To paraphrase Three 6 Mafia, it’s hard out here for a punk. Or an emo kid. Whatever.
The Exclusive knows that. The band, made up of four local punk and hard-core veterans from the Greater Bangor, has only been together since last fall, but already has a repertoire of songs, a solid vision for what they want to do, and a small but growing fan base. The problem? It’s kind of hard to get shows ’round these parts, especially since Bangor rock venue the Underground closed last year.
“After the Underground closed, and some of the bigger bands either broke up or moved on, it’s gotten harder to support the scene,” said drummer Garrett Agrell. “We kind of have to build it up from the ground up again. There are so many musicians and people that want to go to shows, but it’s hard to find places to have them. It’s a battle.”
Fortunately, The Exclusive has two big gigs lined up for the next few weeks — a slot at Saturday night’s “Thaw to Awesome Music” fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity at the Keith Anderson Community Center in Orono. Then there’s a show with The Divine Ruin, Afterblack, Rebel Angel and the Big Coffin Hunters on Feb. 27 at 103 Ultra Lounge, also in Orono. And the band is set to appear on 5 Minutes of Fame, the local music radio show on WHSN 89.3 FM at 5:30 tonight. Not too shabby.
The Exclusive rose from the ashes of local band A Good Night Sound Rush, who folded last summer. Agrell, guitarist Alex Sirois, bassist Mark McCrillis wanted to keep playing together. Agrell also knew he wanted to work with scene buddy Luke Cartwright. They put three and one together and thus, we have The Exclusive.
“I knew Luke was a really amazing songwriter,” said Agrell. “I’d seen him play around and I always wanted to work with him.”
Cartwright has an acoustic project called The December Campaign, which he plays at open mikes around town, such as the Union Street Brick Church on Thursday nights.
“I really love to write songs,” said Cartwright. “That’s really my favorite part about it.”
That love of songwriting shines through in the music available on the band’s MySpace page, www.myspace.com/theexclusivemusic. It’s happy, melodic, high-energy emo-pop, in the vein of Taking Back Sunday, Motion City Soundtrack and The Starting Line. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
“We’ve evolved through all the different genres that we love, where we feel really comfortable just being who we are,” said Cartwright. “Sure, we still love punk and hard-core, but mainly, we just want to make music that makes people happy, and makes us happy. We write songs that we know people will like. We want to make popular music. We’re proud of that. I think we put our own stamp on it too.”
Agrell and Cartwright hope to put out an album and put together a tour by the end of the year. They’re not shooting for the stars — they just want to make music. And, contrary to popular opinion, there are a lot of other bands just like them right here in Maine who want to do the same thing. It’s just going to take some enterprising individuals and a willing venue to let them get out and play their music.
“There’s stuff that happens that people have no idea about,” said Cartwright. “I go play at the Brick Church, and you have to fight to get a spot on the list to play. I don’t know where all these people come from sometimes. I’m always amazed at how many talented people there are in this area. People just need a place to go so they can be heard.”
The Exclusive will play with Hungarian Hot Wax, Broken 45 and James Gilmore, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Keith Anderson Community Center on Bennoch Road in Orono. Admission is by donation, and benefits the UMaine chapter of Habitat for Humanity.