By Rhea Riley
Excited, inspired, hungry and contemporary pop and indie band Exnations continue to ride the high of their Pink Haze summer tour in one of their last stops at Milwaukee’s Miramar Theater.
The Brooklyn based trio comprised of drummer Taylor Hughes, bassist John O’Neill and lead singer and guitarist Sal Mastrocola form the self-proclaimed “sad pop” band but they are so much more than that.
Exnations can be described as a millennial poster child for modern 21st century musical art.
For these independent recording artists, everything is self-made with a lot of care. As a mix of advertisers and designers during the day time, the band has a keen eye for the artistry, detail and quality of their work. From their merchandise to their web designs, and even to their music videos and stage production, they are hands on. This also extends to the way they create their sound.
“It gives us all the chance to inject our own personal influences in a really meaningful way and then it becomes a little greater than the sum of its parts,” said Mastrocola on their music making process.
Discarding the common process of creating through “jam sessions,” this band instead uses file hosting system Dropbox. Each member is then able to create freely and expressively before tying it all together to create a new song. This same process was used in creating the refreshing, yet familiar sound heard in their latest sophomore EP, Pink Haze.
With singles “Tether” and “John Hughes Movie Soundtrack”, Pink Haze takes you back in time while remaining planted in the present. Pink Haze places you right in the middle of a summer dream, filled warm hazy blues and pinks—It’s inviting and energetic.
“It’s about nostalgia,” said Mastrocola. “If you use it properly it can help you move forward.”
The band drew from various influences such as Netflix’s Black Mirror, John Hughes classics like Ferris Bueller and 16 candles along with musical influences such as King Princess, Billie Eilish, and the minimalist style of Lorde. Each song draws you in with a feeling and a sonic aesthetic exceling in tying the ends of two very different and expressive cultures, the 80s and the 2000s.
To promote their new work, the band embarked on their nine-stop tour, Pink Haze presented by Idobi Anthm.
“I don’t want to go to a concert and see what I can listen to by myself at home,” said Hughes. “Being in the studio and being in an environment where you need to perform live should be two completely different artforms.
Joined by several other visiting bands including Chicago’s August Hotel and tour partner 90’s kids, Exnations stop at the Miramar’s “The Showcase” allowed the band to present their awesome stage presence. Tapping into an edgier rock version of Pink Haze the band literally let their hair down. With smoke machines and projection displays, they gave an electric and driving performance.
Their summer tour ended back home in Brooklyn on July 13, but the band is hungry for more.
“We are always thinking about the next steps. It’s kind of cool that we are never satisfied,” said Hughes on their new inspiration from their tour. “I’ve never met people that are like me that are constantly hungry for more.”
Exnations looks forward to setting their heights on more tours including a UK tour and even collaborating with other artists. But, first they will be releasing the music video for the single “John Hughes Movie Soundtrack.”
To learn more about Exnations visit: www.exnations.com