Before Montreal stole all of the buzz as trendy music central, there was New York City. To a point, there is still New York City - just that its scene tends to be regrouping, broadening, and putting on quiet revolutions of its own. Spearheading this new wave of NYC cool is a band called The Exit, an indie rock trio just preparing to re-release their 2004 album Home For An Island.
Comprised of Jeff DaRosa on bass and vocals, Ben Brewer on lead guitar and vocals, and the singularly-named Gunnar on drums, The Exit use the dual songwriting duties of Brewer and DaRosa to tackle personal and emotional reflections. Or, in Brewer's own words, "We write songs for us. I mean, we are music listeners, so we want to write songs that we would listen to. Maybe it'll happen that someone else will listen to them and enjoy them, but the songs that we write are our way to express our feelings, not trying to be anything or to trick anyone."
With the low murmur of bandmate chatter and unmastered music tracks playing in the background, Brewer briefly explains how The Exit came to be. Turns out that the band started as, of all things, a high school class project.
"Basically what happened was that I had to do a project for my senior class, and it could be anything as long as it was academic," he says. "I figured I'd write and record four songs, and I called it The Exit. But at the time, I was really shy about singing. I had sang on the first demos and stuff, but afterwards I didn't want to sing anymore. Then I met Jeff in Boston and he had a great voice, so he came onboard to play bass and sing. So now we're at the median - the exact midpoint of where the band started and what the band's grown into now."
And the band has grown into its own spot on the Wind-Up Records roster, home to such notable acts as Evanescence, Seether, and Finger Eleven. But being among these more metal/grunge-inclined acts hasn't affected The Exit's musical sensibilities, which lean more towards sociopolitical issues and emotional messages. Living near Ground Zero has proven to be an inspiring experience for the trio - Brewer credits New York as being "a really creative place" - though they don't necessarily attempt to beat their listeners over the head with political messages in their music.
"I think that there are bands that are politically minded," agrees Brewer, "but maybe don't sing about politics. It's the sounds that are created - the despair you can hear in their music. I think those bands are the important ones out there. I think U2's one of them, Radiohead's one of them too and so are The Mars Volta. Bands that just connect with people. They aren't necessarily singing about politics in a direct way, but it's just the sound of distress÷getting the message through with their sound."
A shrug is almost audible over the phone line as he applies the topic to his own band. "I don't think we're out to tackle big issues. We're trying to get to the bottom of things, and we're doing the best we can in our own way, but we're not giving answers. We just want to get people to think about things, you know?"
To find out more about The Exit visit www.theexitrock.com
Writer: Caitlin Hotchkiss