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The Sound

Eye Empire’s grass roots approach to rock


Eye Empire plays the Val Air Ballroom with Seether on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.

Donald Carpenter understands what it’s like being signed to a major label. He knows that creative control on a label can be limited, and music becomes a results-driven business. Carpenter’s previous band, Submersed, spent seven years signed to the Wind Up label but was dropped after the band’s first two albums failed to make any waves. So when Eye Empire members Corey Lowery and Brad Kochmit approached Carpenter to be their new front man, he was grateful for the chance to be a part of a band again.                

“I went through a humbling experience after Submersed,” Carpenter said during a phone interview. “I knew that if I ever had an opportunity to make music again, I was going to be grateful for that, and I was going to give everything I could. And that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to represent these guys properly.”               

Making the transition from a major label to the independent Eye Empire was a move that Carpenter saw as an exciting one.                

“We’re a self-produced band,” Carpenter said. “It lets us maintain ownership of our art and have creative control.”                

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When it came time to self-release the band’s first album, 2010’s “Moment of Impact,” Eye Empire dealt with the financial shortcomings that plague most indie bands. So last year, the band partnered with Kansas-based Bulldog Productions on a distribution deal for its second album. For the members of Eye Empire, it’s the best of both worlds: the ability to maintain their independent creative control, combined with the financial ability to get their music into more hands than before.               

“(This) is our first physically distributed CD,” said Carpenter. “We brought in a distribution partner who enabled us to get our disc to FYE and Best Buy and all these other outlets. That’s what our partnership with Bulldog does for us. It allows us to bring in the capital partners to fund our independent business and still maintain creative control.”               

But even with distribution taken care of, Carpenter and the members of Eye Empire understand that the success of any independent band lies directly in the hands of its fan base. It’s for that reason that Eye Empire goes to great lengths to embrace social media.                

“We’re all involved with Twitter,” Carpenter explained. “You know, our Facebook is a pretty happenin’ spot. That’s where we run most of our information out of. Our website is very interactive. We’re actually building a database of anybody who’s come in and out of there, so we can have direct, one-on-one contact with fans. We’re also trying to get more involved with YouTube. We’ve got our channel that’s up and running. We’re trying to be comical, (and) a little candid and behind the scenes with some of our stuff. It gives the fans something to share that kind of helps spread the word, shows the personality of the band and helps spread the music a little.”                

And to Carpenter, that is the most important aspect: developing strong bonds with the band’s fans and entrusting them with some of the responsibility for helping the band succeed. The members of Eye Empire realize the importance of building fan support. Because, for an indie band, the music is a collaborative effort between the guys on the stage and the people in front of it.              

“In the end, it’s not about how much we end up doing; it’s about having a fan base that understands how detrimental it is when you’re complacent and think that you can kind of ‘like’ a band to success,” Carpenter said. “We need a fan base that’s active and enjoys spreading the word that helps us build this together.” CV


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