EXHUMED is a band that has been around long enough to have seen it all in the metal scene. Formed in 1990 in the Nor-Cal city of San Jose, EXHUMED has become a staple on the death metal scene internationally. Despite a five year hiatus, EXHUMED has hit the road non stop for well over a year in support of their most recent 2011 release All Guts No Glory with fellow legendary death metal acts such as Cannibal Corpse and Goatwhore. I was given the great pleasure of speaking with frontman and founder Matt Harvey in regards to the bands career and future.
Nefarious Realm: So, it’s been a relatively short amount of time since Exhumed has rejoined the scene after your hiatus and you guys have wasted no time getting back on the road and have hit the touring circuit with full force how does it feel to be so active now?
Matt Harvey: Ya know it feels really good now, at first it was sort of an adjustment going from nothing what so ever to going full on and I think now I sort of just have gotten used to it and now it just seems pretty normal. It’s been really cool, honestly the really cool thing about it has been the interest in the band that has allowed us to do so much work on the road. I mean, we didn’t plan on doing this much touring initially but so much was being offered that we just couldn’t say no to.
Nefarious Realm: That’s great, so I understand Danny Walker has been the primary drummer for Exhumed however, due to his heavy involvement in his other projects, especially Intronaut, he is no longer an active member of the band. Is it a challenge to have such a revolving lineup of drummers?
Matt Harvey: Well actually our drummer now is Mike Hamilton who has been touring with us for the past year just because of Danny being with Intronaut, but we’re still good friends and hang out whenever we are in town. But just because he is involved heavily in a band that especially tours a lot he can’t be in two places at once. But it has actually been a pretty seamless transition and it’s cool because Mike and Danny are both nice guys and really respect each other. All I hear from both of them, like when I hang out with Danny is, “Oh Mike is such a great guy and really talented,” or Mike will be like, “Yea on this one song Danny is writing I’m still trying to figure out his fill on this part.” So it’s really cool, we’ve always had a lot of rotating members. I look at it like a sports team [haha] ya know, most of my best friends are people that have been in and out or whatever of the band so, it just is what it is.
Nefarious Realm: So having been out of the scene for some time during your hiatus was it a challenge to write “All Guts No Glory”?
Matt Harvey: Ya know it actually wasn’t that difficult for a couple of reasons actually, one that it had just been so long that it felt really fresh to get back into the groove of it and the other Wes, our guitar player, had already wrote a lot of songs as well so that sort of helped the momentum going rather than trying to get back into the swing of things which can make it a bit slower. But really having been away for so long, it felt really fresh to get back into it. Looking back where we stopped before it was sort of like, “Ah shit,” but ya know it’s like if you like vanilla ice-cream and after a while you want some chocolate you can always go back to vanilla. [haha]
Nefarious Realm: [haha] Now, during your hiatus you lived in Hawaii, when you came back to California, which is essentially your stomping grounds, did you notice any huge changes in the California death metal scene?
Matt Harvey: Um, actually not really, it was actually kind of nice to just see a lot of familiar faces and see a lot of old friends and such. But for me the dudes who are around my age or a little bit younger or older have always just sort of spent our lives rotating in and out of different bands. So nothing has really changed too much. Sometimes my buddies one minute are playing in a doom metal band then the next minute are playing in a death metal band, which is always cool. A lot of it is just the same faces, a few new ones, but just us all doing what we enjoy doing and most of them are having fun doing it and playing the music.
Nefarious Realm: Cool, so it has been some time since you came out with “All Guts No Glory” is there a new album in the works? And is Mike going to be the set drummer from now on?
Matt Harvey: Yup, Mike will be the drummer for it and we are working on a new record. In fact I was just emailing Relapse about getting into the studio because we are trying to get a new album out by May-ish. So we’re trying to get into the studio in October and I have about three or four more songs to write but I’ve actually been writing a shitload right now. It’s coming together pretty quickly, it’s just a matter of getting into the studio really, I mean on paper it’s looking awesome [haha].
Nefarious Realm: [haha] Yea it’s never as easy at it seems.
Matt Harvey: Yea, and just there is a lot going on with the band and not just in regards to, “Oh we’re playing all these shows,” but we’re just trying to move forward and keep people interested. But we’re definitely doing a new record.
Matt Harvey: Yea some of the guys do, I don’t, not because I make more money than any of the other guys but because the other guys have families. So I just spend my down time doing other things like designing new merch and working with labels, so I sort of have the luxury of having a bit more time to do that, but yea, the other guys work.
Nefarious Realm: I know right now a lot of touring band guys [and girls] are making the best of what they can in regards to income and using BandHappy as a way of, even on the road, offer lessons to fans and aspiring musicians. What’s your input on that business model?
Matt Harvey: I mean I have some friends who have done it and who are doing it, I personally feel kind of weird doing it. I’ve given guitar lessons before and I was doing it in Hawaii, but I rarely had any students who were into learning metal at all. They were more interested in learning Jason Mraz. But I don’t know I guess the only way I think it is really cool is like the paper work and learning certain techniques, but I’m not too comfortable with charging some kid forty bucks to just sit and hang out. But I think if you have the space to do it and already have a good following of students then yea it could be cool for kids. But yea, I don’t know there is definitely a whole other side to it and not just the business aspect, but it’s definitely hitting a new market of opportunity for kids to learn and like they have Sick Drummer Camps and what knot. But I don’t know it’s just so different from when I was a kid, it feels a little contrived I guess, because when I was younger I would just sit in my room and listen non stop to an Autopsy record and then when they played I would go up front and head bang and stuff but I would also watch their hands and be like “Oh that was on the fourth fret!” And I would remember that and go home and transpose it I feel that was a little bit more “earning it” rather than just giving someone fifty bucks to sit around and watch them play guitar. It is cool, but for me I’m still a little weird about it.
Nefarious Realm: And I’m sure a lot of kids are abusing the privilege and just enjoying the bragging rights of “Oh I got to hang out with so and so today.”
Matt Harvey: Exactly yea, it is a bit of a weird thing, and I just sort of don’t see myself as anyone that someone should pay money to hang out with [haha] I think it is just weird, ya know? I mean if you want to hang out then let’s just hang out. I honestly think I would feel more weird and awkward about it than any kid would.
Nefarious Realm: [haha] So I see that there is a lot of overlapping of bands that you have played with recently and that you are getting ready to play with again for the upcoming Summer Slaughter tour for example Cannibal Corpse and Goatwhore. How is the “metal brotherhood” between you and these bands in regards to touring so often together?
Matt Harvey: It’s badass, I mean if I had it my way I would stick to just touring with the same groups constantly just because we get along. It’s not necessarily being a fan of the music, don’t get me wrong I love Goatwhore and Cannibal Corpse, but it’s more about the people you have fun playing with and touring with night after night week after week. And that’s what really makes a lot of it so worth while, obviously the kids are rad and playing a lot of shows is fun, but for the other twenty three and a half hours of the day you have to be able to get along with everybody and be able to have a laugh and it’s cool to hang out with guys that you would normally hang out with anyways if they lived in your town ya know and go to each others barbecue and whatever. And we’re lucky to have toured with such great bands and we continue to do so, so it’s pretty nice, and we continue to be on lineups like Summer Slaughter where it’s not having just three or four bands play, it’s such a great lineup of a whole lot of bands that you’ve never played with. But it’s nice to have the few guys who are already your friends to have around mixed with the other bands you don’t know who are also disorganized and equally confused. [haha] But the bands who have done a big lineup like Summer Slaughter have pretty much got it down to a science, so it’s really cool.
Nefarious Realm: Who on the Summer Slaughter lineup are you most excited to be touring with?
Matt Harvey: I gotta say I’m actually pretty psyched to be going out with Job For A Cowboy, I know they covered one of our songs and would be cool if they came out on stage and sang it with us. But, I think I might be older than a lot of people who are going out to even see the Summer Slaughter show, so I feel like it is more of an endurance test for me, if I was sixteen again I would be going crazy thinking “ten bands hells yes!!” So I think the whole tour itself should be a pretty insane trip.
Nefarious Realm: While on the road I know there can be long drives in between gigs, what do you do to keep entertained these days?
Matt Harvey: Ya know I must say unlike 1999 it is so much easier to keep yourself entertained because of things like 4G and phones with all these stupid games and the internet and my phone has a bunch of porn on it. I’m pretty entertained, instead of having a pile of magazines and a ton of books and stuff I now have three books in my backpack and an iPod with half my record collection on it and I’ve got this phone to search the internet. So it’s pretty easy to stay entertained but there are some times that you just need to get out of the van and stretch your legs, play some soccer maybe or frisbee. And we listen to a lot of music to keep us entertained like Weird Al or some shit, just to keep us laughing, nothing to serious that we want to get into but more stuff to listen to that is just hilarious to shut my brain off. We listen to a lot of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show” soundtrack while in the van.
Nefarious Realm: Yea you definitely can’t let yourself get too “metaled” out [haha].
Matt Harvey: Oh ya, most definitely, I listen to maybe thirty percent metal [haha].
Nefarious Realm: Speaking of humor, to backtrack a few years, back in 06′ you released “Something Sickened This Way To Come” which seems like a sort of death metal knock off to Iced Earth’s “Something Wicked This Way To Come,” was that intentional?
Matt Harvey: Oh yea that’s right, no actually it was meant to be related to Shakespeare. I wasn’t really thinking about Iced Earth, which sounds more pretentious when I mention Shakespeare [haha] but I liked to make jokes and such to Shakespeare and different quotes and such. I read a lot so I keep a long running mental list of quotes that I think are cool or funnier whatever. Some of it is petty and shit like one minute I’ll refer to Shakespeare and the next I’ll refer to Mad Magazine or some shit. [haha] But me and the rest of the band are always picking different things to goof on and such.
Nefarious Realm: That’s good always gotta keep the humor going.
Matt Harvey: Yea it’s sort of like a Monty Python thing where you might have a running joke about one thing and let it stem off into another. So it’s cool like that.
Nefarious Realm: [haha] That’s rad. So the album you are hoping to have out next year, how is it going to differ from “All Guts No Glory” and previous releases?
Matt Harvey: It’ll definitely still sound like us but it’s but the one thing that was cool writing “All Guts..” was the band has it’s own sound, it’s by no means original or groundbreaking, but the new record will still sound like us. It definitely has a bit more slower stuff, th least one was very up tempo all the time where as this album will just be up tempo most of the time. This one we threw some songs down and put them on a fast tempo but then slowed them down realizing we don’t have many slow songs at all. So I think there will be more of that and more open chord voicing, maybe similar to like Godflesh or something. We’re definitely going to stick to the usual Exhumed stuff, but add some stuff to differentiate it. The last one was really fast and had an early 90′s feel to it, whereas this one will be not quite as fast.
Nefarious Realm: Awesome, I look forward to hearing the new album. So my last topic of conversation which is the hot news of the scene is Randy Blythe. Do you have an opinion to say about his situation and how this might look on the metal genre seeing as how heavy metal already has a bad reputation?
Matt Harvey: I mean I don’t know too much about it, the very little I did read I just though, “Wow really? You are going to charge this guy for that?!?” If I had a dollar for every time I kicked a kid off stage or hit some kid off the stage I wouldn’t be rich, but it would be very good money that’s for sure. It seems just so ridiculous and I don’t really know what the possible motive could be. I just kept thinking “Thank god this guy is on an amazing label who probably has great lawyers.” It just seems ridiculous, the people and the fans just have such devotion towards him that I’m sure this issue with Randy is going to make the bookers think twice about having Lamb of God go back to the Czech Republic. I sure as hell wouldn’t, it seems pretty solid that this will blow over and that it’s bullshit but it’s not like he’s in Uruguay or whatever he’s not going to just disappear. I think he should be ok, I hope he’ll be ok I mean it’s just crazy. As far as what it means to the metal scene in general or bands not playing the Czech Republic I mean it’s just silly. The crowds are alright and I don’t see it being fair to just stop playing there because maybe their police are fucked up. But that is like saying “I guess we can’t play in America either.” [haha] As far as what it means is I guess is some attention is brought to the scene and especially someone like Randy could show that people who are in this scene, despite our bad rep aren’t all cretins. Randy is a pretty smart dude and hopefully this brings some positive attention to that and that all people who play metal aren’t cretins and don’t all have bad reps. I just hope the guy gets out because it’s pretty fucked up.
Nefarious Realm: Well thank you for speaking with me I look forward to seeing you for the first time live in Friday and will be sure to say hi.
Matt Harvey: Most def please do and thanks!!
Interview by Stacey Heath
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