Prior to EXHORDER's September 23 performance in Brooklyn, New York, vocalist Kyle Thomas and guitarist Marzi Montazeri spoke with Alex Haber of Heavy New York. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's new album (and first in 27 years), "Mourn The Southern Skies":
Kyle: "This was probably the direction that we were heading in anyway, so for all the people that might be concerned that we've made some kind of major transition, we were going this path anyway. It is a bit of a compilation of music that was pieced together over the years from then to now. Some of it's fresh — a handful of songs are brand new — but a lot of it is stuff that's just been sitting on the back burner... We did have to do a fair bit of experimenting. The first song that I did vocal demos for was actually the first single, 'My Time', and that one fell out pretty naturally. After that, there were a handful of songs that we were doing that we'd listen back and go, 'It sounds great, but it doesn't sound like EXHORDER,' so I kind of took it back to the drawing board and tweaked it around a little to give it a little bit more of an EXHORDER feeling and an EXHORDER vibe versus just some heavy music with some cool vocals. It was tricky at first."
On how making the album compared to the group's two previous releases:
Kyle: "The one that we were most prepared for when it happened was 'Slaughter In The Vatican', because we had done two demos before that — really three, technically — and most of those songs made it to the album, so by the time we recorded, we know those songs inside and out. We knew what we wanted to do with it; there was very little need for experimentation. When we did 'The Law', we really weren't as well-prepared. We were doing a lot of writing in the studio. We pulled a couple of older songs out and the BLACK SABBATH remake. This time around, we definitely had a lot better idea of what we wanted to do. We were still doing some writing in the studio, but I've gotten to the point where I actually enjoy writing in the studio. It helps with some of the most interesting creative situations when you're under the gun like that, and it just kind of falls into place at the right time."
On how Montazeri approaches playing guitar with the band:
Marzi: "I definitely have an opportunity to bring my own thing in, but when it comes to the first two original albums, there's not much playing around with the material that Vince [LaBella, guitars] wrote. I do it as it should be... With the new album, I finally get to put a little piece of my heart into it... [Live], I go entirely how it feels at the moment. I never know what's going to happen. That's the same kind of approach I took when I went into [the studio]. I was the last guy in the studio, and I made everything up in the studio. I went in there and just walked in, not really knowing what was going to happen. I was fully there, and it's the same thing with live — I'm fully there and it's exciting and I give it all I've got. Sometimes, it goes this and that way, but I stay true to the course... We have fun every night. We play the same songs, but they're completely different. We're a machine in a way, but not one that's repeating itself... [When recording], I didn't have time to reflect. I walked in and did my leads in three days. I didn't know what I was going into. I signed off immediately as it was going down, but I had Vinnie there. We were looking at each other, giving nods. I felt the vibe. It was kind of scary. I had never done anything like this in my life — walked into a pressure cooker and survived it."
On the band's early days in New Orleans:
Kyle: "There were several years before we even got into talks with record labels where we had almost nothing but New Orleans. There were a handful of punk bands and some metal bands before us that we followed and grew up watching, and then we came on the scene and entrenched ourselves in there as a contender. It built really, really strongly for a matter of years, and then, probably since the mid-'90s, it's never been quite the same as it was. I don't want to be that old guy going, 'Oh, it's not like the old days,' but it really kind of isn't, because back then, it was a lot of all-ages shows, and older people went, younger people went. Now, it's tough to get the all-ages shows. The kids just don't have the opportunity to see the bands."
"Mourn The Southern Skies" was released on September 20 via Nuclear Blast.