Hard Rock Band State Line Empire is from my hometown of San Mateo. You may be familiar with this band since they won the Guitar Center’s Your Next Record with Slash contest and released their EP “Octane” which featured Slash on their song “Drive Me”. I was excited to see State Line Empire open up for Steven Adler’s band Adler’s Appetite at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francsico last year. These guys are incredible live and have such a great energy playing together. It is no wonder they won! State Line Empire features Tyson Yen on Vocals, Dave Pearl on Bass, Cat Place on Guitar and Jay Michaelis on Drums. I had the great opportunity to interview this incredible band and I hope you enjoy getting to know these guys as much as I did. The interview was with Tyson, Dave and Cat.
Music Junkie Press: How did you guys form your band?
Tyson: We all worked together in a previous project and we all got a long great. Soon after, it just seemed very obvious to us all that we should form a band.
Music Junkie Press: Going into the “Guitar Center your next Record with Slash” when you entered, what did you think about it at entering it? Knowing there were so many other bands entering, what did you feel your chances were?
Tyson: I gave up on entering these sort of things long ago. That and battle of the bands.. I hate those things.. why? Cause I’m a sore loser. Whenever we’d enter.. we didn’t just not win.. we probably came in last. So when Cat came to me and said.. dood!!.. lets enter this.. I was all like “ugh” But after reading about it I went from.. “ugh” to “ok, whatever” We posted our best songs, which happened to be our demo’s and did some promoting to get folks to check us out and hopefully vote. I knew there was a lot of bands but I felt very strongly in the material and knew we had a decent shot.
Dave: Personally, I thought we absolutely had to give it shot. Slash has always been one of my favorite guitarists and to have him rip on one of our songs would be a dream come true. I didn’t know we would win, but I felt like our chances were as good as any. When I listened to our music I thought “if I was Slash, I’d want to shred on this”.
Cat: You know we had been preparing for this are whole lives. When we got word of the contest it felt like it had been tailor-made for us. So I thought our chances were good. There were a lot of great great bands that entered so to be picked out by Slash out of the 1200 bands that had entered nation wide was beyond awesome.
Music Junkie Press: Being in the Bay Area, do you find it easier or harder to gain fans or book shows? Rather than SoCal, Vegas, Texas and other big Rock Cities.
Tyson: Yeah, I grew up in the bay area and love the place to death, but I’m afraid she just doesn’t love us back. We do much better in the CA inland areas, the middle of America and LA.. places where red blood still flows.
Dave: Actually it seems to be a bit more of a challenge. Venues in Southern California and other cities seem to be offering us shows all the time. Meanwhile we can’t even get a call back from most clubs in the Bay Area when trying to book shows. It seems as though our music isn’t hardcore enough for the Bay Area. Although, we have had some of our best shows right here at home. Unfortunately they are few and far between.
Cat: Great question!!!! You know its crazy but the bay area music scene is a little sparse. It’s really tough getting people to go to shows in the SF/bay area. We have played out at the Red Devil Lounge with Steve Adler and the Avalon among some other venues in the area but there is a smaller scene here for sure.. SoCal is jumping lots of bands and people coming out to shows. I think some of that has to do with the fact that the clubs in SoCal are all within walking distance so you can catch a lot of shows and hang out with a lot of different people without having to drive all over. You can just cab it or drive out and park and you are ready to go for the night.
Music Junkie Press: We have met so many people who have told us how music changes their lives? Would you agree with that and do you personally have any story to share.
Tyson: Oh it has changed my life in very many ways. I have probably shaven off about 10 years of my life, I’m finding it hard paying rent, and I spend way too much time on highway 5. I have no story to share that wouldn’t gross everyone out. I’ll tell any budding musician this.. wash your hands, change your socks and try to eat a vegetable once in awhile… oh and for gods sake practice to a click.
Cat: Yes for sure.!!!!! You know I get people telling me how our music has helped them, or inspired them …. that is huge….. to be able to connect with people through something you love to do is amazing. Oh yeah…and change your socks !!!!!!!!
Music Junkie Press: What would your advice be to young teens who are interested in music and have a hard time finding others who are as serious as they are to form a band?
Tyson: Find musicians who are playing in the high school or college jazz bands.. I was one of those guys and I never heard the trombonist say ” oh boy, I can’t wait till I’m good enough to play on a carnival cruise ship”. no.. they are all secretly harnessing their rock and roll other half at home.. AND they can read music! Either that or go to guitar center and wait till someone busts out a riff.. If they play Enter Sandman wrong.. pass.. if they actually play it right.. there’s your guy.. If they play any Yngwie…. make no sudden movements, back away slowly and leave the store.
Cat: Find people that are hard working and on the same page as you in terms of goals. That is the key. You have to keep looking ….those people are out there and its important to build a strong foundation…and again you have to find band members that are on the same page. The other thing I would say is that most bands do not stay around long enough to do anything relevant. It takes time…..to develop a sound ,a look etc…..things dont happen overnight and think some bands get frustrated with this and break up before they can really do anything.
Music Junkie Press: Do you play any other instruments or have ever wanted to?
Tyson: I play the trumpet.
Dave: Yeah, I also play guitar and drums. I’m not nearly as good as the other guys but, I can hold my own. Jay and I have talked about doing a drum duet on stage someday. I think that would be a lot of fun. Someday I’d like to record a song where I play all the instruments. Except the vocals. I can’t sing to save my life, but if you catch me at my favorite karaoke bar after I’ve had a few you just might see me showing everyone why I am NOT a singer.
Cat: I play a few other instruments…..bass….piano…..sing…….guitar is def my main instrument though.
Music Junkie Press: What is in store for State Line Empire in 2012?
Cat: Lots of shows!!!!! We are looking into some mini tours in 2012 and hope to get out to more fans. We get a lot of people asking when we are going to get out Texas and Arizona etc …so we are working on that now.
We are also in the middle of doing pre production on our new EP which we hope will be out in a few months. So a lot of shows and a lot of new music. We will also be launching our new statelineempire.com site which will supplement our facebook page with a lot of cool new content …to give everyone a bigger look into the band. (This site is up and running, make sure to go and give it a look!)
Music Junkie Press: What do you think of the song remakes and if you could remake any song and turn it into a hard rock/metal song, what would it be?
Tyson: Theres a few good covers out there.. first that comes to mind is Trent Reznors “immigrant song” I actually prefer it when they take a very active track and slip it some roofies. Take the “Suckerpunch” movie soundtrack. I know it gets a lot of flack with the fanboys online.. but I loved all the remakes. I have no interest at the moment to cover any song.
Music Junkie Press: If you had to use a song title from the ‘80s/90s era to describe your life, what would it be?
Tyson: Mine is the golden girls theme song. For realz.
Dave: “Epic” – Faith No More m/(-_-)m/
Cat: Pee Wee Herman- Tequila!!!!!
So now that you got an inside look at State Line Empire it is time for you to go and head over to ITUNES and get their EP and catch them live! I just found out that they will be performing at the Grand Opening for the new Guitar Center in my hometown of San Mateo on June 28th, 2012. I can’t believe it, a Guitar Center less than a mile away from our old house! Well, anyway, we will definitely be there and look forward to catching State Line Empire.