Exhalants is a nice and noisy punk band from Austin, Texas. They're self titled debut was put out earlier this year on Austin local DIY label Self Sabatoge Records. WLUW DJ Tony Buitrago- host of Running on Punk Rock n' Roll on Saturday evenings 6pm-8pm, had the chance to check out the band wen they stopped in Chicago at the Subterranean on tour for the record. Check out his thoughts on the show and if you dig that then take a listen on the Exhalants Bandcamp page.
There’s something magical about seeing an unknown DIY touring band bring down a venue with 20 people in it. When you’re watching a band like Exhalants play SubT’s basement, you feel like you’re watching the next big thing before anyone else gets a chance to see it in. When something is so different, creative and a well-executed, it feels inevitable. Realistically, most of the bands you see won’t blow up and may never even play your city again, but that’s just part of life. It’s hard to make a living playing rock n roll. It just makes you appreciate bands while they last and appreciate the shows only handful of other people will have been able to experience.
Exhalants are out of Austin, Texas and they have just over 500 Facebook followers. All 3 of the band members bring something to the table, and they sound like a band that writes and grows together, not just one person writing a song and people playing on top of it. There’s something very collaborative about the way all the instruments in the band interact.
And that makes them hard to box into a genre. They’ve got a lot of noise rock. They’ve got a lot of hardcore punk. There’s some shades of emo, metal, and sludge in there too. And lord, are they loud. Steve, the singer and guitarist of the band, told me he was working on about 3 hours of sleep, but you couldn’t tell with their live show. They're fast, loud, and they played hard. At the same time, there’s a mellowness to them that’s more apparent in their live show than off their self-titled debut album that came out earlier this year, but they can transition tones in a very cohesive way.
I mentioned how hard it was to describe their sound to Tommy, the drummer from the band, and he said something along the lines of “that’s why we just call it punk rock,” but I don’t think that does Exhalants justice. They’re incredibly skilled musicians and while the band is new, you can see their progression as musicians from their earlier projects like Innards (Tommy’s old band) and Carl Sagan Skate Shoes (Steve and Bill’s old band). Steve remarked to me that it was very important Exhalants didn’t sound like Carl Sagan, so it makes sense to see the band evolve. By the way, Exhalants blew me away so much that they made me want to check out their previous projects.
I asked Steve if he had anything I’d like to cover in this review, and he paused for a second. He was loading up his equipment by himself after denying my offer to help. It was their burden to bear, according to him. “Just be good to each other. There’s so much meanness in the world and we don’t need to add to any of it.” Nothing about his new record, nothing about the show he just played. That, in combination with their talent as musicians, is why I think we’ll hear a lot more good things from Exhalants. When bands like each other, love what they do and strive to always evolve, great things happen. And we’ve only just begun to hear from Exhalants.
The bill was altogether fantastic, so I want to give some shout-outs to the other bands. P I N K O and Pussyfoot also played great sets and I can’t speak highly enough of them. P I N K O is the first band to ever make me want earplugs after going to DIY shows for half of my life, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. They’re loud, they’re hard, and they’ve got a sense of song structure and melodies.
Pussyfoot sounds like a sludgier Alex White (of White Mystery and The Red Orchestra) project. The singer’s voice reminds me of her and the song structure reminds me of her projects. Very dark, haunting melodies. The band also had this hypnotic Velvet Underground vibe about about them as well that makes you want to close your eyes, get lost in the song, and see where they take you next.
I missed Stuck, the opening band, because of who I am as a person. It was their second show and my friends tell me they did well. Some of those guys were in a band called Yeesh, and they have a talent for hooks and did some great emo/pop punk stuff before breaking up.
P I N K O and Exhalants’ just finished their tour and they put out a split. Check it out at exhalants.bandcamp.com and follow them on Facebook by searching for Exhalants, ya dinguses. They’re the only thing that shows up.
<--------- Exhalants S/T Debut available here!
All Photos by Tony Buitrago