Out there, deep in space are comets – icy small solar system bodies consisting of dust, gas and rock. They shine brightly and pass the sun on their journeys. Extinct comets lose their vitality having sailed close to the sun many times. Here, deep in the heart of Leicester, exist more such comets – these Ex Comets are not extinct, but are live and kicking. They sail close to the sun with every gig and release and shine brightly. There’s a little dust on their road trodden boots and a good dose of rock to be found there.
“The space theme was more to do with us both marvelling (and being relieved) at how small and insignificant this planet and its population really is, when you start looking at things from outside of our vantage point.”
Ex Comets are Amy Cooper (voice and keys), Andy Bennett (drums) , David Fellows (bass), Fraser West (keyboard), Jon Bennett (guitar and box) and Scott West (guitar and vocals). Amy explains how they aligned, “Scott played some guitar and did some great screaming on the first We Three and The Death Rattle album whilst he was still in Codex Leicester who were a band we loved and used to go and see a lot. Fraser had also made a few great videos for WTATDR as We The Conspirators. We talked after gigs about forming a band together. Slowly it became a reality. We spent about 2 years just writing and rehearsing and found we had a lot of bands in common that were really important to us: Clinic, The Pixies, Sonic Youth , Granddaddy, Quickspace and Fugazi amongst others.”
Those influences can be heard in their buzz, fuzz, melody driven rock sound that straddles earth and the solar system in equal measure. Songs that satisfy the need to shake your head whilst singing along to the tune. First evidenced on Old Cool Red with its opening references to ‘radio wave transmissions’ and ‘x-ray eyes and data kites’ and followed up by Death Star 69 a theme of space and conspiracy became apparent. I wondered if this was a deliberate concept behind the band? Jon shares the band’s view.
“The space theme was more to do with us both marvelling (and being relieved) at how small and insignificant this planet and its population really is, when you start looking at things from outside of our vantage point. Also, how we seem to be completely unable to succeed at the relatively simple task of just existing together here in peace. It says a lot about humankind’s inflated sense of importance that we still won’t help the people who really need it for fear of shifting the balance of power in the world. Conspiracy theories are endlessly fascinating to us – You know, they say the bigger and more ridiculous the lie your government feed you the more likely the people are to believe it. Well that’s true. They get away with literally whatever they like and anyone who questions it gets told they should be wearing a tin foil hat. The worlds media is massively complicit and culpable as well. They basically work as a PR machine for the establishment and it works because most people’s focus can’t by necessity extend far beyond whether they can make their rent at the end of each month.”
Maybe we are all Lost Cosmonauts as the next release after the intermediary Extra Terrestrial Chemistry EP testified.
The band have regularly released singles and EPs – a steady flow of tracks, mostly via digital media. It would seem natural that an album will follow. I asked about this and got the following reply from Scott,
“No – not right now. We like to work fast and not get bogged down so the single, EP format works for us. An album tends to be tied to a specific period of time and doesn’t suit the way we work right now. Maybe we’ll do a mini album at some point. I don’t see us working in the traditional album format at the moment.”
More singles have followed and some tracks have been remixed by local favourites Maybeshewill and Daydream Club adding to their canon. There is an albums worth of material out there if you look for it.
The bands most recent single was I’m Bob Lazer. To the uninitiated, Lazer is a controversial UFO theorist. ‘I’m an element, I’m an experiment’ the song tells us. This made me think of the bands standing in their members musical activities as most play in others bands as well.
“Ex comets is a 6 piece which presents a lot of challenges and rewards. Having a lot of people on stage is really fun once you get around the actual logistics of playing a show with 6 people in a band. Plus unlike WTATDR (Amy, Jon and Andy’s band) if I stop playing or screw up the whole thing doesn’t grind to a halt!” Amy commented.
“We are all in different bands that play different types of music . It’s very much like a loose collective of people that luckily for us includes a film maker and a producer. It works really well. We’re always really busy with different projects. I think there are four different bands going on between us all at the moment.”
I wondered how songs and riffs were allocated – when an idea comes up how is the decision made as to whether it’s an Ex Comets or a WTATDR song as having a similar sound through involving the same lead vocalists is apparent.
Jon straightened that out, “Those two worlds are kept completely separate and deliberately don’t collide. Ex Comets has a very regimented creative process which delivers in a really prolific way . We never struggle to write and have a huge amount of new ideas and unreleased songs down now. Something really clicked with the creative process in this band.”
So what does the future hold? Well a new single is imminent as Scott revealed, “There are two songs in the running for the new single right now. One of which features an uncleared HBO series sample that might cause us some problems. We’ll see. Once we decide on one it’ll be out before the next show. Both are being mixed and sounding really good it’s gonna be a tough call!”
Live, Ex Comets are a blast of rock energy. If you’ve been lucky enough to catch them before you will know that the dual guitar, layered duo/trio of vocals and solid rhythm section create an awesome sound up close. Talking of which a gig supporting current Bristol favourites Thought Forms at Firebug is coming up.
Amy made my day by announcing, “We’re doing Simon Says festival in summer at De Montfort Hall which should be fun. With a 6 piece band playing live requires a lot of organisation not least just to get all 6 people in one place at the same time and to get it to sound how we want it to so we play live when it seems like a fun show that we all want to do and are excited by.”
So to sum up what are Ex Comets all about? Amy again: “Mostly our focus is writing and recording. Ex Comets is really a purely artistic project to create the best catalogue of songs we possibly can. We give everything we record and put out away free. This band has nothing to do with making money or chasing the things other bands do at all. No one is interested in that. The reward for us is 100% in the creation of great songs.”
There seems to be no mystery or conspiracy theory in this, just a fine set of principles by an extremely fine band. Plus, you don’t have to go into space to find them and get along for the ride around the sun – check out the local gigs and that internet thing you have on your laptops and phones.
With this, the signal faded and the intermittent beeps slowed as my screen went black. All was quiet – for now. Message received and understood. Watch the skies.
Ex Comets play Firebug with Thought Forms on 24th February