Thrown Into Exile have been in a state of reinvention over the last few years. After forming in 2011, the group had a successful early run with a self-titled EP and tours with some of metal’s biggest names. This all came to a standstill in 2013 when four members left, citing musical differences, leaving only guitarist Mario Rubio. But Rubio wasn’t to be deterred, and Thrown Into Exile had much more to accomplish. He recruited Henry Derek Bonner, vocalist of Act of Defiance and formerly of Scar the Martyr, and the two rebuilt the band, which now includes guitarist Ray Sanchez, bassist Dave Corsile and drummer Zac Morris.
In October, Thrown Into Exile released its first long-player, Safe Inside, and have quickly regained their rightful place in the metal world. We caught up with Rubio and Bonner late last year to talk about rebuilding the band and recording the new album, which we gave a solid five out of five stars in our review (read it here).
Mario, I know you completely rebuilt Thrown Into Exile slowly over the last few years. What made you decide to start over?
Mario Rubio: There were a lot of motives as to why start over and continue, but I just simply refused to fail, I just couldn’t. Thrown Into Exile is something that is extremely close to me and an outlet to portray what I feel. I mean, to some extent while rebuilding, I clearly lived up to the name in every aspect of my life.
How did you and Henry meet? What prompted you two to start working together?
Henry Derek Bonner: I met Mario two years ago. After Scar the Martyr, I was looking for something to sink my teeth into and a mutual industry contact put me in touch with him. I was very skeptical as I was not a fan of the band prior, but the demos I received had some major potential. Upon meeting him, I immediately respected his work ethic and talent. Even though he was two hours late to our initial meeting, I couldn’t help but to appreciate his character. It was shortly thereafter that we rebuilt the entire band from scratch.
MR: Me and Henry met through a mutual friend. He called me one evening knowing how frustrated I have been with trying to find the right singer and the first thing he said was, “I found your frontman.” So I reached out to Henry, traded a couple emails, and then got on the phone. He was into the material. We met one evening in Burbank at a bar called Tony’s Dart Room, I believe. Within the first 20 minutes of us conversing, we both knew right then and there that we will be working together. We met eye to eye with the vision and overall goals on what we want to accomplish with the band, aside from having a lot of things in common. At the end of the night the, “If we start working together what’s the next plan of attack?” question came up. Fast forward, he sent me his draft of “Restore The Truth” and (I) was blown away by his talent, and we went to work on the record.
How was the writing and recording process for everyone? It’s got to be hectic for you especially, Henry, splitting your time between Act of Defiance and Thrown Into Exile?
HDB: The writing was somewhat stressful overall for me personally, although it had nothing to do with Act of Defiance. Juggling some heavy personal issues. Being limited on funds. I struggled to finance some of the vocal sessions. It was especially difficult because we were not exactly writing together either. It’s hard for me to work that way. Partly because I have to put my stamp on the material musically, even with the arrangements. I think a lot of bands make the same mistake by writing a few riffs and thinking the song is done. That is not how it works at all. You must have someone to give the song a personality, and if the math doesn’t add up, then you have to be willing to compromise and go back to the drawing board. At the end of the day, I see myself as more than just a frontman and/or singer. I am a songwriter
as well, and I have to be a part of the creative process musically. The recording was interesting to say the least. I did a lot of the pre-production with my friend Steve White long before Jake Pitts came into the picture.
MR: The recording process was long, sleepless, but overall awesome. As soon as I would leave the day job I would go home and write and record riffs/ideas on my phone because I’m not good at Pro Tools. Then, once Dave (bassist) joined the band, we started doing more pre-production at his house which will led to us to working on songs till about 2-4 a.m. I would take a three-five hour power nap depending, on the night, and go back do it again. On some nights I would be tracking in the evening with Jake, and then go do prepro with Dave on another song from 10 p.m. and on. Everyone during the recording process was motivated and hungry to get the songs right. What’s sleep?
Having listened to the Safe Inside a few times now, I can hear influences all across the board. Who would you guys say are your biggest influences?
HBD: For the most part, The usual suspects. Predominantly European metal bands. Fill in the blanks. Furthermore, I like to read, so that has given me an infinite amount of inspiration. French and Russian literature, non-fiction, philosophy and poetry, mostly.
MR: That’s a hard one to answer, I will say from new wave, black metal, melodic death metal, thrash, to classical, atmospheric ambient stuff. When writing, I was listening to a lot of music outside of metal that you wouldn’t expect me to be listening to, so that put me in the mentality of, “We’re not out to be the heaviest, the fastest, most brutal, etc. We’re here to write a record on our terms and standards. Brutality is in the message and the subject matter off the song.”
The album is a crushing! Congrats on such a solid album! What are your favorite songs on it?
HBD: Much appreciated. I’m not sure if I have a favorite song. I’m proud of them all. Maybe the title track, “Safe Inside” along with “No Words.”
MR: That’s a tough one because each song has a story behind it that makes it special to you. I would have to go with “Safe Inside,” “Syndrome,” “Nothing Else Is Real” because of how moody these songs are and put every thought and emotion into it at the time. They are very personal songs to me because of the events at the time happening during writing/recording them. Along with “Song For The Lost,” because it was the first song that was written for the album when I started the process back in mid-December of 2013.
How was it working with Jake Pitts (Black Veil Brides)? The production here is flawless.
HBD: To be honest, I produced all of my own vocals, arrangements, etc. I took a few suggestions here and there, but I wanted to have complete control over the vocal delivery. The vocal engineer, Steve White, contributed a lot to the vocals as well. He gave me encouragement and confidence when no one else was there. That’s the secret. Everyone wants to take credit for something that you did as an artist, but in reality, there are many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. As for the production, we fought for the end result. Still, there are some things I would change.
MR: The Pairing with Jake was great. He was very open minded to all my ideas and was able to help bring those parts out to life. He also had his bandmate Jinx (other guitarist in Black Veil Brides) play piano and violin on the record.
How do you see the live setlist stacking up?
HBD: We will try to recreate the songs live the best we can. Vocally, there’s a lot going on obviously. If it were up to me, I would like everyone to do backup vocals. We have some stuff like that on tracks, but not enough to take away from the overall live experience like some bands do. We are not faking anything. As far as I’m concerned, I think that’s how you earn your stripes. It’s the real deal. Go out, play live. Be a real rock ‘n roll band. It never goes out of style.
MR: We usually play about five songs live (25-30 minutes), but we’ll be adding more songs for our album release show which will be fun!
Do you guys have any big touring plans lined up you can tell me about?
HBD: Ask the ringleader. I know we have some exciting shows coming up. It’s no mystery how hard it is out there right now. Bands are essentially forced to sleep in vans and survive on ramen. But if it’s in your blood, then you have to try to make the most out of it and that means give your very best to every single person that comes out to a show.
MR: At the moment nothing that we can talk about
Safe Inside is out now on Urban Yeti Records. Buy it here!