Gig preview: Ex Hex at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Ex Hex. Picture: Jonah Takagi
Ex Hex. Picture: Jonah Takagi
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If Mary Timony’s last band, the indie supergroup Wild Flag, was stymied by the fact that its members, who included Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney, lived a five-hour plane journey apart, her new outfit is an altogether more straightforward proposition.

Ex Hex is a garage punk/power pop trio based in Washington DC, featuring Timony on vocals and guitar, Laura Harris on drums and Betsy Wright on bass.

“We’ve been together for about a year and a half,” explains Timony. “We just started a new band. I was jamming with Laura, the drummer, on a bunch of songs then we met up with Betsy and it clicked.”

A seasoned member of DC post-punk scene, whose previous bands have included the well-regarded Helium as well as Autoclave and Soft Power, Timony has described this group as the most fun she’s had.

“Definitely the music in this band is designed to be pretty fun,” she elaborates. “It’s not like it’s arty, thinking music; it’s more straight ahead pop songs, pretty much.”

At a zippy 35 minutes long, their first album, Rips, has a late-Seventies CBGB’s vibe.

“I think we all love that era of music, so that would make sense,” Timony says. “I think we were kind of going for similar music – early 80s power pop, some glam rock like Slade. The guy who recorded some of it, Mitch Easter, I love things like his band Let’s Active. It was from that era a little bit in terms of how the songs sounded.”

Timony began playing guitar 30 years ago. “I was like 13 or 14,” she recalls. “My brother had gotten one. I remember asking him to show me how to play some songs on it. I liked that you could write songs on it. Open chords were pretty easy to play. You put some chords together and got a song.”

In recent years, as well as writing, recording and performing, she also runs guitar lessons.

“It’s pretty cool, I enjoy it a lot,” she says. “I’m not doing it now as much because we are touring. I teach out of the basement of my house.”

Going by her students, she sees promise of a ‘rock renaissance’.

“What maybe that meant was I think there’s a lot of great music going on now, for sure,” she explains. “I love teaching the kids I teach. It’s nice to see them getting really into music and excited about it. It makes me inspired to see that.”

She’s described Ex Hex as a “weird combination of the meticulous and the totally not”.

“Within the band that’s definitely true,” she says. “The arrangements of the songs are done extremely meticulously. We listen back again and again. I can record in the basement of my house. The songs are written then the arrangements are done by listening back and editing them. I don’t think any of us work in that way naturally. It’s a weird combination, a foreign thing, for sure.”

Much of the next six months will be taken up touring – after the UK and Europe they have “a whole bunch of other tours” in the US.

Timony hopes they’ll also find time to write new material.

“We are going to try and start doing that. It’s almost impossible unless you have a tour bus and roadies. After the European tour we have a lot of other tours that are shorter, with more stints at home. There are four new songs we’re working on now, they’re not totally done yet.”

Ex Hex play at the Brudenell Social Club on February 11, 7.30pm, £9. http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on/ex-hex/

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