Interview – Living Large With Exmortus

October 2015 Vandala Magazine Interview with ExmortusExmortus are a bunch of fun loving and hard partying dudes who really love heavy metal. Talking with them about the power of glam and what makes their work so potent was far too much fun. (Full Tour Dates at the Bottom)

Interview By Matt Bacon
Cover Interview from October 2015 Vandala Magazine

How are you guys?

Conan: We are pretty f*cking good!
Mario Mortus: It’s a good night, it’s raining outside but inside it’s cool
David: Getting drunk!

To what extent does casual alcoholism impact your lives?

Mike Cosio: It helps us sleep!
Conan: We flew over here and we had vodka and whiskey on the plane and it helped us sleep. The flight was a little turbulent so it helped us knock out.
David: It calms the nerves and fuels the fire.
Conan: Improves our playing! (Laughter)

I was thinking about that with Lemmy and what’s been going down with him…

Mike: Lemmy is on a whole other level we’re just drinking a PBR before we play.
Mario: He probably does like a line of speed before he plays!
David: If we were that old… that cat deserves it!
Conan: It’s part of the legend.
Mario: We don’t get too crazy, we have our nights and some crazy stories… One time I got pretty drunk before we were playing a show and while I was setting up our stuff I could barely stand up straight!

Did they know you were drunk?

Mario: Oh no! I told them after and they were surprised! After that I learned my lesson. You can’t risk that though, people are paying money to see you. The Lemmy thing definitely is something to take into consideration. If you really want to have longevity you don’t want to wreck yourself.
Mike: I remember at Slide Bar in California I was drunk and did a song and a half with my bass unplugged!

What I really enjoy about Exmortus is that you build on traditional metal iconography…

Conan: Our favorite bands are indeed like 70s and 80s bands. I don’t want to say we use that as a basis but naturally we do. We like the song structures, the riffs and how they did it. Our parents grew up with that and showed that to us.
David: We like the stage presence too and the solos. The stuff Van Halen did was what we want to emulate. Same with bands like Judas Priest who just command the stage. A lot of people just stand there but people listen with their eyes. We like to go all out and kick teeth in!

Last night I was getting so angry because it was our first time using this gear and I just wasn’t feeling it so I was gritting my teeth and yelling and people connected to that.
Mario: It’s metal, people come out to release aggression. When you play aggressively on stage people connect to it.
Conan: I’ve seen the energy pour forth from us, to the audience and then back to us.

So is Exmortus kind of like a death metal glam band in a way?

Mario: It sort of us. There is definitely that flash. We don’t tease our hair yet though, we’re too lazy! With our last album we were listening to a lot of pre-Cowboys From Hell Pantera. In some ways it’s a glam band, I can see that!

So when will you start adding cleans?

Conan: We do the really high ones I guess. One of my favorite singers is Rob Halford and I started doing those for fun. That might be cool to add.
Mario: We kind of have an idea of what we like and what people might like based off what we do. We’re coming in a generation when people are just getting into metal and bands like Motorhead are still touring.
David: We were just talking to Marty on the bus this morning about how there’s a whole new generation of thrash kids. He was nervous about how the tour would end up but in all the major cities you have it! In Mexico that’s what was happening. Even when I talk to my friends dads from Mexico they are all about Metallica and Ozzy. So it makes sense that we have all these thrasher kids now. He didn’t even know he had a huge following!

So do you consider yourselves a gateway band?

Mario: I think it depends on what you started listening. I know people that go right off the bat listening to Morbid Angel. But we are a gateway into the sense that we are not heavy enough to alienate more traditional dudes but not soft enough to where we can’t play with heavier bands.
Conan: We have trouble categorizing ourselves and that’s been a good thing. I think that’s a good thing.
David: I think our cover of Moonlight Sonata makes it a lot easier. People will give that a chance and then maybe listen to another few tracks.
Conan: We do a lot of covers live too. Like Judas Priest and stuff. That definitely shows love and connects with people beyond the modern metalhead.

I’ve always felt bands should do more covers…

David: I heard Pantera did a whole cover set one time and that’s really cool. I like when bands pay homage to the bands that influence them.
Mike: People know those songs so when they hear those riffs they go “Oh f*ck!”
Conan: We all groove to the same shit so why not jam to all of it.

Even Judas Priest do Diamonds and Rust…

Mike: And then Slayer did Judas Priest!
David: They dominated that cover too! Some people don’t even know it’s a cover.
Conan: They change it up a bit and keep it heavy.

What covers are you doing this tour?

Conan: We practiced some, we did Priest, Yngwie, we haven’t practiced Ozzy in a while but we could pull that off.
David: That’s easy to sing for me!
Conan: Of course Beethoven.

Obviously the classical influence is very prevalent but is there any jazz influence?

Conan: I never got as into jazz. Not because I don’t like it but I just never had anyone show me stuff. I listen to jazz and I like the improvising because I improvise a lot.
Mike: I’m still trying to get these guys into blues.
Mario: A lot of the shows are kind of jazzy and very free form.

So you improvise a lot?

Mario: Not major stuff but little fills and some solos.

How much of the solos are improvised?

Conan: There’s usually a general idea we want to do and then we go off of that. We make trills longer and there’s always licks and shit coming up. Doing our live is our way to expand it.
Mike: I’ve added so many bass slides to the songs!
Conan: It’s like dropping the bass but actually doing it, not on a computer!

Are you trying to become more theatrical or are you happy with where it is now?

Conan: There’s always more we can do.
David: I would love to get pyro.
Mario: I think financially we are too limited. We’re not using it tonight but we do have a big stage banner. I think as the band grows and the stages grow we’ll get pyro and stuff even if Great White kind of ruined it.
David: We played a Kiss cover at a football game one time and during the intro of Love Gun we had a massive exposion. That was really cool.
Conan: The guys knew the song and I was like “You know where to do it” and he was like “I got you man!”
David: That was a cool experience!
Mario: We could feel the heat!
David: I like doing it without anything though. I like how raw it is. We’re not using our pedals anymore. We used to use tube screamers but now we don’t even want to use it. We just go out there with whatever we’ve got.
Mario: For the most part a lot of older bands just go out and play. Growing up I always liked that Metallica just had lights and a background set up. It makes it so f*cking cool.

What do you guys love so much about music?

Mario: The emotions man.
Conan: How expressive it can be.
Mike: I like how it can make the hair on the back of your next stand up. It can take you somewhere.
David: I listen to a lot of oldies and I love that. I love Stevie Ray, I was actually supposed to be named afer him.
Conan: There is so much you can do with music it’s endless.

Any final words of wisdom?

Mario: Racecar backwards is racecar!

Exmortus Online

10/2 Las Vegas, NV – Backstage Bar +
10/3 Ramona, CA – Ramona Mainstage +
1/5 New York, NY – The Gramercy Theatre *
1/6 Trenton, NJ – Championship Bar & Grill *
1/7 Clifton Park, NY – Trickshots *
1/8 Hartford, CT – Webster Theater *
1/9 Worcester, MA – The Palladium *
1/10 Montreal, QC – Foufounes *
1/11 Quebec City, QC – Salle Multi *
1/12 Ottawa, ON – Ritual *
1/13 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck *
1/14 London, ON – APK *
1/15 Rochester,NY – Montage Music Hall *
1/16 Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom *
1/17 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar *
1/18 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups *
1/20 Westland, MI – Token Lounge *
1/21 St. Louis, MO – Fubar *
1/22 Joliet, IL – Mojoe’s *
1/23 Cudahy, WI – The Metal Grill *
1/24 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club *
1/25 Winnipeg, MB – Zoo Cabaret *
1/27 Calgary, AB – Nite Owl *
1/28 Edmonton, AB – Pawn Shop *
1/30 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater *
1/31 Seattle, WA – Studio Seven *
2/1 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre *
2/2 San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside *
2/3 West Hollywood, CA – Whisky a Go Go *
2/4 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick *
2/5 Tempe, AZ – Club Red *
2/6 Las Vegas, NV – LVCS *
2/8 Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue *
2/9 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater *
2/10 Merriam, KS – Aftershock *
2/11 Austin, TX – Red 7 *
2/12 San Antonio, TX – 210 Kapones *
2/13 Houston, TX – Scout Bar *
2/14 Dallas, TX – Trees *
2/15 New Orleans, LA – Siberia *
2/16 Tampa, FL – Orpheum *
2/17 Orlando, FL – The Haven *
2/18 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade *
2/19 Louisville, KY – Expo Five *
2/20 Richmond, VA – Canal Club *
+ with Marty Friedman
* with Enforcer, Warbringer & Cauldron


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