We chat to the emerging Melbourne band about their just-released debut album.
Melbourne three-piece Exquisitor just released their debut album, The Luck of the Draw. The record pulls ideas from right across the rock spectrum, with the outfit inspired by bands who look outside the box, not necessarily confining themselves to any one sound or concept.
“I’ve always been excited by bands that don’t pigeonhole themselves into one style or genre,” says bass player Ken Harris. “I was inspired by bands like Ween, Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle and many others who showed me that bands are more interesting and entertaining when they explore different music styles in their songs.”
Harris first connected with guitarist Alan Black via the Melband online music directory. Harris was looking for a guitarist who shared his music passion for the likes of Primus, Parliament and Mike Patton. Although Black held slightly different influences, the pair established a strong rapport as soon as they got in the jam room.
“Once we started sharing our songwriting, I could tell that despite having different writing styles and influences we could create something really special,” says Black.
Drummer Jesse Marshall completes the Exquisitor lineup and brings his own stylistic slant to the band’s sound. “My musical influences include Tool, System of a Down, Rise Against and Bad Religion, as well as my background playing in a jazz stage band,” Marshall says. “I’ve brought all of those different styles to Exquisitor’s songs.”
The 11-track album kicks off with the pulsing rock song ‘Step on the Gas’, which sets the pace for what’s to come – The Luck of the Draw is a high energy affair, brimming with ideas.
“With the diversity in the songwriting it was fantastic to get through the recording process and get an album that covers a range of styles but still has a cohesive Exquisitor core,” says Black. “It definitely feels like it sets a great foundation for our band.”
The musical variety is matched by the lyrical content, too.
“‘Eyes and Ears and Mouth and Nose’ is a fun straight-out rock track that we love playing live and gets a great reception at gigs,” Black continues. “It tells the story of a friend who was door-knocked by what turned out to be a guy who robbed his neighbour’s house, and then has to go into a police station and make the identikit, but it was several weeks later so he just made it up.”
‘Barren Fields’ is another live favourite, which brings attention to each band member’s individual abilities.
“Alan wrote the words and the music and I added the driving, quicker beat, which probably reflects the punk rock side of my drumming influences,” adds Marshall. “We separated out the tempo of the intro and gave it a drum march build-up much later, which is something I really enjoyed and which gave the song some more texture.”
The biggest stylistic detour on The Luck of the Draw is ‘Twitches’, a brooding and atmospheric seven-minute escapade that brings the album to a close.
“It has a darker mood than the rest of our material and the slower pace allows for more expression and variation every time we play it. The recorded version features several layers of my vocals, something impossible in a live environment but hopefully a bonus for people that listen to the album,” says Harris.
“I guess my biggest influence in this kind of music is Nick Cave and to a lesser degree, Mike Patton.”
Exquisitor recorded and mixed the album themselves over a period of two years. They began the process intent on capturing their live sound, but the longer they worked on it, the more interested they became in studio experimentation.
“We all work in different industries but have a core passion for music and were keen to learn,” says Black. “As an independent endeavour the album took longer than we originally anticipated, but the personal growth in learning about recording techniques, mixing and audio production was worth the extra time investment.”
“The process of adding additional elements and re-writing parts in our studio made the songs come to life and mature,” Harris concludes. “I’m looking forward to our next set of recordings to see where our combined strengths take us.”
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