"We want to help to bring the rock 'n' roll back," singer Jason Boyd enthuses. "We look at old footage of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and the Who, and that's really what gets us going. We want music to be like that again."
Cue wavy lines and flashback to the early 90s, as the members of AUDIOVENT first became friends while attending Calabasas' A.E. Wright Middle School. Bassist Paul Fried bonded with Boyd over a mutual interest in surfing and rock 'n' roll, and after bringing his guitar-playing stepbrother Ben Einziger into the mix, the three teens decided to form a band. "We futzed around for a while and around the time I was in 10th grade, we got Jamin in the band," Fried recalls. "And he introduced us to a whole new world of music. Things like old school funk and Queen and Zeppelin."
Like most teens at the time, the young musicians were obsessed with the aggressive sounds of bands like Metallica and other early 90's metal bands. They proceeded to immerse themselves in then-current combos like Nirvana and Soundgarden. AUDIOVENT's voracious appetite for new sounds has proven a major inspiration, leading them to an appreciation of the entire musical spectrum, from post-rock to funk jazz. "We like a lot of older generation music," Boyd says. "Those are the bands we really look up to. While we're not trying to sound like them, we hope to achieve the kind of feeling that their music gives people."
After entering high school, the band continued to work at developing their own unique sound and vision. They played gigs around their hometown, at places like the Cobalt Cafe and Mancini's in Canoga Park, eventually venturing as far as Hollywood. "We basically learned how to play through being in a band," says Einziger. "When we started we wanted to be different, so instead of writing real songs, we wrote like a million different parts. Our 'songs' were like nine minutes long!"
The four mates' undying love of the Beatles drove them to reconsider the songwriting process, moving from their initial scattershot approach to an understanding and appreciation of hooks and harmonies, moods and melodies. Having grown confident in the quality of their sound and songs, in 1999 the band recorded "PAPA'S DOJO." The CD - independently produced under the band's original moniker, VENT- went on to sell more than 3,000 copies, just at local gigs and via the Internet. Over the next two years, the band continued to refine their craft, rehearsing, writing and relentlessly touring the California coast. Each member grew more confident in their talents - from Boyd's impassioned vocal dynamics, to Einziger's increasingly intricate and inventive guitar work, to the supple and syncopated interplay of the Fried/Wilcox rhythm section.
Sensing the possibility of big things in their future, the band took the unusual step of participating in a few sessions of preventative group therapy. The quartet was all too aware of how difficult life in a rock 'n' roll band can be, and were determined that no matter what happened, their friendships would not pay the price. "We wanted to discuss how we communicate amongst each other," Einziger says. "We thought it was really important to prevent the trivial bullshit that bands go through." "We don't want any kind of turmoil in our band," Boyd says. "We don't want any egos getting in the way, or anything else that can cause a problem. We'd just rather not go there."
The band - now officially known as AUDIOVENT - inked with Atlantic in 2001 and quickly set to recording "DIRTY SEXY KNIGHTS IN PARIS." They teamed up with producer Gavin Mackillop (Goo Goo Dolls, Toad The Wet Sprocket), with an eye towards further mastering the studio. "We were looking for a producer that was going to be like a fifth band member," Einziger says. "Gavin really pushed us to make our songs grow, and that's exactly what we wanted."
Mackillop assisted the band in bringing their often complex, multi-layered arrangements to life, as did ProTools engineer John Porter, himself a legendary producer known for his work with such icons as the Smiths, Roxy Music, and Julian Cope. "Gavin and John gave us a new understanding about writing and playing music," Fried says. While AUDIOVENT pride themselves on their collaborative unity in all things, songs like "The Energy" and "Underwater Silence" are exceedingly personal for Boyd, who penned the lyrics while in the throes of a heart-wrenching breakup. "These songs will always be very close to my heart, because they're true," he says. "They're a photograph of exactly where I was, and a constant reminder that I can never let myself get there again. It was a hard thing, but I got through it, and I've got the lyrics to prove it." Tracks like "Gravity" and "I Can't Breathe" burn with volatile creative energy as AUDIOVENT flaunt their gift for aggressively melodic hard rock with a twist. "DIRTY SEXY KNIGHTS IN PARIS" closes on a suitably eclectic note with "When I Drown," which was not only written by Wilcox and Einziger, but also features them both on vocals. "We wanted a quirky little piano song," the guitarist laughs, "and we ended up having a 22-piece orchestra play on it! Even though it's totally different than everything that's on the record, it just seemed to fit."
Now the band is getting set to take the elaborate, accessible rock 'n' roll of "DIRTY SEXY KNIGHTS IN PARIS" on the road. AUDIOVENT plan to spread their stirring sonic gospel the best way they know how - by getting onstage and doing what comes naturally. "We sometimes look at each other and laugh," Einziger says, "like, 'I can't believe this is our job!' Even if we had all the money in the world, we would still do this. For free, if we had to. Because we love it."