The death metal boys in Exsected jump on the all-ages Blount movement
By Steve Wildsmith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rock ‘n’ roll is serious business, especially when you’re a group of (mostly) high school students playing death metal.
There’s the long hair, the dark clothes, the attitude — they’re stereotypical, but to a certain extent they’re necessary, because the music itself demands a certain darkness. And because of that, those who dabble in the death metal arts are often stigmatized as trouble-makers or Satan-worshippers or criminals-in-the-making.
They’re sneered at by peers, given 50 feet by neighbors and generally avoided by anyone who doesn’t recognize the names of the bands on their T-shirts.
The five members of Exsected have experience with all of those things, but they’ll be the first to tell you — their lives aren’t as dour as their music might suggest. Take, for instance, the grandmother of drummer Brian Tyler, in whose home the band practices.
“She didn’t even know we were downstairs practicing until a week ago,” Tyler told The Daily Times this week, seated with his bandmates in Exsected around a table at The Daily Times. “She doesn’t hear too good.”
Imagine her surprise when she ventured downstairs and discovered two of her grandson’s friends setting up their guitar rigs — and her grandson was nowhere to be found.
“Brian had left, and it was just me and Dagon (Seagraves)!” bass player Corey Anderson said, laughing. “She pulled back the curtain and just sort of stood there, and I was like, ‘Um, Dagon ...’”
Grandma, it turns out, is cool with the guys turning her downstairs into an abyss of churning guitar and adolescent rage. And the guys are cool with pushing on, trying to turn Exsected into the next big thing to come out of Blount County, a dream inspired by their heroes — the members of internationally known death metal band Whitechapel, three of whose members are from Blount County.
In fact, Whitechapel guitarist Ben Savage provided the inspiration for Seagraves, who discovered quite by accident — in another of those this-is-so-not-metal-it’s-funny moments — that Savage was visiting the home of Whitechapel guitarist Gabe Crisp, whose parents happened to live across the street from Seagraves.
“I was just getting into metal, but I knew who Whitechapel was, and when I found out, I went a little bit nuts,” he admitted.
And how did he find out?
“There was this 17-year-old girl who wouldn’t leave them alone,” he said. “She was stalking them, I guess, and she introduced me.”
Turns out the Whitechapel boys were fan-friendly. Savage taught Seagraves a thing or two on the guitar, and he turned to Tyler. (Both are juniors at William Blount High School.)
“Me and Brian used to talk about music and writing music all the time,” Seagraves said.
Tyler started out playing bass but got a taste for the drums by playing Rock Band. When he tried out the real thing, it turns out he wasn’t too bad. They looked around for other band members and saw Jacob Willis, a home-schooled junior whom they knew played guitar. At the time, his shaggy hair and menacing demeanor intimidated Seagraves and Tyler.
Once introductions were made, Willis introduced Anderson to the rest of the band, and a bass player was added to the lineup. The four-piece held auditions for a number of vocalists but never quite found someone who fit until Tyler’s cousin recommended a junior over at Heritage High School, Zack Lemings.
“We had a voice in mind, but we couldn’t find anyone we liked,” Seagraves said.
“Range — Zack had range,” Corey said. “I remember Jacob and I were running late to practice and Zack had to leave the audition early, so he only had about five minutes. But that’s all we needed. He could hit the highs and the lows.”
This is Lemings’ first band experience, but he’s no stranger to rock ‘n’ roll — his father is a guitar player, he said, and his motto is, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.”
(All of the guys are supported by their family members. Willis’ grandparents accompanied him to the interview, and Seagraves said his parents are metal-heads themselves, having introduced him to Megadeth when he “was in the womb.”)
Now that the pieces are in place, the boys in Exsected are working on an identifiable sound. They play a number of various types of death metal, Seagraves said, each member drawing from his various influences to produce an overall sound that calls to mind the bones of children being ground to powder under the tank treads of an invading army.
Already, they’re working to promote an all-ages music scene in Blount County, and Saturday night, they’ll perform as part of a multi-band bill that’s being promoted as “Maryville Mosh Mayhem.” There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but helping maintain a place for rock fans of any age to come see live music is already something of a reward, Tyler said.
And of course, the guys draw inspiration from their heroes in Whitechapel.
“To see that those guys came from Maryville, it gives us hope that if we work hard enough, maybe we can do it, too,” Seagraves said.