By Kayden Desmond
CALGARY — Getting noticed in the oversaturated realms of music requires ingenuity. Whether you love ‘em or loathe ‘em, Toronto’s driving metalcore act Exes for Eyes exercised ingenuity on their recent Platinum Project campaign and were rewarded in spades for their resourcefulness. After announcing they planned to sell a million albums at one dollar each to achieve American RIAA platinum certification, the Internet caught on. The suggested cost was simple: rather than paying a record label for the huge overhead associated with recording, packaging, producing and releasing an album, people directly purchased the second full-length album Tongues Like Figure Eights from the band via download for one dollar. Although sales of a million are unrealistic for basically everyone (not a single album went platinum in 2014, according to Forbes), the band walked away with sales numbers in the eye-popping range of over 14,000. Although that means they’ve technically gone gold in Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Columbia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines and Portugal, SoundScan ain’t having it: albums must cost $3.49 and up to count within sales realms. No matter. Their 2011 debut The Amsler Grid sold “less than a thousand” copies. Put in perspective, this means an independent act, who are only on their second release, now has a hefty sum to help support their extensive plans for recording, touring and promotional materials.
To learn more about Exes for Eyes, we chatted with vocalist James Arsenian. A larger than life metal personality, Arsenian is the former vocalist of Endast (he quit in late February), host of the Big James Morning Show and mastermind behind Right Hook Microphones, a speciality company that produces the tool of the trade for vocalists.
BeatRoute: Can you tell me about your new album Tongues like Figure Eights?
James Arsenian: Dave our drummer will start writing tunes and record things himself, and then send those song ideas for approval from me. I live in Montreal and the guys all live in Toronto; so I’ll fly to Toronto, meet the guys and just lay out vocal tracks, after the guys have done their part, so like its super fun because when I get into town it’s all business we get right down to it. I’m really stoked on this record, we have some awesome guests like Björn Strid of Soilwork, Lisa Sinner of [Toronto based metal act] Out Of The Ruins, and a couple of guest solos from a friend of ours Dominic Cifarelli, who was in Scars on Broadway. One of the guys from System of a Down, he works a solo on the record and it’s so good! …. We had some really cool guests; it was a really slow process writing that record and the result was something we’re really proud of!
BR: What song means the most to you on a personal level from either of your albums?
JA: I think off the new record “Gone for Good” has personal value to me. Singing words that mean a lot to me personally and delivering such an incredible performance, it’s a memory that I’m going to cherish forever.
BR: The Platinum Project really took off, the response was incredible. Can you give us some more insight into what inspired the idea?
JA: The idea behind the Platinum Project is that [we’re] really an independent act and it’s just us who need to get paid out of this project, we don’t have a record label or any of that stuff. We decided to sell the album for how much we would make, however with people on our side. With our last album we were with a small Canadian record label and weren’t making much more than a couple bucks off each album sold. So we thought, what if we sold the album for a dollar a piece, to see if it sells more and really set a specific goal so that we can get people behind the idea. So we set a goal of one million. Aim high, right?
See Exes for Eyes at the Media Club in Vancouver on March 19, at Dickens in Calgary on March 20 and at Rendezvous in Edmonton on March 21.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Dickens, Exes For Eyes, Media Club, Rendezvous