The Making of ExilesAs told by Craig Klein of The Race.
We were touring on our last record Ice Station (2007, FLAMESHOVEL), and spent several weeks on the road in our van the Black Boat frying in the Southwestern sun in places like Pecos, Abilene, Gila Bend, Imperial Sands, Needles… Exhausted late one night we tried to find a motel room near Odessa. Without so much as looking up from her tabloid the prickly front desk clerk of the lone motel in town says, “Everyone’s looking for a room tonight, son. We got all kinds of men, Oil Men, Machinery Men, Construction Men, Company Men and Sorry Suckers like you. There ain’t no vacancies. You won’t find anyplace short of El Paso.”
Hours later and a hundred miles from anywhere and damn if that clerk wasn’t telling the truth. We wound up flat on our backs pulled over and delirious on the side of Highway 10 in West Texas staring up at shooting stars during the Perseid meteor showers. That night under the widescreen sky the idea for Exiles came about – it’d be a kind of Judeo-Goth-Electric-Western, conflating the Acid Westerns and Road Films of the 60’s and 70’s, with the Old Testament fire and brimstone of long ago. A couple of days later in Tucson over tequila I put pen to paper for the song Clack and headed West from there.
Back home I found inspiration in the photography of Edward Curtis, Richard Avedon and the Farm Security Administration, the stories of Moses and his followers and T.E Lawrence, the films of Warren Oates, Dennis Hopper, Peckinpah, Malick, Jodorowsky, Hellman, Roeg, and in the sounds of Country, Blues and German Electronic music.
I took all the images I could find and collaged the walls of my shitty little studio - a Blue Room packed floor to ceiling, without a window, paint chipped and crackling and a busted ceiling fan. I spent a Chicago Winter ritualistically holed up in there - projecting myself into a burning world. By day I was making exhibits at the Chicago Public Library. After work I’d stick around and look for source material. When I got home I’d eat the same meal every night then get to it. My bandmate Alfredo Nogueira would come over and play his silver slide and help arrange what fell out. We used a lot of those bits we recorded then on the album. The rest was laid down later with Josh Eustis from Telefon Tel Aviv on the boards at Benelli Sound Labs, the studio he shares with Alfredo. It’s our 2nd record together. We came up with a palette of sound – crusty synthesizers, broken guitars, machinedrums, cave vocals, ran it to tape and out came with this record.
Exiles is meant to be an over-the-top experience… sonically, lyrically and thematically conjuring the desert, its dunes, mirages and holy mountains and the outsized personalities of the outlaws, searchers, escapists, wanderers, drifters, pariahs, prophets, misfits, mystics, miscreants and all the other sorry suckers who’ve called the dusty road home. As dark and serious as it may all sound it was a hell of a lot of fun to make and we hope an enjoyable listen.
Exiles is available as a limited edition vinyl pressing of 220.