Warm Exit Interview: “Leave the Room on the Laughs”

Brussel’s most exciting new post-punk band Warm Exit has released their debut album, Ultra Violence. To learn more about the band and the album, we asked them whatever is on our mind. And they responded, sincerely.

First off, a very predictable warm-up question: How did Warm Exit come to be?

So, Warm Exit has probably had more shapes and forms than are still traceable, but let’s try. Once upon a time there was Valentino (guitars and lead vocals) who had the idea of starting a punk band. It wasn’t Tino’s first group or anything, he knew his way around. He quickly amassed some nice folk from around Brussels to work out the concept but, through all sorts of circumstances, those people ended up leaving the group. Then at a certain point Tino met the still very young Max Poelmann (bass guitar) who, after having lived a quasi-nomadic life around the globe, only quite recently had settled in Brussels. Together they built further on the concept that then evolved into an egg punk trio, being joined by Martin Dubessay on the drums. He sort of hardly knew how to drum back then but I guess none of us are virtuosos on our instruments, plus Martin has more than any one of us trained himself to be the tight-ass drummer he is now. Even metronomes are jealous of him nowadays. The egg punk thing got kind of old after a while and we tried to blow some new life into the existing concept by chasing a more industrial and less jumpy sound. So, we wanted someone handling some synths to texturize the whole thing. 

After trying on some synth players for a bit, having given up the idea, then rebooting the idea, Joris came to join in for a sesh and soon after became the fourth Warm Exit gang member. That was during the last week of recording overdubs of the first album so Joris had to take in a lot at once there. Poor soul.

That’s us I guess. We left out a lot of names but they know who they are and we have nothing but love for them. Thinking out loud here, but our Wikipedia band members timeline will look weird once somebody bothers to make us a wiki page. Which isn’t about to happen any time soon.

Does the name Warm Exit have a meaning or story attached to it?

To us, a warm exit signifies some kind of an epic last blast before annihilation. The opposite of a slow fading away, you know? A spectacular death. Sort of like telling a joke and you leave the room on the laughs. There’s this idea, we don’t know if it’s scientifically approved or whatever but apparently the moment that you’re about to die, your brain releases a shot of DMT into your body and it’s supposed to smoothen the transition from living to dead. So if your brain is intact upon death, you end the whole ‘being alive’ thing in an absurdist psychedelic realm, tripping your proverbial balls off. We think that that’s beautiful. 

Your debut album Ultra Violence has just been released, and I must say that sonically, it is a record that lives up to that title. Going into the studio, did you know that this was the sound you were aiming for?

At the beginning, the project was more egg-punk oriented like we said. We did a 4 track EP, and I think a year after that we realized that, creatively, we were going in circles. So we took a brand new approach, we all came from different horizons, musically speaking, and we decided to bring a bunch of new influences. That’s what’s great with post-punk, you can throw a lot of stuff in it. The hard part is to stay coherent in your music with a wide range of inspirations.

We knew that we wanted something violent, sonic, frontal, and industrial, with interesting structures, and dissonant melodies. We had an idea of what we were aiming for, but a large part of the ideas that emerged were found in the studio, during the recording. 

Detail the album creation process with three very specific memories that stuck in your mind.

This is a hard one, this album took two years to write and record and the entire experience was filled with ups and downs, moments of deep fun, doubts and huge arguments. 

But we will try our best.

First off, we recall the first day in the studio together, it was the first time we were doing this as a band, the previous EP was recorded only by Tino and Max. We were all very excited by it, and right off the bat we recorded the songs Ultra Violence and T.V. Then…. The process kind of slowed down. If you would have told us then that between that first day and the actual release of the album would be two whole years, we would have told you to fork off. But it turned out to be true. In those years we had hours of recordings, rewriting, a ton of gigs, and a shitload of pool table parties.

Definitely worth it though. 

Then, when Martin was doing the vocals of Positive Anxiety, our sound engineer Mathieu Versini had the brilliant idea to put auto-tune on it. It sounded absolutely horrifying, yet hilarious. We didn’t keep it, but it made us laugh for hours. It doesn’t sound like something important, but when it’s the third day of recording in a row, and you’re tired and stressed, a bit of fun can make a huge difference.

And finally, not a recording memory but a tour memory that became a running joke in the band. We were out in Germany last year around April I guess, we just played the Loophole in Berlin and after the show this guy walked up to us, all amazed-like as if he just saw the Divine light or something. He was a really nice and cool fellow, very praising of us. He said at some point something like “guys, trust me, one year from now you’ll be bigger than IDLES.” So we took that as our goal. Easy peasy dude, they’re only like the most successful band of the last 10 years. By November we were like ‘guys, only half a year left and we’re bigger than IDLES!’ Or Martin would be feeling sad and sitting in the rehearsal room behind his drums and would ask ‘Max? How much time ‘til we’re bigger than IDLES?’ ‘Only eight months left, buddy. Cheer up.’

What were the two easiest and hardest tracks to shape from this record?

The two easiest were “T.V.” and “Positive Anxiety”. 

“T.V.” is the most “traditional” punk song on the record, structure-wise. “Positive Anxiety” was strangely very easy to do, even if it stands out from the rest of the album; I think it only took us one afternoon of recording and then a bit of work on the vocals. It was definitely the most ready one so it was a breeze.

The two hardest were “Damages Become A Necessity” and “Extraordinary Murders”.

“Damages Become A Necessity” is a blend of three different songs that we combined into one, it had like ten different shapes.

“Extraordinary Murders” almost didn’t make it to the album, it also had a bunch of different versions, and frankly at one point, we were considering dropping it. But we persevered I mean, we had spent so many hours on it that it would have been a big disappointment to quit on it, and so we just kept trying stuff, and in the end, it’s in our opinion one of the strongest songs of the album

What are some of your mutual musical influences?

We all definitely love Fat White Family. Songs For Our Mothers is a total banger of an album. Check it out whoever hasn’t! What is beautiful about this band is that we’re all into different stuff and our musical backgrounds are super diverse. Valentino’s been an underground music vulture for ages, used to be into psychedelic rock a lot, but has always also had the hots for post-punk, noise music, and body music. Max is all about more 70’s inspired shreddy rock and roll stuff but has a soft spot for slacker indie pop and lo-fi à la Mac Demarco. It reflects in his solo project Magic Max. Martin as a DJ (@_ohn_) has a strong electronic library and listens to all sorts of genres but electronic bass music and body music are definitely strong in him. Joris plays in a doom-metal band called Aufhebung, he was quite a metal kid so he’s into that niche as well. 

So it’s diverse but of course, we’ve got a large part that overlaps as well. Otherwise this band thing would be quite difficult. It’s more about particular artists or even songs for us than specific genres that we have in common. The Birthday Party is one that we all dig, The Fall for sure, as well as PIL, Dead Kennedys, LCD Soundsystem but also more recent stuff like Italia 90, Gilla Band, Psychotic Monks. And of course all the albums of Bonnie Tyler, she is the light of our tour van. Oh, and Easy Ego. Look it up. 

A quick game, no cheating: When you check out your streaming platform’s search history, what are the last three songs that come up ?

Martin’s spotify:

Slaves – “The Hunter”

Gilla Band – “Post Ryan”

France Gall – “Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son”

What plans are coming up for Warm Exit ?

We have a bunch of gigs coming up this year, so there is already a lot of work. We’re building a music studio at a brand new musical eco-system in Brussels called B.U.N.K. (Brussels Underground Noise Klub). It’s a big collective project with tons of other artists and musicians building their own workplace in an abandoned office building, we’re very excited about that.

We already have new songs that we play live, and soon we will hit the studio again and record the second LP.

As our dear Max is leaving the band to work on solo projects, it means there’s a spot for a new member. That’s going to be a big change for us, and even though we’re pretty sad about it, we can’t wait to do music with someone new! There’s already a guy willing to relocate from Colorado to Brussels to play bass with us so that’s flattering, to say the least.

If you had the chance to carve one of your lyrics from this album to your memorial stone 100 years from now, what would you pick ?

Frankly I haven’t a clue what Valentino keeps yelling in that mic all of the time. Something about violence?

Anything you’d like to add ?

Not immediately except for a heart-felt thanks for this interview, Deniz, and a place in your lovely magazine. Sorry it took a while to come back to you initially, but our bass player Max announced his departure and it kind of left a mark on us that lingered on.

Oh but yes there’s something for the readers.

To whom it may concern: please book us a Turkish tour. We really want to play in your amazing country and discover your music scene from up close. We’ll play in exchange for our weight in lahmacun.

You can check out Warm Exit’s Bandcamp profile here.