By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida, February 3, 2018
There could hardly be a better choice to open Bobaflex’ concert than Together in Exile. The New Port Richey (about 25 miles northwest of Tampa), Florida based band describes itself as “deviants at heart”, Together In Exile loves to play hard while working hard at what they love.” The band’s name is also a description of the band’s members: A masked combination of Hannibal Lecter and Leatherface, a Gothic Edward Scissorhands lookalike, a trenchcoat-wearing outcast who reminds us of Columbine, a shirtless guy covered in tattoos, and a “normal” looking guy – if normal includes beards, leather vests, and sleeveless shirts. A collection of alternative personas, coming together as one coherent and unique sound.
“If there were no laws, who would you kill?”
So asks the chorus of “Rated R”, the first track off of Together In Exile’s debut album “Destroy Something Beautiful”. While some of the general public might find such musings to be somewhat morbid, this area of half-serious exploration of the dark realms of your moral fabric (and just how deep it goes) is exactly where Together In Exile likes to reside. Deviants, outcasts, the exiled…..the band and its fans are truly connected in exploring areas of the mind that might make the “normals” uncomfortable.
Comprised of five musicians who’ve spent the last half-decade touring the southeastern U.S., they came together out of the ashes of their older projects. Vocalist Thomas Crane has spent the early 2010’s fronting Jacksonville-based Marion Crane. Meanwhile, Matty Exile – who also goes by Matty Fantastic – (guitars), Ilyn Nathaniel (bass) and Danny Cayocca (drums) were cutting teeth in Tampa-favorite Soulidium. Upon finding Crane, it didn’t take long to realize that the chemistry was there and Together In Exile was born. The band recorded their debut album “Destroy Something Beautiful,” releasing it in December of 2015. After supporting the record for over a year of shows all over the southeastern US, guitarist Brad Balsama was recruited to join the band in 2017, thus finalizing the lineup.
Their songwriting process? Well, sometimes, it gets a little weird. The text message sent from Crane to Nathaniel read: “If we’re going to track this song tonight, then we need to go get a bottle of whiskey.” The text message was the end result of a challenge thrown down just 24 hours sooner between Crane and guitarist Matty Fantastic. As their time had progressed, songs had started being written in the studio and they were starting to find their groove.
“We were standing outside talking and Matty said he liked how Thomas could just write, right on the spot,” says Nathaniel. “He said everytime I do it, it just keeps getting better and better. Maybe I should just write something new right now and record it for tomorrow and Thomas’ response was ‘don’t threaten me with a good time.”
Matty immediately went to work with his 8-string guitar, on a mission to have the music written and recorded by the next day so Crane could lay vocals down on it. Upon being handed the music the next day, the lyrics and vocal melodies from Crane soon followed and the vocal tracking commenced as scheduled that night, albeit, not before a bottle of Jim Beam had been acquired. It was required drinking material for the vocal sessions that ran into the next morning.
“This is a song about drinking whiskey and doing bad things. In the spirit of artistic integrity, I have to keep this shit real, ” joked Crane.
The result of the song challenge was a tune called “Deviant,” one of the more popular tracks.
You can listen to (or download) the complete album on Bandcamp. And look for them to appear in a town near you!
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When not in custody, I've been involved with music, photography, and writing my entire life. Ever since I was a young boy and played those silver tunes, I've had the beat, but being a drummer didn't suit me so I became a lead singer, which lasted a few years. Settling down, sort of, I translated my knowledge of audio and glib tongue into mobile emcee work, and my training as a photographer and videographer into a living in the wedding, party, bar/bat mitzvah, and entertainment industry. During this time I also managed to bamboozle my way into a master's degree in writing, worked for a couple of magazines (yes, I took photos for a nudist magazine!), have photographed hotels, done commercial work (shot the cover of Tablet and Capsule magazine), published a few articles, hosted some public access shows (a couple times in drag, but that's another story), and generally made a nuisance of myself until I landed here.