XO Stereo: Beyond The Struggle
Featuring members from past bands such as From First To Last and LoveHateHero, XO Stereo has arrived and they are ready are willing to rock your world! Their debut EP The Struggle was released in October of 2015, and 2016 promises to be an epic year for the Los Angeles based collective. Highwire Daze Online caught up with the three XO Stereo members outside of the Chain Reaction in Anaheim just right after their high energy set opening for Assuming We Survive. Read on as we chat with XO Stereo about The Struggle, the local Los Angeles music scene, their collaboration with Thrasher of Escape The Fate, and beyond…
Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in XO Stereo.
Cooper: My name is Cooper Campbell and I do all the vocals and I play the drums on studio recordings.
Jon: I’m Jon Weisberg, I play guitar and bass.
Justin: Justin Whitesel, I play guitar and piano.
Where are you guys from and what’s your local music scene like there?
Cooper: I was originally from Texas, but I grew up in CA. Both my parents were musicians, they met while working the Vegas circuit, so I guess you could say it’s in my blood. I grew up in a town called Tehachapi, about an hour and a half out of LA. As soon as I was out of high school, I moved down to LA and started pursuing music. I got into music around 8y old. I started playing drums before I started singing, then from there it’s just how things flourished. I’ve worked with a lot of different people in Los Angeles and here I am today. Pretty much, that’s me.
Justin: I’m from LA. Music scene is deteriorating, but it is what it is. That’s why we’re playing Orange County…
Jon: It’s just different based on genre. In Orange County there are a lot more people, it seems, that are into the heavier rock scene. In LA there’s a lot of indie type shows or alternative shows. I feel like it’s easier to play for a band like us in Orange County than it is in LA, plus there’s so many bands in LA. The competition is tough.
What is the meaning behind The Struggle?
Cooper: For me, it’s been a long hard road of trying to get – reaching for goals. I’ve had goals set for music and in life. It’s about the road to achieving those goals. It’s not about necessarily one thing in general, it’s just all my determination leading up to the end goal.
Talk about any other song off the EP, maybe Show and Tell. What’s the story behind that song?
Cooper: Show and Tell, for me, is just about realizing when something has run it’s course and it’s time to walk away. Knowing when to say goodbye about something. Even though you might not want to, and it’s hard to do, but there is a moment when you realize that something is not going to work out and you have to go the other way.
Justin: We wrote the lyrics to Show and Tell together and it’s been exactly the same thing. On my part of it, I hid a bunch of Easter eggs for people who follow any of our last bands with the song titles.
Send Me An Angel, what made you decide to do that and has anybody in the original band heard it?
Justin: RAD is my favorite movies ever made and I always wanted to cover a song from that movie. The problem is, not a lot of people know any of the songs from that movie so people would just think it’s a normal song of ours. So, since Send Me An Angel was already a hit single in the 80s, we went for that one and finally got the opportunity to go in a record that and basically turn it into a re-imagining of how we want to sound, or a more modernized version with our little flavor on it. We did it over the course of two days and it ended up coming out pretty cool. People seem to enjoy it.
Thrasher from Escape The Fate told me he recorded that song with you guys.
Justin: Thrasher co-engineered that, co-produced that song with us. What’s funny, Thrasher’s vocals come through really heavy on the “woes.” if you listen to the chorus, you can hear Thrasher above everyone a little bit.
How did that happen?
Justin: Yeah, [laughs] how did that happens?
Why did it take so long for The Struggle to come out? It was kind of like a struggle.
Cooper: That’s why it’s called The Struggle.
Justin: The band was never really a band, it was just three guys that wanted to write some songs together. We’re like, let’s just keep writing more and more songs. Then it started getting some attention from some people, and then Thrasher from Escape was like – do you guys want to play a show with us? We’re like, OK! So we’re like, we should probably get some band members. We got Ron and Justin, two guys that we both respect a boat load and we’ve toured with in the past. They’ve always been the best of the best. Luckily they enjoyed the music, so they came aboard. We played our first show and then ended up signing a record deal. The problem is, it just took a long time out because of politics? I don’t know. We’re already hard at work on our full length. We play two new songs tonight that will be on that. We’re really excited to get into the studio! We’re already doing pre -production.
How is this full length going to compare to what you’ve already done on your EP?
Cooper: With the LP, our writing chemistry has definitely matured. We’ve gone in more of a mainstream direction but definitely sticking to our roots when it comes to – something that would appeal to a wider audience but also, we’re rockers at heart. We’re not giving up on that in the slightest.
Jon: I think we kind of, lifted some of the restrictions we had. Not intentional when we wrote the EP, but we started writing together and things just took whatever direction they took and we just went with it. Whatever sounded good to us, we just kept going until it finished.
If you could open for any one band either now or from the past, who and why?
Justin: We’d like to open up for MUSE. The only problem is, every band that opens up for MUSE, no matter how good they are, looks terrible because MUSE is, the best live band of our generation. That’d be a fun band to be on tour with. We’d probably learn a lot from them. One of our biggest influences is MUSE and it’s kind of coming through our songwriting. It’s not going to be as heavy as the EP, but people are going to like it. We can tell. People are going to like it because we actually like it a lot more too. [laughs]
Cooper: I wouldn’t mind opening for Deftones and touring with them, those guys have always been a humongous influence in my life. Then of course doing MUSE as well.
Justin: There’s a big tour, MUSE, Deftones and us.
Cooper: Yup, [laughs].
What’s up next for you guys?
Cooper: The plan is to finish writing and recording the LP, which we’re very deep into doing right now and then as soon as we get the full length done we’re going to roll that out and planning tours for that. So, until the LP is completed, that’s the next step.
Any messages for people reading this who should check out your band?
Jon: Just check out the EP. If you want to buy it, awesome. If you want to stream it, awesome. If you could just take a little bit of time to check us out, we’d really appreciate it.
Justin: Thanks to our label, Another Century and thanks to our two amazing session guys Justin and Ron and thanks everyone that does listen to us or is thinking about it and/or enjoys what we do.
Cooper: Can’t wait to play more shows and please more fans, we love playing music.
(Interview and Band Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
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