As part of a collaboration with ReverbNation in association with Broken Amp (who have since been absorbed into the PureGrainAudio family), we chose Australians Solace in Exile as a band who show enormous potential, with their stylistic progressive metal and intricate musicianship shining through under the direction of bass guitarist and lead songwriter Mike Lambeth. We caught up with Mike to delve into the band’s history, as well as to discuss where Solace in Exile are in 2018.
“When I came over from New Zealand to live in Australia, I put an ad in a heavy metal record store and met two guys who were in a thrash metal band that had recently broke up,” explains Mike. “While they were playing thrash metal, both of them were also into some of the more prog bands I was listening to like Alice in Chains, Tool and Soundgarden. We jammed and I introduced a few of my songs I was writing, and when we felt like we had something going, we advertised for a singer and found Rick.”
Along with Mike and vocalist Rick Faulkner, drummer Mike Quigley and guitar duo Tyran Minett and Joshua Szabo, Solace in Exile reformed in 2011 and began writing new music.
You’re certainly “Justified” in taking some time to watch this video.
Their most recent release and debut full-length – 2013’s New Acquaintances… and Absent Friends – is the sound of a band with a diverse range of influences, which Mike is keen to discuss. “Before I was playing in original rock bands, I was playing bass in musicals (back in New Zealand) like Chess, Little Shop of Horrors or jazz-sounding musicals like Anything Goes,” he recalls. “Although I never got the chance to play in the show, Les Misérables was always my favourite musical and Phantom of the Opera. I also used to play in a Big Band and a five-piece jazz band.”
When it comes to Solace in Exile, however, their direct influences are considerably more rock and metal-oriented. I ask him to sum up the band’s sound for anyone unfamiliar with their music. “Progressive rock/metal with a ’90s sound? Black Sabbath meets Faith No More? If I were to list the top ten influential albums I was listening to at the time of writing,” says Mike, “it would probably look a little like this:”
Anthrax – Sound of White Noise Shihad – Killjoy Devin Townsend - Ocean Machine: Biomech Filter – Title of Record Dio – Strange Highways Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer Faith No More – King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger Alice in Chains – Dirt
Stream New Acquaintances… and Absent Friends just below.
The songs on New Acquaintances… range in style from Ayreon-style progressive exploration (“The Jigsaw Conspiracy”) through to Anthrax-inspired riffing (“Justified”) and even a touch of Faith No More’s spiky, bass-led belligerence (“Insinuate”). “With the album we were going for quite a broad sound,” Mike continues, “[with] some fast songs, some odd time signatures, songs that differ from song to song. I remember listening to a few of the nu-metal-type bands in the ‘90s and while a song or two might perk some interest with me, I’d be disappointed when I’d hear the album because everything else seemed like a variation on the same song – same chords and key and similar riffs. I get bored easily. I didn’t want that for our record.”
The release of New Acquaintances… prompted Mike to travel to Europe and, although not the successful trip he’s hoped for, it spurred him on to continue his musical journey. “In 2013 I went overseas to Germany and London to try and get some interest in the album, but ran out of money and had to come home. Once I got back on my feet, we did a video clip for “The Gift”. That was such a fun experience we did a clip for “Temptation.”
Progressive music is a clear influence for Solace in Exile, and the genre’s penchant for a story or narrative within the music certainly comes though on the album. “I liked the lyrical subject matter on Anthrax – Sound of White Noise and Shihad – Killjoy that were kind of everyday experience,” explains Mike, which rationalises much of his own band’s lyrical content that focuses on first-hand experiences, stories, as well as his favourite movies and fiction. “[New Acquaintances…] was a combination of themes and individual narratives,” he says. “I write the music first, I find that’s the best way – as it gives you parameters to work within.” Continuing, he provides further insight into his creative process: “Most times I have an idea what the song might be about. Other times a riff will come to me and I might have a general idea of what direction the song might take. Sometimes I will write a complete musical arrangement with no lyrics in mind and just let the song lyrics come to me later.”
Insert funny job about being tempted to watch the “Temptation” video...
Further discussing his interests and favourite media, the band describe themselves as “sci-fi manga metal”, with such things clearly influencing the band’s overall aesthetic, as well as individual songs being inspired by manga series such as Neon Genesis (“Giant of Light”) and Ghost In The Shell (“2501”). “I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks, like Batman Begins, The X-Files, Star Wars, Interview with the Vampire,” Mike says. “I’d love to write a Star Wars song, or something based on a Marvel comic character, [or] maybe a take on a Stephen King novel or something horror/thriller based?”
For anyone whose interest is now piqued, what better place to start than the band members’ own top picks and current fan favourites? “‘Slaughtered’ and ‘Louis Cypher’ are a couple of my own favourites. Mainly ‘cause they are fun to play live and with ‘Louis Cypher’ I get to personally shout expletives at the audience – that’s always fun!” Mike tells me. “I know Rick, Josh and Tyran love playing “Slaughtered”, and “Temptation” is probably Rick’s favourite song that we play. “Mental Divergence” is definitely a fan favourite and “The Gift” – partly due to our vampire video clip.”
With things having been rather quiet in the Solace in Exile camp over the past couple of years, Mike is keen to get the ball rolling once again, with new songs already being worked on and shows in the pipeline. “We have already recorded the drums for two new songs, with the intention of recording some more this year and doing some video clips. I won’t say too much about the new songs except that they are a bit more up-tempo,” teases Mike as I ask him about where the band are at in 2018. “We’ll play some shows after we release some new songs, which hopefully won’t be too far off.”
PureGrainAudio would like to thank Mike Lambeth for his time, and we wish him and Solace In Exile all the best with their future endeavours!