Thursday, March 6, 2014

Interview with Chris of Ex-Cult

Ex-Cult is a modern Memphis punk band, following in the impressive lineage of bands such as the Reatards, The Oblivians, and more. They have put out one LP and one 7" already on Goner Records. To make matters more remarkable, the band boasts production credits from the likes of the one and only Ty Segall. Live, they are a force to be reckoned with. On recording, they are equally immersed in their music. This band is going places and there's a reason for that - they tour with abandon, having played all over the United States and more with Ty Segall, the OBN III's, Mac Demarco, Acide Baby Jesus, and more.

I got hip to the band mostly cause I'll listen to anything on Goner Records. This record was no exception in Goner's legacy of putting out hits. I missed their two shows in Chicago. I'm still kicking myself over that one. The good news is that they're playing the Empty Bottle in May, my favorite Chicago venue, and the month of my birth. It's a sign.

You can check out the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE and listen to their singles on the Goner-Soundcloud. Here's the FIRST SINGLE. And honestly, don't be a dope -PREORDER THE RECORD.

Jordan: Who all is in Ex-Cult? When did you guys start the band?
Ex-Cult is
Chris (me) -Vocals
Natalie- Bass
Alec- Guitar
Michael- Drums
I think our first show was in 2011. I can't remember.

J: You guys had previously been called Sex Cult. Why the change in name?

C: These idiots started a label called Sex Cult Records, and they tried to sue us. In retrospect we should have let them sue us, none of us have any money. After much deliberation, we decided to just drop the 'S' and become Ex-Cult.

J: What is it like being a garage rock band in Memphis with a dynamite label like Goner and legends like Jay Reatard and the Oblivians?

C: It's really cool to have a label/store like Goner Records 10 minutes from your house. But I don't think Memphis bands from the past get as much local attention as they deserve. Bands like Lost Sounds, The Oblivians and Jay Reatard had a major impact on music at the times they existed, whether people want to believe it or not. I remember being 19 on tour and seeing Lost Sounds posters in people's rooms and being like what the fuck? I had no idea bands from Memphis registered on a national level at that point. The local scene is small, but it rules. You can go out to a bar and hangout with someone that used to be in The Reatards or Deathreat and not even know it.
J: What are some of your favorite bands from Memphis currently?

C: True Sons of Thunder have been my favorite Memphis band for some time now. JB and his wife Laurel play in a band called Moving Finger that I really like, Natalie plays in a band called Nots that is also really cool. She also plays in Moving Finger. Gimp Teeth are a new band that fuckin rips, check them out if you can. 

C: Past Memphis bands I like: Final Solutions, Reatards, Oblivians, Knaughty Knights, Porn and Grenades, Mutant Space Bats of Doom, Rednecks in Pain, Dead Trends, Pulltrigger, Staags, Sector Zero, Angry Angles, Lost Sounds, AAAA New Memphis Legs...I could go on.

J: How did you guys start writing and recording music? Did you have some song ideas floating around before?

C: We had an idea of what we wanted to sound like before we started, but no one brought songs to the first practice. The first time we practiced, Me JB and Michael got together and JB had the impression we were going to try do a hardcore band similar to my old band Vile Nation. After we told him we wanted to do something more psychedelic we started jamming, and everything else just fell into place.

J: Who writes your songs? Do you guys have certain roles?

C: We all write the songs, collectively. I have always written all the lyrics and named almost all the songs, but that's not a rule or anything. Alec helps write the lyrics sometimes, he wrote some of the lines in our song “Don't Feel Anything” and he came up with the concept behind “Catholic Entries.” Everyone plays multiple instruments (except me) so no one is stuck to whatever they play live when we are practicing. There are 5 of us, so everyone leaves their mark on a song. That's how we've always approached writing music.

J: What was the process of making your first LP like? How did those songs get made?

C: Some of those songs were really old, Young Trash is the first song we ever wrote.

J: You guys worked with Ty Segall on that record. What was that like?
C: It was cool. Ty asked us if anyone was producing the first record, and at that point no one had offered to do anything. He was real stoked on us from the start, and I think that probably made some people pay attention to us that wouldn't have otherwise. We are going to continue to record with him, I think we're playing some shows together this year too.
J: What can you say about your upcoming record on Goner? Was it different making this album?

C: Midnight Passenger is the only type of album that we could have made at this stage in our band. It's a reflection of the amount of time we spent locked-in last year, performing together. Last album we were in recording in San Francisco, sleeping in the studio and on Ty's floor, with the clock against us because we had to fly back to Memphis whether we were done recording or not. We recorded Midnight Passenger 15 minutes from the neighborhood where we all live in Memphis. We got to go home every night, go to work in the morning or whatever, then focus on whatever we were doing that night in the studio. That being said if we get the chance to record in San Francisco again I won’t think twice about saying yes.

J: Do you guys have any plans to tour after releasing the album?

C: Yeah we are going to tour both coasts again. Hopefully hit places we haven't been to before.
J: Are there any places you guys like to go to in particular while you tour? Any notable restaurants or haunts?

C: The whole time we were recording in San Francisco we would hang out at this place called Vesuvio during our off time. Allen Ginsberg used to get drunk there or something. Other favorite bars include Mr. Bings in San Francisco, The Roost in LA, Cha Cha Lounge in LA, The Shanty in Eureka, CA, Foobar in Nashville, The Lamplighter in Memphis, Santa's Pub in Nashville, Daddy's in Brooklyn, Otto's Shrunken Head in Manhattan. 

J: Anything else you'd like to say?

C: Shout-out to Rawkdonald. What's up to the girl wearing a nightie that kicked us out of her apartment at 4am. New York's alright if you like saxophones. What up to Cameron Higgs in the swamp. The Crocodile King.  Listen to Useless Eaters. Memphis Punk Forever.

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