If you're a regular reader of No Echo, you might already know that I've been singing the praises of Excide for a couple of years now. While their earlier material found the band wearing their influences on their sleeve (Snapcase, '90s hardcore), they've organically pushed their sound into interesting sonic spaces with each release.
With members spread between the Carolinas, Excide recently released their debut album, an impressive piece of work called Deliberate Revolver. The 11-track record finds the quintet further pushing their songwriting and production choices into intriguing places, including leaning into the atmospheric aspects of their sound. There's still plenty of aggro guitar riffing and vocal parts, but everything is balanced out beautifully with the more introspective elements of the Excide approach.
In this new interview, I spoke with Excide vocalist Tyler Washington about their evolving sound, the worry of disappointing listeners who might want them to stay more "hardcore," and if his work as a drummer (he's also holds down the beats in Foreign Hands) informs his vocal performances.
Listening to the material on Deliberate Revolver, it’s clearly an expansion of the sound explored on your previous releases but there’s way more emphasis on melody and atmosphere this time out. How conscious were you about staying true to the earlier Excide material while taking things further into new directions? Sometimes bands get nervous about doing that in fear of alienating their audience.
Firstly, great opening question! This was on my mind a lot as we were writing. The simple truth we came to face is (if you’re someone who’s at all familiar with our older stuff), we couldn’t just write “Actualize” another 10 times over. It’s a fun song, and up until the LP promo came out, it was our most popular. No doubt an upbeat song of that nature with a hooky chorus seems to catch ears—“Uncoil," which is of a similar formula and cadence, took right over that spot once it was out.
That being said, we had so many elements to explore and expand on from previous releases! There’s also so much great music we take influence from, an entire era of it to be specific. It was a combination of not closing those doors on potential creative avenues, and generally just wanting to try new things and learn what we are actually about that landed us in these new sonic territories.
It became apparent some of the things we were capable of as a unit and helped us realize how dynamic this record could be. At the end of the day if it alienated anyone as a listener, that’s fine because we made the record we would want to listen to.
Your vocals also took a step forward on the album. I get the sense that you and engineer Wyatt Oberholzer had enough time carved out during the sessions to feel out your vocal parts and experiment a bit.
Funny enough, this record was actually tracked on vocals twice. When we recorded the instrumentals, there were some conflicting schedules so we planned out that we would spend all the time we could on those. Then later I would record vocals in my own space. This was actually working fairly well until my cat attempted to assassinate my computer, which led to the displacement and corrupting of over half the vocal stems.
In an attempt to be more time-efficient, I ended booking more time with Wyatt. And in all honesty, I think it saved the integrity of the record. All the takes we got after starting over are honest takes. He helped me get over a lot of self-consciousness I had about my voice, but I had to hear myself be bad really loud in his room in front of him and friends more than a few times.
The result was more raw and emotional takes, more like what you would hear live I feel like. We were both open to each other’s ideas, and a lot of the harmonies were changed along with some lyrics and we even got to experiment with new vocal styles. [Laughs] Wyatt’s willingness to work with most stuff I throw at him (and a gallon of oat milk) made all of this possible in just two sessions!
How much involvement do you have with the songwriting development in the band? Are you sent the music when it’s pretty much done and arranged to work your parts and lyrics out, or are you there from the origin stages of the song?
I’m a part of the process from the start! In full transparency, a good 90% of all writing has been me up to this point. Excide was my intended-internet-project gone-full-band kind of deal. I wrote the demo thinking nobody was going to be into it. I was just lucky I had a bunch of friends who wanted to get involved early on and they’ve been killing it ever since!
Their input and individualism when it came to recording this LP were invaluable. I’m also happy to say that moving forward we’re looking at a much more collaborative approach, and the newer ideas we have collectively are going to make whatever we do next the best version of this band.
Since you’re also a drummer in Foreign Hands, do you think that musical discipline ever comes into play when you’re working on your vocals for Excide? I’ve read interviews throughout the years with other singers who started out as drummers. Steven Tyler from Aerosmith comes to mind.
This really is like my life coming full circle right now considering I was given my name after Steven Tyler [laughs].
I actually make the joke all the time that I am a guitarist pretending to be a drummer. I picked it up somewhere along the way of playing guitar and happened to do a couple fill-in tours. Never knew it was going to basically take over my life [laughs].
That being said, being a drummer has helped me understand some more complex rhythms and so when I write in these 7/8, 5/4, whatever weird (for a hardcore band) time signatures, I have less of a problem placing vocals. The trick is always trying to come up with something catchy to go over top of that stuff. I’d like to think I’m doing an okay job at that [laughs].
Lyrically speaking, was there a central theme you wanted to tackle on Deliberate Revolver? There’s a definite vibe, musically speaking, to the album, so I’m curious about how you tied it together in the lyric department.
Going into the record there was definitely no planned theme. I feel like in the past I’ve tried to do “concept” records and they never quite land where I want or have the intended effect. I did find myself writing a lot about different people though, some still around and some in my past. From close friends/family to others who were complete strangers I only shared a single interaction with.
For each song I would just kind of listen and pair a personality to it. It made the words come easy because it’s almost like I’m getting to tell a bunch of people things I never got to say.
Later into writing the record I realized how applicable the words for these songs were across so many situations, and anytime I would run across something or someone who made me feel the same way, the songs took on new meaning for me. I feel like the universe has a deliberate way of putting us back into those familiar moments when we’re more ready to handle them. Almost like clockwork. That bit of thought named the record and tied it altogether for me!
Though it’s changed a few times since I’ve had the album, my current favorite track on there is “Timeglue.” It definitely feels like the closing track.
We had discussed pretty early on that we wanted to do a track or two on the record that played more heavy on influences from another genre, or overall just stood out from the other songs more than usual. I had a few ideas of what we could do but at the time of writing this LP I was obsessed with playing in major keys. I really wanted to do something that had that more “happy” feel to it.
Honestly, after writing the intro to this song, the rest of it came super naturally. And by the time I got to the big chorus of the song I knew it couldn’t go any further. I could already hear the lyrics in my head. It had to be the closing track [laughs].
What’s next for Excide now that the album is out? Since you’re juggling two bands (that I know of), how much time can you dedicate to Excide?
We plan to do as much as we can! I definitely have a full plate with Foreign Hands but I don’t typically start a band without the intention of touring. We have some stuff lined up before the year is out and starting early next year.
We’re also eager to write again! I will always dedicate whatever extra time I’m physically able to. Excide is a band I’ve wanted to do for years so I’m not letting it go!
Do you have any parting words for the No Echo readership?
To anyone still reading, this is your cue to start that band you’re unsure about or never got the chance to start. It might not be everyone’s favorite thing but if you pour all of yourself into it, it’ll be the most fulfilling thing you ever do.
Just make the music you want to hear because there is no satisfaction in people-pleasing. Write a record of your own that you have no shame in listening to. That shit will be around a lot longer than anyone you’re surrounded by currently and means more than anything they could ever say.
Deliberate Revolver is out now via New Morality Zine.
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