Exmortus – Shredding Metal Slaves

Sunday, 26th January 2014

Dead Rhetoric: What are your expectations regarding your next two North American tours: opening for Omnium Gatherum and Dark Tranquillity during February-early March and then a run of dates with Lich King immediately after that? How would you describe the band in terms of your live performance?

Moreno: Exmortus in terms of a live performance – very energetic. We always try to…we grew up admiring and idolizing the greats like Iron Maiden, Ozzy, bands that really put on a show and entertained the crowd and we try to do that. We don’t have props or anything but we do things like… I don’t know if you’ve seen video on YouTube of Conan and David playing each other’s guitars behind each other backs. Things that are visually entertaining to go along with the music which we want people to enjoy as well. That’s what you can expect of Exmortus at a show. We are hoping that the tours are good, they are very diverse as far as styles but even in the past we have played with more than just thrash bands. We’ve done death metal shows, black metal shows, all the different genres. They can all have hit or miss shows- what is in our favor is the fact that we’ve toured the U.S. a few times through the years. I’m hoping that the shows won’t be that different, I think we will fit in well, and I think the crowds are going to dig it with all these tour runs.

Dead Rhetoric: Name five of your all time essential heavy metal albums that shaped your tastes and outlook on the genre?

Moreno: Judas Priest – Painkiller. Over the years I know they have changed from where they started. Metallica – Ride the Lightning, At the Gates – Slaughter of the Soul, Immortal – Sons of the Northern Darkness, Behemoth – Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) and Carcass – Heartwork . (We’ll give him six… Matt).

Dead Rhetoric: On some of your long travel days between shows, what are some of the finer points of metal the band debates and banter about?

Moreno: Let’s see… I don’t know. It’s crazy. Lately we have been talking about just how badass Ozzy’s The Ultimate Sin album… we listened to it every day and we talked about great Jake E. Lee’s playing is. And that was pretty much the talk of the last tour we did in November with Hatchet.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe he’s underrated in comparison to the acclaim and notoriety Randy Rhoads received previously with Ozzy?

Moreno: Very. Nobody talks about him – it’s like Randy Rhoads and then Zakk Wylde. It’s funny when we were on the road, everyone was talking about Jake E. Lee, and we must have talked to the right people. I guess there is a lot of love for him, and now with Red Dragon Cartel I think maybe it will contribute to awareness and love. I really don’t think he gets enough credit for being a badass guitar player.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the scene in Los Angeles, being that you are from Whittier – do they seem to be as accepting of your style in comparison to acts that maybe appear to be more straightforward in their death/black/thrash sound?

Moreno: I don’t know. I feel like we’ve never really been able to play Los Angeles and have a good show, at least not consistently. I think it is because there are a lot of people here. Sometimes you get close-minded people at shows that only want to hear a very specific sound, and others are open-minded to check out what you are all about. It’s tricky, it’s one of those love/ hate things. I love L.A. because of the amount of people that come out to the shows, we’ve had some of our best shows there and our worst.

When we leave L.A. we are whole different band- people here will often spend more time complaining we aren’t as good as this band or that band. I don’t know what it is – I think L.A. is spoiled due to how many shows come through. You are pretty much competing whether you like it or not. One month everybody is into death metal then the next month is into black metal- it can be tough. It’s hard to have one big community, things become separated instead of unity.

Dead Rhetoric: Are there major differences you find out there when it comes to all ages shows versus 21+ venues for the band?

Moreno: We started out playing when I was 16 and Conan was 14, maybe a year younger than that. We had to pretty much play to people our age, and as we got older we tried to play bars more. Both 21 up and all-ages shows have their pros and cons. The 21+ shows I feel like we actually get more of a crowd that wants to see you, we sell a little more merchandise too because people that are older have jobs at that point and can afford to buy off the bands. All ages shows are a lot of fun, but we don’t sell as much because the kids don’t have any money or they can’t stay out that late. I don’t know which one I prefer but both are cool.

Dead Rhetoric: Who are some acts that you think are on the cusp of greatness from your area?

Moreno: Night Demon – they aren’t really from Whitter, they are from Ventura, which is north of us. I think they are the closest, and Gypsyhawk – they are from L.A. Have you heard of them? We are really into that genre of twin guitar music.

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you stand on the eternal physical versus digital debate when it comes to metal product? Are you personally very active with instant communication tools and social media to help promote the activities of Exmortus?

Moreno: You know what, we weren’t [doing social media] for a while. When Myspace was around we were on top of that, and then most people converted to Facebook and we didn’t really get the appeal. Then it got huge and I think it hurt the band a little bit because we weren’t really on top of any online promotion sites. We sat around thinking people would find us, it’s the internet! You have to be on top of everything now, you need to be posting stuff up on Facebook, if people aren’t liking your material you won’t even show up in their news feed. You could be posting stuff and people won’t see it. In 2013 we started getting a grasp on taking advantage of those outlets. Physical vs digital- I understand that some people just want the digital songs and don’t want to buy the album. I prefer the physical – I love the artwork, it would be a shame if bands stopped having physical copies of product. The sentimental value is important.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you place a lot of importance on the artwork for the band?

Moreno: Definitely. We always try to have really good art. I think that’s very important, when we were younger we loved seeing Iron Maiden covers with Derek Riggs, artwork was cool and eye catching. It’s kind of like a movie poster in a sense, what’s the band about. We want people to know what the band’s about, and you need a good artist to help you achieve that. We had Phil Lawvere, who did Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill artwork among others do our new album cover Slave to the Sword, and he did an amazing job.

Dead Rhetoric: Now that you’ve been touring and recording for a while, are there times that young musicians come up to you for tips and advice, and if so what do you talk to them about?

Moreno: We get a lot of it… how do you get signed? That seems to be asked a lot and we tell them to record a good album. It’s a representation of your band, instead of the first couple of things we recorded that didn’t sound as good. You need that insight with experienced people who help you achieve what you really want. You need to ask other members of your band if they would buy their own product. That’s the way I look at. A good quality of recording, good cover art- some bands don’t even have logos…

Dead Rhetoric: And never mind just a logo, how about a readable logo?

Moreno: Yeah, exactly. We’ve been asked so many questions. I could go down a list of things I’ve been told or asked. Tuning your guitars too, simple things that bands overlook that are crazy.

Dead Rhetoric: I’ve heard that you are actually ahead of the game in terms of writing for your fourth record, how do you think this material will turn out sound wise and sonically, are you satisfied with the style you’ve established on Slave to the Sword and possibly just expand on this direction?

Moreno: We decided to start writing for this album now because when it comes time for us to take a break to write, we would already be ahead of the game. We are planning on evolving from this album – I wouldn’t say it’s going to be very different, but we don’t want to come out with the same album every time. It’s going to be a continuation, but it won’t be rehashed stuff. We have a lot of songs that were supposed to be on this album that we are just going to keep on molding and seeing what people like off Slave to the Sword. Conan has tons of stuff that we can’t even use, but it is stuff that we can work with. We probably have enough music to write for four different bands.

Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your personal and professional goals you hope to achieve over the next 3-5 years?

Moreno: We’ve never been to Europe. We got offered to play the Party San festival in Germany and we couldn’t go because of money issues. We are hoping to play in Europe on a tour sooner rather than later. Of course put out another album – we want to release an album every year, that’s the goal. Maybe another album or two – maybe go to Japan, pretty much tour the world. That would be the ultimate goal – tour the world over the next few years.

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