Though you are a completely Dutch band, and I'm Dutch as well, let's do this interview in English for the sake of internationalism of Lords Of Metal. So to start off with a fitting first question: does Exivious have serious world-wide ambitions after releasing this debut (which is great by the way!)?
That kind of depends on what you mean by that. The way we are working now, selling CDs as an independent band, we are already targeting a world-wide audience. We're a relatively small band but our listeners are spread out over the entire world already. If you mean we're pursuing an international career as a successful touring band, no that's probably not realistic. We are aware we're mainly a musician's band with a small audience. But it would be nice to share our music with as much enthusiastic listeners as possible of course!
I can imagine, with all that improvising, it must be a blast to perform live with Exivious. Would you like to build a nice gigging history, or do you think of yourselves more in terms of a studio project?
It will definitely be great fun to get on the road with Exivious! We all want to, but it's hard to make that happen right now. Robin and I are tied to Cynic's busy touring schedule, Stef is tied to Textures. And even if we had the time to start touring, we probably wouldn't have the financial means to make it happen. A lot of people don't realize how expensive it is to tour and how a lot of bands rely on financial tour support from their record companies. But we're keeping a positive outlook and we'll try everything to at least tour the world once with our debut album.
You describe yourself as a band improvising in the jazz tradition, utilizing a metal sound and other influences from that area to create a bond between two normally quite strictly separated worlds. It is indeed very rare to really improvise within technical and extreme metal. It must demand an incredible skill to do so. How did you train yourselves to master this style of improvising?
This answer might need some explanation. We found out after the fact that our biography can be read as a bit arrogant, stating we're the first to marry fusion and metal the way we do. I think the problem with that statement is that a lot of people think it has already been done, due to how certain music was marketed and how non musicians experience certain styles of music. But as far as we know there hasn't been a band that sounds metal, but uses fusion-esque chord progressions, time signatures and improvisation. The closest thing would probably be a band like Planet X, but really, they're more of an extreme progrock band to me, awesome band nevertheless!
Anyways, to answer your original question: I can only answer for myself how I went about training this side of my playing. It's a matter of knowing what scales, patterns, arpeggios work over certain chords. Learn your theory and just practice! For example, a tune like 'Asurim' features some pretty difficult chord changes. Michel and I usually make a chart of the chords and after each chord we have a list of possible scales, arpeggios, connections to the next chord, stuff like that. After that it's a matter of endless practice. But believe me, we're far from really mastering this style, there is so much to learn, it's a never ending journey.
Of course a lot of structure of the songs is written out. But as in free-jazz, do you also like to experiment with the level of structure you can omit without losing coherence performing as a group?
We haven't experimented that much with changing structures on the fly because our first priority was to record an album. But we have spoken about ideas to do this for if we would go out and tour. There's definitely some interesting ideas to explore there!
Your debut record has come a long way. Can we expect new material in a nearer future? And what will it sound like? Will you keep this line-up to grow as a group and travel new roads of fusion-metal?
Not in the near future, it will take time to develop a new concept and to actually have the time to compose the music. We're already in heavy brainstorming mode though, thinking about the next album. It's definitely going to sound different, we don't want to put out the same album twice. The biggest difference will probably be the addition of vocals and another step away from our metal side.
As said in the review, the sound of your record is very influenced by the big names like Cynic. This shouldn't be a big surprise as they must have been a catalyst for the birth of Exivious. Are you maybe also experimenting in totally different directions, or do you hold the opinion that this is the most suitable and flexible sound to explore the possibilities within fusion-metal?
That's an interesting question because it's exactly what we're trying to get away from. The reality of it is that I've been listening to artists like Björk, Radiohead, Imogen Heap and other original pop musicians for a long time and I love that genre, as I like a million other things though! But for our debut album I really wanted to do what I set out to do years ago: make a true fusionmetal album. Striving to make that a reality put some big limitations on our sound. But as that's in the past now, we can come up with a fresh concept and a fresh start again! Break out of those limitations and create something new!
These were my questions for now, I wish you all the best in your musical endeavours. If you wish to add anything to this interview you are free to do so below.
Thank you for this interview and a big thank you to everyone reading this!