The news about the full stream of “Collision”, a full length by this Tallahassee, Florida noisy hardcore punk band, was one of the last regular new stories I posted in the very last days of 2012, right before I decided to switch to interviews and exclusive content only. Well, I’m very glad I actually did that – now I have a lot more time to focus on discussions with interesting artists and promising bands worth your time. EX-BREATHERS have now released the aforementioned record on vinyl and I am proud to celebrate it by presenting you their story, attitude to making music, influences and what goes on inside their heads :)
Yo fellas! I’ve just visited both your online store and the official Facebook profile and was literally thrilled by your bloody picture featured up there :) What on Earth happened to your poor man behind the axe? ;)
That was the last song of the last show of our tour with our friends DIRECT EFFECT. It was in a really tiny apartment in Orlando. Jack jumped into the crowd and there was a ceiling fan on and no room to avoid it and then blood everywhere. Then he played another set after that with DIRECT EFFECT.
What’s your biggest injury/break you ever suffered at a gig? :)
Pretty sure the one from that picture was the worst any of us have done.
Alright, so the good wind that brings you here is called “Collision”. Once again, you’re putting it out, this time on vinyl. Tell me a bit about this move and how you decided to resurrect the title.
We always wanted it out on vinyl, just didn’t have the means to do it earlier this year. Thankfully our friends at Spirit Cat decided to release it on tape though. Now we’re able to put it ourselves on vinyl (under the name Living Lost Records), so we went with it!
How did you guys record this album? Where do you draw the line between DIY and hiring professionals to produce a punk record properly?
We recorded this in our practice space in a really small storage unit. I’ve (David) been learning to record and mix stuff for the past year, so it was nice for us to have control over everything and it come out decent enough. For us, we usually have a pretty clear sound in our head for these songs, though we do like to experiment some when recording. If we had the means available to hire a professional and they could make it sound like what we want, than that would be awesome. However, right now the only way we can afford to do it is by ourselves. I feel like as long as a recording isn’t over-produced and fake sounding, then it’s ok for a punk record.
Would you ever consider adding electronics to your sound?
Sure, if it sounded good and fit the song. I don’t think we’ll ever be a band that has electronics in all our songs or anything, but wouldn’t be opposed to having some in a song here and there. There’s actually a really cool electronic-music scene here in Tallahassee, would love to collaborate with some of them.
Do you mind shooting us a few names to check out?
The label that put out our tape has its hand deep into the electronic and experimental scene in tallahassee. they are called Spirit Cat and you can learn way more at this location some of my personal favorites are TUSSIN, BEN VARIAN, ALOONALUNA, and WATER BROTHER.
And what about your local punk scene? Is it thriving?
Yes indeed. We have a very close knit punk scene here. We all play in other bands and there are new, awesome punk groups popping up all the time.
We just put out the first volume of a compilation of Tallahassee bands. Second volume will come out soon, 30 bands total!
Wow, looks fuckin’ amazing, man!
What other projects have you been involved in? Anything new in the works from those other bands?
Ok, back to “Collision” for a while… What and who were your main influences, both musically and lyrically, while recording the album ?
My main musical influences for the sings on Collision come from 80’s hardcore bands like POISON IDEA, HUSKER DU, and KORO, but also 90’s post-punk bands like JAWBOX, FUGAZI, and DRIVE LIKE JEHU. We really try not to box ourself off with what we can draw influence from though. We want the band to evolve organically according to our tastes and passions at any time. Honesty is the most important thing to me, much more so than continuity.
Were there certain acts that you tried to emulate when you first started playing? How has this changes over time?
When we first started, I was feeling alot of influence from DEADGUY and QUICKSAND but I never tried to straight up emulate anybody. We are certainly not re-inventing the wheel with our tunes or anything but i think as a group, we have always been conscious of our desire to have a unique sound and vision for ourselves.
Is it hard to maintain a desired sound live on stage?
Yeah, sometimes! We play a lot of different types of spaces that all have their unique sounds, so it’s always interesting trying to make sure it’s full and noisy enough for us.
You guys have been on tour for awhile. There’s been like hundreds of gigs earlier this year, right? ;) What does being on the road do to you?
Hah, I wish we already played 100 shows this year. Playing shows is pretty much the main thing that makes me happy, so being able to do that every night in different towns with friends is my favorite thing to do. It’s also nice meeting new bands and finding out how other cities’ scenes are going.
How do you remember your last trek with DIRECT EFFECT?
It ruled! We had a lot of fun hanging out with them and I loved being able to watch them every night. It was one of those tours where a ton of things went really wrong, but due to the people involved we still had a great time and persevered through the hardships.
How did it differ from the January run?
The weather was a lot nicer. On that January tour, we had like 14 straight days without seeing the sun. It felt really weird and was definitely taking it’s toll on us mentally. The shows were awesome for the most part, just kinda draining with the weather. Also, the first tour we were in our van, but it died before the last tour so we had to take two cars. We really miss that van.
What cool places and venues did you find touring this year?
Both times we played the Apothecary in Asheville, NC were really crazy. It’s a cool little art gallery, really straight-forward. Got to play in someone’s kitchen in New York, that was fun. And Richmond, VA is always a favorite spot for us.
Alright, so what’s up next? What gigs do you have coming up?
We’re doing a week around Florida with REPO MAN, who we previously did a split with. Then in October we’re heading out west to California for the first time with our friends HOLY DEATH, who we’ll also be doing a split 7″ with. In between all that we’re playing a few fests, including Total Bummer 4Ever and The Fest. We’re really excited for all this! And we’re working on a bunch of new stuff for a new full length.
Have you been planning a tour to Europe?
We don’t have any plans to at the moment, but we’ve always really wanted to tour overseas!
Speaking of festivals you mentioned, Europe has just witnessed another amazing edition of Fluff Fest, one of my personal favorites when it comes to such gatherings. What festivals do you consider most important and really special for punk rock / hardcore community? Also, did you participate in this project? :)
Well Florida is a kind of isolated part of the country, so alot of bigger festivals that book large national and international bands usually happen elsewhere (there are of course some exceptions to this, see: The Fest), and it isnt always part of the tour route for alot of groups. this fact has lead to alot of whining by little babies who move as soon as they can, BUT there is a fast growing group of people who are excited about what is happening in our state and are proud to embrace what we all have to offer here.
That Florida hardcore documentary is a perfect example of this (to answer your question though, we did not participate in that project). Another great example is Total Bummer Fest which happens almost every year in a different FL city. It is centered on showcasing Florida music from alot of different sounding bands (with a focus on experimental and independent music, i’d say). They also bring some national bands into the mix and it is always a very positive and refreshing thing to be a part of. The Fest in Gainesville is always a huge blast also, this year ALL is playing and I might die from excitement before I even get there so wish me luck!
ALL and DESCENDENTS are definitely bands i look up to alot. They weren’t really trying to fit in with a certain crowd, but punk rock embraced them anyways for what they were. Plus they really just have great tunes. heroes? Possibly…but there are some bands out there that i look up to a little more.
I listen to a lot of defunct bands, as we all do, but i don’t get too lost in hoping and wishing for reunions. When they happen i do get excited though, like i’m hoping to see QUICKSAND and INTO ANOTHER before they vanish for good. However, one band i wish, hope, and pray to see a reunion of one day is FUGAZI. I know this goes for the other guys in the band too. They are the true punk rock heroes for me, there really isnt a single aspect of that band that isn’t completely inspiring and mind blowing. No other band even comes close.
What about current artists and bands that may inspire you? I’ve just come back from CATHARSIS / BETWEEN EARTH & SKY show (Refuse Records 20th Anniversary here in Warsaw) and was once again strucked by Greg Bennick and his amazingly inspiring speeches. Are there people, bands or lyrics that challenge you to rise higher?
Man what a cool show! I’d love to see CATHARSIS! Greg is a very personable and inspiring person, but i have yet to hear BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY yet (i’m sure its rad). Artistically speaking, our friends and follow Tallahasseans, GROUNDED, have been pretty inspiring to me. They play music that is truly explorative and artistic without being too far reaching and pretentious. I think our bands influence each other and we have even talked about collaborating at some point, which would be really fun. They have a great tape called Sinlong Plethora and are recording a full length right now. Try to check them out!
Thanks, I will!
Alright, it seems I’m doing things the other way around, but what the hell.. For those out there who don’t know, what brought you to create EX-BREATHERS? Give us some background on the band. When did the band form and how did you guys come up with the name?
EX-BREATHERS started out of the ashes from a band that David and i were in previously with our friends Eric and Franco called BLEEDER. We had just broken up but i had some songs written that we never got to really learn or play, so we picked up Adam to play drums and made a demo of 5 of my songs and 1 of Davids, and became EX-BREATHERS. Since then David and I have shared the songwriting equally, which helps us keep things fresh and allows us to improve our writing chops together. The name is just a random term a friend heard that we thought had a cool ring to it. all the other names we were throwing around were really really awful hahaha.
Haha! Are any or all of EX-BREATHERS straight edge, vegetarian and/or vegan? Does that influence the band?
Straight edge and vegetarianism are parts of our lives, but I don’t think they have an impact on the band as a group though, no.
So what does it mean to you personally?
It differs for all of us. Both of those lifestyles are personal choices, and we all just happen to live that way by coincidence and for different reasons. It’s not like we wouldn’t have someone in the band who isn’t straight-edge or vegetarian. We live the way we want to live and we respect how other people want to live as long as it doesn’t negatively effect others.
Ok, anything else you would like to mention before we say goodbye? Any message for the kids out there? :)
Start bands, book shows, open up your house to shows if possible, start or strengthen a scene with bands you like or can relate to, and make it weird. Experience the world around you rather than looking at it through your phone.
Thanks a lot for your time, guys! My sincere regards and sympathy from Poland!
Thank you! Hope we can make it over there someday.