With all the tools being readily available … you choose what you want to do.
Melissa and Brady, what was the transition from New York to L.A. like?
Melissa Scaduto: I felt like I wasn’t really in the city for the first year because I was in Pasadena in sober living, so it was like being removed. I wasn’t allowed to really be in a band either. I had to listen to everything they told me to do like I was a little kid. It was like breaking down the old self that I was, trying to keep the good things that were there, and remove all the negative shit and restart again.
Did you put yourself there?
Melissa Scaduto: Yeah, it was voluntary. I didn’t get arrested and get forced there, but it was my first time ever being given an opportunity to get sober, too, so I took it because I was desperate. But luckily I met Eddie through all of that.
Eddie Weubben: I was at another sober living down the street.
Melissa Scaduto: It was really what I needed in my life then, and I’m so grateful for it. I really think that self-help goes a long way. You live a certain way and think a certain way for so long, and you can put yourself in a rotten place where you think and act all broken. I think it really helped me out. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play music anymore—I thought moving to L.A. meant I wasn’t going to go to shows. That was a huge bummer for me to swallow. But then Brady moved here—even though he was really far away, and for two people with no cars it was rough. We’d take the train to see each other. We recorded that first record in Brady’s sober living. We all really tried and reflected positivity on one another and put one foot in front of the other and took a leap of faith. Starting this band is what helped me stay sober from hard drugs and alcohol and continues to be a part of it—it made me see what was possible to do when you’re not clouded by stupid-ass shit all the time. And then meeting other people that wanted to better themselves. That goes so far. Now I feel super transitioned into this place.
Brady, what was your transition like?
Brady Keehn: I had come to L.A. after three months in rehab, really. It was my first time being here, and I ended up in Culver City. It really sucked. I had no clue what was cool, I had no clue who was who. The only person I knew was Melissa and the people I knew in sober living, but they didn’t know what was what cuz they were a bunch of bros. It was a pretty regimented place. I’d gone to military school for the first two years of high school, and then I’d gotten kicked out and went to Catholic school. So it was very regimented when I got to sober living—of course I fucking hated it. I ended up relapsing and and then realizing, ‘What the fuck am I doing in a new city shooting dope? This is not what I want.’ So I decided to change sober livings and I went to a place in Studio City where they gave me a lot of free rein. I still don’t know anything, I’m trying to meet people … it was kind of rough. But I finally got a demo out to Sammy, who sent it to Michael Stock, and he gave us our first show. I had all these songs demo’d and I wanted to make them fuller so I got Melissa and Eddie to join the band. It wasn’t even Sextile—it was a different project, but we ended up getting signed to Felte at our first show at the Echo, which is super cool. Then we went in and recorded it the way the band was at the time. I got the recordings back and it sounded so much like a rock record. I was like, ‘This isn’t what I wanted at all!’ We ended up changing everybody around, and in this sober living in Studio City—in this back cabin—I ended up recording an entire record and writing a bunch of new songs and getting it going and everything. That’s the first record. And that’s where Sextile started.
You pounded open a lot of cosmic doors. It might seem like, ‘They got signed after their first show…’ but you really put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting there.
Brady Keehn: Yeah—we didn’t have a practice space before that first show. We were having to pay hourly for practice, meet by bus, I was hauling my guitar, my pedals, maybe microphones if we were trying to record … or find somebody with a car to be able to take us if we had to take the drums. It was really crazy. I’ve been playing for ten years, Eddie’s been playing all of his life, and Melissa’s been playing all of her life and recording and she’s the biggest record nerd ever and taught me everything I know about music. This is the furthest that anything we’ve ever done has gone, which is cool.
Is it challenging to stay sober while living the life of a rock band and having all those temptations constantly present?
Brady Keehn: Not anymore. Not for me.
Melissa Scaduto: I think your brain will trick you, naturally, when you see a bunch of people doing this one thing, that you’re supposed to be doing that thing, too. There’s this weird first thought that comes up like, ‘Oh, I’m supposed to be doing that thing.’ But then the second thought is like, ‘No fucking way, there’s no way I would.’ They always say, ‘You’re not responsible for your first thought, you’re responsible for your second.’ I think that that makes a lot of sense.
SEXTILE WITH FLAT WORMS, CRUSH, GLAARE AND SILENT SERVANT (DJ SET) ON THURS., JULY 13, AT ZEBULON, 2478 N. FLETCHER DR., LOS ANGELES. 8 PM / $10-$12 / 21+. GET TICKETS HERE! SEXTILE’S ALBEIT LIVING IS OUT FRI., JULY 14, ON FELTE. VISIT SEXTILE AT SEXTILE.BANDCAMP.COM.