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.
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!
- 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.