Sean Custer first met the band that would become Rex Pax in 2017 at a New Year’s Eve party at his house. He was already a fan of their music and his brother invited them to the party.
During the party, Custer overheard former band member Sam Pascal talking about their synthesizer leaving. He immediately jumped at the chance and told Pascal he could play for the band. Eager to join, Custer even went up against guitarist Rainor Dale and vocalist Rex Echevarría.
Months passed without any response. Then Custer received a text message asking if he still wanted to join the group. Since then he has been playing synth for Rex Pax.
Rex Pax, formerly known as Space Phase prior to Winter 2020, was formed by University of Maryland, Baltimore County alumni Echevarría and Pascal. The band haven’t performed live since the pandemic began and are finally returning to the local music scene on Sunday at the Pie Shop.
Dale, a mechanical engineering alumnus of that university, describes Rex Pax’s music as influenced by indie rock and pop.
“It kind of has a retro, almost 90s, Y2K sound,” he said. “I think it’s cool, especially the new stuff I hear.”
Custer, a graduate student studying cybersecurity at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County, said the band will play a little heavier at times during their shows.
“We’re definitely taking more creative liberties,” he said. “So what you hear on Spotify isn’t always the same as what you might hear in person.”
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The group’s name changed in the winter of 2020 as Echevarría decided that Space Phase was no longer suitable for them. He decided to mix his first name, Rex, which means king in Latin, and the word Pax, which means peace in Latin. Echevarría said it was funny to think the name means “King of Peace”, but he’s not sure if that’s grammatically correct.
“I don’t know if it would be ‘King of Peace’, ‘King Peace’ or ‘Peace King’ or what,” he said. “But I like the way it sounds.”
Everyone in the band is excited and anxious for the upcoming performance at the Pie Shop, Echevarría said. This has some significance as March will mark two years since the band performed in a venue.
Since the summer of 2021, the group has been preparing its return to live music. Custer recruited Simón Santodomingo, a sophomore economics student at Montgomery College, as the new bassist after Santodomingo posted about buying his first bass guitar.
Since May last year, the group has also made a habit of training every Saturday. The practice has become something for Echevarría, especially since he recently adopted a dog.
“I’m pretty much a stay-at-home dad these days,” he said. “Saturday is my only day to hang out with friends most of the time, and I really cherish it.”
Other members of Rex Pax are happy to practice and return to the stage as well.
“I love it,” Dale said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
And for the new member Santodomingo, it was a unique experience to be part of Rex Pax.
“It was obviously so much fun to join a band and fall in love with the project,” he said. “It kind of becomes yours too.”
The last time Echevarría spoke to The Diamondback, he mentioned that he would be open to doing a virtual performance if they could prepare and practice. Now he says he’s glad he didn’t try.
“Looks like it would be a nightmare,” Echevarría said.
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In addition to their old music, the group also practiced new songs that have not yet been released. Echevarría has been working on his next album since March 2020. He had a release date in mind but gave up on meeting a deadline because he doesn’t think it’s productive for making music.
“Life is life,” Echevarría said. “I know some of this stuff looks like total cop, but I promise [I’m] do what I can when I can.
Sunday’s concert won’t be the first time Rex Pax has performed at the Pie Shop. There was one particular aspect of the venue that Dale is looking forward to: the free pies to play.
“I can’t wait to be there,” he said.
“The only reason we play there,” added Echevarría.
Although he expressed excitement about performing at Pie Shop, practicing was Echevarría’s high point.
“I can’t overstate how good it feels to do it again,” he said.
Thinking back to the day he met the band Rex Pax, Custer said his parents were very upset when they came home to see his brother had thrown a party. Expecting to see only a few people, they returned home to find around 60 people in their home. Although the party got his brother in trouble, Custer still remembers that night fondly and keeps a screenshot on his phone of the text message offering him to join the group.