Lunatic's Serenade

An interview with Expain

Tim Duran sat down with the zany thrashers from Vancouver, BC known as Expain. During the conversation we found out that the band had begun life as Excruciating Pain, before folding that lengthy title into a much shorter one. Now armed with a better band name, the guys sat down and recorded their debut album – “Just the Tip”. So please read on as Tim probes deep into the band’s psyche to find out as much as possible from this group of dedicated Canadian thrashers.

HMS: For those that don't know, please introduce yourselves and tell us the instrument you play.

Eric (Vocals): I'm Eric and I play guitar.
Patrick: I'm Pat Peeve and I play guitar.
Nikko: I'm Nikko and I play bass.
Daniel: I'm Dan and I do vocals.
Ryan: I'm Ryan and I play drums.

HMS: What exactly is "EXPAIN?"

Eric: Nothing really. Originally we were called "Excruciating Pain" but due to legal reasons we had to change our name. Unfortunately, we had already begun branding things with the "EXP" title (for example, our youtube webseries, "EXPTeeVee") so we didn't want to drop that. To keep things simple, we just shortened the name to "Expain" and so far it's done the trick.

HMS: When I look at your Facebook page, I'm reminded of early Exodus. Do they play a part in Expain's existence?

Pat: Well the first guitar solo I ever learned was a Kirk Hammett solo.

Ryan: I am a big fan of early Exodus.

Pat: "Pleasures of the Flesh" and "Fabulous Disaster" are my favourite Exodus albums.

Ryan: I actually tried to emulate that drum sound in many of my fills on our album.

HMS: What other influences makes up your sound?

Pat: I was always a big fan of Propaghandi, NOFX, Slayer… a lot of punk and thrash.

Ryan: Exodus is huge along with bands like Megadeth and Exivious.

Eric: Dillinger Escape Plan, Psyopus, Extol, and Belvedere are big ones for me.

HMS: The cover of your record, "Just the Tip" looks like The Coneheads' version of Mnt. Rushmore. Who came up with that idea and who did the artwork?

Eric: I think we wanted to deviate from the typical or generic metal style album artwork and we wanted to make something catchy and interesting in terms of an album cover and then Pat came up with the mountain idea.

Pat: I think I probably got the idea from seeing all of the mountains in the Vancouver area and figured it'd make a good album cover.

Eric: We then got a hold of Tony Koehl who has done artwork for some bands that we are into such as Gorgasm, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Arkaik. We sent him the songs along with the album cover concept and he was really into it and did an amazing job bringing our ideas to life.

HMS: At an Expain show, what keeps the people from finding the exit doors?

Eric: People have to walk past the bar on the way to the exit; that usually does the trick. But in all seriousness, we work very hard to make music that is interesting so hopefully people want to stick around and hear it. Furthermore, we always try to put on the best show that we possibly can. I feel like if we have a single ounce of energy left at the end of our set, we've done something wrong. We love playing our songs and we love being together on stage and I think it shows. People like to see that and we want to entertain the people who came out to see us.

Pat: I just want to look out when I'm on stage and see a bunch of smiling faces. If I can do anything to make people smile or laugh then it's all worthwhile.

Eric: Plus, you never know what kind of shenanigans you'll be missing out on if you walk away.

"We had an amazing team working on the album..."

HMS: What makes up the sound we hear? The tones are thick and the drums cut to the quick.

Eric: Well we had an amazing team working on the album and producer, Matt Roach, worked his own signature magic into the mix. He mixed the album completely analog on a console with all outboard gear.

Ryan: We also had a great room at Greenhouse studios and spent a whole day teching and tuning the drums just to get the sounds right.

Eric: I think the way we write and arrange our songs has a lot to do with it as well. There's a certain sonic space that each member can occupy and we keep that in mind during the writing process and try to negotiate it appropriately.

Pat: We play everything in standard tuning too, which might have made it easier to get the clarity that we aimed for on this record.

HMS: Given your style of music, who would be the bands you would like to tour with?

Pat: Slayer, Revocation, The Hallowed Catharsis, Nylithia, Martyr if they were still around.

Ryan: Vektor, Pestilence, Slagduster, Annihilator, Destruction.

Eric: I wish we could tour with Dillinger Escape Plan, Extol, Periphery, or Suffocation.

HMS: Any other influences outside of music that inspire you?

Pat: Sex, orgasms, haircuts, girls without makeup on…

Ryan: Watching movies or TV shows while I'm practicing.

Eric: Poetry.

Pat: When a girl gets down on all fours and slowly peels down her pants and underwear.

Ryan: Jordan Peters.

HMS: You guys look like a lot of fun. If I got the chance to have 12 hours with you guys, what would be on the agenda?

Pat: We would take you to a beach in Vancouver and drink for all twelve hours. We would also film you vomiting.

HMS: God forbid, if you were not in EXPAIN, what would you guys be doing?

Pat: I'd be in another band playing the same riffs.

Ryan: Yeah, I'd be playing in other bands.

Eric: Music is everything so if this band never happened, I think we would all be trying to make it happen elsewhere.

HMS: Any last words for those that want to pursue the metal scene?

Eric: Be honest and play whatever you want to hear. If the music doesn't mean something to you then it won't matter to anyone else. If you're trying to get into the metal scene, it's as easy as going to local shows and keeping an open mind and an ear to the ground; it all has to start somewhere.

HMS: Again, thank you guys for taking time out to answer some questions. I'm sure you'd rather be going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Eric: Haha. We really enjoyed doing this interview. These were some good questions. Thanks for having us.

HMS: You guys definitely rock hard and I'm looking forward to the next EXPAIN excursion.

Eric: Thanks again, we really appreciate it.

Find out more about Expain here.

Tim Duran, HMS

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