About Me

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Long Island/Brooklyn, New York, United States
Exemption is a three-piece aggressive progressive rock outfit that started on Long Island in 2004 when the members were only 13 and 14. In 2007 they put out their first full-length, "The Rabbit Hole." In 2009 they released the "Harmony of the Spheres EP," and in October 2010 they put out their second full-length "Public Cemetery Party." Their sound has evolved into something truly their own, combining progressive metal, stoner rock, pop, blues, and alternative ambiance once earning them the title of the "bastard children of the Beatles (The Metal Den)." Check out http://exemption.bandcamp.com to hear some music, all the releases are available on iTunes and Cdbaby.com. This blog is for the members to share stories and news with their friends and fans.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hello Fellow Humans. We are Exemption. Here's what we've been up to...

Hello blog people.  This is Nick Lee.  I play la guitarra en Exemption.  It is my hope that this blog will become an interesting record of our trials and tribulations for a long time to come and a better place to open meaningful connections and conversations with others who are interested in us or our stories.  In the past I have kept records of our experiences but not nearly frequently enough and I am excited to have such a permanent place where others can put their two cents in as well (so please do!)...

This past year has been an interesting and at times trying time for us as people and as a band.  Last August we put out the Harmony of the Spheres EP, a release that was a long time in the making and our only release since 2007's The Rabbit Hole.  The EP was originally only supposed to be five songs but became six when we wrote "Trench Foot" and decided it needed to be on there as well.  With the addition of "Trench Foot" we were faced with the question of whether or not to keep it a six song "EP" or wait it out and release an album with some of the material still in the works.  We literally went back and forth on that decision everyday at least five times a day, for probably about a month until we realized it needed to stay an EP.    We have also always done our own artwork and that process took a very long time for H.o.T.S. E.P as well.  Tom Moran (vocals/bass) is very a skilled artist when it comes to drawing and painting, and I like to think of myself as a C- average budding Photoshop operator but when it comes to art for the band, it must be completely agreed on by the three of us (w/ Ray Marte - drums/vocals/production) before anything goes down.  In other words, there is a lot of back and forth, trying shit until we're all happy, same way we write music.  It's a long process but over the years we've learned that we have to work like that to make things happen, and most of the time finding some compromise between all three of our visions yields something more than we would have imagined on our own...

Anyway...so we put the EP out last year and we've played a lot of shows since then, but our focus has mainly been on new material.  "Trench Foot" and "Bleeding Blue" were the most recent songs on the EP, and while there is still a place in our hearts for songs like "Rapids" and "Friction" those songs are nearing three-years old now and we definitely started to feel like we were misrepresenting ourselves playing them live all the time.  The EP songs were rooted mainly in groove-based metal in the vein of Clutch, Sabbath, Down, and Pantera while influences like Radiohead were slowly starting to become audible in "Trench Foot."  The new material we were writing starting with "Mutating Skulls," "Birds," and "Hyperspiral" had such a different vibe about it.  We were letting go of genre-tendencies all together and letting all of our influences speak without repression.  "Hyperspiral" definitely shows how important Mastodon became to us between our first album and now.  Ray and I have always liked all kinds of disgustingly heavy music like Cryptopsy, Pig Destroyer, Weedeater etc..., but Tom's taste in metal is a little more sparse.  However, Mastodon was always a band we all loved and the Leviathan album definitely changed our way of looking at how to write heavy music that was a little more dense and emotional; brutal and beautiful at the same time.  "Mutating Skulls" started with the main riff, which Ray wrote in this weird time that looks something like this - |: / // /// //// / :|  if you look at the slashes as the guitar riff (with repeat signs)...haha I don't know what the point of that is but I just like looking at it.  That song is our most straight-forward pop(-ish) song ever besides the off-time riff.  It gave Tom the chance to flex his muscles as a vocalist and hook-writer.  We use to laugh pretty hard about that song at first because it takes us back to one of our earliest influences, Green Day (middle school lyfe dood).  With each new song we wrote, we became increasingly excited to get back into the studio and get a new album out asap, we couldn't wait to follow up the H.o.T.S. E.P. which we had started to feel was more of a transitional release for the band.

By the time winter rolled around, we were ready with nine songs - "Hyperspiral," "Mutating Skulls," "Blood Heaven," "Hounds of Sound," "Birds," "White Animal," "Godzilla," "Cold Bodies," and "Inundation" (working title) that would become our second full-length album Public Cemetery Party.  Ray had just started working with our long-time best friend Anthony Lopardo at Killingsworth Studios in Farmingdale, NY and it became obvious that that's where we would be recording next.  On January 1st, 2010 we started drum tracks and I also started documenting our time in the studio on video for the first time, which can be seen here in previous blog entries and on youtube.  This was our first time in a real studio, not recording at Ray's house and we were all psyched to finally be in that kind of environment together with (basically) no distractions.

The tracking went well for about a month or two until tragedy struck.  We were done with drums and bass, and almost done tracking guitars, we had I think two more songs to do before we could move on to vocals when randomly without any real explanation besides a hard-drive crash situation, we lost EVERYTHING, besides two of the nine songs which remained unharmed (we'll see if anyone knows which two they are when it's released but we doubt it!).  We were all on the train coming home together when we got the call from Ant.  We had been in the city for this meeting about this pay-to-play battle of the bands bullshit at Webster Hall (or Knitting Factory depending on how many tickets you sold, and you wouldn't find out which until two days before - suck our collective dick you jackalopes!) which we had decided we weren't gonna do so as to concentrate on the recording.  We spent the rest of that train ride home in mourning, cursing under our breath and trying to talk but with there being very little to say besides "Fuck!" and "we just have to get back in there and make it better this time," and that's what we've been doing ever since.  Now five months later, we all see this as kind of a blessing in disguise because while it kind of ruined our hopes for getting the album out for Summer, it gave us each a second chance to track our parts with a little more fire this time, making sure that if the tone or the performance wasn't exactly the same, it was twice as good this time around.  This is the first time we've publicly talked about this but it was never a secret.  If you hung out with any of us in person around that time, you would have heard about it because it's all we thought about (and still is!), but we didn't want to make a big deal about it back then in fear that it would make it seem like we were never getting the fucker out.

As of today we only have a few more songs to do vocals on, and then we'll spend some time on extras like organ sounds, percussion, and then finally the mixing process.  Tom has recently found a full-time job as a waiter and moved to Bed Sty in Brooklyn, so it's been trickier to find time that works for all of us but we're gettin' 'er dun. I know that I've never been more proud of my recorded self as I am with this album, and I'm pretty sure the other guys feel the same.  We really can't wait to witness some reactions to these songs.  Often even we laugh at how weird and different some of the approaches and sounds are.  Ray's voice and mine are very prominent on this recording for the first time ever in our history as a band.  We're gonna work hard at maintaining all those parts when we play this shit live and on the recording we've found a very interesting way of mixing my screaming with Tom's clean vocals to generate a really cool vibe.  A rough mix of "Mutating Skulls" is now available at exemption.bandcamp.com, myspace.com/exemption, and it is also part of the free Dinosaurs in Vietnam Compilation II: Crude Oil available at shows and for free download at www.dinosaursinvietnam.com .

So we still have our work cut out for us but it feels good to be on our way and finally so close to achieving a goal we've had for well over a year; to put out an album that truly defines us as who we are now and which hopefully can become anthemic and meaningful for others like us.  I hope that we'll get some followers here on the blog and I can use it as an honest forum.  I love to write and it's been a long time since I've had something like this to vent in so I'm really looking forward to telling our story and (perhaps) rant a little when I'm pissed off at being taken advantage of by the sharks! There would be no point to having this if it wasn't real and honest and that's what I plan on making it and hopefully soon all three of us can contribute to it regularly.  Thank you so much for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon.

All love,
Nick Lee & co.

PS: Listen to: BOT, Thinning the Herd, Vision Through Sound, Bdee, Rice Cultivation Society, Helicopter Goes Kaboom, Mt. Olympus, Eidetic Seeing, Solegion, and everyone on Dinosaurs in Vietnam!

Nick's Interview with Murphguide.com

Originally posted to our Myspace 8/4/2010

Hey guys, how are ya? Thanks to our friend Mike in Midnight Mob, I got asked to answer some questions for the NYC Nightlife based website MurphGuide.com 
Click here to check it out with videos and everything on Murphguide.com or you can just read the text below.  Tell us what you think.  Thanks to Sean at Murphguide!


Spotlight Artist: Exemption

Next in our series of Spotlight Artists, featuring NYC's musical talent:Exemption.

Our first spotlight artist, Michael James of Midnight Mob, recommended that we feature Exemption, and he introduced us to guitarist Nick Lee, who answered our questions for this feature.
Photo credit: Gavin Spielman
Tom Moran – Vocals/Bass
Nick Lee – Guitar/Vocals
Ray Mart̩ РDrums/Vocals/Production

How long have you been performing together?
The three of us met in middle school when we were twelve and thirteen through our shared love of music and formed a band soon after that. We’re now all 21 and 22. We went through different lineups and band names for a few years early on, but the three of us have been Exemption since 2004.

How long performing in NYC?
In the beginning none of us could drive obviously so we played almost exclusively on Long Island, but I’d say we started playing the city when we were about 18 so around three years now. When we were 16 we played our first “city” gig at The Hook in Red Hook, Brooklyn as part of a battle-of-the-bands and had to have Ray’s dad drive us in…we didn’t win, haha.
Photo credit: Alli Murphy
Past lives (i.e., previous bands, your early years, etc.):
The three of us started out in a band called Unatoned with our good friend Anthony Lopardo who now works with Ray producing music out of Killingsworth Studios on Long Island where we our now recording our new album. Nowadays, we each have our own music that is separate from the band but for the most part we have always been concentrating on Exemption. Our “early years” are way too early to even count.

Favorite venues to play:
In New York City we have had probably our best shows at Santos Party House and The Bitter End. We also really like Fat Baby and in Brooklyn there is Matchless and Don Pedro. Anywhere a show can be free or cheap and easy for our friends to attend is our favorite venue. It is unfortunate that many venues on Long Island are closing these days, but if any band reading is looking to play there we would probably suggest Broadway or Sinclair’s. The Downtown was at one time the best place to pay but it’s long gone now.

Musical influences:
I’ll try my best to speak for everybody… Mastodon probably had the biggest influence on our newest material. Many others, including: Pantera, Sabbath, Allman Brothers, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica, Down, Clutch, AC/DC, Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Mars Volta, SRV, B.B. King, Beatles, Dylan, Nick Drake, Neil Young, Slayer, Pink Floyd, Boris, The Bronx, Pelican, Torche, RHCP, The Clash, The Ramones, The Misfits, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Velvet Underground, Notorious B.I.G., A Tribe Called Quest, Daniel Johnston, Fleet Foxes, Jesu, Meshuggah, Pig Destroyer, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Gov’t Mule, High On Fire, Creedence, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Bongzilla, Weedeater …we love all music.

Blatant self-promotion: What would you like to plug?
We are near completion of our new album!
Keep an eye on our pages for the release show to be announced soon!

Myspace: myspace.com/exemption
Facebook: facebook.com/exemption
Youtube: Here are a lot of our videos. Search around for more!
CD Baby: CDBaby.com/artist/exemption
Photo credit: Alli Murphy
Where can we buy your music?
We have our first full-length, 2007’s “The Rabbit Hole” as well as our 2009 EP “Harmony of the Spheres” available on iTunes and CDBaby. Of course you can also pick up either release as well as shirts and stickers at any Exemption show! Come say hi we love meeting new people!
Upcoming Shows:

Tuesday, August 3with Praetorian & Battlesteer
$5 admission
Cameo (at The Loving Cup)
93 North 6th St.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY
Sunday, August 8
"Hell in Hell's Kitchen"
w/ Bot, Aqua Cherry, and more
Port 41
335 W. 41st St. (Between 8th & 9th Ave.)
New York, NY

Tell us a story or anecdote about performing live in NYC.
Last July I got an e-mail that seemed very random asking us to play Santos Party House for a benefit show, which of course we agreed to do. What we wound up playing was a fashion show and we actually had girls running the “catwalk” while we were playing, modeling new designers. It was really cool but a little surreal. The guy ordering the girls around was intense and hilarious, he was not messing around and if they screwed up he just lost it and went jumping and pacing around the room. Between bands they were blaring Britney Spears and Sean Paul (often the same song repeating) and after a few beers our singer Tom snuck up to the DJ booth above the stage and threw our EP in the CD player. We got to about the third song before somebody realized what was happening and shut us down.

Any advice to someone just starting out?
Being from Long Island, as we grew up playing shows, we would often get suckered into the pay-to-play thing. While sometimes an opportunity that presents itself in that manner seems impossible to refuse, no band should have to lay our their own money to some promoter just to prove something. Even though sometimes it seems like the best shows are under the control of the greedy, there are always gonna be people out their who are really supporting the bands and trying to help rather than taking advantage of kids. If you can’t find these people, then try your best to build your own scene up with your friends. This community should be based around a shared love of music not money, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.

Can you recommend any other local act we should feature on MurphGuide?
Vision Through Sound is a great band from the same town as us who have been at it even longer than us. They have been through a lot and changed a lot over the last few years but they are a really strong unit right now and busting their asses. They’re about to release a new album and tour and they are definitely worth checking out.

Thanks, Nick.

Read more:http://www.myspace.com/exemption/blog#ixzz0xSCs8Avl

"Mutating Skulls"/Dinosaurs in Vietnam Comp II

Originally posted to our Myspace 6/23/10

Hey guys!  We're so happy to finally have something new for you guys to listen to! It's been way too long.  This version of Mutating Skulls is the first mix of what will be on our upcoming full-length and is the version off Dinosaurs in Vietnam's Crude Oil: Compilation II which is available for FREE DOWNLOAD at www.dinosaursinvietnam.com. The Compilation features so many of our local friends and every song on it is unique and awesome, totally worth the two minutes it'll take to download it.  We'll also have physical copies at shows very soon!  Here's DiV's press release about the comp:

Dinosaurs in Vietnamis proud to present:
“Crude Oil, Compilation II.”
Released today, Friday, June 18, 2010. For free download on our Releases page. Tracklist is as follows:
1. Vision Through Sound – Rinse & Repeat
2. Exemption – Mutating Skulls
3. Lost Boy? – Love Undercovered
4. Joyce & The Nancy Boys – This Is Where It Begins
5. Jay Briggs & The Oily Rainbows – The Animal Within
6. Delicate Steve – Attitude/Gratitude
7. Helicopter Goes KABOOM! – Pubic Sentiments (The World Is War)
8. Rice Cultivation Society – Miller High Life
9. Christian Peslak – Officer
10. Family Lumber – Awhile
11. The Holy Soviets – Garbaggio Symphony Truckstomp
12. Fortune & Spirits – Septembirds
13. Vision Through Sound – Guest Check Love Song
14. Thomas Moran – Morning Guilt
15. Franny Pi – Ice
16. Bdee – Alone In My Room I Wallow
17. El Rio Humano – Used Up
This compilation features singles from new/upcoming albums DiV artists and like-minded allies of DiV, included Vision Through SoundExemption,Lost Boy?Joyce & The Nancy BoysDelicate Steve El Rio Humano(formerly Fastizio), BdeeRice Cultivation Society,  Jay Briggs & The Oily Rainbows and many more.  Not all tracks are singles. The compilation also includes either a track off the band’s respective new album they’re trying to promote, a b-side by each artist that is formerly unreleased, or something from a previous release.  Physical copies also include a brand new Dinosaurs in Vietnam Sticker, which will be available at all subsequent DiV shows starting at the show at Don Pedro, this Sunday the 20th.  Please give it a download and give it a listen, and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. We’d love your feedback/criticism/concerns/complaints/all-that-crap. Come down to The Cup show tonight in Wantagh for some fun as well.
Download the Compilation on our Releases page, and while your there,  be sure to grab other releases from all of our fine artists. :)
Thanks for your support!

I'll have a new vocals "episode" of our In-the-Studio Video Updates up soon.  We have been very productive with our vocal  sessions.  We're already about halfway done with tracking and they are coming out awesome!  I can safely say that the three of us have never been as excited about our recorded material as we are right now.  It feels great.  We are not announcing a release date or the album name just yet but expect that very soon!
We have some awesome shows coming up this summer also!
-July 3rd at the Bitter End (nyc) -Vision Through Sound's nyc cd release show!
-July 25th at Broadway (amityville) - w/The World We KnewPainted in Exileand more!
-July 29th at Mulcahy's (wantagh) - VTS's long island release show
-July 31st at Matchless (brooklyn) - FREE stoner rock show w/Bot,Mt. Olympus, andEidetic Seeing.
and many more!

I'd also just like to thank our friend Mike inMidnight Mob for plugging Exemption in his interview withMurphguide.com.  Clickhereto  check out the article.  Check them out at the main stage of Webster Hall this Sunday 6/27!

Check back for release date/album name announcement! We love you for reading this and we hope you're living your life as heathens this summer and getting the most out of not being dead.  Keep it real. 1 <3.  
-Nick Lee

Exemption in the Studio - Part 6 - Vocals

Exemption in the Studio - Part 5 - Mo' Bitta Guitars

Exemption in the Studio - Part 4 - Guitar/Malfunction

Exemption in the Studio - Part 3 - Bass

Exemption in the Studio - Part 2 - Mo' Drums

Exemption in the Studio - Part 1 - Drums