Canberra hardcore seven-piece (yes, seven-piece) I Exist have pledged their allegiance to the power of the riff. Mashing together a love of riff-driven hardcore with nods to 90s sludge metal bands like Eyehategod, the band have honed their craft across two LPs and extensive national touring. Ahead of their appearances at Bastardfest around the country, guitarist and intermittent vocalist Aaron Osborne spoke to Kill Your Stereo about the band’s endeavours.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the band?
My name is Aaron, I play guitar and occasionally sing in I Exist. I am 23 years old, and I am currently drinking a Coke and doing this, as to distract myself from uni homework.
You probably get this a lot, but why so many members?
Well when we started the band there were 5 of us, then Alex went on holidays for a year, so we got Sam to move to bass and Josh to play guitar. At the time Josh couldn’t tour with us, so Kelly filled in for him, then Alex came back from holidays and instead of kicking anyone out, everyone just stayed. It’s way more fun being in a band with heaps of your friends than asking people to leave.
The band has shifted to a sludgier sound reminiscent of Eyehategod and similar artists. Was this a conscious decision?
Not really, it was just how it progressed I suppose. Eyehategod are my favourite band and the similar artists you speak of probably also make up my other favourites and as I write a majority of the songs, it just turned out that way. Everyone else in the band has their own influences and that’s what makes us different from other bands I think. Nothing is forbidden in our songs.
Will your newer material follow this same path or will you take a different direction?
The new stuff we’ve been writing is sounding like a progression from the last album I guess, bit tighter, bit more riffy, bit faster in parts, couple long songs. I don’t really know how to describe it as a whole yet, but once its recorded it will make sense haha.
How does it feel to have an album distributed on the other side of the world?
Pretty amazing. It’s one of those things when you start a band when you are a kid that’s like a dream that will never happen…then it does and it feels great. We’re pretty lucky to be in the position we’re in and work with the awesome people that have helped us get to where we are today. Without them it never would have happened and without people listening to us and coming out to see us we wouldn’t have got this far so it feels great, but we owe it all to people supporting us.
You guys are set to play a few of the Bastardfest dates alongside a host of quality Australian bands. Are you psyched for it?
Definitely, we played some last year too and it was a blast. Always good to play shows with Blood Duster, they are one of the best bands Australia has ever produced so it’s sick to get to play shows with them. The Canberra show is on my birthday, so I’m pretty pretty excited about that (laughs).
What has been your favourite I Exist show to play so far?
That’s a hard one these days, as recently every show out does the one before it (laughs). We played three shows over the last month with Frenzal Rhomb that were all crazy though, the people who listen to Frenzal and go to their shows are out of their minds and even went boonta for us. Was great, they can drink a lot and we go down pretty well with people who are hammered haha.
If you could tour in support of any band, who would it be?
I don’t really know? Obviously every ones favourite bands are bands they want to tour with, but I’d like to tour with someone like Snoop Dogg or something, just to experience the full magnitude of being around a full time crazy legend, who has now jumped right into Reggae. We played Groovin the Moo a while back and Public Enemy played that…so I guess that’s pretty close (laughs).
Tell me about the craziest thing the band has ever done?
Play shows with four guitarists all the time? I dunno, we’re not like mental dudes, one time we drove from Hobart to Launceston at night after playing a show, so we could stay at a pub we liked, got drunk on the way (don’t worry, sober driver) listened to heaps of Justin Timberlake, got to the pub, drank with the bar staff until like 4am, had some sort of weird homoerotic sing along with not much clothing on on a balcony, played hallway rugby and then got up at 5.30am to catch a plane home. Not heaps crazy, but I had a crazy headache the next day.
What are some current records and artists that you’d like to recommend?
Anything by Graveyard. White Walls from Melbourne, Black Coffee from Canberra/Brisbane, Sex Wizard from Adelaide, Shackles from Byron, Fattura Della Morte from Sydney just got back together so them. Heaps of good stuff going around, just keep your ears open!
What does the future hold for I Exist?
At the moment writing songs, playing some shows, drinking and hanging out with friends around the country. Record a new album sometime next year and try and get ourselves to see a bit more of the world. Maybe hire a few more guitar players? Who knows?
Are there any comments you’d like to finish on?
Thanks for putting the time into asking these questions. Drink Beer, Smoke Jazzies, Listen to Black Sabbath and Hail the Riff. FHFC.