by Jack St.Clair
“You know what a paradox is?” says Chris Dub, the 24 year old giant-of-a-bass player for Deadend Paradox. “That’s kind of us. Three different types of guys colliding.” It’s an accurate self-assessment from this local rock band that prides itself on being atypical.
Deadend Paradox began like most bands. Singer, guitarist Alex Antonio, 24, and drummer Eddie Airada, 23, were high school friends who got together to jam with classmates Kyle Bagg on guitar and Adam Moore on bass, which lead to the creation of Stone Fox. Within a year the band was already opening shows for The Hellions. When Moore left the band, Bagg stumbled upon bassist Dub at a mutual friends’ house. “He said their bass player was leaving and I said, ‘Hey I play bass.’ Two weeks later I had a try out and it went from there.” After a while Bagg lost interest. “Kyle is a great musician. But he just wasn’t into it anymore,” says Antonio. The band then progressed as a three piece. Says Airada, “When Chris joined the band we realized ‘Ok…so now we can make the songs that we’ve been wanting to make.’”
Deadend Paradox’s various musical influences create a unique blend all their own. “I love the fact that people can’t really categorize us,” explains Antonio. His vocals and guitar, punctuated by his affinity for punk, blues and classic rock, are raw and powerful, with moments of quiet thoughtfulness. But the rhythm section’s approach is less straightforward. Eddie’s influences range all over the map, including reggae and hip hop. “I wanted to be a drummer before I had any influences,” he says. “I’ve never had specific bands, as much as different genres.” “I like that Eddie isn’t your typical ‘rock’ drummer,” Antonio says. Dub points to his love for good melodies and a lot of 311 as what drew him to music. Their writing process is a collaborative effort. “Most of the songs we’ve written come together within the first 20 minutes of us playing them,” says Dub. “Eddie will play a sick-ass beat and that will inspire us to make something sick on top of it.” The band strives to make the process organic, without analyzing the result. “You shouldn’t over think it,” explains Antonio. “You should just play it how it feels at that moment in time.”
While the band is a collaborative effort, Antonio is the focal point. He is one of the most talented young guitar players in the valley. Sparked early on by Guns & Roses and the New York Dolls, his musical taste grew from there. “My early influences were Randy Rhodes, Zack Wylde. All those shredders. But for people like John Lennon – the real songwriters – it was more important to write a song than to play a solo. Solos are just flash to me. If the song needs a solo, I’ll put it in there. But I don’t need to play 20 notes in 2 seconds.” His ultimate joy comes from writing, be that in poetry or novel form. And this carries over to his lyric writing. “For me personally, the music is just the vehicle for the lyrics.” The other members of the band appreciate his approach. “I like to read his lyrics,” Airada says. “And make up my own idea before I ask him what they mean.” Dub refers to “Heavy Is Your Head” as a favorite. “It’s real. Everyone has dark days.” Antonio appreciates the complement, but admits that sometimes those very real stories can be tough to revisit. Ultimately he hopes that listeners can find a way to personally identify with the words. His honesty is evident in several songs including “Dry” and “Upon the Phoenix,” the latter of which touches on the loss of his grandmother. But for the all seriousness of the majority of the material, occasionally Antonio enjoys being fictional, even penning a song from the perspective of a crazed maniac killer. “Sometimes people forget that’s what you’re doing. You’re a storyteller.”
For a group of young musicians, Deadend Paradox are very comfortable in their own skin. Their shows have a very loose, relaxed vibe to them, as if you were just hanging out in their practice garage with them. They keep the pre-planning to a bare minimum and commonly call out any one of over 25 originals on the spot. The band takes the music seriously, but refuses to take the moment seriously, which Dub admits “can be a good thing and a bad thing.” But ultimately they play for themselves, without any apology. “We’re pretty much a punk band at the heart of it,” explains Antonio. “In the sense of what the true meaning of punk rock stood for. Not what everybody thinks it stands for.” He points to The Clash as an example. “It’s kind of that ethic of ‘Be yourself and do what you want to do.’ You have to be able to laugh about yourself and remember we’re all just here to play music.” Airada sums it up, “That’s the freedom that we have and why we love playing music. It’s the most freedom that we get.”
To check out more on Deadend Paradox and listen to some of their music, visit www.reverbnation.com/deadendparadox and be sure to catch them live out in the valley.