I like French stuff. French fries, French onion soup, French bread pizza. Hell, I’ll even drink a Perrier® if the beer is all gone. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when I noticed French Exit’s name on several show lineups in the Los Angeles area, I pulled them up on the ol’ Interwebs and checked out their small back catalog of Bandcamp releases. I was happy to find this seemed to be a band that was able to create catchy, anthemic, mid-tempo punk rock with some self-loathing and self-deprecation mixed in lyrically. In short, right up my alley, though not necessarily something I’d expected to find in my own backyard geographically.
I kind of forgot about them until I got a copy of the band’s criminally overlooked debut full-length, Guts & Black Stuff late last year. Everything I remembered was there: the crunchy, taut, two-guitar sound, the shouting/singing dual vocalists and the thoughtful yet totally relatable lyrics. To my ears, something else was at play that I hadn’t noticed in their earlier work. The album’s production was as impressive as the songs and performance. What isn’t present is as important as what is: the guitar tones are raw and biting, refreshingly not drenched in studio effects—a “Gibsons plugged directly into Marshalls” kind of thing. Every whoa-oh and every background vocal is so well placed. Nothing is hiding behind walls of reverb. Who was responsible for crafting the band’s sound?
Turns out their bassist Tim is also the band’s engineer, who was present for our interview along with the dual guitarist/vocalists Bob and Anthony. Drummer Duke was absent. Coincidentally, I ran into Bob and Anthony before the interview in the local liquor store, all of us picking up the requisite brewed beverages needed for the interview. I glanced at them and they at me, intuitively guessing each other’s purpose as we paid for the goods and left. Four minutes later, as I walked up the hill to Razorcake HQ there they were, beer in hand. We all laughed about the liquor store encounter and introduced ourselves. I was confident this interview was going to be fun and interesting. I was not disappointed.
Introduction by: Garrett Barnwell
Interview by Garrett Barnwell and Todd Taylor
If you’d like to read this interview, zine-style, it was in issue 81