I Exist: Flick of the Switch
18-Aug-2012 Words: Brendan Crabb
Pix: Brendan Delavere
Latest release: II- The Broken Passage (Resist)
Band site: www.facebook.com/iexistcbr
Canberra’s multi-man sludge metal/hardcore juggernaut I Exist is sure to be one of the highlights of this year’s Bastardfest, performing at several shows throughout the tour. Loud spoke to one of their numerous guitarists Josh Nixon about the shows, the band’s next record, plans to conquer overseas and last year’s inaugural Bastardfest.
Q: II- The Broken Passage was a huge success. What’s the latest on a follow-up?
A: We never stop writing - and by we, I mean Aaron (Osborne, guitars/vocals). Aaron, who is also in three other bands, is a perpetual riff machine. The good thing about this and having so many people in the band is that Aaron lives in Melbourne while the rest of us are in Canberra; which is not to say that others in the band don’t write, we do, but Aaron is prolific in the extreme. So the general process is Aaron comes to town, throws four or five songs at us and then goes home. We then spend each week at jams refining, subtracting or adding parts and come up with something that we’ve all had some part in evolving.
We did the 7” "Fool for Death" for the Resist Records Record Day release with a Melvins cover B-Side and I would guess we’ll re-record that for the album. We’re still a ways off, having turned two albums around one year apart. So we want to really get together a strong batch of songs and plan out the next album, who we’re going to work with and where we’re gonna record it. It will be next year at some stage though.
Q: Good to hear. It seems that the band is heading further towards a more metal-oriented sound with each release. Is it important for I Exist to retain the hardcore element of your music, or do you envision the band eventually becoming a fully-fledged metal outfit?
A: It’s not a considered direction or anything; it’s a constantly evolving process that is completely organic and natural in development. We’re not sitting around consciously plotting the ratio of various genre riffs per song. That happens as a natural result of when six people listen to a pretty wide variety of heavy music and then write our own songs.
Something that initially made me like the band before I joined was that I Exist does NOT adhere to a specific genre, and that the band’s identity has really come from just doing its own thing. I like that there’s no obvious breakdown parts or clichéd contrived bits. It’s just us writing riffs we like and that encompasses a lot of heavy music.
Q: I also believe one of your guitarists Adrian Kelly is moving overseas. Do you plan to enlist yet another guitarist, or are three enough at this point of time?
A: Adrian pretty much started playing with us when we did the Shai Hulud tour with his band Phantoms and I had to go home after the Sydney shows and the tour went to Queensland. So basically his role was to play shows when either I wasn’t there or we wanted to just go into ridiculous guitar overdrive. He’s done a bunch of shows for me when I’ve had other stuff on or he was available for a hang.
When we played Groovin’ The Moo festival in Canberra and the crew were setting up, I can tell you they were not overjoyed at us setting up four guitar amps and a bass rig for a band playing 20 minutes at 11 in the morning or whatever it was we did. We may well initiate another guitar-colyte to help maintain the riff in my absence or for the hell of it, but three will be the touring line-up for the rest of this year at least.
Q: On the topic of foreign lands, does the band have any plans for overseas touring in the pipeline?
A: Grand plans but organising the moving feast that is I Exist is a job that keeps our good friends at Resist Records up at night, losing weight and hair follicles. We’ve got a full schedule ahead in Australia for the next few months so overseas will likely be winter 2013 at the earliest.
Q: I Exist have a knack of fitting on almost any bill you’re placed on – opening Hardcore 2012, supporting Frenzal Rhomb and playing last year’s Bastardfest. What is it about the band that seems to ensure your acceptance on a variety of shows?
A: I think it touches on some of the stuff we were talking about earlier on the genre thing. We don’t try to be I Exist, we just are and we sound like we do. So if it’s a Frenzal show, a Doomriders show, a metal show or a hardcore show, we’ve got something for most folks that they can get into.
Of course there’s folks at those shows that can’t stand us either I’m sure, but we all love playing shows no matter what and the variety of Bastardfest in particular is really an honour for us because we get to play with a lot of our favourites from all over.
Q: You’ll also be appearing at several shows during this year’s national Bastardfest tour. The band played some dates during the inaugural tour in 2011 and definitely added another dimension to the shows. How was that experience?
A: We did four of the shows last year and I think we’re doing another four this year. For me there was an air of nostalgia about it because it was the first time since the end of Metal for the Brain where I had got to do like a personal health check on the Australian heavy music scene. Sure, Psycroptic, Blood Duster and a couple of others played all the shows, but it was the quality of the local talent in each of the cities that showed that heavy music is alive and well in Australia. From a band guy’s perspective all the shows were well-received and I think we went down pretty well, we all stoke on having a chance to play to new folks with great bands.
Q: What can Bastardfest punters expect from I Exist this time around?
A: I’d love to say a crazy production and pyrotechnics but it’s a festival show and that means short changeovers and not fucking about. I would say some new tunes and we’ll be into it. With our tunes, we kinda tune the set to the crowd so I guess the heavier stuff will be getting dusted off for this run.
Q: Which acts are you keen to catch at the shows?
A: Well, all the usual favourites – Duster, Cleanoff, Astriaal, Extortion, Psycroptic, etc. But again, I wanna see a lot of the newer bands earlier on the bills. For example, I recommend Canberra punters getting there early on the Saturday to see DD (Drynan, bass) and Brad’s (Nicholson, vocals, ex-Pod People) new band Law of the Tongue. Adelaide folks just have to see and support Sex Wizard, who are utterly killer and I suppose the other bands I’ve not seen before. In short, everyone; you gotta have your party switch turned on at Bastardfest
Q: You pulled double duty at some shows last year with I Exist and Pod People. Does performing with only one this time around free up more time to smoke weed?
A: You gotta have your party switch turned on at Bastardfest, Brendan.
Q: (Laughs) Regarding Pod People, the doom lords have been quiet for a while now. What’s the latest in that camp?
A: Quiet - lying in state, waiting for the right moment to emerge and drop a slab of doom metal on an unsuspecting public. DD and Brad are busy with Law of The Tongue right now and everyone should check out their Bandcamp demo and see them when they tour. I think they’re playing that doom fest next year in Melbourne and they’re pretty active up around these parts including Bastardfest, so make sure you check ‘em.
Q: On a more personal note, what new releases have you been enjoying lately?
A: Saint Vitus’ Lillie F65, Old Man Gloom’s No, High On Fire’s De Vermis Mysteriis and Ufomammut’s Oro: Opus Primum (looking forward to Opus Alter in September). The Cathedral live album Anniversary, Turbonegro’s Sexual Harassment, The Levitation Hex album, and I’m keen as to hear the new Witchcraft and Pig Destroyer records.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: Well, I’m hoping not to die for a while, so I look forward to seeing you at Bastardfest this year and for the next few at least.
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