05 Jul
Interview with VEXXUM

Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.

Tell us a few things about VEXXUM (Members, Starting Year etc).
Matt: Vexxum goes all the way back to 2010 when I was 13 and began jamming with some friends from school. We disbanded, and I ultimately restarted Vexxum in January 2017 with some friends from high school. Over the years there have been many lineup changes, and now I’m the only original member. Kevin Givens is the lead singer and bass player, and Geremi Perez is the guitarist.

Geremi: I hit up the band in 2019 to try out for guitar, and in the beginning of 2020 I became their guitarist.

Kevin: Vexxum is the first band I became the singer of, and the band whose album I put the most effort into. I joined the band in October of 2022 with my first show opening for Warbringer.

You have recently released your album ''Lost in Infinity''. What is the feedback from your audience as well as from the press?
Matt: So far it seems like our fans really enjoy the album. It’s our heaviest, fastest record yet and I think people are excited to hear it. I haven’t really seen any negative reviews yet.

Geremi: Overall most people really dug our new stuff. We got a variety of songs that sound really sick.

Kevin: Overall so far the reaction has been positive with this being my first album as the main vocalist. It's been nerve racking but good.

Label or DIY and why?
Matt: Ultimately the goal is to end up on a label, but until then we’re DIY. We handle all the business ourselves and trust few outside of ourselves to get the job done how we want.

Geremi: DIY.

Kevin: DIY because we didn't want to wait on a label when we could finish it and release it ourselves.

Is there any funny or weird story from the recordings or from your live shows that you would like to share with us?
Matt: Too many to count! How about the time we almost got into a fight with a Misfits cover band or when shotgun-wielding police shut down a show? Or the time we headlined a Halloween gig in a cemetery? Maybe the time I watched someone purposefully run over another show-goer with their car, or the random turkey kept as a pet in a backyard we played. Just a few off the top of my head!

Geremi: Playing my second show with the guys, we played at a backyard gig, our set got held back so much that we ended up playing until like 12 or 1am. I screwed up a few songs in the set and there was barely a crowd, our singer at the time was talking in the mic while I poorly played my rendition to the SpongeBob theme song, and the guys didn't like that very much.

Kevin: When we opened for Crypta I brought my old mic, which is an old fashioned style mic, and the mic kept flipping upside down.

Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?
Matt: I like vinyl but I prefer CD. That’s what I grew up with and it’s more accessible. I have a growing collection of both, though. I value tangible music, especially when it comes with the sleeve or booklet containing all the lyrics, liner notes, pictures, artwork, and everything that really completes the album. You don’t get that with digital music.

Geremi: I love CD's, just seeing the art and booklets are pretty cool. Plus it's a way to show support for the band, especially the local bands.

Kevin: I like CD just because I have a CD player. Vinyl is cool, but is just bigger, and I don't have a tape deck.

Your music style is Thrash Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)
Matt: Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Mastodon, Ghost, Def Leppard, Dio, ACDC, Crypta, Warbringer…is that everything? Probably not…

Geremi: My biggest influences are Marty Friedman and Angus Young. The most influential bands currently for me are Warbringer, Metallica, Violator, and Megadeth.

Kevin: Metallica, Lich King, Power Trip.

Which things do you think a band should sacrifice in order to succeed? Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future for your band?
Matt: Actually I’m a father. Any time I do anything band related I’m sacrificing time with my family. My priorities are straight but the band is a huge part of my life and my family understands that. It’s a balancing act and requires some serious time management skills.

Geremi: I sacrificed my time away from my parents and family. I'd always go to big family functions like Christmas or Easter, even birthdays. I missed so many birthdays and missed my first Easter with my family, just to play shows.

Kevin: You're definitely gonna be sacrificing some sleep. From late shows to recording it takes up a lot of time.

Describe your ideal live show as a performance band. Have you already experienced that?
Matt: Well my dream show wouldn’t even involve us as the headliner, but as support for Iron Maiden. That would be beyond belief! My end goal in general though is to be the headliner on a big tour or at a big venue.

Geremi: A huge crowd with endless circle pits.

Kevin: The ideal for me was how our show with Crypta went. The sound was great, the crowd was great during the show and after.

What attributes do you think that a new Thrash Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
Matt: In this day and age when whatever you do has been done before, it’s tough to find that “uniqueness.” Your influences will always come out in your writing. But as long as your band is critical of its own writing and can add its own little “twist,” it’s certainly possible to develop your own sound.

Geremi: The biggest factor for me is giving the audience the energy, don't look dead, don't stand around, give the crowd your full energy and 9 times out of 10 they'll give it back to you.

Kevin: You gotta work on establishing the unique sound of your own band as a way to stand apart.

Do you believe that Digital Platforms help the new Thrash Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a band to promote its work?
Matt: It’s a double-edged sword. Digital platforms make music so much more accessible. For us to ship a single CD halfway across the world, it would cost more than what we sell our CDs for—but it’s easy for someone in Greece to find and listen to our music digitally. At the same time, an album is an expensive ordeal. We spend a lot of money making one, so when fans buy our CDs, they help us recover some of that. The only way to see any real monetary benefit from digital platforms is to become as big as Metallica.

Geremi: It definitely helps spread the word, but there are so many bands out there it's hard to keep up with each band and their new releases.

Kevin: Digital platforms are an asset and a crutch in my opinion, getting exposure is fairly easy but you could have a lot of followers on a social media page but your followers are super spread out over a large area and it makes it hard sometimes to populate a show with your fans.

Do you see any differences between the US Metal Market & the EU Metal Market (Labels, Bands, Fans etc)?
Matt: I’ve never been to Europe—much less played there—so any notions I have about what metal is like there is based on what other people say. The general opinion is that Europe is where the passion is—but Brazil might argue with that. I think metalheads are generally hyper-passionate about their music wherever you find them.

Geremi: I feel like the EU metal market are more invested in the metal community. There's festivals for days, and fans over there take it much seriously than over here.

Kevin: The European crowd definitely seems more dedicated to going out to shows than the US, but that may be more a product of how much smaller Europe is than the US rather than dedication.

Tell us a few things about the New Underground Metal Scene in West Covina, California (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)
Matt: There’s actually a handful of metal and punk bands in and around West Covina, surprisingly. Perhaps the best band out of our area is Mortalis, based in the neighboring town of La Puente. Most of the scene, though, is spread throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Geremi: There's a few bands out here that are pretty cool, but there's so many upcoming ones. It's LA so it's an ongoing thing.

Kevin: Once you earn a fan you've earned a friend. They'll go out of their way to support their friends and their favorite local bands.

Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?
Matt: I believe it’s centered in Greece and consists mostly of black and death metal. Unless I’m mistaken, Rotting Christ comes from that scene.

Geremi: I do not.

Kevin: I haven't heard of that.

The last 4 years, worldwide in the world, we have faced many dark, strange & new situations in our everyday life (covid, lock-down etc.) Did all of this affect you positively or negatively?
Matt: Positively. Our own governor in California didn’t obey the stay-at-home orders he mandated for us, so why should we have? We went back to playing shows instead. Many other local bands didn’t, which gave us room to hop on more bills and stay busy. The only shows we could get were very underground—backyards, alleys, parking lots, riverbeds, etc. The kids came out to those shows, every weekend. Of course, we were never ignorant of how Covid was impacting a lot of people, including our loved ones. But it gave us the chance to grow quickly in the local scene at a time when the band was one of the few good things we had.

Geremi: When covid happened it actually helped us a lot! 2020 was the busiest year for us. People are at home bored, so the backyard shows really boosted our fan base at the time.

Kevin: I was fine with a lock down because at the time I was basically a shut in anyways. I didn't really go out very often and my bands weren't playing any shows because of covid. But by the time it ended I was itching to play a show.

What are your future plans?
Matt: We’ve got more tunes coming down the pipeline and we have ideas of putting together a compilation. We’re gearing up to play a bunch of shows to support the new album. We want to tour soon but are taking our time to set ourselves up for that.

Geremi: Going on tour and working on a huge compilation with other bands from across the states!

Kevin: Write more music play, more shows, and get better.

Thank you very much for your time & keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Matt: Thank you to anyone who took the time to read through our ramblings, and to Filthy Dogs for having us! If you haven’t already, take a gander at our latest album “Lost in Infinity” and check out our social media pages. Stay heavy!

By Steve the Filthy Dog.








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