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The Exies find New Wave inspiration, but still kick you where it hurts

click to enlarge The Exies want to be on top of the world. Being on top of - this roof doesnt cut it, OK?
  • The Exies want to be on top of the world. Being on top of this roof doesnt cut it, OK?

The clock is ticking for The Exies, and nobody hears it more clearly than singer Scott Stevens.

For the past few years, the Los Angeles rock band has been relegated to the on-deck circle. After two major-label albums 2003's Inertia and 2004's Head for the Door and high-profile slots opening for Velvet Revolver and Mtley Cre, among others, the group was dropped by Virgin Records, suffered a lineup change and faced an uncertain future.

Today, The Exies feature new members, work with an independent label, and just released A Modern Way of Living with the Truth. Still, Stevens admits that there's a sense that it's make-it-or-break-it for the band he helped form 10 years ago.

"Absolutely, there's a little bit of an urgency," Stevens says, on the phone from L.A. "But I wouldn't say it's desperation anymore. I don't know it's weird. We feel really, really confident about this album, so I don't see why it's not going to work. I'm not being egotistical in any way or anything like that I think it's a solid piece of work, and it needs to get exposure and be given a chance."

The album finds his group reinterpreting a classic '80s song, the Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime," in a fashion that invariably transcends the original and anything else found on rock radio today. Stevens' version leaves only the chorus and just barely as a touchstone to the original.

"I found such a destructive beauty in the lyrics and the song," Stevens says. "And I thought, "This is so existential in its meaning, and what he's talking about.' And how appropriate that we're The Exies, which is short for the existentialists.

"I kept on reading the lyrics, and it just became this thing of beauty to me. I just started messing around on my acoustic guitar about the way those lyrics made me feel on that day."

But Stevens admits that he did have to "put a little thought into it."

"I wanted to change the tuning of it, the chord structures, but keep the melody intact so when it got there, the people might recognize it," he says. "But I wanted to totally do something different on the verses. It just kind of happened."

While rock radio is starting to play the band's latest single, "Different Than You," which Stevens describes as a follow-up to the group's 2004 hit single "Ugly," the group is touring as much as possible to create excitement around A Modern Way of Living with the Truth. After opening for Buckcherry and 3 Days Grace, the quartet is back on the road, headlining its own shows.

And, Stevens promises, these shows won't disappoint.

"We're definitely one of the loudest rock bands around," he says, laughing. "We keep getting noise violations or complaints wherever we play. It's just a high-energy rock show: It's loud and it just kicks you in the nuts, man."

scene@csindy.com

The Exies, with Autovein, Zahar and Edifice

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Thursday, June 28, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $8-$10, all ages; visit ticketweb.com.

  • The Exies find New Wave inspiration, but still kick you where it hurts

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