Epoxy: A Different Formula for Success
Epoxy: A Different Formula for Success
By Holly Day, MusicDish.com
Who says that a great band has to fit into a set formula to be a success? Not Brett Kimberlin, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the critically acclaimed, three-piece band Epoxy. "Formulas have been the poison of the music industry - they stifle individuality and creativity because both bands and record labels think that they have to copy the successful formula of the latest craze, then it gets old real fast and bores everyone," says Kimberlin.
"When labels wake up to the fact that substance and authenticity trump the artificiality of bands trying to look cool, then we will see a resurgence of both good music and the music industry."
Indeed, Kimberlin is such a talented songwriter, both musically and lyrically, that he can pull off what so many other well-intentioned performers are unable to. His songs are creative, intelligent, witty, and poignant, while retaining the musical qualities that make great rock songs - energy, melody and power. Moreover, he has a Motzartian ability to write entire songs on the spot --"a gift from God," he says, -- and his body of work in the hundreds of songs is staggering.
"I'm like a music box, 24x7 I hear music in my head, and all I need is a guitar in my hand in order for a song to materialize out of thin air," Kimberlin muses.
When you hear Epoxy's music, you quickly realize that songs do not have to all be about shagging in high school or broken hearts, and music can be more than three power chords played by a kid who knows little else. "My music is not frivolous like so many other bands nowadays, but rather it's powerful on many levels," says Kimberlin of his composing.
"I'd say the greatest influence on my most recent work is mid-Beatles era -- songs with a lot of meaning, creativity, melody and three-part harmony -- but my songs have a lot more 'power' to them. My producer, Jeff Severson, says that the music for the new CD sounds like 'the Beatles on steroids.' In fact, there are a lot of groundbreaking songs on my upcoming CD, and things that no one has ever done before."
Kimberlin's first CD, "Nothing Else," reflects his varied influences, mixed with a grittier and more powerful type of garage rock and early punk rock. Almost a musical biography, "Nothing Else" draws on Kimberlin's experiences as a political prisoner as well as his stance on subjects ranging from the death penalty to the stagnant state of public indoctrination to everyday life. The songs are loaded with cool guitar hooks, a monstrously melodic bass, and an adrenaline-charged percussion, so raw and wonderfully tense that it's as though the performers are on the brink of exploding.
"I've been playing music since I was born, almost," laughs Kimberlin. "When I was a kid, I played the piano and the ukulele, sang in the choir, played French horn in the school band, then I picked up bass and finally guitar. So music's been around me all my life. My mom played piano, and our family always used to sing together in three-part harmony."
The honest and creatively charged sound of Kimberlin's music today seems to come naturally to him as a person. While Kimberlin seems to have a balanced attitude, he is able to authentically express both suffering and hope in his music. "Pain is part of life, but so is rebirth. Because I have experienced each of these in very real terms, I can express them in my music in ways that others can only imagine."
"It is a non sequitur to hear a teenager from a middle class background sing about how bad his life is - but as a political prisoner who was abused, tortured and released into the world again, I have the credibility to sing about all aspects of life from a very unique and pure perspective.""
When Kimberlin is not playing music, he's a social activist, speaking out about civil rights whenever he has the chance. Recently, he participated in the Washington, D.C. Student Death Penalty Conference, where the video for his song "Killing Fields" was shown during the conference. The song was written about the 1998 execution of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War and whose case generated worldwide attention.
Ironically, it was the reaction to that song that sparked Kimberlin's other passionate pursuit, a nonprofit organization, Justice Through Music. "I was working on my anti-death penalty video for MTV during a time when there was a big push about anti-death penalty issues around the country. After I submitted it, however, MTV banned it because of the war. The video was critical of the President for running the country's biggest killing machine in Texas while he was Governor."
"Anyway, it pissed me off that they were trying to censor my work, and so I took a job offer from an entertainment attorney, Jeff Cohen, to help run his nonprofit organization, Justice Through Music. Ironically, the video was later chosen by the Indie Music Video Festival as one of the top 25 music videos of 2003 and it's presently touring the world in the festival."
See "Killing Fields" video:
* 100kbps.wmv (3 MB)
* 256kbps.wmv (9.2 MB)
Justice Through Music uses famous bands and musicians to focus attention on civil rights, including the right to vote. "We do voter registration drives at festivals and concerts and we sponsor events where famous musicians talk about civil rights," says Kimberlin. "We're putting together a DVD series right now with band members discussing civil rights, which will be distributed free to thousands of schools later this year. The topics range from the death penalty to privacy and peace. We've got lots of bands on the DVD, including Smile Empty Soul and Boy Sets Fire."
See JTMP promo video at the WHFS Music Festival
* 100kbps.wmv (3 MB)
* 256kbps.wmv (10 MB)
"We wanted to get the album out as quickly as possible, and so we put it out through Pollen Records, an indie label in Washington, D.C." says Kimberlin. "After it came out, the major labels heard the CD and got interested, and we played showcases in New York. We had many major and indie labels talking to us, but then the bottom fell out of the music business so we ended up promoting the heck out of the CD all over the Net, Amazon.com, Interpunk.com, and in a lot of record stores. We have had tens of thousands of downloads of many of the songs on some major sties."
"It ended up being a big seller, and even took off overseas. We're getting orders from France, Germany, Britain, Japan, and elsewhere. And now, even more labels have heard about us and they are really excited about the direction of the new collection of songs we recorded for our next CD, and they want to hear it right away," Kimberlin says. "We are the band that people have been waiting for to fill the void in today's music scene. Such a band comes along about every ten years. We just happen to be in the right place at the right time with real music done right." Now that's a formula every band would die for.
The labels would be wise to listen up.