Interview: Jon Howell of Ex-Everything Talks ‘Slow Change Will Tear Us Apart’

There’s something about momentum in art that speaks to those times when we feel stagnant in our lives or the world around us. We just want something to progress rather than stay still or regress (points to, uh, everywhere). Not every progressing catharsis has to be positive, as sometimes – as the Prophet Blink, from Chapter 182, notes – we need and love comm-is-erating. Watching and waiting, too.

The debut from Oakland, CA-based noisy post-hardcore upstarts Ex Everything feels less like a propulsive train and more like an avalanche of octopi barreling down a hill, where the multi-sided directionality is the point. Take your sludgy bass, the guitar-work that feels both noise rock-inflected and surrealistic in its angularity, add in drumming that feels like a main character more than a rhythm section, and slap on it a vocalist who sounds more like a tent revivalist preaching from the Communist Manifesto instead of the Bible. Slow Change Will Pull Us Apart, out now via Neurot Recordings, is astounding and mesmerizing because of how expertly Ex Everything make such discordant threads work together.

That ability to create cohesion from chaos starts with the band members’ shared history and respect for each other. This is their debut, but they’ve lasted longer than most relationships thus far. Guitarist Jon Howell shares:

“You’re right to call out the cohesiveness because even though it’s our first release, we have been a band for a while. We started writing these songs in 2019 and spent all of [the redacted time] figuring out our sound. Beyond that, a couple of us also play in Kowloon Walled City and knew we didn’t want to retread the same ground we cover in that band, which tends to be slow and austere. That meant our starting point for Ex Everything was fast, pissed-off punk rock, and we layered all our different musical interests and influences on top of that base.”

It all means nothing if the resulting product isn’t incredible; frankly, I wouldn’t waste my and your time here if it weren’t. I’m struck by the clear desire to infuse the record with balance, and my favorite part is that abstract angularity to the riffs and rhythms that is a motherfucker to headbang to but feels so god damn right to my ears and soul. What did you want to do with this album, musically?

“We wanted to write an album of melodically weird, aggressive music that’s still hooky for the listener,” he answers. “[It’s like a tiered meal]. First we come up with all manner of strange and dissonant parts. Next, the drums provide just enough rock backbone to stop the music from sounding too obscure. Add to that [vocalist] Andre [Sanabria]’s rhythmic and hooky vocals, and you get music that pulls you in some weird directions but ultimately slams.”

Thematically, this record feels like not only a call to action, but a way for you all to find hope in a world that is all too eager to steer people toward hopelessness. I’m from the Midwest, and it’s clear that the assholes who drained that area of jobs are at it again in the west coast, not to mention the toll the environmental changes are having. That said, I found love for each other and a better world in amongst the piss, vinegar, and vitriol here. What did you want to talk about with this record?

“Andre’s lyrics focus on the alienation felt by people living under late-stage capitalism, as well as solidarity with the oppressed. Within that kind of darkness, his lyrics identify hope through people educating themselves, organizing with others, and fighting back. Andre explained all these subjects and themes to us as he wrote for this record and the content reflects the way we all feel.”

Slow Change Will Tear Us Apart is available now from Neurot Recordings. Follow Ex-Everything on Instagram for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Ex-Everything

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