Considered one of the best kept secrets of the UK progressive scene, London’s EXIST IMMORTAL have been going from strength to strength in the last couple of years. Last year’s Breathe helped send the band on a rocketing upwards trajectory as the band start to grapple with the heavy hitters within the UK scene. Following a performance at this year’s UK Tech-Fest, we sat down with vocalist Meyrick de la Fuente to talk about the reception to Breathe and the resulting soar in popularity for the band, the success of UK Tech-Fest and the impact social media and the internet has had on the development of progressive metal.
So EXIST IMMORTAL played UK Tech-Fest earlier today, how was that performance for you?
Meyrick: Yeah really good, really warm because it is essentially in a barn which is like a greenhouse! It was great though, the turnout was awesome, I’m really happy.
EXIST IMMORTAL seem to be on the rise, especially in the last couple of years, so were you anticipating such a turnout?
Meyrick: Not quite the full room at half two in the afternoon so that was a nice pleasant surprise! I don’t really know what I was expecting, I was trying really not to think about it too much because obviously you are always going to be wrong and if you are disappointed then it is just going to ruin your time. I tend to not think about it too much!
With today especially, there are some real heavy hitters performing later on, is there anyone in particular that you are going to go and see?
Meyrick: Oh I’m definitely going to and see TEXTURES later on! We did some shows with them in Holland a couple of months ago so it will be really good to catch up with those guys. EXIVIOUS, who I’ve seen and it will be their last show, I can’t remember who else is playing!
OBSCURA are playing later…
Meyrick: OBSCURA will be good to check out, I can’t really remember who is playing but there are definitely a bunch of really sick bands playing.
I feel as well something like UK Tech-Fest being a smaller festival, for bands like yourselves, it seems quite an important festival for bands to develop…
Meyrick: Oh definitely! It is a really good place every couple of years to solidify the fanbase collected in that time and do a big show to collect everything together as it were.
I can imagine it can be a real stepping stone as well?
Meyrick: Definitely yeah.
This performance comes on the back of last year’s Breathe. Now that record has been out for about a year, how have you found the reception?
Meyrick: Really good! It’s been really cool, the reception has been awesome and we’ve been really quite overwhelmed by it as you never know. Before you release an album it doesn’t matter if you think it’s the best thing ever because the end result could say otherwise, it’s really difficult to have an objective view on it, so yeah, we’re definitely really happy with the response.
With Breathe being EXIST IMMORTAL’s second record, there’s that phrase that your second record will be your hardest, did you feel a lot of pressure writing Breathe?
Meyrick: Yeah absolutely, it was quite a good couple of years from the previous record so we were like people are expecting new stuff so we have to knuckle down and write this, so we took some time out after a European tour we did last year and just stayed in Italy for ten days to finish writing that album. We just got it all written and ready in a place with no distractions so when we came back we could head straight into the studio and record it. So yeah, we definitely felt that pressure but luckily it’s been out and the response has been so good!
With the release last year, it comes at a time where the UK progressive and djent scene is probably at the best it has been. I’m interested to know your take on it, is the UK tech scene in a good place right now?
Meyrick: Definitely! I think the UK has a very organised tech scene, there’s loads of things going on! There’s obviously UK Tech-Fest, there are other tech events, there’s the UKTM group so it is a very organised group which is really cool to get to have shows like this. But, I will say that in Europe it is really picking up as well across the channel which is cool. I’ve seen people out there with Tech-Fest shirts and all that, so it is definitely building up there, but the UK at the moment has a really strong and organised and scene.
That was going to lead onto my next question; about the European scene. As countries such as Germany for example, they have scenes that are deep-rooted in their classic scenes.
Meyrick: Yeah, they love their classics but there is a lot of crossover! People who are more into classic rock and metal, the more singy bands, like us fortunately, they are more into. There’s an element of that and we try to put an element of that showmanship of that era into what we do. There’s a lot of crossover potential for people who are into that more straight up metal and I can definitely see it growing as a thing out there.
One trend I’ve noticed, especially this year, is bands reinventing their sound and this breakdown of genre constraints. Do you feel that is the way alternative music needs to go?
Meyrick: Yeah, definitely. I think it is very easy to get into a conversation about labels and genres but at the end of the day, it defeats the whole point of this scene which is supposed to be “oh they are doing a cool thing, that’s kind of in this vague thing of technical progressive metal.” You can’t really define it more than that but I like that, I like the fact it’s bands trying new things, trying to break down the boundaries. I think that’s the only way that scenes can ever have longevity is if people in the scene are open to new things and appreciate new things. There’s no stopping it then, if everyone is of that mindset, the scenes will just keep growing and growing!
I think that is the success of festivals like UK Tech-Fest, you’ve got such a varied lineup…
Meyrick: Oh definitely, you have so few festivals of this size that have any longevity at all. I imagine everything must be so tight when you are running a small festival and booking big bands. It’s really cool to see it’s being organised enough to keep a festival like this going.
EXIST IMMORTAL have really started breaking through at a time where social media has become more important than ever. What are your personal views on it?
Meyrick: Well there are massive advantages but it is tedious! You have to create this online persona for yourself which is hard to keep up, hard to maintain and hard to keep up. But it’s so beneficial, never before in history has there been a chance for bands full stop to put there music out to everyone, everyone on the internet.
I feel like the internet and social media is linked to why progressive metal is in such a good place, you are discovering musicians who are writing stuff in their bedrooms.
Meyrick: Yeah, because without it by definition the weirder, more progressive bands aren’t necessarily going to get big label support because they are weird and progressive. You don’t know when you make it if anyone is going to be into it but because the scene is there is a real opportunity. Here is a big bunch of people who might be into it, listen to it and then it can go from there. You bypass the whole need for a large label, I think it is a real good thing.
Really, just to close off, now that UK Tech-Fest is done, what’s next for EXIST IMMORTAL?
Meyrick: We’ve got a couple of small touring towards the end of the year which we are announcing very soon and we’ve got a couple more festivals over the summer. Amplified Festival for example, and then we’re over to Europe in August for a couple of shows and then we will be announcing some small tours.
Awesome, thank you very much for talking to Distorted Sound!
Meyrick: Thank you very much!
Breathe is out now via Primordial Records.
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