Tallahassee punk trio EX-BREATHERS (interviewed for IDIOTEQ in 2013) are getting ready to release their sophomore full length, Past Tense on October 23rd via Exploding In Sound / Hex Records. Past Tense finds Ex-Breathers shifting their hardcore influences into an entirely new direction, though they haven’t abandoned their heaviness in the slightest. Their new record, produced by the in-demand Justin Pizzoferrato (Speedy Ortiz, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Krill), has found the band embracing experimentation and fleshing out their ever changing sound in all directions, combining influences from Fugazi, Minutemen, Unwound, and Nomeansno into a new era of nuanced and impossibly tight post-harcore brutality. It’s impossible to pigeonhole and resistance is futile.
NPR Music magazine premiered the album’s first single “Stand Still,” noting the band’s change in direction, “Weirdo punks like Fugazi and Minutemen are still the touchstones on Ex-Breathers’ second album, Past Tense. But the laser-focused gut-punch is far more dynamic this time around, as the group sets mean riffs and a hulking rhythm section against eerie melodies.”
With nearly 250 shows played since their 2012 formation, Ex-Breathers aren’t a band to rest on their laurels. In three short years the band has self-released records and put out albums on Texas Is Funny, Community, and Hex Records. After last Fall’s double dose of the band’s blistering Exbx EP and their split with Gnarwhal, Woozy, and Ovlov, Ex-Breathers spent much of this year writing and recording, further blurring the lines between punk and hardcore. Past Tense, the band’s latest, is a bruising beast of an album, a well calculated punk record that stands among the finest. Due for a co-release between Hex and Exploding In Sound Records on October 23rd, Ex-Breathers are tearing through the walls in The Shining kind of way, splattering preconceived notions into a fine pulp.
The heart and soul of the band’s beloved Tallahassee, FL scene, Ex-Breathers have built a reputation for crushing live shows, dynamic songwriting, and an unrelenting adaptability. The sound of their upcoming album Past Tense, however, is not as easy to categorize. According to Jack Vermillion (bass/vocals), “Our music always gets pegged as ‘hard to describe’, but we seem to be compared to Fugazi, Minutemen, and Nomeansno more often than others.” Whatever the exact subgenre may be, all 23 fast and fleeting minutes of Past Tense guarantee it will be one of the best punk records heard this year.
Produced by Justin Pizzoferrato (Speedy Ortiz, Krill, Dinosaur Jr) at Sonelab Studios in Easthampton, MA, Past Tense marks the first time Ex-Breathers have recorded in a professional studio without the band’s own David Settle (guitar/vocals) behind the boards. The album is sprawling, a chance for Ex-Breathers to explore post-hardcore through stranger realms. Booming from start to finish, there’s a punk nihilism to the record’s structure. While the album doesn’t have a specific overarching theme, the band says that “Each song we write is just a way of dealing with and understanding a certain issue” including anxiousness perpetuated by the attitudes of others, false narratives, social justice, mental health issues and the neurosis that surround them.
This is the cathartic release you’ve been waiting for. Turn it up.
Jack Vermillion (vocals/bass)
David Settle (vocals/guitar)
Adam Berkowitz (drums)