Edgy and adrenaline-fuelled modern rockers Exit State have had a whirlwind twelve months that has seen the video for "Circles" reach the summit of the Kerrang TV Charts, second album Black Veins released to widespread acclaim and extensive touring that included special guest appearances with Michael Schenker. With the band sub headlining to Tygers Of Pan Tang at the SOS Festival, Sea of Tranquility caught up with vocalist / guitarist Roy Bright and drummer "Texas" Peat Hicks.
So how did the band enjoy their time on tour with Schenker? "One word – Epic!" says Roy, "It was everything and more that we hoped for. I think one of the most important factors that we took from it was the way that we were received. There was a slight concern because Michael has got such a partisan crowd who are there to really appreciate his guitar skills. But we were blown away by the response and ended up being picked up by a really good booking agent. We didn't have anything less than 700 people watching us every night and for a support band you can't ask for anything more than that. On the opening night in Wolverhampton, which is the spiritual home of Metal, the room was pretty much stacked out and we drew in more people from the bar which was a great feeling."
Did Michael offer any words of advice at all? "I managed to get a nod out of him; I was walking past him and he gave me a nod and I thought I've cracked it!" laughs Peat. "Michael is a very private person and we totally respected that" says Roy, "we talked to Francis and Herman who are both really nice guys, Doogie was just fantastic and Wayne Findlay was awesome. In fact through Wayne we've also become official supporters of the charity that he is a patron of CHART (www.chartuk.org) that look to enrich the lives of young children with life limiting conditions through the performing arts."
"All of the Schenker dates were great crowds but Shepherds Bush was the most memorable" recalls Peat, "with the tiers you were looking at a wall of people and it was an amazing sight." "As a frontman I try to look out towards the very back and it seemed to just seemed to go further and further" says Roy, "I thought being in London there were a lot of reasons why the place might not fill up for the support but when we walked out on stage I was just shocked. The crowd got on board really quickly and understand what we were about, I think a lot of people today just want old school rock and roll with melody over theatrics, hear music that feels good in their head and engage with that. And thankfully I think that is precisely what we do."
After debut album Death Of A Rockstar came out via the King Prawn label, Exit State switched to Rocksector for Black Veins. Both Roy and Peat emphasise just how important a move that was for a band. "To be honest with you the first time we played a show in front of Mark (Appleton, Rocksector boss) he said "never book that band again"" laughs Roy, "and two and a half years later they are managing us and we are on their label. We pulled our socks up, they saw the potential in us and quite frankly everything that has happened to get us where we are now and what is going to happen in the future is down to their amazing organisation."
"We are not just a band on their label" says Peat, "they do look after us a lot and make sure we get the most out of every opportunity. It is quite a rare thing for small independent label and we do appreciate all of their support." When we spoke to Mark earlier he said the next album from Exit State, due in 2013, is going to be a real step up – so, no pressure then? "Well if the truth be known Black Veins was the pressure album for me" claims Roy, to which Peat agrees. "I think it will be easier this time around" says the drummer, "because we have got more time, we know the right guy we want to work with to get the sound we want – Matt Ellis who remixed "Circles" for us – and we are more focused on what we want."
Talking of "Circles", the hypnotic rocked up anthem with an irresistible hook, prompts a discussion around the chart topping video for the track. Roy goes on to say that "there have been certain things that have happened this year that have re-instilled my faith in what we are doing. At this level, as a lot of bands will know, it isn't easy; there is a lot of time, effort and financial commitment needed and we have all got day jobs aswell. And when we went over for the first showing of the video I was very specific that I wanted really epic slow motion and they had done a terrific job, and then it went to Kerrang and we had to remove some of the nudity here and there!"
"We have a way of working that we call a six and twelve month plan" explains Roy, "and in six months its things that have got to have happened and in twelve months it what we would like to have happened. So once you get past the six the twelve becomes the six and so on. So we had a meeting with our management Mark and Lynne and reviewed our goals and we had achieved everything so far. The video, the Schenker tour and being sub-headliners at the SOS festival – which has grown into something that people truly value and mark on the calendar. To be main support to the legends Tygers Of Pan Tang, who have had a great day in the sun in their time, is really fantastic.
"By September album number three has to be written, around twenty tracks that we can whittle down to twelve and then hopefully we can get out on the road again which is what we love doing. At the end of the day the only thing that will make Exit State stand out is exposure. It's hard times for a lot of people at the moment and they want to come to a gig at the weekend and be entertained and as far as I am concerned it's my responsibility to do that."
With so many bands falling by the wayside what keeps Exit State motivated to keep pressing on and moving forwards? "Its total confidence and belief in what we are doing and that we can achieve our goals" says Roy, "if you don't believe then this can be the world's most expensive hobby." Peat agrees, "As a kid all I ever wanted to do was play drums and be a rock star and as much as I love that 10% of being on stage this is a job now and even though it's an unpaid job in the words of Fury UK it's a way of life."
Given their sheer determination to succeed and the quality of their hard hitting material Exit State are surely destined for bigger and better things. If you are still to hear this band head over to YouTube, watch the video for "Circles" and prepare to be very impressed. Look out for the third album from Exit State sometime in 2013 – we can confidently predict here and now it will blow your roof off.
Dean Pedley and Mark Davies for Sea of Tranquility