Exumer released their new album, “Fire & Damnation”, earlier this month thanks to Metal Blade Records and it’s a must have for all of you thrash metal fans! Every track is an assault on your ears and you’ll be left wanting more once the last song ends! Seriously, go pick it up already!
Last week I got to speak with singer Mem V. Stein about the new record, the band’s reunion, touring plans and much more! Check it out below!
“Fire & Damnation” came out this month and it’s an incredible album man! Congrats on the much anticipated release!
Thanks so much man! We are really stoked that people are getting into it like they are. We haven’t really seen or heard any bad things about the record so far and that’s awesome to us. It kind of proved us right in waiting to release a CD right after we reformed. The patience seems to have payed off and we are stoked.
Like you said, the response to this album has been incredible. Does it mean more to you guys than normal considering that it’s been so long since the last record?
It means the world to us man! We didn’t want to put pressure on ourselves with this record, but if you think about it, there’s still some pressure with every new album you write. When we recorded our first records at 17 or 18 years old, there was a certain energy and aggression in our music. We didn’t want to nor would we be able to recreate it with the new album. It was more about going out there and taking that vibe we had then, but do what we do now to the best of our ability. It’s just twenty years later (laughs). The fact that people are enjoying it and spreading the word is just awesome to us. It means that our approach to the album was correct and that exciting to us.
Speaking of excitement, we know that the fans were stoked to hear the record, but is it a fair statement to say that you guys were more excited than anyone to get this out there?
Definitely man! Totally! (laughs) We took the year off from touring to make this “master plan” and it’s coming together nicely so far. We wanted to make the best record possible, get the best producer possible and make the best “product” for the fans. Plus, we got with an awesome label, Metal Blade Records, and that’s been a great relationship so far. So our plan all fell into place and it’s crazy to think about. It’s not 1986 anymore (laughs). There is a billion bands out there right now and so getting with a good record label is more important than ever. Honestly, it seems like there are more bands than fans out there at some times, which is cool though. So with all the bands out there, and having that master plan come together like it did, that’s the most exciting part for us. There’s a lot of people out there that say they write their music for themselves. That’s a valid statement, but in the end, if nobody buys your shit than it doesn’t matter. I’ve said it a million times. We do it for the fans. We want to give them the best experience possible, whether it be live or on a record. We are very dedicated to our people and I think it’s paying off right now. It’s an exciting time!
“Fire and Damnation” is a very intense and dynamic record. Did you have a direction you wanted to go with the record or did you just go with the flow of the songwriting at the moment in time?
To be quite honest, we started collecting ideas and riffs in 2008 and then it was like a three year process of meeting up with each other, bouncing ideas back and forth, eliminating unnecessary shit, and taking the best raw material into our rehearsal space. We met for about two or three weeks where we just played everyday for about eight or ten hours, like a normal job (laughs). We really worked it out during those three weeks, because it’s better when we are together instead of on different continents. That doesn’t work well for us. It works for trading ideas, but really putting together a dynamic record, you have to do it in person. I know that from personal experience. So once we were all in the same place we just knocked it out. Everyone had great ideas and input for the music, and that’s why I think the record is so solid and getting the response it is. There was no real direction from the beginning, it was more about getting the best stuff out there and I think we accomplished that.
You have already announced metalfest shows in Mexico, but everyone in the States is wondering when you will return here? Any plans?
Absolutely man! We are hoping for early Fall, but nothing is set in stone right now. Like you said, we are going to Mexico, then we go to Europe, then we go to South America, so we got a lot of head of us right now. The States is definitely on our radar though for sure. We have some offers and ideas, but we just have to get everything confirmed. We will definitely be raging in the States soon for sure!
With the upcoming shows, what are the set list looking like? How much of the new material and the classic material can we expect to hear? I know, as you do, that tons of fans want to hear classic “Possessed by Fire” tracks!
No doubt man! The way we have it set up right now is that we will play all the classics from “Possessed by Fire” because it’s not only the record that I sang on, but we know that is what people want to hear as well. With the “Fire And Damnnation” songs, we aren’t going to disregard it either. It’s our new record so of course we want to promote it as much as possible too. So expect the classics from “Possessed by Fire”, a couple from “Rising from the Sea” and the rest will be from the new record. It depends on the set times, but if it’s a headlining run we are looking at about fifteen songs, which is really good for us. We are definitely not a band to disregard our past material. That’s just stupid to us. We know what the people like and what they want to hear, so the hits will definitely be played. You won’t be disappointed.
In the past few years we have seen the reemergence of true thrash metal, and it’s a great time for that type of metal. Did that have any impact on your decision to get back together at all?
No, not really man. It was more of a personal choice for all of us. When we did the Wacken show in 2001, that was absolutely designed as a thank you to the fans and that would be it. In 2007, Paul who sang on “Rising from the Sea” came over Halloween and we just had a great time hanging out with each other. It was his first time in New York, we partied with friends at my house, it was just an awesome time. That was the first time I really wanted to see everyone again and get back together with the guys ya know. I know that I will only work with Exumer if Ray is involved, so I called him up to see what he had going on at the time. With Paul’s computer skills, I knew he could help with the distance between Ray and I, so I asked him what he thought about getting the band back together and he was totally down. So it was more about good friends not getting to see each other as much as we wanted and that fire to play music again that really got us back together. Exumer is not just a band to us. It’s a vehicle to spend time with friends we care about and do what we love. When we played that first show back in 2009 we had no idea what to expect. The promoters were talking it up and we didn’t really believe it. Once we got there and saw the huge crowd and the killer bands, we realized that the scene was back and close to what it was back in the day. That was my first introduction to the newer and younger thrash bands. It’s exciting as hell, but did it affect our decision to get back together, not really. The timing was great though (laughs).
As you see the younger thrash bands out there, do you see any similarities with the scene and the legendary 80’s scene?
The love and the devotion for the music is all there like it was in the 80’s. The whole idea of let’s get into a band and tear something up, that’s definitely there. Plus, the kids out there today are talented as hell. The only difference that I see is that the material is not always memorable with some of the bands. I don’t hear as many songs that I can sink my teeth into or jam all night. You have two great riffs and that’s a song. The songwriting is very different to me. Not all of the bands, but most of the ones I’ve heard in the past few years. When we were growing up, people wrote the songs to stand out and bring their own energy to the scene. Some people thought everyone sounded alike, but if you really listen to it, everyone had their own thing going on. They all can play and love the music, but can they write good songs. That seems to be the big question these days.
For the last question, if someone would have told you after that Wacken show in 2001 that you would be back together with a new record in 2012, what would you have told them?
That they were full of shit (laughs). That’s a funny question. When we played Wacken in 2001, we had labels there wanting new records, tours, the whole nine yards and we turned it down. We don’t do this for money and fame, we never have. We were done at that time. I could have never guess that it turned out the way it has. I’m really happy it turned out the way it did though. The bottom line is that it only takes one band to bring back something that truly does something for people. When a lot of bands came back and reunited in the past few years it was awesome, but we are hearing from many people that we have done it in the way closest to the 80’s style. We have the musicianship and life lessons we’ve learned over the years, but the spirit of the band will never change. That was the initial thing that made us start a band and it has to remain the same for us to be happy with what we are doing. I think that’s a big reason why people are responding to the record so well, because we are real and we always have been to everyone. We play with the same passion that we had twenty years ago and we put everything into the new record, so we are happy with where we are at.
You’ve mentioned the fans quite a bit in the interview, so do you have anything else you’d like to say to the fans out there?
Absolutely. We want to send a huge thanks to the fans for being there for the past twenty seven years and waiting it out for us to come back. I hope it was worth it. You won’t have to wait another twenty years for a new record either. We should have something out in the next two years or so, and we will see you on the road before then. Come out to the shows and rage with us! We do it for you and we always will! Thanks!