This summer I met Shane Draper and Nick Allen, two best friends who decided to start a band together. Their band, The Exclusive, is going on tour this fall all over the country. With an indie pop/ alternative styled album, The Exclusive is starting out opening for bands trying to make a name for themselves. In an industry where it is hard to get a foot in the door, Shane and Nick have decided to put everything in their life on hold and follow their music dreams. They realized it was now or never, so this summer they worked extremely hard to get their music and band together for the experience of a lifetime. I was lucky to hang out with them a month ago and see how well their easy-going and fun personalities contribute to their music. I found it really interesting how they were starting their own band and had many questions for them, so a little over a week ago I did a phone interview with them about their plans for their upcoming tour.
Brielle: How did you guys come up with the name The Exclusive?
Nick: So… actually a couple days ago, one of our good friends and I were talking about how hard it is to come up with a band name when you really need one and then when you don’t need one it’s like really easy to come up with one. We decided we wanted the name to be simple and memorable, but also make any fans or followers feel like they were part of something special. So we thought The Exclusive would make us all feel like we were in a club together. And the music is supposed to be accessible, so we wanted to make our name reflect the idea that we can all be part of a group and have a mutual understanding that is special to us.
Brielle: That’s really cool. How did you guys get started, what made you want to form a band?
Shane: So earlier this year, I decided I wanted to write a pop album, and then after writing most of the songs I approached Nick about making a band and getting it all performed. We originally had some other people in the band, but they had stuff going on and it ended up just not working out for the tour… this has made it a little bit of a last minute struggle for us, but we… make all the music for this two person performance and I think we got it down.
B: Did you guys have to rearrange things because you were down two people?
S: Oh yeah…
N: Like a lot. We did, yes… basically we went from thinking that we were gonna have a drummer to not having a drummer, so we had to do a lot of stuff with music technology just to get it back on the stage.
S: Yeah, but yeah, no it’s good, it’s rolling now.
B: You only have a few songs out there, so how would you describe the style of music you play?
N: Okay… so I think we started with a couple of artists that we both listen to a lot as kind of the influences and those are like Foster the People and Young the Giant. And … I don’t know, that’s where we started and then we kind of spun it into your own style … We’re not too close to them now, what do you think? [Towards Shane]
S: I don’t think so, not as much anymore, no.
N: Yeah, so we kind of moved into our own territory now. But I would categorize it now as somewhere between indie pop and alternative, if you would agree with that.
N: And genre labels can be pretty hard to define, so we do our best not to limit the sounds we come up with, like we don’t have a genre in mind and then make music. We try to come up with our own ideas first and…whatever genre we are that’s cool. We’re definitely looking forward to incorporating more diverse genres as well, and adding different sounds as we go forward. That’s stuff we already talked about for the future.
B: Yeah, definitely I would agree with you on how you categorize your music, from what I’ve heard so far…. Who does the song writing, what are each of your roles in the band, and what instruments will you each be playing on tour?
S: So I wrote most.. I wrote all of the songs for the most part. But Nick’s been a crucial role in aiding their production and the logistics of bringing [the songs] to the stage. Also being a part of the two person indie group it’s been essential for each of us to play all the roles that aren’t musical… I planned a lot of the locations during the tour and Nick’s been responsible for everything you see on the website, the website itself and the merchandise, so those designs were pretty awesome… except for that, except for the picture on the front page that was actually taken by two strangers.
B: Oh interesting, did you just go up and ask them to take it?
S: Yeah, we asked them to come up and take it. Actually it’s a film that they took and that’s just a picture from the film.
B: Oh okay, nice.
N: It was a little awkward…
S: It was a little awkward, but it was fun. Good story.
B: What is your plan for the tour and do you know where you are stopping?
N: Yeah we are both really excited to finally get on the road because we’ve been talking about it for so long now and we definitely feel really lucky to be doing so much traveling and we’re gonna log a lot of miles, which we’re excited to do. So for us it’s a really great opportunity to see a bunch of cities we’ve always wanted to go to and we’re gonna be keeping those places in mind, because we’re gonna be thinking about… basically where we wanna call home for the next year or two because we are definitely open to moving. Which is something we’re excited about as well. And I guess the places we are most excited to stop just for… just because we’re excited to go there… would be like Nashville, New Orleans, Boston, and San Diego.
N: Were there any others you were…
N: Or is that a good list?
S: That’s probably a good list.
N: Yeah, we’re excited for those places.
B: Now do you know what places and bands you will be opening for yet or is that not decided?
S: Yeah, yeah no… so I think we are probably maybe most excited to play in California, but we’re most excited to be opening for the band Strawberry Underground, … they’re really talented group of musicians and they have this pretty unique sound, you can check them out on their facebook. Also, we’ve been friends with those guys for awhile now and they actually used to play at some of our house shows during college.
B: That’s awesome. You just released your new single “Better Than Me” on your website, can you tell me about this song?
S: Yeah sure, this song’s probably… unlike most of the other songs on the album. It has a lot more diversity in the instrumentation than the others as well, the other ones are kind of more strict in their categories. I originally wrote that song with the acoustic guitar and that maintained to be a part of it still even after all the heavy electronics in it. The song is probably more general than specific about — it’s more general than about a specific person. I think much of the album is centered around trying to make it in an industry where everyone thinks highly of themselves … and I feel like we are in a generation that is constantly trying to keep up their own like “personal brand” especially through social media. So the verses [are] about how annoying everyone is — flaunting how great their life is … And while the chorus discusses maybe more about how I do that myself, the bridge is supposed to reflect upon it. And maybe conclude that I should just be happy with everything I have.
B: Would you say a vast majority of people could relate to your songs in a way?
S: I hope so and I also wouldn’t lock any of the songs into the meaning that I wrote them for, if someone takes something else out of it them that’s totally cool.
B: How are you guys planning to get around to all these other places on your tour?
S: (laughs) Nick.
N: (laughs) So this is … I love my car more than most things in my life.
B: This is your Prius right?
N: Yeah, this is my Prius, it’s a beautiful car and we’ve … so now that we’re doing just two people, we’ve actually figured out how to get all of it to work just with the Prius. Everything packs away really nicely, so we’re gonna be saving a lot on gas that way.
B: Would you say it’s sensible?
N: I would say my Prius is both sensible and sexy.
Shane Draper singing and Nick Allen on keyboard at Boxcar.
(Photo by Bret Black)
Shane and Nick have just started their coast to coast tour from West Chester, PA and are heading down south first before going out West. Their first performance was as an opener for the band Mason Jars at a place in West Chester called Boxcar. Then they played at Stan and Joe’s in Annapolis and at Poe’s Pub in Richmond. Nick and Shane’s next plan is to be stopping in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Savannah with in the next week or so. The Exclusive is definitely a band worth checking out. Listen to their new single “Better Than Me” and/or check out their website for more information on them here .