Monday, February 8, 2010

Exodus: An interview with Rob Dukes

Touring in support of their recently released multi-disc DVD collection, the aptly titled ‘Shovel Headed Tour MachineExodus roared through town on a brutally cold January night. All I can say is the Exodus attack is alive and well people, they came, they saw and they conquered, it was a thing of beauty! I caught a bit of shit when I posted a quick re-cap of their show, saying they were as stong as they’ve ever been, but I stand behind it, 100% I dig Baloff and Hunolt too, but there’s no fucking with modern day Exodus, they just kill live! Post show I sat down with Vocalist Rob Dukes (with a one word comment by Drummer Tom Hunting) to discuss Exodus 2010 and more and here’s what went down.

None But My Own: Did your reputation as the “film guy” of the band make you the logical choice to take on the brunt if the work involving the ‘Shovel Headed Tour Machine’ DVD?

Rob Dukes: I don’t know…I mean Tom (Hunting-D) doesn’t even know to work a camera…

Tom Hunting: (laughing) Bullshit!

Nobody else wanted to do it!

What sets the wheels in motion to take on a project of this magnitude? We’re talking two full discs of material, tons of bonus footage…

Honestly it was me filming my life! It came about way after I had been doing it naturally over the years. What happened was we got the video from the Wacken people when we played there in 2008. Once we saw that I suggested we should buy that footage and put it together with the stuff I’d been filming as a documentary and release it all. I started going through the clips, which is all these things were, just bits from the road and I sat with it and watched it and watched it and it was really funny but it didn’t make any sense.

What I did was I went back and interviewed everybody, I had questions prepared and everything. Lastly I had a friend of mine do the actual interviews so the guys could say whatever they wanted, once that was done it mostly finished itself.

You’ve recently completed yet another successful touring run to close out 2009. Many of the last runs were with Kreator how were those shows.

Oh man, those were very cool, very cool. We’re actually trying to do a European tour with them. The crowds were so into both bands, we got along great with those guys so it was just perfect.

I think you guys are working probably as hard as you ever have, I mean I think it’s great and I hope the results speak for themselves as time continues. How differently do you prepare for shows and touring now then what you did when you first started with Exodus in 05? I’m sure in the beginning you had some trial by error moments, huh?

Totally man, those first few years were rough, I didn’t know what I was doing (laughing)! Seeing as I had never sung before in my life when we first started touring we were playing like, two hours every night! Our former manager was like “you’re never going to be able to do it!” So he took me to this woman for some technique lessons and all that and she told him, “He’ll never be able to pull this off every night.” But you know what? I did.

Yeah I had some rough nights, there were times I lost my voice but I finally went to see Melissa Cross in New York and she helped me get to a point where I can get up there and sing live every night and not have to worry about it. I don’t blow myself out anymore which is a good thing. I caught strep throat in South America, really bad. So bad my uvula was white, filled with pus and it had swelled up three times it’s normal size, it was just laying on the back of my tongue, right? I got up there and sang and 10,000 people had a good time, it was awesome.
I’ve been noticing a lot of kids, I mean a lot of kids are coming out and really getting into Exodus, Thrash, OverKill, Kreator etc. That’s got to be something to see from the band’s point of view.

It’s been really, really good to see that! Hopefully with the next record we’ll be able to like go out and play the whole thing! I don’t want to say we’re going to let go of the past, but we’re definitely happy where we’re at right now rather than counting on the past. So that’s the plan, to reach the kids with the new stuff and then that will lead them to discovering ’Bonded By Blood’ and ’Fabulous Disaster’ and all that. We want to stay relevant right now you know?

I mean compare what we’re doing right now to a lot of records and we just feel we’re faster, meaner, more aggressive or whatever and that’s what we do live. We’re not just out here living off the past and that’s important! Sure there’s places, like in South America where they’ll pay us specifically to play ’Bonded…’ so we’ll do two sets a night, one all current material and one just ’Bonded By Blood’, and I can see why, it’s pretty classic .

What can you tell me about the upcoming album ‘Exhibit B: The Human Condition‘?

It’s fast! It’s dark, the lyrics are really dark and I think there’s some really good stuff on it. I think it’s the best thing I’ve, personally ever done. I mean, I think it’s amazing.

This is record number three with you fronting the band…

Well, fourth if you count the ’Let There Be Blood’…

I’m talking about the original stuff, but we’ll get to ‘Let There Be Blood’ in a minute. But what I’m getting at is your background as a non-vocalist, it seems like you’re a work in motion. Each album has a bit of a different Rob Dukes sound. How did you approach this import third record with the band? Where are you pulling inspiration from?

I don’t know man, I’m really just trying to be a better singer. I think all the shows we’ve done have been such a great experience and that goes to show you what your limitations are, what works and what might not work. I think on the new record we were able to work with my abilities as well as stretching those limitations is something we definitely did.

I do some low growl-y stuff, some real high stuff, some harmonies as well as just some plain ol singing you know? From the beginning to the end it came out really cool, I think it’s cool that my voice is a bit different from track to track. One of these songs is one that I sang over two years ago and we were going to re-record it and I said, “why?” I thought it sounded fucking great at the time so we left it as-is.

I thought with ’The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A’ you definitely stretched things pretty far, your growth between ’Shovel Headed Kill Machine’ and ’..Exhibit A’ was pretty amazing.

Thanks man, I was happy then and I’m happy with what’s going on now. I just want to expand on what I can do and yeah, maybe the oldest of the old school fan might not like it, but what can a band do? You can’t put out the same album every time.

Speaking of the “old-school”, earlier you brought up ‘Let There Be Blood’ and talk about an uproar!! You guys got a lot of shit thrown at you with that album. How did you take it personally?

It’s all music, it’s just us doing what we want to do…I mean fuck everybody else and I mean that. Really, who gives a fuck what you think? We can do whatever the fuck we want! But it comes down to this, you’re not going to please everybody all the time no matter what it is you do. Be it a brand new album of all new material to what they think you should play live, what you should look like and it goes on and on.

So we’re here trying to please ourselves first and foremost. We wanted to hear those songs with an updated sound…listen, it’s unfortunate that Paul is not around because if Paul was here today he’d be singing with the band and I wouldn’t even be an issue.

Something new on the horizon is the recently announced Megadeth, Testament, Exodus North American Tour. This has to be pretty damn cool for you, huh? Unexpected but cool.

Yeah, that’s going to be fun, too bad we’re not playing Chicago though! It’s going to be secondary markets but it’s going to be very cool. I’m going to make an ass out of myself right now by making a complete assumption; but I’m thinking we’ll probably do another tour later in the year hitting major markets. So we’ll see everyone out there sooner or later!

March 01 - Spokane, WA - Knitting Factory
March 02 - Boise, ID - Knitting Factory
March 03 - Medford, OR - Medford Armory
March 06 - Calgary, AB - Big Four (TESTAMENT w/ guests)
March 07 - Edmonton, AB - Shaw Conference Centre (TESTAMENT)
March 08 - Saskatoon, SK - Prairieland Exhibition Hall
March 11 - Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theater
March 12 - Pittsburgh, PA - Palace Theater
March 13 - Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom
March 15 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
March 16 - Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live
March 18 - Scranton, PA - Scranton Cultural Center
March 19 - Norfolk, VA - The NorVa
March 21 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
March 22 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
March 23 - Memphis, TN - Minglewood Hall
March 25 - Houston, TX - Verizon Wireless Theater
March 26 - Austin, TX - Stubb’s Amphitheater
March 27 - Lubbock, TX - The Pavilion
March 28 - El Paso, TX - Club 101
March 30 - Tucson, AZ - Rialto Theater
March 31 - Hollywood, CA - Hollywood Palladium (TESTAMENT w/ special guests)