Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Inez McLain Of The Exbats

Photo courtesy of The Exbats Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

2023 is the new 1973.

The Exbats – comprised of father/daughter duo Kenny and singer/drummer Inez McLain – use their modern edge to pay homage to the golden era of rock singles, armed with a warm sound that even Archie Bunker himself would approve.

The Arizona-based act recently dropped their latest album ‘Song Machine’ via Goner Records, which features standout tracks “Riding With Paul” and “Like It Like I Do,” comfortably nestled in the sonic neighborhood of The Partridge Family, The Mamas & The Papas and Brian Wilson.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with Inez about what they wish would happen more in today’s music industry, who they’re listening to right now and much more, which you can check out below.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Arizona to someone who hasn’t been there before? 

Inez McLain – You know how in most TV shows and movies when someone has just moved from somewhere or was visiting family, or making up a fake friend and they’re always from Arizona? A bit like that. 

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Inez McLain – I wish I had one of those places in teen movies where “they go to think,” but I definitely don’t have one. I guess my house, because I usually need breaks from work as a 5th grade teacher, so home. If I needed a break while I was in my home, I don’t know, outside? I should just say something cool like, “What breaks? I don’t need breaks, rise and grind, baby!”

Music Bugle – What made you go with a “doo-wop”-inspired sound for the “Like It Like I Do” single? 

Inez McLain – I don’t know if I would strictly call it “doo-wop,” but I also can’t think of a better term. It seemed to be one of those songs my dad wrote in an afternoon or two and was perfect from the start. A rare and honorable thumbs up from myself, no questions asked, except for one use of the word “baby” that we pondered for about 10 seconds. Webster’s Dictionary describes doo-wop as “a vocal style of rock and roll characterized by the a cappella singing of nonsense syllables in rhythmical support of the melody.” I suppose “ohs” and “ahs” count as nonsense syllables. All jokes aside, it’s simply a love letter to the countless great pop songs and artists throughout time. 

Music Bugle – Did you have any kind of vision for the video for that specific song? 

Inez McLain – Our music video comes straight from The Rolling Stones “Rocks Off” circa 1972. As a band, we pride ourselves in blatantly taking ideas from The Rolling Stones, who probably took it from someone themselves, so ya’ know, circle of life kinda stuff. Truly, all we wanted was a fun, casual video with the band and family, so we headed to the Tanque Verde Swap Meet in Tucson. We wandered around and bothered one another while shoving cameras into each other’s faces. 

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Inez McLain – The better question is what am I not listening to! Well, my Spotify “Fall ‘23” playlist – which I did start at the beginning of August, but I was over summer, so I moved on – trying to get ahead of the game, if you will, if the game was a couple new artists and a bunch of ones I already adore. Anyway, my newest favorite artist now would be Anna Bates, a cozy folk singer that reminds me of whoever gave those badass vocal performances of a lifetime for Schoolhouse Rock. I listen to a lot of 80s, probably too much 80s. DJO, Joe Keery’s musical alter-ego, is a personal favorite that has stayed consistently through my seasonal playlists, along with The Cramps. Probably some Aimee-Leigh and Baby Billy mixed in there and an unfortunate with-every-line-memorized “You’ll Be Back” sung by Jonathan Groff of “Hamilton.” Told you, what am I not listening to? After thinking about this, I could see where I might lose a few people. 

Music Bugle – What’s your position on the use of AI in music? 

Inez McLain – Honestly, it’s so entertaining on TikTok. I am an avid enjoyer, I cannot deny that. I suppose I would have a different opinion if it personally affected me. 

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians? 

Inez McLain – I am going to assume “help.” However, when you have a manager asking you if you made your required fifth TikTok of the day, I would say “hurt,” very badly hurt, probably physically and emotionally. 

Music Bugle – What do you wish happened more in today’s music industry? 

Inez McLain – More storytelling, which I do think is coming back around. More time, carefully curated time put into songs with the background fuzz noise of the process still there. I am not saying some artists don’t care for their work and effort – though some might, who knows? – but you can hear it when you listen to most modern music. It’s hollow, the cleanliness of some songs today just sucks the life out of you. I am obviously not some big time artist. My opinion is coming from being a listener and enjoyer and someone who has put a lot of time into music. Just make music you want to hear or feel the world needs. Don’t waste people’s time if you don’t care what your fans or audience think. They’re listening for a reason. Don’t be afraid to take all the time in the world or leave the fuzz in. It’s a very fine line and I don’t know what I am talking about. 

Music Bugle – What show are you currently binging on streaming services? 

Inez McLain – Boy, oh boy, I love to binge. Currently binging “The Righteous Gemstones,” a masterpiece of television. The new season of “What We Do In The Shadows” is absolutely killer. Tough question ‘cause I watch too much TV. I recently rewatched that episode of “The Crown” with Churchhill’s painting for maybe the fourth or fifth time and proceeded to sob for the fourth or fifth time at how beautiful and tragic that episode is. To quote Joe Biden from June 16th, 2023, “God save the Queen, man.” Soft mic drop.

Music Bugle – What do you feel is the next step for The Exbats? 

Inez McLain – Becoming world famous and billionaires would be cool, though. Check out our yellow “Song Machine,” available now! Get the vinyl! It’s badass! 


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