EXUMER – Without you there is no us
25 years after their second album "Rising from the Sea" Teutonic thrashers Exumer are poised to release their third full-length "Fire and Damnation". Eternal Terror scribe Peter Loftus caught up with front-man Mem Von Stein to get the story behind the return of the legendary thrash act and find out just what the hell has been going on for the past 25 years…
What news from Exumer?
Well, I just returned from Germany from a week-long trip where I did some promotion and the band began rehearsals for our new live set that we will be introducing this year. We also just launched a trailer online that had some music and the artwork for the new album!
Tell us about "Fire and Damnation". You must be delighted with the way it turned out…
Yea, we put in the work and it turned out to be a fine follow-up to "Rising FromThe Sea", which we had released some 25 years ago. However, the album and the material sound effortless, even though the logistics of running a band out of 2 continents appear to be challenging.
How does the song writing and recording process work in the band?
We began collecting ideas way back in 2008, when we first announced our re-formation and continued to write music through 2011. Then we actually barricaded ourselves into our rehearsal space in Germany for 3 weeks, where we completed the writing process. We played every day for 8-10 hours and accomplished sounding like an impulsive, yet organic and cohesive unit. That really paid off and it reflects on the performances and the way the new songs have evolved. We then tracked the album over the summer in 2011, and spent 3 months of fine-tuning the mix until it was exactly the way we had intended it to be. Tracking went by quite quickly so we were able to spend more time on the mix.
Did you have a specific aim musically and lyrically or just allow it to come together organically?
We wanted to create an album that picks up where we left off, without sounding dated or forced. We intentionally bankrolled the album first and then presented it to labels, so that we had complete creative control. This way we had no obligations other than to ourselves and we recorded the album that we wanted to hear, or for that matter we thought the fans would want to hear.
It’s a very modern sounding record, but the band’s roots in 80’s thrash are obvious too – do you still listen to thrash from that era? If so which bands do it for you? Do you listen to any of the new breed of thrashers?
My listening preferences are definitely firmly rooted in the 1980s thrash, metal and punk/HC traditions. I still listen to Mercyful Fate, early Slayer, as well as Bad Brains and early Exodus. However, I do like some new bands like Fueled By Fire or Gamma Bomb. Then there are bands like Onslaught that are from the 80s and still release excellent albums to this day.
What kind of reception have you had so far from the press and fans?
Overwhelmingly positive, I think our feelings about what we wanted the new album to sound like and what the fans or press wanted to hear were correct. Yea, you will always have some people who will complain about us not sounding like we did on "Possessed By Fire", but we recorded that record when we were 17/18 years old and almost three decades ago. It would be quite sad actually to pretend to sound like that or to even sound like it without having evolved at all.
Do you all have day jobs or is music your full time occupation?
We have mostly work related to music outside the band. Our drummer owns a drum shop and a metal bar. One of our guitarists is a guitar teacher but then we also have different career paths within the band as well. For instance, I work for a non profit organization where I supervise a team of social workers that help families with medical problems and developmental issues. The main thing is that we ONLY do Exumer when we come together to do the band. Everyone lives and breathes Exumer 24/7, when we are out on tour, rehearse or record an album. This makes the band a real sounding band and not a part time gig. We don’t see it as such either because otherwise we wouldn’t be careful with our decisions, whether it pertains to touring or what label we sign to.
Do you think it is unrealistic for modern metal bands to expect to make a living from their art?
I think it depends what goals you have. It’s a little different if you are 20 years old and you want to be out on the road for 9 months out of the year. For us it’s a bit different because we want to keep the band relevant and the fans hungry to see the band live. So, I think you can earn a living with a modern band if you are willing to sacrifice certain comforts that domestic life has to offer. But it is definitely more difficult to sell records today opposed to the 1980s, pre Internet.
Do you feel like you are a part of the German metal scene these days? Are there any acts that you think our readers should check out?
We are a German thrash metal band that operates on a global level, meaning that we have fans in Europe, South and North America, Asia and other parts of the world. However, I believe that our origins are German and hence we will always be a part of that scene, even of some of us live in the US. I think bands like Disaster and other young German thrash bands are worth checking out, as well as the old guard such as Kreator, Sodom or Destruction who still put out solid records.
What has been your favourite gig of the past year?
I guess the show at Norway’s Inferno Festival in 2010, and our headlining gig in Los Angeles at the Thrasho de Mayo 2009, are total stand-outs. One of my favorite shows I attended was Slayer in 1985, and perhaps the Heavy Sound Festival in Belgium in 1984.
What are your plans for touring the new album/festivals etc.?
Well, we will be quite busy this and next year with tours in South and North America, as well as festivals in Europe, followed by more tours….
What’s next for Exumer?
Definitely promoting the new album and then slowly start writing new songs for the 4th Exumer album, which should be coming out in about two years. Let’s not project too far into the future though and celebrate "Fire and Damnation" for a little while.
Any final message for the fans?
Thanks for supporting us through the past 26 years, while we were active and through the years of silence! I always say: "Without you there is no us"! And that’s the truth, everything that Exumer does is ultimately for the fans!!!