ABQ Green Room
By August Edwards
Within the span of a week, punk band dotcomjob played their first show and released their first EP, Forecasting Shadows. The band was conjured by opportunity, friendship, and shoegaze in the summer of 2020.
The four bandmates each have unique, strong ties to their community. Bassist Joel Sheets and guitarist Adam Smith, who also play in post hardcore band Crushed!?, have built relationships in Albuquerque's music world that have spanned over a decade. After years of supporting local bands and being a friendly face at Fly Honey Warehouse, drummer Keila Suazo is brand new to her instrument but has proven to be a natural timekeeper. And vocalist Elena Moya is pivotal to helping music flourish by promoting shows at Ancora Cafe & Bakery.
This band is all about fun and playing music for music's sake. We hope you follow along with their Q&A; for a band that might be struggling to get off of the ground, dotcomjob would be able to provide a lot of inspiration.
How did you guys get started as a band?
Keila: I guess it kinda started with me and Adam. I was hanging out here, and then we were in the garage, and I just started playing the drums and I figured out, oh! I can actually play the drums and I’m not too shabby at it. Then we would jam together, just for fun. Elena came in and then she would start singing. We would just have little jam sessions and then just play whatever and just have fun with it.
Elena: It was honestly pretty legendary how our first song got started. I remember we were all just having fun, and then I was like, ‘Adam, play something random! Keila, you follow!’ and it just came out so dope.
Keila: It just happened! Then we were like, we should start a band. And Adam said, ‘Oh, we are a band. Aren’t we?’ I remember he looked at us and was like, what? Then we knew we need a bassist. So Joel is the secret master bass player. We just happen to have really good chemistry playing together, and of course as friends. We’ll all just hang out. It happened slowly and had a snowball effect.
And you two [Adam and Joel] are in bands already—are there any benefits to being in more than one project?
Joel: Yeah. I mean, like—
Adam: I get health insurance.
Joel: I get the vision.
Just one eye.
Joel: We split it. But I guess like, being able to play different instruments is what’s fun. The writing process is always a new adventure.
Adam: It’s nice having multiple outlets for different stuff. If I write a song that won’t fit with one project, it most likely will fit with another, so I can express myself that way, which is nice. And it’s a nice chemistry too, like you guys mentioned. It’s fun. It’s a whole different set of people, but it’s nice sometimes.
Keila: Sometimes we’ll have too much fun, and just be in there and just talking and blabbing on, then be like, ‘Wait, wait, wait! We need to actually play our songs!’ And then we’ll play a song and do the same thing over again.
Tell me a little bit more about your creative process. How did this EP come together?
Keila: Just winging it. Just figuring it out and seeing what sounds good, and we’re all pretty—we all really agree on what we like. We’ve tried a couple things, and we’re really feeling it—but it’s all kind of been improv. We keep what we do like, and now we have five songs.
Elena: For a couple of the songs, Adam had written the melody on his guitar, he’d send them to us and we’d be like, ‘Oh, that sounds good!’ It’s always, we’ll try to play through songs like we’re piecing together a puzzle. Because we don’t know—sometimes I’ll be saying random shit and [realize] it fits, it works. I think this band works really well because we enjoy what we do. It’s not a hassle to come to practice, not something we dread doing. So I think that has something to do with it.
Was this a COVID inspired project, where you felt an urge to create this outlet for yourselves? Or, has it helped in that regard?
Keila: It’s helped. For me specifically, I was not expecting to do any of this at all. I didn’t even think I could play the drums, and of course Adam was a huge motivator for me, saying ‘Just keep doing it! You’re doing great!’ So I’m like, yeah! Okay! So I was like, I wanna continue this, it makes me happy. I guess, yeah, it was partly a COVID activity, because I was just hanging out here, and it was something to do at first. And now I’m like, okay—I want to keep doing this. I want to be a part of this.
Adam: I think COVID kinda helped because without shows and playing shows, without touring, without focusing on that, it’s been a lot of extra time. That allowed us to take our time to write, practice, for me and Joel to play in multiple projects.
Joel: I always wanted to play bass in a band since I got into music. This is the first opportunity I’ve ever had in the last ten years to be a bassist in a band. I have all of these things that I’ve wanted to do that I finally can do.
What do you guys hope that people get form these EP?
Elena: I definitely was choosey with the lyrics, and I think that I want people to take it all in—the emotional attachment to hearing a song. It already has a really cool rhythm, but it’s cool when there’s different layers to a song when you can like the melody and attach yourself to the lyrics and try to relate, no matter what the case may be.
Adam: I hope that you can hear how much fun we’re having. We have a lot of fun when we play—I hope people hear that and can acknowledge it. Maybe they’ll feel influenced to inspired to start their own project, too. I tell everyone—fuckin’ start bands! Start twelve bands, who cares.
Do you guys think there is something special about ABQ music and musicians?
Keila: Yeah, I think we have a pretty big music scene here. And we have for a while, despite all the ups and downs, the good and ugly parts—we have a pretty solid music scene here. I know Adam and Joel can speak more about it than me or maybe Elena.
Joel: It’s definitely different than other music scenes around the country.
Keila: I’m a little biased, because I don’t know how scenes are in other states or countries. They [Adam and Joel] know. But from my knowledge, there’s definitely a lot of musicians here—they’re always doing stuff, always active in projects. It’s good to be supportive of them. Once we put out our Instagram page, we got a lot of good support from that.
Adam: I think ABQ is special because I think it takes a lot to live here. You go through so much, and it’s the fuckin’ desert. Just our economy, our culture. But I think we ignore trends, or we’re drastically late to them. So that makes types of bands, genres, really weird. It feels like there are no rules. And I like that, personally. It’s chaotic. Any kind of fuckin’ band can pop out.
[To Keila and Elena] And this is your very first band?
Keila: Yeah, I just literally picked up drums in June or July. And now I’m in a band.
How does it feel?
Keila: It feels pretty good.
Elena: I’m trying to figure out these different dynamics to have a singing voice, you know. So the music that I make in a lot of my solo projects is very different. I’ve grown a great appreciation for this.
Keila: It’s a good learning experience and it gives you a good appreciation of working with other people, too. That’s not something that everyone enjoys, especially if it’s in a school context or something. If you don’t like working in a group in a school context, you might not like working on a project like this—but with this, I’ve been really appreciative of it, and everyone’s input, creatively.
Adam: Me and Joel just couldn’t get enough of each other in our other band.
My last question’s for you, Joel. As someone who’s been active in the music scene for 10+ years, what’s some advice you’d give to an emerging musician or someone who wants to start playing in a band? Or something that you’ve learned?
Joel: No matter what, it’s gonna be discouraging. And the biggest factor is how much you can take. I would say when you feel like giving up, just keep going. Because who are you really trying to please? Are you trying to please people, or yourself? Are you doing this for you, or other people? It’s gonna be discouraging. But you gotta tackle it and roll with the punches. When life throws punches at you, you get up and throw punches back. You don’t go down without a fight.