El Paso Music Scene

RPM Interview

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by Charles Hurley

RPM is actually the initials of the singer of an LA band that was at Lucky Devils a few weeks ago. We were lucky enough to get in a video interview with her at that time. Now, we present a longer interview, done by phone, ahead of her return appearance at Lucky Devils this Tuesday.

She has done two EPs, Unspeakable Acts and A Young Person's Guide to Being an American, before releasing her debut CD, Irrational Anthem, on her own label, 7940 Records.

She hopes to do some archaeology in her old age, and, oh, yeah, she wants world peace.

EPMS: You have a tough image, but you seem like a really nice person. Your way of looking at things is delightful and refreshing.

RPM: Oh, thank you. I just try to be honest, and sometimes, in this day and age, honesty can be misinterpreted as being mean. But, I definitely don't consider myself a mean person. I do get out a lot of aggression in my music and in my stage show, but in life I don't walk around being a mean person.

EPMS: You have said that people expect you to be a slutty, subservient pop singer...

RPM: LOL. I know that quote; that's from The Prospector (The UTEP student newspaper).

EPMS: What are you, then, as opposed to those things?

RPM: Well, I'm very confident and I'm very secure in myself, but when you walk into a rock club and you're the only girl in the band, people have their thoughts about what you're going to be like. I have a lot of self-respect, and I don't kowtow to what people expect me to be. That's usually a shock in that world.

EPMS: How is it going, running your own label?

RPM: It's great, it's exhausting, and it's a lot of work, but it definitely allows me to be able to say and do whatever I want within my art, and it allows me to not have to answer to any corporation.

I would love it at some point, if a larger company wanted to go into business with me, but I'm not willing to sell myself out for that. It's all-consuming, but it's worth it.

EPMS: The Cantina Flys told me you showed up at one of their shows in California.

RPM: I did show up at their show; I just showed up to offer them support.

EPMS: Are you going to record other bands on your label in the future?

RPM: In the future, it's something I've definitely considered, as my business becomes more prosperous. I would love to be able to do that, because I would love to able to give other acts the ability to develop themselves. But right now, it's not an option because it's so expensive to do that, but down the line I'd love to do that.

EPMS: You moved to LA three years ago?

RPM: About three years ago.

EPMS: From where?

RPM: From New York. I'm from Virginia, but I went to school in New York, and then I came out here.

EPMS: Were you recording recently?

RPM: I have been recording. I just put out an EP of four songs that I recorded a couple of months ago, and then I just actually wrote some new material. So, I'll be going back in to record in-between touring this summer. We're doing some more recording. I'll probably put out another EP at the end of the year.

EPMS: Where does your fearlessness come from?

RPM: You know, I don't know. I guess, my family. I disagreed with my family a lot in a political sense, or wherever religion or things like that are concerned, but the one thing my family definitely taught me, was to always be honest, to not be afraid to express myself. So, I think that probably comes from them, although we're different. They've definitely broken out of their molds.

I guess it just comes from life experiences.

The biggest thing I fear in life is regret, so if I live without holding myself back, I don't really have that much to fear.

EPMS: What are you in relation to your siblings; the oldest?

RPM: Nope, I'm the youngest.

EPMS: You have said that all the advice you've gotten from people has sucked.

RPM: That's true, completely true. People give me terrible advice all the time.

There is a very short list of people that I even listen to. I always temper (their advice) a bit with my own opinion. I can't recall where I took somebody's advice, verbatim and it didn't just totally screw me over. Because, people generally don't have a handle what's really going on in your life, or all the things you're working with or against. They just give you terrible advice.

EPMS: What's the worst advice you've ever gotten?

RPM: To play it safe.

EPMS: Who do you think is a fake rebel?

RPM: Who is a fake rebel? Musically? I'd say, somebody like Avril Lavigne.

There's just a lot of posers in music. I think there's just a lot of people who think that drinking a beer or smashing your guitar makes you a rebel, when in actuality, being a rebel, I think, means speaking your mind without conforming. There's a lot of people in pop music that call themselves rebels, but all they do is conform. To me, that's not being rebellious.

EPMS: Did you play all the instruments on your CD?

RPM: I did not. I played the guitar.. On my first CD there was keyboards that I also played, and some violin, and my producer, who I recorded with, played, lets see...

On Irrational Anthem, my producer and I played everything. On, "A Young Person's Guide to Being an American," same thing, then on my last EP, I did vocals and lead guitar, and then my band did everything else.

EPMS: On your liner notes, it says, "I want to un-thank all the people that told me to quit."

RPM: Yeah. LOL.

EPMS: Was that a lot of people?

RPM: Oh, countless numbers of people.

Since I was little, all I wanted to do was sing, and since I was little, I've had almost everybody in my life tell me that that was a ridiculous thing to want to do with your life, and you should just quit and do something safe. And, along the lines, every time it has gotten tough, or gotten hard, or I've gotten discouraged, you generally find those people just go, "Oh, it's time to quit, it's time to give up." That's not helpful, nor did it convince me to do that.

Every time somebody tells me to quit or give up, it gives me a tiny bit more strength to keep going.

EPMS: How hard has it been for you to overcome discouragement?

RPM: In moments, it can be difficult, but not that hard overall, because whenever I tend to get really discouraged, I'll turn to the guitar or the piano and I'll start singing and I'll realize all over again that that's all I want to do. So, it's not too hard in the big picture. But, there are certain times when it can get you down. It's exhausting, you generally don't have a lot of people rooting for you, and that's very difficult. But, you find the people that do believe in you, and you stick with them. I find a lot of solace in my band. We have a really good connection. You do it for the music, and you realize that you can't not do it. So, you keep going.

EPMS: How much archaeology do you do?

RPM: I don't do any. I would love to do it. I read books on it, but I have never gone on an archaeological dig, but I'd love to. Kind of one of those things I figure I'll do in the second half of my life.

EPMS: I've seen a lot of TV shows, on places like Greece, where they've flooded archaeologically-rich areas to build dams. I think that's awful.

RPM: It is, it's terrible. For me, everything that's going on in Iraq, all the bombings and everything. Of course, it's terrible and tragic, and war is terrible and tragic but on top of that, all of the amazing archaeological finds that will never be found now, because the land is being destroyed, breaks my heart, but you know...

EPMS: Something about you, I kind of didn't want to ask you this... you kind of talk around politics a lot.

RPM: Well, on my web site, I don't know if you've ever been to my web site, there's a page on my web site called rants, that's very, very pointed and political, and there are lots of very straight-ahead anti-Bush, anti-Republican rants, right on my web site for anyone to read.

When I'm writing music, I tend to try to not make it... it's not less pointed, it's just a little less obvious. Because I'm very aware of the fact that, if you go too "in your face" in music, people will miss the point entirely. So, what I try to do is to use my beliefs to say everything I want to say without alienating the people that will be buying the music.

So that, hopefully, they can actually listen to what I say and not just turn away. But, there is a section on my web site called 'rants' for the people that possibly share the same view, or don't share the same view, but are open-minded enough to read my views and want to engage in some kind of dialogue

I've actually been pretty outspoken, especially on 'A Young Person's Guide to being an American,' with straight-up anti-war-in-Iraq, anti-Bush, and I have no problem saying that, but I'm not a registered Democrat or Republican; I'm an independent. And, I very much have problems with both the major parties and our political system.

A lot of times people say, "You're not committing to one side or another." Absolutely not! Because, I think there are huge problems with the Democratic party and the Republican party.

I try to stir up thought without alienating people, because if you alienate people, you can never get them to talk to you.

I think that by stirring up the apathy, we have a chance...

I think there's about ten free-form rants that are posted right now.

EPMS: How'd you like The Cantina Flys in California?

RPM: I loved them, they're awesome. They rocked.

EPMS: If we had to lose one form of music, which would that be?

RPM: Um, wow. I don't even know how to answer that.

I probably wouldn't lose any form of music, even if I don't like it; someone out there does.

EPMS: If you were on plane, and it crashed into The Andes, and you knew without a doubt that you would have to eat the pilot and passengers, how long would it take you to start?

RPM: A really, really, really long time, if I ever did.

EPMS: Even if you were sure?

RPM: Yeah.

EPMS: You've also said in Florida Entertainment Scene, "You can't follow in anyone's footsteps in rock music and end up where they are. Trailblazing is half of it."

RPM: Yeah, I definitely believe that.

A lot of people will say, "Maybe you should follow this person's footsteps; it's how they broke into the industry." Or, "Write like this person, it's how their hit song was written." I always marvel at that, because rock music is based on not conforming, it's based on rebelliousness and free expression. All of that stuff is what makes the people that are great, great.

I always think when people give me advice like that, that they clearly don't understand what I'm trying to do at all.

EPMS: Is there anything else you'd like to tell people in El Paso?

RPM: Just to come to the show on the 16th, which will be back at Lucky Devils.

EPMS: I'll see you then, thanks a lot.

RPM: All right, Charles, thank you so much, I'll see you then.

RPM will be at Lucky Devils on Tuesday, 8/16/05.

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