Under Exile hoping for slot in Warped Tour
By Shondiin Silversmith
WINDOW ROCK, April 9, 2013
N ot too long ago, Ryland Benally saw his favorite bands performing in the Vans Warped Tour.
Today, the 17-year-old is a guitarist for Under Exile, a band from Shiprock, and hopes to one day be in the shoes of those who came before him.
"We really want to do Warped Tour because a lot of our influences started there, all our favorite bands started there," Benally said. "We thought it would be kind of cool to start where they started."
The Shiprock, N.M. band members hope to make their breakout this year as they compete in an online Battle-of-the-Bands competition in which the winner will be selected as the opening act for the Vans Warped Tour, scheduled for June 26 in Las Cruces, N.M.
The online competition is one component of the competition, which allows bands to upload a profile and mustic to www.battleofthebands.com for fans to vote on using a "buzz rating system."
As of Tuesday, Under Exile ranks 10th out of 71 other bands from various states in the top-rated artists list.
In addition to Benally, Under Exile consists drummer Wyatt Billie, 15, guitarist Morgan Yabeny, 16, bass player Elijah Begay, 17, and vocalist Franklin Yazzie, 15.
The band started in 2008 with original members Benally and Yabeny, but the two got more serious over the past year and recruited the rest of their band members. They finalized their lineup in January.
"It's very exciting, I feel like we're finally building up some momentum since we entered the contest," Benally said.
Another component of the contest is the judging. Judges will use the fan votes, in addition to their musicianship, originality, ability to draw crowds, songwriting and vocal ability, to select a winner.
Judges are experts in the music world and include front man for Goldfinger John Feldmann, CEO and founder of Alternative Press Magazine Mike Shea, producer and creator of Vans Warped Tour Kevin Lyman, and co-founder of ReverbNation Lou Plaia.
"I can't say I thought it would never happen," said Yazzie. "Since the band started the opportunity has been there but the only thing that was holding us back was not having a full lineup, and since then I guess we just asked ourselves 'Why not?'"
Of winning, Yazzie said, "We don't really mind if we don't win, but since we've made the battle of the bands account we've went from 20 likes on Facebook to 105 in two weeks."
He said the best part about being able to compete in this competition is "all the support we are getting from our families, friends and fans. Considering we are still pretty much an unknown band they got us pretty far, and we are just so thankful for that."
When asked what type of sound Under Exile has, band members agreed that their genre is a mix of metal-core and metal-thrash since they draw their inspiration from bands like Trivium, Lamb of God, Machine Head and Avenged Sevenfold.
"I think the different inspirations we have from different types of music," Yazzie said, is what makes their music different because each member has a background in band from high school or middle school.
Yabeny said that when they start creating songs it starts with his guitar riffs, and depending on the emotions he feels at the time during those guitar riffs the band will build off that sound.
"If other band members can connect to what I feel then we can all just relate to that one song, and start writing stuff about that one particular feeling."
The competition has forced band members to improve in every way.
"The sound is a lot better," Benally said. "It's got more emotion in it. It's a little more complex and more technical but it still has that musicality to it."
Under Exile can be found on Facebook. Fans can cast a vote at www.battleofthebands.com/u/UnderExile.
Voting for the contest will continue until the end of this month.