CVIndependent

Wed11252020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

An alternative-rock band gained success seemingly overnight after winning the first round of CV Weekly’s CV Music Showcase last year—and Empty Seat was soon performing at various venues and winning local awards.

However, these weren’t overnight successes at all: The band has actually been around since 2000.

Empty Seat originally hails from the Los Angeles area. Erin Marie (aka Red, because of her hair) is the frontwoman and lead vocalist, with Anthony Ferrer on guitar, Danny Broussard on bass and Rickey Villalobos on drums. Their take on alternative rock features Marie’s vicious and powerful voice as the driving factor.

The band just released “Won’t Wait,” a new single with an accompanying video that is very pop-punk and grunge-esque. Marie’s attacking vocal lines clash with Ferrer’s guitar chords, creating an all-around rock punch to the face.

“It’s been almost eight years since we’ve written new music,” Marie said during a recent phone interview I had with the band. “We took an eight-year break before we started in the valley last year. We had two old albums that we took off the internet, because our sound changed. It’s important that we get this new music out quickly so we can build some better relationships with venues and people.”

Villalobos said the group recorded “Won’t Wait” last fall, and planned to release it soon after.

“Time started passing, and things started lagging, and we were very eager to get it out as soon as we could,” Villalobos said. “It was planned to be released earlier, but with everything going on in the world, we decided that this would be the earliest we were able to get it out there.”

Added Marie: “We had some issues … that held us back, but it eventually did come out. We wanted to release it alongside the video, so we matched the times up with when the video would be finished. Now we are getting ready to come out with another single. If everything goes OK, our next single and accompanying music video will be out by August.”

The band is planning to adjust its release strategy to stay relevant.

“In the old-school days, you did an album, then tour,” Villalobos said. “Now it’s a single, then a music video, then another single, and repeat. That’s what I’ve seen from other artists nowadays—just dropping singles. You can drop the whole album, but not everyone’s gonna buy the whole album; everyone will just take their favorite tracks and move on.”

Marie added: “In today’s age, dropping an album or EP with six to 13 songs all available right away causes some people to forget about it. People listen to all the tracks, and then within a week, it’s dark. When you do a single at a time, you constantly keep people’s attention. There’s always something new instead of just dropping everything at one time.

“We’ve been a band for almost 20 years now, and we have a lot of songs not even recorded yet. We have a lot in our bag; we can drop one every six months or so for a while.”

Empty Seat admits that some changes need to be made in their merch department, too.

“I still see some physical CDs at shows, but bands that are more advanced have download cards,” Ferrer said. “As we start to play live shows again, I’d love to include those to get our singles out to people. It would also be cool to have vinyl records for sale. When you become more advanced, you need to add to your merch to make things more exciting.”

Ferrer said that the members of Empty Seat are willing to evolve their sound, too.

“I don’t care what genre we play,” Ferrer said. “It could be punk, slow, etc. If it’s good, I’m going to try to get the band to work to make the song. There might be something new coming out of this that is different from our usual sound. It’s going to be interesting to see how we evolve. I can’t wait to kick some ass and play a great show again.”

Marie added: “But it’s mostly about having fun. One of the reasons we’ve been together for so long is because we’ve been having fun. If you look like you’re having fun onstage, the crowd is going to have fun with you.

The beautiful production on “Won’t Wait” is owed to local producer and friend of the band David Williams, of Melrose Music.

“We recorded the song at Modern Fuzz Recording Studios in Pomona, and had David Williams master it,” Marie said. “For the next single, we’ll do the whole process with David Williams. We’re planning to start the first week of July. We met (David) when we first performed at the CV Weekly Music Showcase last year. He was one of the judges, and it was a huge coincidence that he has a studio in both Palm Springs and Los Angeles. We’re previously from L.A., so we had a lot in common that helped sparked up our friendship. He’s been one of the most supportive and nicest guys to us.”

Ferrer added: “He’s in the video, too! He showed up for the taping of the ‘Won’t Wait’ video, which was super awesome. People didn’t have to show up and support us, but he came, and it was such a huge deal.”

The music video is a performance of the song at Little Bar in Palm Desert, with Chelsea Sugarbritches, BB Ingle and other local luminaries spotted in the crowd. Spliced in is footage of Ferrer and Marie cruising the streets of Hollywood.

“We wanted to be really supportive of the valley, and we got so lucky that Little Bar in Palm Desert gave us full control of the bar, with no cost and no strings attached,” Ferrer said. “We wanted to film here and really showcase that this is where we’re from.”

Marie added: “We also have shots of Hollywood. We’re really a part of both scenes, and our drummer still lives out there. The video is really a representation of both sides of us.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/EmptySeatband.

After a hiatus from the local music scene, Empty Seat is back. Fronted by Red, a powerful female vocalist, the band melds alternative rock and punk. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/EmptySeatband. The guitarist, Anthony Ferrer, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Incubus, right before they released “Pardon Me.” The lead singer, Brandon Boyd, sold me his own merch at the time. I could tell they were gonna get big.

What was the first album you owned?

Pearl Jam, Ten.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Mona, Le Butcherettes, Radiohead, Ramones, David Bowie, Foo Fighters, The Cure, Jimi Hendrix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, and The Dead Weather.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Billie Eilish. She’s labeled as a singer-songwriter?

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

The Doors with Jim Morrison (RIP) and Ray Manzarek (RIP). I saw Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger play a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of L.A. Woman. They played the entire album. It was great!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jewel.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Hood Bar and Pizza.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“I’ve got another confession to make. I’m your fool,” Foo Fighters, “Best of You.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Jim Morrison and The Doors. I found out through their music that music is art; it’s poetry; it’s a live unexpected experience that is much like life. With my music, I stand behind the vision to be different, be original and deliver it to the people as a gift. It’s not mine anymore after I play it. It is for the people to enjoy. Bob Marley and the Wailers are a huge inspiration, too.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Jimmy Page: “What is … the amp that you most favor when jamming at home, and can you describe what it is that makes it so?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Echoes,” Pink Floyd.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Empty Seat, “Fizz Pop.” (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13