El Paso Music Scene

TJ of XRayOK

Click on the image to get a higher-resolution photo
by Charles Hurley

EPMS: Where'd the name come from?

TJ: I was searching for a name for so long and then it happened in Heathrow Airport: my bags went through security, and came out with an X-Ray OK sticker. As soon as I saw it, I knew.

EPMS: You guys have moved around a lot. What has each place contributed to the development of the band?

TJ: Well, we’ve been through a lot of hardships in every city we’ve lived in. I guess we’ve just gotten stronger living through them (not to sound cliché). It’s probably made us all tighter as a band and in turn has made the music better. It’s definitely given us a better perspective on the world and hopefully some wisdom.

EPMS: Have you ever thought about moving to El Paso?

TJ: We’re staying put for the moment in LA, but if we like El Paso, you never know. We’re becoming semi beach bums, so El Paso will have to be really fucking cool.

EPMS: How many times have you been here?

TJ: This will be our first time. You can say El Paso is popping our collective cherries.

EPMS: Ally and yourself have been with the band since the start, but you've had a number of other people play bass & drums. Has this hurt or helped your music?

TJ: We’ve had two bass players, but Jack has always been the drummer. Everyone contributes to the music, so obviously when we lose any member it changes the sound and direction. But we’ve really found our groove as a three-piece. We’re all really on the same wavelength and writing more than ever. There used to be too many dicks in the soup, which made for a muddy soup.

EPMS: Your web site pretty much exists only to drop people onto your Myspace page. How important has Myspace become in promoting bands?

TJ: It has become extremely important. It really can expose your music to people that otherwise would probably not hear you. We’ve gained a large number of fans through myspace in a short period of time, that before Myspace, would have taken years. In the other hand, I hate it. It’s becoming too corporate and has seemed to miss the original intent of the website, which was basically for bands and fans. It seems to be going in a different direction: hooking up, show your abs and tits. Not that that’s all bad?

EPMS: How else does XRayOK use the internet to promote and to bring crowds to the shows?

TJ: We pretty much just use Myspace and PureVolume a bit. Although, there are so many bands depending on Myspace these days. So it really sucks when they have technical problems. It makes a huge difference when you can actually invite friends to your shows.

EPMS: Was it your intent from the start to be a road band? How long were you a local band before you started going out on the road?

TJ: We’ve been together for over three years. We’ve always had the intent of getting on the road, but there was usually something that kept us from being able to, whether it was losing a bass player or recording, etc. But I think we waited for the right time, because we’ve never really felt as cohesive on a musical or personal level as we do now.

EPMS: Was 80s new wave a big part of the band's influence?

TJ: It is a big influence in our band, however we’ve never considered ourselves new wave. We’re always trying to bring something new to the table. We get very bored, very quickly – which makes our sound change every few months. We really hate to sound like anyone else, so once we feel a bit passé, we change. It’s all about pushing the envelope.

EPMS: How does using keyboards for leads instead of guitars affect the music?

TJ: Well, I really think it opens up a lot of possibilities as far as using a huge variety of sounds. We still use some guitars also. We are always trying to just do what’s right for each song, and sometimes that means guitar, sometimes synths, or even strings. Using electronics, we can pretty much create whatever sound is right for the mood of each song.

EPMS: What CDs have you released? I think I have seen mention of Reflex, plus an EP.

TJ: We released Reflex in 2005 and released Like Life, our last EP early this year. We have a brand new demo, which is basically a glimpse into our upcoming album.

EPMS: Future recording plans?

TJ: We’re going to be finishing up another full-length early next year, and plan to be back on the road to support it in April or May.

EPMS: What would you differently if you could, in the history of the band?

TJ: We could definitely give you a long list of regrets, but everything we’ve done has ultimately gotten us to where we are.. So I guess we can’t complain too much.

EPMS: I understand that you and Ally personally witnessed the 9/11 attack. What went through your mind as you saw that?

TJ: It was very surreal and sad. Nobody really knew what the hell was going on. People had there car radios blasting and huge crowds grew around them to listen. It started to feel we were seriously under attack and a sort of panic was in the air. All of the bridges and trains shut down. There were rumors everywhere that pipe bombs were going off. We felt kind of stuck. Our generation had it pretty easy up until that point. Nothing to really get in the streets for, you know. Every other generation had a great war - now we have ours.

EPMS: Did you personally lose anybody?

TJ: I lost a good friend from high school. He was working in the second tower that got hit. He was on his way out and security told them it was fine. He went back to his desk and the second plane hit his floor. Life sucks.

EPMS: Do you see electronic music growing?

TJ: Yes. I think it is sort of the future. I mean, guitars and rock will never die, but with all the new technology you can’t really refuse it.

EPMS: Any bands you think we should bring to El Paso?

TJ: Check out the Presets...they are rad.

EPMS: OK, I'll look into them. Thanks a lot.

TJ: Hope to see you at the show. Thanks for the interview. Peace.