NEW YORK — Borrowing a page from the ’90s grunge handbook, Empires plays passionate, straightforward rock free of any gimmicks and pretense. The DIY quartet take a no-nonsense approach to their music, having financed, recorded and distributed their debut record, “HOWL,” independently in 2008. Their latest effort, an EP titled Bang, earned the group a slot on this year’s CMJ roster, where they’re sure to make a mark. Here’s some basic info about Empires, courtesy of frontman Sean Van Vleet.
BLAST: Describe your sound in 10 words or less.
SEAN VAN VLEET: The Hulk at a dinner party. No napkin.
BLAST: Which three artists are your biggest influences?
SVV: Radiohead, any recorded blues out of the’ 30s (lately), Jimi Hendrix
BLAST: What’s your favorite album of 2010 so far?
SVV: Not sure about album, but “Comin Through” by The War on Drugs is the tune doing it for me lately. If their album is anything like that song, that’s it gonna be it.
BLAST: If you were going to spend the rest of your life on a desert island, which three albums would you bring with you?
SVV: “I Want You” by Marvin Gaye, Best of Robert Johnson (not sure it exists, but I’d make sure all 29 songs were together), “The Bends” by Radiohead
BLAST: Name a song you wish you’d written.
SVV: “Heroes,” David Bowie
BLAST: Name something non-musical that has inspired your songwriting.
SVV: “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. If you don’t read this book, you will never truly live.
BLAST: What was your first concert?
SVV: Lenny Kravitz and The Black Crowes. Not bad for an introduction, huh?
BLAST: What’s the number one thing you can’t live without on the road?
SVV: Mike Kodak, our tour manager. He’s a thing…trust me. One love, Mike!
BLAST: If you could ban one artist from ever making music again (or ever having made music), who would it be?
SVV: Eddie Murphy. Everything else about him rules.
BLAST: Which other acts are you hoping to see during CMJ Week?
SVV: Ghostface Killah, can’t wait!