Exclusive Interview with Non Exotic
DK: Hello Matthew, thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions for me today! How’s it going?
MP: Greetings Dennis!
DH: Thank you for having us, we couldn’t be more excited.
DK: So you’ve got a new single that we’re premiering for you entitled, Cinema For Elephants, tell me about it.
MP: Yes sir! It is called Cinema for Elephants. We chose to release this particular song second, because it has qualities that differ slightly from the previous LP single entitled Out of Your Zone. Considering that OOYZ is a much heavier, frustrative driven hard rock song, the guitars are much more aggressive, and the lyrical content has more anger. The goal of Cinema for Elephants was to create a version of that anger, which has a more morose quality. Something that is easy to listen to, while retaining its hard rock elements.
DH: The song presents an interesting juxtaposition. Elephants have an innocence and power to them, much like the beginning stages of human kind. The use of cinematic imagery relates to human-kind’s seeing is believing mentality.
MP: The deep meaning behind it, is that for all of recorded time these majestic creatures have been observing our inherent vice of destroying the worlds we create, repeatedly.
DK: You’ve got a lyric video out for Out of Your Zone, but do you plan on putting an official music video together for Cinema For Elephants or any other song anytime soon?
MP: We are always looking for ways to include artists here in Chicago. If we have a budget to properly compensate anyone to include in our creative visions, we are highly inclined to do so.
DH: With the proper support, and the right team… the ideas are all there for several music videos.
MP: We have storyboards for almost every released song, so far.
DK: This great track comes from the album, Nature of Force. How does Cinema For Elephants fit in with the other 10 tracks?
MP & DH: We feel like the album is put together so that every song has its own individual story and subject matter. The album continually uses natural imagery – of this world and the unfathomable – and the ideas of force as an essential part of the universe. Whether it be violence in earthly, emotional ways, or the evolution of spirituality, the relationships of this universe involve both creative and destructive uses of force.
DK: When will the full album be released and where do you plan on shopping it around for labels?
DH: We’re finishing up the remaining tracks currently. We started with the singles to give us a baseline, know what our goals were and how best to accomplish them. There will be a finished product this year, but the shopping of labels and potential distribution may take a bit. We would love to see a vinyl release for this album.
DK: What does your ‘ideal’ record label look like (in terms of size, contract terms, distribution goals, etc)?
MP: That is difficult to say. I’m sure there are record labels out there that boast a huge roster, but maintain a focus on two or three of their artists. At the same time, there is a team out there who is struggling to let the world know that great art exists if listeners would only shift their focus. I for one have a great respect for those of the industry that stick by artists throughout their entire careers. I would say anyone who has the passion to allow art to blossom, and isn’t looking for a quick dollar amount.
DH: I’d say as long as I feel like they would want a band that works hard and can support some of the things we hope to accomplish, it wouldn’t have to be a huge label. I’ve seen several great bands and artists that do everything I would hope for us on Sargent House, I think it’d be a great fit for us.
MP: I absolutely agree.
DK: The album has been in the works for a while now… how would you describe the band’s approach when it comes to producing the album?
MP: For six years.
DH: We’ve always known the potential these songs have had, even when we were first writing them, some of them as many as five years ago. We recorded our first EP on an extremely low budget, in my studio apartment in Chicago, with very limited gear. I feel like we’ve expected better for ourselves and always hoped to record the entire record in an amazing studio, but the challenge of financing something like that for small bands without label representation or super consistent merchandising is pretty intense. A challenge we took on with our singles, but ultimately believe we can fully deliver on our own. Over the years we’ve gained a lot more confidence in what we can do, acquired the tools necessary, and expertise to ensure we can continue to work at our own pace, refining the tunes, and make an amazing record.
MP: That being said, we respect the process of recording in a professional environment. One of the only ways to ensure that our industry perpetuates itself in a positive manner, is to circulate those finances. We want to support everyone involved in the entire scheme of things. From the guy wrapping cables in the studio, to the gal directing the live production in front of an audience.
DK: Who would be the main writers in the band and how does the band function musically and functionally when it comes to the business side of the band?
MP & DH: We write our own songs individually, and find it necessary to demo everything.
DH: I started as purely the lead guitarist only wanting to put my stamp on his tunes, but I think about drums all the time, I think about vocal patterns and melodies, I don’t think my voicing an opinion on any particular aspect of a song is valid unless I’ve already thought about something or came up with a great part. So we’ll deliver finished demos to each other and they always end up matching so well! They’re indecipherable from each other once we’re both done. From there everything gets refined and changed as it continues, hopefully always for the better.
MP: One of my favorite approaches is to record everything at our space (that we are currently lacking) alone, then to take it home to refine things. The next step is to send them over to Dalton and whoever is in the project at the time, to add their own spin on things. I feel like that is one of the most rewarding aspects of songwriting with others. A total synchronicity.
DK: There have been some line-up changes over the years, but not since 2013, thankfully, and some of you have been in some metal bands previously, who might they have been, how has the band evolved and what is the musical background on each (current) member?
MP: We have had a few lineup changes since the materialization. It seems that finding a rhythm section is the most difficult task when it comes to personnel.
DH: The first few happened because the band needed to function in the way it had evolved to function. We weren’t finding members who could commit to the sounds Matthew and I were coming up with.
MP: If anyone wants to have a jam, just contact us.
DK: Overall, the band have been around for almost a decade now… what is your take on the Chicago music scene and those you’ve connected with in the industry so far?
MP: I have been involved in the local metal and hard rock scene for quite some time, some of the groups I have been a part of went international. I performed with Rise of Ruin, Mirror|Mirror, Born of Osiris, and Veil of Maya. Very happy to see music from here reach new boundaries.
DH: I used to perform with Words Like Daggers in 2011 and recorded the album, “Literature” with them, toured a bit. Stylistically, I don’t feel like I matched with them, as much fun as I had. I met up with Matthew quickly after moving here. I’d seen him perform with Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya in the past. We have an eerily similar taste in music, just kept hanging out and talking music until he showed me the Non Exotic stuff, and a few months later we’d assembled the first lineup and had the EP recorded.
MP & DH: Chicago is incredible, talent-rich, accessible, and we’ve been wallowing in it for years now! That being said, we’ve been able to do our own thing and have the limited success we’ve had, but have focused on this particular goal for a while now. We want to take things to the next level. Thats why were putting out this single, and the LP to follow. We’re ready to move past the hump, play some big stages again, and make some people move.
DK: What have been the biggest challenges the band has faced so far?
MP & DH: The challenges we face are the same as every other artist. Having people take us seriously based on our talents. All we want to do is play hard, play loud, and show people a good time. It’s tough to find a promoter or venue that feels the same. We understand that operating a business isn’t free, but it would be great to see the venues and festivals take the initiative to give back to the music lovers and musicians who helped build this musical city.
DK: How many shows has the band played so far and how would you rate the band’s live shows (from your own satisfaction standpoint as well as audience reactions)?
MP & DH: We have had fun at every venue we’ve played, from tiny to giant stages. We’re more than excited to complete this record and do some more shows to support it. Having something people can reference easily makes it much more enjoyable when you go to perform for them live. We use interludes, make really powerful setlists, mesmerizing light shows, to truly strive for a full immersive experience besides just playing a show.
DK: How does Non Exotic set itself apart from other bands both in the sound as well as lyrical stylings?
MP & DH: We’ve done an amazing job setting ourselves up as a completely original band, by having our own sound and vibe. What sets us apart is our commitment to the quality in our art, taking every tiny detail into account and striving for something unique and intriguing. We’ve been involved with several charity organizations, and we strive to give back as much as we can to our music and arts community.
DK: How competitive do you feel the music industry really is and how have you been marketing the band to date?
MP: If it’s a battle of the bands you want… Naturally we are competing for the attention of the listener. It’s unfortunate that the majority attention span has been limited to seconds of awareness. I guess you could say that we’re competing against time, in the sense that were continuously suffering for our art, and waiting for the worlds listeners to come around and open their ears and minds up again.
DH: I’ve always felt that as opposed to competing we’d rather be the collaborators and a musical conduit. Chicago has some of the best music and musicians, with such a rich history and to belong to that community is such a privilege. I feel it’s time the torch was passed, and the few of these hard-working acts get the attention and recognition they deserve.
DK: Is there any (one) person overseeing the band’s social channels? How close are you with your social media friends and followers?
MP & DH: Between the two of us, we don’t have the best feelings about Social Media, and generally treat it as a supplemental, only slightly expressive media device for our fans. Our website is where we direct most people, and Matthew designed and upkeeps that on his own. Long before even Myspace, it was fun to see which bands had really proper websites, and didn’t rely on followers. Now it’s like you have a number you’re judged by, an official numerical grade, the art isn’t at the forefront of your internet presence anymore.
DK: What are some other interests of the band?
MP: One thing I have always wanted to do is travel. Even though I have already been to a few countries, the only thing I ever saw was the venue. If I could get some snowboarding done, that would be a plus.
DH: I enjoy making things, I love woodworking and metalworking, and I have a slight addiction to the Elder Scrolls videogames. Skyrim, most notably.
DK: Does the band infuse those other interests or even political views into your songs?
MP & DH: “you have to choose what your art says or someone will choose for you.” – Tom Morello
DK: Does the band have plans to create an official fan club/street team prior to, or around the release of the album?
MP & DH: We’ve been the official street team for the entirety of the band’s lifespan. We flier, we strike up conversations with every artist we meet, and try to make connections with everyone we work with.
DK: Aside from the release of Cinema For Elephants and the album, what are some other goals for the band this year?
MP & DH: First and foremost, our album is and has been a huge priority for us to complete. We feel like we’ve made the best decisions we can to support that and our goal is to have a finished product available this year, hopefully to be released soon after.
DK: What are the overall long-term goals for the band that you’d like to see accomplished on day?
MP: We have another two albums worth of demos ready to go. Getting on some bigger stages would be a treat, considering our music needs to be amplified heavily. Maybe do some fests also. We’ve heard that Europeans appreciate our style of music more so than the states, so perhaps a few shows out that way.
DH: I thoroughly enjoy the music we create, the way we approach our music and our art. I can only hope to continue to do so, and that there will be an audience for the sounds that we create. However, that’s an easy target, so I’ll say that I’d love to tour to all of the parts of the world I’ve never been, along with great friends in a great band and crew.
DK: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?
MP & DH: Just want to thank everyone for listening and catching us live. We have so much more planned for everyone! Starting with this next single.
DK: Thanks so much once again for your time and I wish the band all the successes in your career!
MP & DH: You make this music scene happen, so thank YOU!