Behind TheMusicExit 27

Exit 27


Exit 27 is an alternative indie rock band from South Florida, originally formed back in 2014.  Their music incorporates a combination of musical influences consisting of Alternative Rock, 70s Rock, Indie Rock, Funk, Jazz and Latin, delivering a fresh and funky sound.  Like any band, Exit 27 has had their setbacks, and though they are still looking for a lead guitarist, that didn’t stop them from releasing their first album: Looking In, in April 2020.  Looking In contains 12 tracks and is available on all streaming platforms.

Like many musicians and performers, Exit 27 has been slowed down by the Covid-19 lockdown, but that didn’t stop them from staying connected and doing what they love. During the lockdown, the members of the band kept meeting through video calls to discuss their next steps, continuing to write music and of course, playing it. Even though Exit 27 just released their first album Looking In, the members can hardly wait to get back to the studio and record their next one for which they already have a few songs written for.

I had the chance to interview two of the band members to find out more about Exit 27 and their next moves. My first interviewee is the lead vocalist as well as original band member Jonathan Hilel, also known as Squid. The next member I interviewed is Robert Murray, also known as RJ, the drummer of Exit 27.


Jonathan Hilel “Squid”: 22- Lead Vocals

Edward Bautista: 24 – Rythm Guitar

Robert Murray “RJ”: 23 – Drums

Angel Jaramillo: 20  – Bass Guitar

Behind The Music: Exit 27

Who are the current members of  Exit 27?

Jonathan Hilel A.K.A Squid-Lead Vocals

J: We’ve got Edward Bautista  – Guitar, he gives our sound the funk it has and is responsible for a lot of the atmospheric sounds as well.

Robert Murray – Drums, he is the heartbeat of the band, I’m constantly looking at him so that we are all together and base what I do off of him.

Jonathan Hilel A.K.A “Squid” – Lead Vocals, I write most of the lyrics in the band as well as a few songs and riffs, I am the main driving force of this band and am usually the one dealing with all the business and booking things as well.

Angel Jaramillo  – Bass, He is the youngest one of the group and brings all the low end to our sound. He has a lot of potential in his play and has an interesting way of approaching bass parts. Being the only one in the group that has no formal music training, we constantly harp at him to consider some form of training to help take all that potential and make it into something great.

How and when was Exit 72 formed? Tell me your story. Where did the members meet? How was the decision of forming Exit 27 made?

J: Exit 27 originally began back in August of 2014 as a learning experience with original members being myself, Jonathan Hilel (Squid) – Drums/ Vocals, Steven Levine – Rhythm Guitar, and Leo Esquijarosa – Lead Guitar.

I was in another band with Steven where he also played guitar and I played drums only. We decided that we were better off leaving this other band and just working on music as a duo until we found other people to form an actual band with. I met Leo through my friend Nelson at a Guitar Center Open House because we all were getting lessons on our instruments. It was there, during a jam session that I mentioned that I was trying to start a band and asked them if they wanted to start one. They agreed and I mentioned to them that Steven would be joining me in this band as well, they brought in our friend Pedro to play bass and after a few jam sessions we thought we had “started a band”.

It wasn’t until one of our friends who worked at Guitar Center at the time, Justin Gallo, gathered all of us together and really spoke to us about seriously forming the band. It was after that speech that things started to slowly but surely develop. We got rid of those who weren’t serious about taking this band somewhere and started working. We called it a “learning experience” because we were all still in high school and learning how to become musicians, so this became our musical journey. None of us knew yet how to write songs and lyrics,  how to start a band, and how to deal with all the obstacles that would come along the way, everything we would have to learn as we went along and we agreed to do it together as a unit.

For a long time, we were without a bassist and It was in 2015 that we met Angel Jaramillo in high school as a freshman and recruited him on Bass.  In 2016, Leo and I graduated high school and started college at MDC. It was there that I became friends with RJ and would later ask him to join the band after Leo had quit in the same year. We would go on to replace Leo with Steven on Lead and our friend Gustavo Ordunez, who we called “Goose”, would take over on Rhythm guitar.

We played our first show in 2017 at Churchill’s Pub. Shortly after, “Goose” randomly quits the band on short notice leaving us with no rhythm guitar, luckily RJ mentioned his friend Edward taking an interest in joining and suggested we give him a try. We replaced “Goose” with Edward on Rhythm guitar the same day he left. We would then go on to playing other gigs as well as recording our first EP called “The Pink EP” in 2018.

It was during the final takes of recording our album where Steven tells us he is quitting the band to focus more on his school career. It was then where I decided to pick up the synth to help cover what parts were missing so that we could continue to gig until we found a replacement. We would go on to playing other shows as a 4- piece until we were put at a halt due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Shutdown in March 2020 and released our album “Looking In” in April 2020.

Edward Bautista- Guitarist
Edward Bautista- Guitar

Describe your sound. What is your work about?

J: In all honesty, it is kind of hard for me to describe our sound, simply because of how much influence musically we each bring into the music. Also, because we have been compared to so many different artists that the best way to really describe our sound would be Fresh & Funky with just the right amount of edge and Miami vibe that leaves you with a sense of nostalgia.

Who are your musical influences?

J: Speaking for myself, I was very influenced by people like Sting, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Prince, Luther Vandross, Deftones, System Of A Down, Bob Marley, Idan Raichel, Etc. other influences from the band include people like Smashing Pumpkins, Steely Dan, Tame Impala, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Santana, Gorillaz, Toto, Etc.

Describe your creative process.

J: The creative process for us usually goes one of two ways, either we start jamming and something starts to form and then we begin to give it structure or one of us will have a song that we’ve written(either fully completed or somewhat completed) that we bring to the band and if we all like it, we play it if it’s finished. If it’s not finished, we try figuring out the parts that are missing and work towards completing the music. I usually don’t start writing lyrics until the musical arrangement is set in stone.

Angel Jaramillo- Bass

How did you come up with the name of your first album: Looking in?

J: So, one day we were all sitting in our practice room and I was kind of trying to connect the artwork with our music. At the same time, I was also thinking to myself what’s the purpose of this album? What is this album about? and that’s when it came to me. Looking in is a look into what Exit 27 is, what we’re about, who we are, why we’re here and it’s all being told through the music & through the lyrics you just really have to listen to the message sometimes.

Were there particular songs, or lines in your latest album, which stick in your mind because of their lyrics?

J: For me personally yes, that song would be “Minds Running Wild” because of how personal it is to me.

What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?

J: Most of our songs revolve around relationships, love, feelings, thoughts, or past experiences.

What are two of your greatest accomplishments?

J: Our two greatest accomplishments would be releasing the album and having our song “Pink” reach over 15,000 streams on Spotify.

How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

J: I feel that over time we’ve matured as songwriters, especially myself in terms of my lyrics, I really try to get in your head and paint a picture. Our arrangements also feel more structurally sound.

Do you ever play any covers? If yes, which ones?

J: Yes we do, they’re constantly changing but to name a few of our favorites are “Tyrone” by Erykah Badu, “Cherub Rock” by The Smashing Pumpkins, “Suck My Kiss” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and  “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls.

What’s next?

Currently, we are promoting our first album “Looking In” which is available on all streaming platforms as well as writing our second album which we can’t wait to start taking into the studio. We are also currently looking for a Lead Guitarist to join the band so that we can start gigging as soon as this pandemic is over.


Robert Murray a.k.a RJ
Robert Murray a.k.a RJ

Describe your sound. What is your work about?

RJ: Since we all have different musical tastes and interests, I think the music enjoys a wide variety of sounds, but I think elements of rock are in each song. We go from soft songs like Feel Good Radio to hard songs like Stoners and Drunks, and funk in Conversations but in the simplest terms I think we are a rock band.
Who are your musical influences?
RJ: I took an interest in drums after seeing a video of a Neil Peart solo. After him my main inspiration for playing was John Bonham. A lot of my influences are the same as many. A lot of classic rock and then jazz when I got to college. Being in the jazz program there opened my eyes to many players and much music. One drummer that continues to inspire me is Steve Gadd. I know Squid is influenced a lot by reggae and metal and 70s music as well. Angel is inspired by grunge and modern psychedelic like Tame Impala and Edward comes from a background of blues, funk, and R&B.
Were there particular songs, or lines in your latest album, which stick in your mind because of their lyrics?
RJ: The lyrics for In Time, Who Knows? have always stuck with me. I hear the lyrics in terms of where the band could go, but I think it could be interpreted as being about a lot of things. The song also has a sound that feels nostalgic to me, so it just holds a special place for me. And my snare sounded pretty good on the recording.

What is your favorite song to perform?

RJ: My favorite song to perform is for sure Pink. Not only does it get a great crowd reaction, which is about the best feeling in the world; but I get to play my little solo at the end, and live we usually play it quite fast which is fun.

What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?

RJ: I find our music seems to deal with a lot of internal crisis. Romantic strife, playboys with hand tats, depression, and things like traffic.

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far?

RJ: I would say our biggest obstacle we have had to overcome is members leaving due to relationships, school, etc. It never feels good, but we are in a good place now and back on track.

 What’s the best part of being in a band? Exit 27

RJ: I think the best part of being in a band is the connection between you and your bandmates. You get to know where they are going musically before they go there a lot of the time. I’m lucky enough to be in a band with my friends which is also very neat.

How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

RJ: I feel like our sound has grown darker over time, and that the songs have more of a cohesive sound. I believe that the next album will have a less varied sound and a more consistent tone.

Where does your group usually perform? What are your favorite venues?

RJ: Being from South FL, we often play in South FL. We have performed at Churchill’s, Las Rosas, and many more venues but my personal favorite would be Lozer Lounge. Always good acts, a good crowd, and you never know what to expect

What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

RJ: I would say go for it. The best way to get better at an instrument is to play with others in a live situation. Learn some simple covers with your buddies to start and there is really no end to where you can go.