Dextress Interview

October 3, 2014

Interviewer: Olivier

A lot of the early ’80s hard rock/metal music by bands such as Motley Crue and Ratt that we still love to listen to was created by young adults, mostly in their early 20s. The members of Dextress are all still technically teenagers but the music they have delivered with their debut EP ‘The Demo’ instantly takes you back to that magical ’80s era where hooks, melodies and soaring guitar solos were the norm. Sleaze Roxx caught up with three of the four talented Dextress band members to discuss everything from their different musical backgrounds and influences to some of the members’ various “quirks”.

Sleaze Roxx: I understand that you formed the band in June 2011. When did everyone that is in the current line-up now join the group?

Jackson Taylor: It started when me and Mark met at church and stuff and we started jamming together and looking for a rhythm section. We had a couple of other members that were in the band but we have moved on since then. We found Chris on Kijiji and we then had a bass player. Chris knew Marcos (Rodriguez), who’s our drummer, so that’s how we all met each other.

Sleaze Roxx: Was there an audition process for the bass and drum positions?

Dextress Sleaze Roxx InterviewMark Janz: Yeah, we auditioned a couple of people. Chris contacted us on Kijiji because we placed an ad there. At his audition, right away, it was just like we found the right guy — his technique and everything like that. And then as well as with Marcos — we auditioned a couple of different drummers and you know, he just fit perfectly — just solid, and he had the groove and everything like that.

Sleaze Roxx: And what did your Kijiji ad say?

Mark Janz: Our Kijiji ad said, I think, “Bassist wanted for teenage rock band”.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up with the Dextress name?

Jackson Taylor: We came up with the name when Mark and I were sitting around and trying to think of a band name. We brought a thesaurus and we thought of words that would describe us. I said “awkward” because it was just the two of us in the band and an antonym for that was “dexterous” which meant talented — we then changed the spelling.

Sleaze Roxx: I understand that all of you come from different musical backgrounds. What are each of yours and when did you start playing your respective instruments? That would be singing for you Jackson.

Jackson Taylor: Yeah, my singing — I don’t know. I originally started as a guitar player and was in different bands. They could never find a decent enough lead singer so I just said, “Screw it — I guess I’ll sing” and since then I have basically stopped playing the guitar as much as I used to and singing has become my main focus like two or three years ago I think.

Mark Janz: I picked up the guitar when I was 10. I was really influenced by these kind of power-pop like revival bands — you know, the dudes from Cheap Trick and stuff like that. Eventually, that sort of evolved into Aerosmith and then as I started growing as a lead guitarist, I started listening to Van Halen and Dokken and Danger Danger and all these guys. Ever since then, ever since 10 years old, I have just been going extremely hard and working my tail off just so I could be able to play like these guys.

Chris Garcia: I was always exposed to music. Everyone in my family always listened to music but nobody really played. I used to be into R&B and I guess all of the mainstream stuff if you will, but then I started listening to groups like Billy Talent and the Killers. I think the Killers especially influenced me a lot so I started studying up my alternative rock which eventually led to me wanting to play bass. I then expanded to punk stuff — the metal core kind of junk and all this other stuff. Eventually, I found these guys and started to open up my mind a bit more. I really try to be as eclectic as I can but it is all very rock based.

Sleaze Roxx: What is your drummer Marcos Rodriguez’ musical background if you can speak to it?

Chris Garcia: I have actually known Marcos since we were little. We used to go to church together and I met him again when we went to high school together. Marcos used to actually play the violin so he used to take lessons and he is super influenced like that. That is what he did and then he started taking up drums and percussion when he was in junior high. When he started in bands, he listened to a lot of stuff like Three Days Grace, The Eagles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and since then he has always kind of liked those. He is very, very particular about his taste in music.

Sleaze Roxx: You have commented on your website that people find it hard to believe that the music Dextress is playing actually comes from four 17 year olds. How do you explain the mature sound that can be found on ‘The Demo’?

Jackson Taylor: I guess the best way to put it would just be we have listened to a lot of mature sounding music and spent a lot of years trying to imitate it and drawing influence from it. It helps I guess.

Mark Janz: Yeah, I think a lot of it really just comes from our influences. If you can tell from just the last question, we all come from pretty different backgrounds musically. I think just taking the strongest parts from each of those members and putting it into this almost sort of more retro kind of sound, we just get something that people really enjoy.

Chris Garcia: I agree with what Mark said. We all come from very different backgrounds and we kind of take what is best from them and put them together. I think it also has to do with the fact that we have a good balance of tradition and innovation. I think it is mostly from Mark and Marcos as they have a lot of traditional sounds to them. Myself, Mark and Jackson — we are going to a lot of newer sounds for the music that we play based on some of the newer stuff that we listen and again just some of the stuff that we think of that we haven’t heard done before.

Sleaze Roxx: I understand that your first gig was actually less than a year ago on December 18th, 2013. Do you find it difficult to land gigs given your young ages?

Jackson Taylor: Yeah definitely! It is very frustrating (laughs).

Mark Janz: The hard part is not only finding new gigs but if there is some sort of all ages venues — you can play somewhere you know — a big apartment building next door complains about the noise and you are back to square one, right?

Chris Garcia: A lot of people here in Calgary, they actually — there are different events people — book events for bands and most of them are really, really unreliable. So it gets harder with that and usually they like to favor certain bands, especially ones that are of age because they are easier to get shows for. So yeah, it is really hard for that.

Mark Janz: Also, a big thing — I don’t know how hard it is over in Toronto there — but here in Calgary, the music scene is very much either hardcore metal, trash, stuff like that or it is indie folk stuff. So for bands like us, who are kind of in the middle there, it is very tough. You know — we are not what is really popular.

Sleaze Roxx: You have mentioned that your music has a bit of a retro feel to it, which I would place in the ’80s hard rock/heavy metal era. Do you agree?

Mark Janz: Absolutely!

Sleaze Roxx: But all of you were not even born at that time — you weren’t even born at the time of the grunge era! So what attracted you to the ’80s hard rock/metal style of music?

Jackson Taylor: For me it was definitely Guitar Hero 3. Playing all their songs, specifically “Welcome To The Jungle” — that one, I fell in love with it and since then Guns N’ Roses has been number one for me and just all of those bands.

Mark Janz: For me, I was playing guitar and I wanted more of a challenge so I found it. I listened to “Panama” from Van Halen and stuff like that. Obviously, the guitar playing got me interested but also it was the act of that whole era, which was about having a good time and enjoying what you are doing despite whatever else might be going on — which I think is a very lacking theme in rock music today.

Chris Garcia: I actually never really got into that era of music. I never really even heard anything from that time until I met Jackson and Mark. It really isn’t something that I’d listen to if I had a choice. I mean, I like playing it and I like adding what I can to it.

Sleaze Roxx: Why did you record an EP of only four songs?

Jackson Taylor: For one, a lack of money (laughs). It takes a lot of money to spend time in the studio so four songs would be enough to get what we want done, which would be able to show people our music. It was time effective and relatively cheap.

Mark Janz: Also one thing is that those were the first four songs we actually put together as a band, so really those were the first songs that we played at our first gig. Those are the ones that really define us from the start so it just kind of felt right.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you choose ‘The Demo’ for your EP name?

Jackson Taylor: I don’t know, it just seemed appropriate because it is our demo (laughs) and we didn’t really have another name for it. We just wanted to tell people that this was the beginning and it was just a really easy way to identify what it is.

Sleaze Roxx: What has been the highlight for each of you so far in your Dextress journey?

Jackson Taylor: Probably just sharing songs that I write, or just a couple lines of lyrics that I come up with coming to life with the guys. Before this, I had never been in a band where I pictured my prediction coming to life.

Mark Janz: I think my favorite part is when I put on the TV at a friend’s house and I hear them say, “This is your band?” I feel like this is just some band from the ’80s or something and it is a great feeling when the kids at school come up to you in the hall and they are just hearing it on Facebook and Instagram and stuff. They listen to it and enjoy it — that is just the best feeling in the world.

Chris Garcia: There’s actually two. The first one has to be when we first started working on original music. The second has to be when I showed my friend Alex our demo and she actually complemented it and praised it before I even told her who it was.

Sleaze Roxx: Back in mid 2012, it appeared that Dextress would release a cover CD. Did that every come to fruition?

Mark Janz: That was a tough time for us because we had just dismissed our rhythm section from the first line-up. It was really just more of a way so people wouldn’t really forget about us. So we just released a couple of songs but we never actually managed to put out a whole CD unfortunately.

Sleaze Roxx: And which songs did you end up releasing?

Mark Janz: We put our cover of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” out on Facebook and did “Panama” by Van Halen. I don’t know if it is still up there — it might be. I think we did “I Want A Woman” by Ratt as well. I am not sure if it is still up there because we cleansed a bit of the stuff once we got the new rhythm section.

Sleaze Roxx: Typically in a band, every member plays a certain role or brings something to the table. What would you say that each of you bring to the band aside from your musical contributions?

Jackson Taylor: I don’t know. I probably have the darkest personality of all of us so I probably bring the harder edge to stuff I guess.

Mark Janz: I love bands like Danger Danger and Bon Jovi and every show for them is like a party, so I think I have that kind of personality as well. I think I kind of bring the fun and enjoyment, the carefree factor — just getting everybody to sing along type of thing.

Chris Garcia: I think what I try to bring is a bit more — how do I say it — I guess something to make people not listen more and just enjoy the music but to pay more attention to it. I think I try to bring more of a technicality to what we do.

Sleaze Roxx: Here is a tough question for you. You have been together as a band for more than a year now so name one odd quirk that you have noticed that you did not know when the band member first joined the group.

Dextress Sleaze Roxx InterviewChris Garcia: I want to go first. When I first joined the band, I didn’t actually know that Jackson was really a carefree and kind of — I don’t want to say dumb — but silly sometimes. When I first met him, he was always really — I do not want to say stern — but he was very serious. He tried to act like he was super cool (laughs by everyone) but then after a while, he kind of opens up and you realize that he is a major dufus.

Jackson Taylor: For me, one of the things I noticed and learned about Mark is that he is extremely silly all of the time (laughs by Mark). You know — he likes to put on some silly pop songs where maybe he will dance along during practice before we get back to playing our stuff (laughs).

Mark Janz: I am not sure. I think one of the things I definitely noticed about Chris for sure is when we met him he was the one who was super friendly, professional and stuff like that. Then once he opens up he is like insulting us and he is quite a goofy guy. The same thing with Jackson when I met him, he was just like Chris. He really likes to put on this tough guy thing and when you get to know him, he is more like a teddy bear (laughs).

Sleaze Roxx: You have just released your ‘The Demo’ EP. What are the band’s plans going forward?

Chris Garcia: I think right now what we really want to try to do is get more shows here in Calgary and just really get the word out and bring awareness. What I am actually trying to do is I am planning to send our CDs to different campus radio stations across Canada. I might actually send some down to the States because I have family and friends down there just so that we can get ourselves out there and get people listening to us.

Jackson Taylor: I think our plan right now, like Chris says, is just kind of get our name out there. But also I think what our biggest interest is right now is to make a lot of connections within the local scene, and maybe in the national scene, just so there are always options for us.

Sleaze Roxx: For each of you, what is your favorite Dextress song and why?

Jackson Taylor: Would this be just from ‘The Demo’?

Sleaze Roxx: No. You can pick one that is not on ‘The Demo’.

Mark Janz: We should pick one that is not on ‘The Demo’ to make people want it.

Jackson Taylor: For me, it is probably “Bring On The Girls” just because it is super fun to sing and it is really high and challenging. So that’s probably one of my favorite songs to play.

Mark Janz: Yeah, I’d say the same thing as Jackson just because I find it is really relatable because it is basically a song written from the perspective of a teenage boy. It is really relatable. I think from ‘The Demo’ album, my favorite would probably be “Under My Skin” just because it drives and the guitars can be really heavy but then they are soft and subtle again. It is like a battle cry almost and that is how I think about it.

Chris Garcia: I can’t decide on one really. I think for every question that is similar to that — like if there is any that I dislike or if there is any that I like — I can’t answer it because I like them all and there are none that I actually prefer. I want to say that it is because I am starting to bring more ideas and starting to think of actual songs. I want to say that my own ideas I like more but I don’t. I like them just as much as what we are already doing so I can never really decide on a favorite.

Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you, what are your top three records of all time and why?

Mark Janz: I think number one for me would be Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ — obviously all of the guys are amazing players like Steve Clark, Joe Elliott, Rick Allen and all that but also they kind of crossed over but they didn’t sell out which is really neat. I also love ‘1984’ by Van Halen because all the songs are just so classic — and Eddie Van Halen is just doing what he does and David Lee Roth’s just, you know, this character. My third would probably be ‘New Jersey’ by Bon Jovi because I love the production — obviously all the songs like “99 In The Shade”, but I also like that it shows their mature side too — that there was more to Bon Jovi than “Livin’ On A Prayer”. They were not just a one-time thing.

Jackson Taylor: The number one for me for sure is Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Use Your Illusion II’ because pretty much every emotion I think I will ever feel in my life can be found on that album and I feel like I can relate to a song on it. Number two is probably ‘Master Of Puppets’ by Metallica. I just love that album and I love Metallica. The third one is ‘Nine Lives’ by Aerosmith because Steven Tyler screams his head off for that entire album.

Chris Garcia: So number three, just because it is my favorite band and it is my favorite album, ‘Folie A Deux’ by Fall Out Boy. And then for number two, it has to be ‘Hot Fuss’ by the Killers and then number one has to be ‘Phantom On The Horizon’ by The Fall of Troy.