Rising Toronto punk/alt-rock trio Excuses Excuses is back with a new EP, Mind Over Matter, out Sept. 20, with an intense video of the title track also in tow. As demonstrated by the performance of singer/guitarist Kyle Wilton, the sound and visuals offer a powerful illustration of the struggle against mental illness, while the overall presentation is sure to remind listeners of alt-rock’s glory days.
Mind Over Matter follows Excuses Excuses’ 2018 EP Catch Me If You Can, and is the result of a concentrated effort to push their songwriting skills forward, combined with a year of serious touring. The band, which also includes bassist Trevor Bowman and drummer Jason Nicoll, chose to approach crafting each track as a single, with some aspect of it reflecting each member.
The title track is Wilton’s showcase, displaying an unbridled fire and energy that he’s also become known for on stage. As with Catch Me If You Can, Mind Over Matter was produced and mixed by Justin Meli at Chalet Studios in Uxbridge, Ontario, with guitar tech assistance by Kevin Comeau of Crown Lands, and drum tech assistance by Jordan Gauthier of the YC Drum Company.
We caught up with Kyle Wilton just as Excuses Excuse prepared to kick off a full Canadian tour this fall with an appearance on Sept. 21 at Hopefest in Waterloo, Ontario alongside headliners Fucked Up. For full dates and links for purchase or stream Mind Over Matter, go to excusesexcuses.ca.
What’s the concept behind your new EP?
We wanted to do something a little different instead of simply writing a bunch of similar songs about similar things. Although each of the three singles included in the EP are thematically unique, each song represents a different side of the band’s personality. The entire reason behind this was that we wanted to provide people with an honest view of who we actually are, not just who they see on the stage for the short period of a performance. For us, this was so important because the reality of the music industry is that we are all just people, like everyone else. We struggle, we laugh, we love, we break down, and we always have to get up again to keep moving. As music consumption changes, the public must understand that because many of us don’t have much money behind us, we are doing this based solely on our passion. Hopefully, the EP can help people to empathize with us on a more personal level.
What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?
I find that, since I write mainly about my own experiences and emotions throughout life, the newest songs resonate the most. But that always seems to shift after a while as life shifts too. For this release it is definitely the title track, Mind Over Matter, that sticks out for me. This song focuses on the struggles of having chronic mental health and addiction problems, which are important topics to discuss; these issues have haunted me from a very young age. I wrote that song because I often feel that people still overlook the effects that mental illness can have on people, leading them to provide empty advice from their lack of understanding.
You’ve just released an intense video for that song. What’s the story behind it?
The new video was a labour of love-type project for us. Since we self-fund and shoot all of our videos, it can be extremely tough to make a music video that tells a meaningful story, but I was determined to do something a little more outside-the-box and impactful. With this video we wanted it to complement the song in showing a more honest version of what a struggle with mental illness can look and feel like, and help people to understand that life is often not as simple as it seems from the outside lens. We ended up teaming up with some friends of ours from college who studied videography and cinema, to create a more cinematic, plot-driven video instead of just filming ourselves playing. Honestly, it has to be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences because we can be proud that we made something that has the potential to actually make a difference.
What’s been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
For all of us, it’s been adjusting to life as a touring band and learning to run ourselves the same way that bands with major backing do. After graduating from college, it has been quite the trip because the days tend to become one-in-the-same, and it can be very hard to re-learn how to keep up with organizing all of the moving parts of life. That being said, we have sat down with a few awesome friends in the industry who have helped us realize the importance of taking your time to do things properly, as opposed to rushing through to get them done. That has been a priceless lesson. As a result of the last year's learning and growing, we are now about to embark on our first nationwide tour and radio campaign, and we couldn't be more excited!
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from past touring?
To be honest, touring has been by far the most eye-opening experience of being in a band. We have learned so much about each other that we would never have expected after being friends for so long and learned how to read and respect each other’s personal needs. We have also learned after countless nights of eating junk, getting no sleep, and running into vehicle setbacks that it is critical to always have a plan and be ready for the absolute worst. It is the most devastating for us when we have to cancel shows, even though it is almost always out of our control.
But the most crucial lesson we probably have learned is that you need to make sure to take care of your body both physically and mentally while you are on the road. In the first year of touring, we overlooked our health because we were so caught up having these crazy new experiences. We ate fast food every single day and didn't really care when or where we slept. It became very clear that was going to be a hazard if we wanted to keep performing at our best each night, especially when I kept getting light-headed and nearly fainting by the end of the set. I guess the most important take-away has been that when you have an alternative lifestyle that restricts your freedom, you must always be listening to your body and continuously re-evaluating to help yourself adjust accordingly.
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