Fresh Tracks: Exit303 reflects on his legacy while eagerly awaiting his new EP

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Exit 303 – Don’t let go

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Time humbles us all, especially musicians. The Edmonton rockers of Exit303 know this battle well as they have been battling time constraints for over 20 years.

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After releasing an EP in November with a handful of new material, including an update to 2003 track You’re A Star, the band are constantly struggling to strike a work balance between music and life.

« Our nemesis has always been time and availability, » says keyboardist Cameron Ambrose. « Music is our passion but not our full-time career, so there has always been a balance between work, home and music. »

Exit303 released two albums of original music in the early 2000s, but the members focused primarily on performing rather than recording. The incorporation of covers into the sets allowed the band to perform at more venues, playing around 250 shows at local and mountain clubs until drummer Todd Chisholm died in the avalanche in McBride, British Columbia, in January 2016, ends the live. law.

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Lead singer Dean Park says the desire to create original music drove him and fellow bandmates Ambrose, bassist Michael Ricketts and drummer Tristan Rodil, to reunite and release 2017’s From Here, which struggled with the loss of Chisholm. The new EP, Don’t Let Go, continues the tradition of recording the band’s music at Ambrose’s studio, Braindead Digital, but thanks to modern technology, tracks were able to be recorded at other venues and studios before to be finally mixed and mastered by Ambrose.

“We learned to use Pro Tools to collaborate remotely and move the project forward,” says Ambrose.

The songs are a throwback to the band’s alternative rock sound of the early 2000s. Compared to the softer, introspective songs of From Here, Don’t Let Go relies heavily on distorted guitar leads with soaring choruses. Park says the band decided to tweak You’re A Star, including updated keyboards, to appeal to new ears.

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Remote gaming and other modern technological luxuries are a far cry from the online world Exit303 found itself in when the band first started.

« Having a website was a big deal, » Ambrose recalls of the band’s early forays into online marketing. « We were doing video promotion while it was still delivered (the size of) postage stamps. »

Exit303's new EP, Don't Let Go.
Exit303’s new EP, Don’t Let Go. Photo by SUPPLIED

The band also found success when they partnered with PumpAudio in 2003, one of the first online music licensing programs, placing their songs on thousands of TV and video programs such as Man vs Food, Dr. Drew and other MTV and VH1 productions. The financial rewards weren’t lucrative enough to allow the band members to quit their day jobs, but it was a welcome source of income at a time when traditional methods of selling music were facing upheaval due to the advent of online models.

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“We’ve always tried to push the boundaries of what an indie band can do,” Ambrose says, reflecting on the band’s legacy. “We tried to differentiate ourselves and people back then even though we came out of nowhere and that got us places… showcases at industry music festivals and openings for commercial acts .

« We’ve always continued to set ourselves apart by pushing the boundaries of technology with our shows and now we’re playing a bit of catch-up. »

Listen to Exit303’s Don’t Let Go on Apple Music or Spotify.

Check out the Edmonton Journal’s Fresh Tracks playlist on Spotify.

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