If you haven’t heard of a band named Vextion, you need to get your head out of the clouds! They are dominating the local market show by show, and have one of the most talented female vocalists I have ever encountered. Being friends for a long time, and now bandmates, they have a great backstory to share with everyone.
I recently had the chance to chat with the band—vocalist Kate Ortiz, drummer Rob “Bobman” Crowther, bassist Max Orozco and guitarist Dann Aquino—about their history, goals, upcoming events and more. Check it out below:
For those who are unfamiliar with Vextion, can you let us all know when you first started out? How did you meet?
Kate Ortiz: I actually started Vextion in high school with a completely different lineup. But as things tend to go, people left for various reasons: college; moving far away; or just not getting along. Out of the new lineup, Bobman joined first. I think he found out about Vextion on Myspace—this was a few years ago. After that we got Max, who messaged me on Facebook. I honestly don’t know how he heard about us. And finally, Dann was last to join. He and Max had been in a band together before Max joined Vextion, and the two have a wonderful bromance, so when we needed a lead guitarist, we brought Dann on board.
Max Orozco: I know that Kate started the band years ago with a different lineup. Personally, I found the group through an ad on Craigslist.
Dann Aquino: I am friends with Max.
Rob Crowther: I found them on Myspace.
Vextion: What does it mean?
KO: Vextion means exactly that: vextion. When I started this band, I was sick of the whole band names that are full sentences or is just another generic band name, so I wanted something unique. So I decided I would just come up with a band name and it kind of just happened.
MO: To me, Vextion is the effervescent enthusiasm of our fans yelling, singing, and jumping along with us like a soft drink in a dive bar.
At what age did you all start playing music?
KO: I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember. I used to play all those toy instruments as a kid. I played the sax when I was in grammar school for the school band and then got a guitar when I was 12, and I’ve been playing it ever since.
MO: My grandmother bought my first bass at the age of 16. I remember the first song I learned was “Be Yourself” by Audioslave.
RC: I started playing piano at six years old, but fell in love with drums at age 11.
You have played so many shows in the local area and are always so supportive of all the bands in the scene. Do you have any favorites?
KO: We have made a lot of friends from playing the local scene. There are a lot of great bands in this area. Some of my personal favorites are End Of An Era, Black Tooth Grin and just too many to name.
MO: We love all the bands we’ve been able to play with over the years. I really enjoy our shows with Black Tooth Grin and End Of An Era especially, due to the fact that we all have a shared love of pre-gaming.
RC: End Of An Era, Black Tooth Grin and Ropetree are awesome and even more awesome guys.
You generally play with such an eclectic lineup of different genres. Who usually puts your shows together?
KO: Honestly, we don’t have a regular person we book with. We get invited to jump on shows and if we can make it happen and there’s a good lineup, we’re in!
Do any of you play instruments other than what you do in the band?
KO: I dabble in many instruments besides guitar: drums, piano, ukulele and bass as of now.
MO: I picked up the guitar years ago. I’m not incredible, but almost everything I know I learned from Dann. So I’m pretty amazing.
RC: I also play guitar, piano and a variety of percussion from timpani to handbells.
If you could play with any band, national or local, who would it be and why?
KO: Muse. They are one of the most passionate bands I know and they put on an amazing live show. Matthew Bellamy is one of my favorite songwriters of today. There’s so much passion in his writing, which I think is unfortunately not common in today’s music, and the guy can sing.
MO: I would love to play a show with every local band out there. Once in a while you’ll find yourself playing a gig with bands you’ve never even heard of, and it’s always fun to talk to them, make new friends and network the band even further. As far as national acts, I’d say someone like Foo Fighters or Rage Against The Machine. Anyone with lots of energy that we could feed off! There is nothing better than a high-energy concert.
RC: I’ve definitely wanted to play with Blink since I was like 16. Not only because I was really into them growing up, but because every time I’ve seen them, they have had this energy and connection with the crowd that is remarkable. I feel like Vextion would really appeal to that demographic as well.
What are your thoughts on the music industry? Would you say getting signed is the ultimate goal of the band?
KO: The industry, sadly, has become mostly about money. Rock ‘n’ roll is essentially ignored by mainstream media; it’s all about what’s selling now. I do believe, however, that rock will make a huge comeback when everyone remembers how great it is. And as far as getting signed, I wouldn’t call it our ultimate goal. There are a lot of bands who get signed and end up a tax write-off. Our ultimate goal, for me at least, is to have a large fanbase, be able to tour and put out albums, and make a career out of music.
MO: The music industry seems to be favoring the idea of “mass marketing” mediocre bands down our throats. So I’d rather not comment. I don’t think getting signed is really the goal, at least for me. But I would love to play bigger shows in bigger venues on bigger tours. But for that you need money—and to get money you must be signed. So, yeah…
RC: As Mark Cuban puts it, “The music industry is one of the hardest industries out there.” It’s the truth. It’s not about money, but getting the opportunity to play in front of as many people as possible and making a connection with them. We’ve been fortunate enough to have some success and form an amazing fanbase. I’m always wary of people trying to take advantage of our band, or use it for their own personal success. It’s a tough business, but you learn to surround yourself with people you can trust and who are always there to help the local scene; people like Maria Mar, Jeff Crespi [photographer] and The Musicians Rock Network.
What else do you guys like to do for fun other than make music?
KO: Music takes up a lot of my time. But when I’m not playing or writing it, I like to hang out with my kid sister and my dog, my best buds, and just go out and do things. I like going to concerts, basketball games, museums. I also really enjoy being outdoors. Also, I love cars. So if I can get a car show in here and there, that’s always a good time.
MO: Making music is the only fun I know! If I’m not writing with Vextion, I’m writing or recording with my other musician friends. It’s really all I do. That and listen to music I guess (laughs).
RC: I like to play basketball, draw, bowl, and go to live events and sports. Aside from making music, I love to teach my talented students drums and percussion ensembles at Big Beat Studio.
Can you choose a favorite venue?
KO: Madison Square Garden. I just haven’t played there yet.
MO: My favorite venue is whichever one has the best crowd. Most of the places we play have great reputations and histories, but fans are what make places memorable and enjoyable.
RC: I had a great time playing at The Strand Theatre when we opened for P.O.D. (great guys) for Sandy relief. Great bands, great crew, and great sound.
What are you all up to now? Studio? Shows?
KO: We’re in the wonderful preproduction stages of an album: studio tours, track orders, more studio tours. It’s a really big decision and choosing the right studio can make or break the album. We did just wrap up shooting our music video and we’re hoping to have it ready for the public this March! As for shows, you can always find out upcoming shows on our Facebook or vextion.com.
MO: We’re currently looking to record a full-length LP. We have a great group of songs that we’d really like to polish and record. Hearing music live is great, but being able to record it the way you hear it in your head is the ultimate goal for recording artists, and we’d like to share our “head music” with the people of the world! After it’s released we will most likely plan some kind of tour. At least I hope!
RC: I think our biggest task on the agenda is finding the studio to record at. We’ve done some recording ourselves at other studios, but we are in the process of finding somewhere that the four of us are absolutely in love with. The songs are all ready to go; we just need to find the right place and the right producer. Oh! Also, on deck is our debut music video. We had the opportunity to work with our friend Jeff Masella from NBCUniversal. Filming has wrapped and once editing is done, we cannot wait to share it with everyone. It looks great and I am incredibly excited
Any plans to tour?
KO: Not in the immediate future, but once we have an album we’re going to get ourselves out there and make sure Jersey isn’t the only place that knows the name Vextion.
RC: We had the opportunity to perform at SXSW this year and tour on the way back, but we decided not to pull the trigger this time because we need to get this full-length album done first and foremost. I look forward to hitting the road shortly thereafter.
Where can fans find out about you?
KO: Fans can find us at vextion.com, facebook.com/vextionrocks, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and all of those social media pages out there. Just Google us!
MO: Fans can find us at our shows! Lots of shows are being offered to us. But we will definitely be at Jeff Crespi’s birthday show in April, as well as the New Heights Fest in Seaside Heights in mid-May.
You can catch Vextion live at The Saint on April 6. For more information, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/vextionrocks.