Ex Hex ROCKS: Plain and simple. There is no holding back the urge to jump around and play “raucous” air guitar and drums with a bit of glitter thrown in. My first connection with this power pop punk band, Ex Hex, was earlier this year fronted by Mary Timony (guitars/vocals), Laura Harris (drums), and Betsy Wright (bass) from Washington, DC released their first single: “Hot and Cold”, a magnificent little up-front-in-your-face rock song. Mary Timony, former Helium, Wild Flag and Autoclave guitar player wails on guitar, the vocals are sassy, and the lyrics are clever. The complimentary backbone of bass and drums from the enthusiastic talents of Betsy and Laura create this intense, rocking power pop song, a sound with swagger, pulse beating fast. It’s the fine attention paid to the songwriting giving it the spectacular glow, almost like the listener could sing the lyrics AND the guitar parts too.
Ex Hex debut LP Rips was just released on Merge Records on October 7. It has been given a “Best New Music” stamp by Pitchfork and the LP is destined to be on my own end of the year Top 30 of 2014. Rips, appropriately titled, is a collection of infectious rock songs with an edge, spontaneous and immediate, with a touch of glam for additional color and spaciness, and the album moves fast. The results: there isn’t a weak song on the record, each a powered-up ear-popper. Catch Ex Hex live on Tuesday, November 4 at Johnny Brenda’s. Show concludes with Speedy Ortiz and first opener, No Other. For tickets: http://www.johnnybrendas.com/event/664549-speedy-ortiz-ex-hex-philadelphia/
I was completely THRILLED to catch up with Laura Harris (drums) for a brief chat as they are in the middle of an extensive world tour.
Jon from Philthy: I really love this album. How did everything come together as a band to make this album? Describe the process of producing it? What have been the reactions to it?
Laura of Ex Hex: This is a multiple partner-the band came together when Mary called me and told me she had some material she wanted to work in together. Jam on, I guess. We played for a few months and decided we needed a bass player. I met Betsy years ago through mutual music friends. Once she was on board things just kind of really gelled. We recorded drums and some bass tracks at Mitch Easter’s studio in North Carolina. That was a real dream. We love his bands and that sound. It was just so nice down there. The whole atmosphere of that studio is really comfortable. We recorded the rest of the tracks back in DC with Jonah Takagi. It was at home so that was that. We love the King Tuff records and that sound so we just got in touch with Bobby Harlow-who produced those records. He is such a genius. He has a really special ear. The response seems pretty good with this record. People love rock and roll.
Jon from Philthy: “Waterfall” is a cool video? What was the thought process behind making it?
Laura of Ex Hex: Actually that video process was interesting. We saw a Black Bananas video that we really liked and realized that this guy Mike Wartella had done it. It was just cool animation over weird shots. Then we found out he had done a video for The Go (Bobby Harrow’s old band). And that those two have worked together in a few different capacities. We got in touch with Wartella and he had it all figured out so quickly. We did it in like eight hours. Wham bam.
Jon from Philthy: How has it been touring this year? What have been some of the highlights of the tour? What is it like to play together?
Laura of Ex Hex: Touring has been great! The shows have been great overall. We all get along really well and have such a good time together. It’s a blast. Everyone loves playing live-playing together-that’s a huge part of why I’m playing music, to be able to do it with guys like these.
Highlights of our tour…we always have a kick ass time in New York and Philadelphia. Just seeing all of our old buddies. Walking around the city. Goofing off. I love seeing the country. The Rockies are a highlight. We are playing In Connecticut on Halloween-that should be a good one!
Jon from Philthy: What are some of your influences to your music? How would you describe your sound?
We all have similar tastes in music. We love seventies rock, power pop, The Blank Generation, Pentagram, heavy metal, guitars! Sweet voices, I don’t know. We want to play music that makes you feel good. That makes US feel good.
Jon from Philthy: How does playing for Ex Hex compare to what you have done previously?
Laura of Ex Hex: For me it’s completely different. I think all three of us really love THIS musical phase we are in. I think we are all hoping it’s not a phase.
Jon from Philthy: When you are not playing music, what kinds of things do you like to do?
Laura of Ex Hex: When we aren’t playing music we are listening to music. I work at a club in DC called the Black Cat. I started working there so I could see music every nite. I also really like cartoons. And we are probably looking at pictures of jumpsuits and jackets on the computer. Scheming.
Jon from Philthy: What are the plans for Ex Hex in 2015?
Laura of Ex Hex: We are going to do a short southern tour with King Tuff in January-then off to Europe. Then some more US stuff in April. We plan on playing and writing. We are so excited for 2015 !
We are definitely excited for Ex Hex! Be sure to catch them on tour in Philadelphia on November 4th at Johnny Brendas!