DEVIANTS UNITE TOGETHER IN EXILE BY: STEPHANIE STEVENS
TOGETHER IN EXILE is a band from the Tampa Bay, Florida area. The guys have a knack of bringing metal into a hard rock melody driven atmosphere. The smoldering dark elements that shine through the band’s first full length album DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL is just the tip of the iceberg for this band. They reel you in with catchy hooks, groovy aspects and hard-hitting beats. Lyrically delightful with strong words to make you think, chant with glee and make you love the ones you hold close and dear to you.
Since the release of DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL in 2015 the band has been busy with playing shows, and creating self-produced videos for a visual look into songs like DEVIANT, ALMOST HUMAN,THE STARS DIE TONIGHT. With all that happening they still had time to create a new set of songs for a new album coming out in the near future.
TOGETHER IN EXILE sparked my interest because of the overall good music they put out along with the way they connect with fans; bringing the sense of community within the “deviant” or “unnormal”. The band thinks out of the box when it comes to writing, creating a visual aspect for all the live shows and gives you plenty to think about with story lines within each track. Straight forward, dark, heavy and melodic that is TOGETHER IN EXILE in a nutshell.
I had a chance to chat with Matty (guitar) and Thomas (vocals) about what each band member brings into the band, some of my favorite tracks off the album and all about putting on a live show.
WHO IS TOGETHER IN EXILE AND WHAT DOES EACH MEMBER OF THE BAND BRING INTO THE BAND ON A MUSICAL AND BUSINESS ASPECT TO MAKE YOU WHO YOU ARE TODAY?
TOGETHER IN EXILE is: Thomas Crane - vocals Matty Exile - Guitar Brad Balsama - Guitar Ilyn Nathaniel - Bass Danny Cayocca - Drums
THOMAS: Everyone brings something to the table to make the band what it is, creatively and logistically. Matty is kind of like a mad scientist. Just lock him in a room with a guitar and some cigarettes and he comes up with these sick riffs. All the music starts with him. Then he hands me the song and tells me to do something with it. I do all the vocals, lyrics, themes, etc,. Then when we get a song to a point that we feel comfortable moving forward, we all get in a room together and make those subtle tweaks that help improve it. In addition, Ilyn designs our album artwork and most of our merch. I produce the music videos (with help from everyone). Danny and Brad handle a lot of the business and accounting with the band, because that's just not something every person is suited to do.
There's a lot to a band that people don't see. That 45 minutes on stage is maybe 5% of a band's operation. There's rehearsals, loading and unloading gear, dealing with promoters, preparing and accounting merch, dealing with management, ordering burritos, etc.
BEING FROM THE TAMPA. FLORIDA AREA HOW HAS THAT HELPED IN YOUR SUCCESS OF THE BAND THUS FAR? AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE MUSIC SCENE IN THE AREA?
THOMAS: The music scene in Tampa is a lot more diverse than people think. It's been known forever as the death metal capital of America, and yes, metal is still the primary genre driving things here - but there's still a lot of variety. We have a lot of great friends in other bands that we've made in this area. Everyone knows one another and tries to help each other out. It's a pretty cool place to call your home.
YOU GUYS ALL CAME FROM OTHER BANDS WHAT ASPECTS OF THOSE BANDS DID YOU BRING INTO TOGETHER IN EXILE?
THOMAS: Everyone has their own influences, obviously from a creative standpoint, that they bring into the band. But in addition to that, I think everyone takes their past band experience as a learning experience too. Being in a band is like being married to 4 other people. It can be awesome sometimes. But it can be frustrating sometimes too. You live and learn on how to deal with problems that arise. But that's pretty typical of any group activity. Having past band experience helps you deal with current issues and resolve them to move forward.
DEFINE WHAT THE BAND NAME MEANS TO YOU AND HOW DOES THAT TIE INTO THE OVERALL VIBE OF WHAT YOU GUYS WRITE ABOUT?
MATTY: Together In Exile is a proclamation of what we stand for. Our music is about uniting people who deviate from the norm. People who live by an alternate standard. They may be exiled by society, but we welcome them with open arms.
THOMAS: We went through several band name ideas before we landed on this one, which Matty came up with. It was an immediate "yes" from me. I like the concept of uniting people who are thought of as outcasts. Because we fucking are.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD SONG IN YOUR EYES AS A MUSICIAN?
MATTY: It has to move people, especially live. Each song has a very distinguishable feel to it. If I'm not nodding my head along when writing, it gets scrapped.
THOMAS: I'm a sucker for a good melody. Don't get me wrong, I love heavy guitars - but to keep my interest and keep me coming back for more, I need good hooks.
WHEN YOU GUYS WRITE WHAT IS YOUR STRUCTURE; DO YOU HAVE ONE SONGWRITER OR DO YOU WRITE AS A FULL BAND?
MATTY: Generally, Thomas writes the vocals and I create the music. The songs are then presented to the band and adjustments are made. Structurally, we stick to what will be easy enough for non-musicians to understand while not sacrificing musicality.
I READ THAT WHEN YOU WERE IN THE STUDIO FOR DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL YOU FOUND OUT YOUR VOCALIST COULD WRITE ON THE SPOT. HOW DOES THAT HELP/ ENHANCE YOUR WRITING OR RECORDING DYNAMICS?
MATTY: Thats true, half of DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL was written on the spot. DEVIANT, FALL INTO ME, RATED R, and FUTURE EX WIFE each were written and recorded in 48hrs or less. Thomas is a madman, I can throw songs at him and he'll be ready the next day.
THOMAS: Now that we've been a band for a few years and recorded multiple times, I think we understand each other a lot more now, and we have a better feel for how the creative process is going to flow. The spontaneous nature of songs on the DSB recording was actually a surprise for us at the time. Like, "wow, okay cool, we can write songs on the spot in this band". So, going forward, we know that when we go to the studio, new songs are going to happen.
The story behind "DEVIANT" was a pretty interesting one. Basically, we had this other song tracked. The music was done and I was about to do vocals on it but Matty and I weren't feeling it. So, I basically told him, if you want to replace it, you have till tomorrow to write it because we had a schedule we had to keep up with. So, he immediately grabbed his guitar and he wrote and recorded the music to DEVIANT that night. The next morning, he sends me over the song, and I got started with the lyrics. I remember texting him that afternoon, "If we're tracking vocals on this song tonight, we need to go to the liquor store before they close". So, we got a bottle of Jim Beam, and recorded vocals and mixed it that night till 6am. I still have that bottle signed and dated.
A QUOTE I READ ON YOUR FACEBOOK I WOULD LOVE YOU TO GO INTO MORE DEPTH WITH. IT WAS QUOTED AS “YOU ARE EXPLORING AREAS OF THE MIND THAT MIGHT MAKE THE NORMALS UNCOMFORTABLE? WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?
THOMAS: Generally speaking, I think most people are uncomfortable with challenging themselves. I think the general population likes to stick with what's safe and comforting, keep themselves away from the darker aspects of life or things that are thought provoking.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT OFF OF DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL?
THOMAS: Probably the fact that I survived it. But if I had to pick a song, probably RATED R. I really like the lyrics.
MATTY: Mine was definitely FUTURE EX WIFE, that was the only song that was recorded and left as is...no editing, no fixing...it was just perfect. It set the standard for everything we did after that.
ARE YOU GUYS WRITING NEW MATERIAL FOR ANOTHER ALBUM AND HOW HAS YOUR SOUND GROWN OR BEEN ENHANCED SINCE THE INITIAL WRITING FOR DSB?
MATTY: The second album is written and recorded. We are fine tuning it before its sent off to be mixed and mastered. It is a continuation of DSB except that we are spending a lot more time with overall production. We are expanding on the things people loved about DSB.
THOMAS: As much as I like DSB, this new record is a step forward for us in about every way imaginable. We were still finding ourselves and our identity with the DSB material. The new record is coming about after we've spent some years together, been through some adversity together, and learned from each other. I am excited to get this material out. I imagine the new record will have some material on it that will offend some people too. Good.
ONE SONG THAT I FELL IN LOVE WITH INSTANTLY WAS SOLEMNITY WHAT INSPIRED THAT SONG AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FINISHED PRODUCT? AND HOW WELL DOES IT GO OVER LIVE?
MATTY: SOLEMNITY is actually a true story. I bartended for many years and one slow night a man came in. He started drinking straight up liquor, and he was hitting it heavy. When I asked him if he was alright, he said his wife was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and that she just died in his arms that morning. It broke my heart. He then started crying and asked why did this happen to them, and kept saying he wished it would take him instead. A lot of the lyrics are direct quotes from him.
ALMOST HUMAN IS ANOTHER EAR PLEASER WAS THAT A SONG THAT WAS EASY TO WRITE AND WHERE IN THE WRITING PROCESS WAS IT WRITTEN AND HOW DO YOU GUYS DEFINE THE OVERALL FEEL OF THAT TRACK?
THOMAS: ALMOST HUMAN was a very important song for this band. It was the song that prompted us to go record in Cleveland, as well as the song that taught us how we work best creatively. I remember hearing Matty writing the music one day, and I was immediately ready to write to it. As far as meaning goes, it's probably one of our most personal songs I've done with this band. It's about alcoholism and being consumed by addiction.
SPEAKING OF LIVE SHOWS, YOU GUYS TEND TO HAVE A FULL PRODUCTION FOR A KILLER LIVE SHOW HOW IMPORTANT TO YOUR BAND OR ANY BAND IS HAVING THAT VISUAL PIECE IN THIS DAY N AGE?
THOMAS: I've always been a fan of bands who put on a big show. The show becomes more of an experience and tends to stick in your mind that way I think. In many ways, a concert becomes sort of like a stage play. There's definitely going to be much more of that with this new record. I have lots of performance art in mind. I don't want you to just listen to these songs. I want them to punch you in the face.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE A TOGETHER IN EXILE FAN?
MATTY: TIE fans are called "DEVIANTS", they're usually sexually open minded, heavy drinking, music lovers. Something most people can relate to.
ANOTHER BIG ELEMENT YOU GUYS HAVE IS A HEFTY NUMBER OF VIDEOS FOR THIS PAST ALBUM. WHO SHOOTS YOUR VIDEOS AND LOOKING BACK ON ALL OF THEM WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TO SHOOT AND WHY?
THOMAS: I produce the music videos, but all the guys pitch into help with the production, because it's always a lot of work. I honestly don't really have a favorite so far. They were enjoyable to do, but I'm really focused on making the concepts for the next record.
MATTY: Mine was STARS DIE TONIGHT, we were just playing like we would live, it felt rawer.
WHAT I SAW ALSO IS YOU GUYS HAVE A VISUAL STAGE PERSONA WITH MASKS NOW BUT IN EARLY VIDEOS I DIDN’T SEE ANY OF THIS. WHEN DID THE MASK MAKE AN IMPACT INTO THE BAND AND WHAT DOES THAT SYMBOLIZE FOR THE BAND?
MATTY: The look has evolved when we stopped caring what people thought and ran with what we wanted to look like. I love wearing the mask, its challenging, and adds a mysterious dynamic to the stage show. More importantly, the mask distinguishes between myself and the persona, when the mask is on, I'm in work mode, I'm Matty Exile. Plus, I don't have to worry about making a weird face in pictures.
WHAT BANDS OR MUSICIANS DO YOU CALL OUT AS INFLUENCES AND WHAT MADE THEM BECOME YOUR INFLUENCES?
THOMAS: Scott Weiland, Marilyn Manson, Nirvana, Ghost, Nine Inch Nails, 80's pop music, Alfred Hitchcock
MATTY: Pantera and In Flames influence me heavily when writing.
WHERE DO YOU SEE TOGETHER IN EXILE IN 5 YEARS?
THOMAS: I'd like to see what we are capable of creating by that time. I feel like this next record is an important step for us creatively and I want to continue that with each album. We should be on album 4 or 5 by then.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOU GUYS? WHERE CAN THEY FIND YOUR MUSIC? Facebook: @togetherinexhileofficial Instagram: @togetherinexile website: www.togetherinexile.com
ANY TOUR PLANS IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
THOMAS: We are currently slated to be touring with Future of the Leaders of the World in October.
ANYTHING YOU WANT TO TELL FANS THAT THEY MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BAND OR YOU GUYS AS INDIVIDUALS?
THOMAS: Contrary to what Danny says about me in the Deviant video, I am getting much better about answering my phone.
MATTY: Everything we do is 100% real. It's not a front. We really are professional Deviants. Through and through. We drink heavy, we play hard, and we are open to almost anything.
GAME: THIS OR THAT CHOOSE ONE OR THE OTHER:
BATMAN OR SUPERMAN? Batman HARD LIQUOR OR BEER? Why not both? LIVE SHOW OR STUDIO WORK? Live show. SUNRISE OR SUNSETS? Sunsets. TACOS OR PIZZA? Pizza. BEYONCE OR RIHANNA? Rihanna.