Artist of the day: Empire Cinema
With a name taken from Emperor Palpatine’s imaginary propaganda films, Empire Cinema is a band sprinkled with self-proclaimed Star Wars junkies who are steadfast and hell-bent on putting Tampa Bay on the map.
Frontman Brendon Hock and lead guitarist Mikal Boyd formed EC after playing together in local act Seven Ways From Sundown. They held auditions for almost a year, reviewing contenders who replied to a want ad they on Craigslist.
“We definitely took our time, and wanted to find the right musicians to play with. Not just a group of guys; they had to fit just right,” Hock said.
“Even from the beginning ,we were looking for long-term bandmates.”
The right men for the job were bassist Tim Smith, keyboard player AJ from The DSC Project and drummer James Chambers.
The band culls influences from indie and post-punk favorites such as Joy Division, The Cure, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Echo and the Bunnymen and the all-powerful Lou Reed.
Empire Cinema, a “fairly democratic” ensemble, composes its music “round-robin” style: Boyd constructs the chords and Hock adds lyrics.
“He gives me an idea of what mood he was in when he was writing the music, and I run with the feeling of that and develop it into a storyline,” Hock said.
“Whether it be personal or fictitious, I like writing stories.”
From there, rough recordings of the new material are passed between the other members, with each adding their own ideas, like so many layers on a sonic cake.
“Everybody is an equal part of the finished project,” Hock said.
Having played together for only six months, the ensemble hit the ground running and kicked things off on a high note by opening for Cursive at Crowbar in Ybor City.
Empire Cinema’s goals are clear and concise: “We want to be the band that Tampa is proud of,” Hock said. “We strive to be what Gainesville is to Tom Petty.”
“We want to embrace Tampa, and we hope that Tampa and St. Pete will embrace us,” Chambers said. “We wanna put Tampa on the map as much as we wanna put ourselves on the map.”
Hock conlcuded: “We’re not playing music to be fair-weathered, catchy or popular for the moment; we’re in it ... for life.”
Empire Cinema plays with Lil Daggers and Transcendent Other at 9 p.m. Friday at New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*