Interview: Exit Calm
Published on August 19th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Exit Calm are gearing up to the release of their second album The Future Isn’t What It Used by putting out another single from it, “When They Rise”, on August 26th via Club AC30.
We fired some questions over to the band to find out more about it all…
How would you describe The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be to those who haven’t heard it yet? How would you say it differs from the first album?
Simon: I would say this album is more direct. The songs come through more, whereas with our debut the sound sometimes washed over everything, which was our intention.
The first one was a massive slab of sonics with tunes somewhere inside. This time the sonics and atmosphere are within the tunes. This is our Last Broadcast, Screamadelica, Tellin’ Stories or Angel Pool by the Autumns, which is lesser known but just as strong. It’s an album, not a collection of songs.
I read on Twitter that someone had said “Exit calm have gone baggy!”, we haven’t; but this time around our classic influences show more I guess, it’s where we’re from. So if “The Rapture” sounds a bit like The Charlatans, so what? Better than The Wombats.
Where was it recorded and with whom?
Nicky: We recorded this album at CIA studios with a friend of ours, Robert McVey (Longview). He got to know our Rob after seeing Lyca Sleep and admiring his work. They became friends and after Longview finished, McVey became a producer and our Rob from the band liked the idea of using him.
He was never just about sonics, but we went for that in our debut with Ulrich Schnauss, so that’s why listeners hear a sharper album this time. It was a conscious decision. So we gave him a go with “The Rapture” and “Albion” and it went brilliantly.
McVey got an American engineer involved called Christian Mock and although he had previously worked with some terrible bands (kidding), he was a lovely bloke and did get an amazing bass and drum sound that we missed on the debut.
I think sometimes the simplest things like a sense of humor carry you through anything in life and we all generally got along. But everyone is going to get a ‘piss taking’ around us. Paddy on the debut was the king of comedy and it goes a long way with us.
There is less production involved with us. It’s more about gearing us up right, pressing record and keeping us sane.
I am absolutely amazed that both Paddy and Rob managed to do this because there is no leader in our band. We are a nut-house overturned. There is as much paranoia, guilt, fear and worry as there is confidence, arrogance and ego. So keeping us nailed down and playing well is enough for me.
I like hearing about the quality of mics and desks used, but in this day and age it’s getting closer to someone being able to reproduce a beautifully organic vibrant sound in their bedroom. So I just focus on performance and atmosphere.
How much of the new material will you be performing on your forthcoming live dates?
Simon: As much as we can. It’s always time; we don’t really want to be banging on for well over an hour. “Albion”, “Holy War” and “Fiction” have become a big part of the set this year. “Holy War” is probably the best live tune we’ve ever had.
We’ll be putting more into the album tour. We played the old ones into the ground on the last album dates, it seemed to be never-ending. We may stick a few old ones in as well for the spaceheads, maybe even “Awake” if anyone can remember the chords.
You’ve spoken of your belief that playing live is where the magic happens. How do you think you’ve progressed as a live band since your inception? How much of this was by accident and how much by design (ie. were there specific things you worked on, or did it just come naturally the more you played)?
Scott: I’m not so sure live is about setting fireworks off after you’ve played but for me it’s getting the intensity right, and being able to find it at the time you need it. I hope we’ve learned to focus that more and more live, and create an environment where a gig is stepping into our world and not just playing for playing’s sake.
Nicky: People need to experience us live. There have been times when I’ve looked out and seen the bar staff not serving. Seriously. No one getting a drink. Just for a moment every one in the room is in our hands.
I guess that only happens very rarely. Most of the time we just blow everyone’s heads off. But sometimes, there have been electric times where every single eye and ear is on us. That’s magic.
Have you been playing many festivals this summer, and if so what have been the highlights of this for you?
Simon: Only a small independent one outside Sheffield, which was a top day. Also Stockton Calling, which was a good day but I had 300 quid’s worth of pedals and gear go missing after the gig. That was a downer.
We narrowly missed out on Kendal Calling and T in the Park, which would’ve been amazing. Next year! We’re just getting ready for V Festival this weekend, which we’re buzzing to be involved in. Everyone says it’s too commercial, but we play with and see indie and psych bands all the time so it’s cool to be part of a different world for a change.
It’s quite clean backstage as well so you can get away with suede shoes.
Which have been your favourite albums from 2013, that is if you’ve had the time to be listening?
Nicky: Hookworms made a good debut, but I think they’re a bit boring live. They look like Hot Chip. I wanna see fire on stage. Might be old fashioned but i like to see vibes as well as hear ’em.
Thee Piatcions have that. Dirty Rivers. It’s all about live for me.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your days with the back catalogues of just five different artists, musical or otherwise, whose would you choose?
Simon: Too hard to narrow down, I’ll just list the ones I’d pick today: Ryan Adams, Alighiero Boetti, The Charlatans, Richard Fearless and Clothes by The Kooples.
Exit Calm, thank you.
Exit Calm’s new single “When They Rise” will be released on August 26th through Club AC30.