EXHUMED Interview

After a five year hiatus and reunion a couple of years back, San Jose’s Exhumed burst back on the death metal scene to retake their rightful place in the genres ranks. 2011 saw the release of the bands fourth studio album ‘All Guts, No Glory’ and the touring that has ensued has been relentless. 

These Californians mean business! On the horizon for Exhumed this summer and undoubtedly what will become one of the bands highlights of 2013 is the one and only Obscene Extreme Festival. With a few months to spare we took some time out with Matt Harvey himself, chief composer, vocalist and guitarist to talk about all things Obscene and Extreme! .

First of all thanks for your time… This year will be the third time Exhumed will perform at OEF if I’m right?

Almost... We missed the 2nd time last year, due to the sudden death of our drummer Mike Hamilton's brother Myles the day we were supposed to board our flight. Our return to OEF is obviously LOOONG overdue.

What are your memories of the last time you played at the festival?

We had an incredible time at OEF back in '01. Right before we were supposed to take the stage, there was a tornado warning, and we all left to wait out the storm in a bunker, where we drank way too much with our friends in Regurgitate. It was looking like the storm would end up canceling the rest of the day's acts, but the winds changed and after a couple hours of heavy drinking, we were called to take the stage to a full house of rowdy maniacs. Everyone had a great time, and there were tons of killer bands the whole weekend. I'm looking forward to an even more insane experience this time around – just hopefully no tornadoes!

I’ve been to many festivals and they all have their own vibe but OEF has something a little bit different, it’s a lot more lax, a little crazy perhaps, would you share that opinion?

I think it's very reflective of Eastern Europe and Grindcore really. In Eastern Europe people are just a bit wilder. Our shows have always been awesome in places like Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Slovakia, whether it's naked stage divers, strong beers, ultra-brutal grind bands, weird (in the goood way) chicks at shows, whatever, people out there just get a little crazier than a lot of folks in central Europe. The culture is more open and welcoming than someplace like Germany or France, and it shows in the smiling faces of the maniacs at OEF. Also, because the fest is centered around Grind, it brings together a lot of really open minded people, and a great sense of humor about things. It's a very accepting environment, where you can just be a total freak and be yourself and no one will be down on you for being weird – because we're all fucking weird!

If you could sum the festival up in just 3 words what would they be?

Totally fucking bananas!!! or maybe Whirlwind Holocaust Doss!

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the festival and OEF is going worldwide! And not just to one or two countries around Europe but to 4 different corners of the globe, Indonesia, Mexico, Australia and the ‘motherfest’ in Czech. What do you think of the idea? A little ambitious perhaps?

I think it's great. I've known Curby forever, and he's been one of the earliest supporters of Exhumed in not just the Czech Republic, but in Europe. He loves what he does and he does it for the right reasons. People all over the globe deserve to see the insanity and spectacle that is Obscene Extreme. I think it's great that he's tackling places that people usually don't focus on, like Mexico, Australia, etc. That's where the underground is growing the fastest right now, thanks to the internet and the longevity of this crazy music.

I’m surprised you guys weren’t actually on the Mexico gig; it’s a little closer to home…

I think scheduling-wise it just wouldn't have worked out for us. I wish we were doing all of them!

Festivals in general are getting bigger by the year, the risks are getting higher and higher and we’re seeing the bubbles pop every now again, Sonisphere for example… One thing about OEF is that they’ve never relied on sponsors, just the fans; everything is 100% DIY & underground. I don’t know about you but that says a lot to me about the strength of the underground. Any comments?.

Absolutely. Sponsors come and go based on money, but the fans who really love this stuff are all life-long supporters. It's not just a fun thing to listen to, it's a way of life for them – and for us for that matter. Those are the backbone of the scene, not the guy with 35 CDs who decides to buy one Cannibal Corpse album and a few Slayer records. Those people are just the curious, but the folks that come to OEF are maniacs. In a way it's been a benefit that the festival was born in the Czech Republic, because it's not as corporate a place as France, Holland, etc. and the festival has been allowed to grow naturally, not be inflated artificially by sponsors and big money, or be turned into a slick, corporate thing at all.

I think what the organisers are doing is trying to bring a European festival and the whole package, atmosphere, vibe, etc. with it. What do you think? Can it succeed? Or does it need the European people?

I really hope that it can. Like I said above, I think the fact that it's not something like “Obscene Extreme New York” will really work to the festival's advantage. Places like Mexico City and Australia are a lot more open and wild than someplace like New York or Los Angeles, where everything is so manufactured, corporate-ized and controlled. I've never been to Jakarta, so I can't really comment on that, but I trust Curby's judgment and I think it can succeed. I believe in the underground and that's what it's really about, it's beyond “Europeans” or anything like that – it's just about the strength of this amazing scene we're all a part of.

What’s interesting is that OEF is a vegan festival! I’ve never known of a vegan metalfest before… maybe you could enlighten me to any others as you’ve been on the road a lot longer than I have…

I have never been to any other vegan music festival at all. But I dig vegan food, so I'm stoked. I've recently cut back on my meat intake quite a bit, and it's really helped my health and digestion, and it's really tough to eat healthy on the road, so OEF is a great change from the usual endless deli trays of lunch meat and cheese.

And finally what will Exhumed bring to OEF this year?

We'll be bringing our US stageshow to Europe for the first time in forever, so expect a little more blood and guts than the last few times we've been over, and we'll be carting out some new tunes from our new album, “Necrocracy” which we're really psyched. The line-up we have now is the strongest one in the band's history, and I can't wait to unleash it for all the maniacs at OEF 2013! See you all there – PIVO!!!!

Thanks for your time!