Spotlight Artist: Exemption

Next in our series of Spotlight Artists, featuring NYC’s musical talent: Exemption.

Our first spotlight artist, Michael James of Midnight Mob, recommended that we feature Exemption, and he introduced us to guitarist Nick Lee, who answered our questions for this feature.

Photo credit: Gavin Spielman

Tom Moran – Vocals/Bass
Nick Lee – Guitar/Vocals
Ray Marté – Drums/Vocals/Production

How long have you been performing together?
The three of us met in middle school when we were twelve and thirteen through our shared love of music and formed a band soon after that. We’re now all 21 and 22. We went through different lineups and band names for a few years early on, but the three of us have been Exemption since 2004.

How long performing in NYC?
In the beginning none of us could drive obviously so we played almost exclusively on Long Island, but I’d say we started playing the city when we were about 18 so around three years now. When we were 16 we played our first “city” gig at The Hook in Red Hook, Brooklyn as part of a battle-of-the-bands and had to have Ray’s dad drive us in…we didn’t win, haha.

Photo credit: Alli Murphy

Past lives (i.e., previous bands, your early years, etc.):
The three of us started out in a band called Unatoned with our good friend Anthony Lopardo who now works with Ray producing music out of Killingsworth Studios on Long Island where we our now recording our new album. Nowadays, we each have our own music that is separate from the band but for the most part we have always been concentrating on Exemption. Our “early years” are way too early to even count.

Favorite venues to play:
In New York City we have had probably our best shows at Santos Party House and The Bitter End. We also really like Fat Baby and in Brooklyn there is Matchless and Don Pedro. Anywhere a show can be free or cheap and easy for our friends to attend is our favorite venue. It is unfortunate that many venues on Long Island are closing these days, but if any band reading is looking to play there we would probably suggest Broadway or Sinclair’s. The Downtown was at one time the best place to pay but it’s long gone now.

Musical influences:
I’ll try my best to speak for everybody… Mastodon probably had the biggest influence on our newest material. Many others, including: Pantera, Sabbath, Allman Brothers, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica, Down, Clutch, AC/DC, Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Mars Volta, SRV, B.B. King, Beatles, Dylan, Nick Drake, Neil Young, Slayer, Pink Floyd, Boris, The Bronx, Pelican, Torche, RHCP, The Clash, The Ramones, The Misfits, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Velvet Underground, Notorious B.I.G., A Tribe Called Quest, Daniel Johnston, Fleet Foxes, Jesu, Meshuggah, Pig Destroyer, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Gov’t Mule, High On Fire, Creedence, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Bongzilla, Weedeater …we love all music.

Blatant self-promotion: What would you like to plug?
We are near completion of our new album!
Keep an eye on our pages for the release show to be announced soon!

Youtube: Here are a lot of our videos. Search around for more!
CD Baby:

Photo credit: Alli Murphy

Where can we buy your music?
We have our first full-length, 2007’s “The Rabbit Hole” as well as our 2009 EP “Harmony of the Spheres” available on iTunes and CDBaby. Of course you can also pick up either release as well as shirts and stickers at any Exemption show! Come say hi we love meeting new people!
Upcoming Shows:

Tuesday, August 3
with Praetorian & Battlesteer
$5 admission
Cameo (at The Loving Cup)
93 North 6th St.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY
Sunday, August 8
Hell in Hell’s Kitchen
w/ Bot, Aqua Cherry, and more
Port 41
335 W. 41st St. (Between 8th & 9th Ave.)
New York, NY

Tell us a story or anecdote about performing live in NYC.
Last July I got an e-mail that seemed very random asking us to play Santos Party House for a benefit show, which of course we agreed to do. What we wound up playing was a fashion show and we actually had girls running the “catwalk” while we were playing, modeling new designers. It was really cool but a little surreal. The guy ordering the girls around was intense and hilarious, he was not messing around and if they screwed up he just lost it and went jumping and pacing around the room. Between bands they were blaring Britney Spears and Sean Paul (often the same song repeating) and after a few beers our singer Tom snuck up to the DJ booth above the stage and threw our EP in the CD player. We got to about the third song before somebody realized what was happening and shut us down.

Any advice to someone just starting out?
Being from Long Island, as we grew up playing shows, we would often get suckered into the pay-to-play thing. While sometimes an opportunity that presents itself in that manner seems impossible to refuse, no band should have to lay our their own money to some promoter just to prove something. Even though sometimes it seems like the best shows are under the control of the greedy, there are always gonna be people out their who are really supporting the bands and trying to help rather than taking advantage of kids. If you can’t find these people, then try your best to build your own scene up with your friends. This community should be based around a shared love of music not money, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.

Can you recommend any other local act we should feature on MurphGuide?
Vision Through Sound is a great band from the same town as us who have been at it even longer than us. They have been through a lot and changed a lot over the last few years but they are a really strong unit right now and busting their asses. They’re about to release a new album and tour and they are definitely worth checking out.

Thanks, Nick.
We leave you with a video:

Exemption – Mutating Skulls (Live on Jammin’ TV)

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