Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Exies - Interview with Freddy Herrera

After dealing with the loss of a record label and 2 band members, most bands would crawl under a rock and hide. Rather than doing that, the Los Angeles based band The Exies regrouped, took the experience as a learning curve, and found that their is light at the end of a dark tunnel. That positive shining light is their new cd titled A MODERN WAY OF LIVING WITH THE TRUTH, which comes out on May 8.

What appeared to be a promising career was cut short, when suddenly, the band found the carpet ripped out from under them. The problems for the band started when their previous label decided to not pick up the option for another release. The problems then snowballed when 2 of their members quit. From there you could almost say they almost slipped into a deep depression - questioning everything about life and where everything went wrong. However, that experience and how they dealt with that dark period is the lyrical content that makes up their new release.

Locked, loaded, and rejuvenated - prepare for a sonic shotgun blast to the senses. The Exies have re-emerged with a release that packs alot of punch. Compared to the old material, the new material has alot more "musical muscle" added to the bone of their previous efforts. The songwriting has matured and the group has incorporated alot of their influences into their recipe of creating songs - everything from new hard rock bands to older rock bands is thrown into the mix. The lyrics are thought provoking and the music is just as heavy as the lyrics. Mix in the melodic overtones of some of the songs and A MODERN WAY OF LIVING WITH THE TRUTH is a release full of songs that will bridge the gap between the younger rock audience and the older rock audience. Consider it like this - The Exies are a battery. The younger rock crowd is the negative wire and the older crowd is the positive wire. Once those 2 hotwires connect to the battery that is The Exies, the engine is going to fire up on all cylanders and explode The Exies into mainstream popularity.

Scott Stevens (lead vocals, guitar), Freddy Herrera (bass, vocals), Chris Skane (guitar, vocals), and Hoss (drums) are out on the road now getting an early jump start to promoting the new releases. Check their website for tour dates for a show near you. Band co-founder Freddy Herrera checked in from the road to talk about the band and the new release.

Mydenrocks - It's like everything gelled and came together just right - the songwriting and production is really a step up from your previous efforts. From top to bottom, there isn't a sleeper track on the new release. Any thoughts?
Freddy Herrera (FH) - We worked really, really hard. I don't know what it was. I guess it's the whole thing of struggling and paying your dues - being in pain and what's going on in your life that makes you create great art. I never really believed that before. But, now after going through that low point the band went through, I kind of believe it's true now.

MR - Would you consider the new cd almost a concept record in that there is a running theme of dealing with life throughout the whole cd?
FH - Almost. I think the reason people may get that is because the songs are so focused and there's a sound that's going on for what we shot for. It might seem like there is a deeper thing - and that thing is just growing and building yourself up to not be afraid of things that are coming or what you're dealt with.

MR - Let's back up a minute. What happened with your previous label Virgin Records?
FH - Virgin is such a big company. God bless 'em. They did everything they could for us. Miscommunication was a big problem there. We can't fault them because they did alot of stuff for us. When it came down to the fine tuning and making stuff right - alot of things got lost in the shuffle. They decided to not pick up the option for another cd. Being such a big label you have to sell alot of copies just to break even.

MR - The reason I brought that up is because you have a new label Eleven Seven Music and a new management company. Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue shares the same management and I know he has been a big supporter of The Exies. Did he have anything to do with setting you up with your new deal and management?
FH - Yeah. He was the one who introduced us to Allen Kovac - our new manager. Nikki had a talk with Scott and was asking if we were really happy at Virgin and our management. Scott told him things could always be better. So Nikki set up a meeting where we met Allen and we just really hit it off. Nikki saw something in us. We were so fortunate to go on tour with Motley Crue because so many good things came out of it.

MR - That tour exposed you to a different rock crowd, which was good because the Breaking Benjamin (one of the bands The Exies have toured with in the past) type crowd isn't the same crowd that would be going to see Motley Crue and vice versa...
FH - I have to be totally honest with you...we were a little afraid because we know those walls that exist too. We wondered if it would be right to play with bands that had different followings. We said "screw it" because we couldn't pass up an oppurtunity to tour with somebody as legendary as Motley Crue. It worked out great because their fans were really receptive to us. We learned a big lesson that way - to not be afraid to play with somebody no matter what you do. Because, if you're good they're going to get it.

MR - It has to feel good having someone in your corner supporting the band like Nikki.
FH - The new record is really a miracle in itself. We went through 2 guys leaving and the record company not picking up the option. We had everybody step up. I don't think we really ever realized how many friends we had and how many favors people were willing to do for us. I can't even begin to list the favors. All the way down to our producer going out and doing 6 weeks of basically finishing the record for free - just because he wanted the record to come out right. Allen went the extra mile and making sure he let us do our own thing and having alot of faith in us. The list goes on and on from there.

MR - Back to the new's tough for me to single out any single track as being better than any of the rest because I literally like them all. What are a few of your favorites?
FH - I'm really happy that we went with "Different Than You" - just because it's such a bouncy and upbeat thing. I really like the message it's saying. "Stray" is really big with me because it has such a huge sound. I love the total recklass abandonment of "Lay Your Money Down" - that just kills and it's really great to play live.

MR - Are you working alot of the new songs into the live set? How has the response been to the new material since it's in a little different direction than your previous songs?
FH - Oh yeah. We're only playing 3 songs from our old records. We're really proud of this new record - not that we're not of the old songs. We really want to let people know that this is what we're really about and the response has been nothing but positve from the fans.

MR - I respect that fact that you're playing alot of new material. It gets kind of boring when you see a band numerous times and each time they might only drop 1 or 2 new songs in there.
FH - That's cool that you like that. I think part of the fear that some bands have of playing mostly new stuff is that they want to please their audience. Alot of people just like to hear stuff they know. I guess it also depends on how many hits you have!

MR - Why did you decide to cover "These Are the Days" for the new one?
FH - We thought that Scott's take on the song was so good and so original that it needed to be heard. I thought it was amazing how he turned what David Byrne wrote in the song and shined a different light on the lyrics. I wasn't a big fan of the Talking Heads. I never listened to the lyric and what was being said. But, now that I hear the lyrics I'm like "That's a really heavy song".

MR - How are the new band members adjusting?
FH - Chris is loving it. (Chris was actually in The Exies early on in their career) Hoss has been on tour before. He played last summer with Nick Oliveri (Queens of the Stone Age) in a band called Mondo Generator. Nick called Hoss up to play all the drums on the record and then he called and asked him to play all the European festivals last summer. Both of them are immensly enjoying this.

MR - Thanks for checking in with us!
FH - No problem. Hopefully, everyone will open up and give the new record a chance. We're really happy with it and I think there's something there for everyone. Our live show is alot of high energy rock and roll and if anyone can make it out to check us out - please come...we won't disappoint!

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