It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but the day that Marion teens Tyler Arocha and Grant Leffler melt faces with their bone-shattering music draws nigh.
But first, their band, “Exist, Exist,” just has to finish recording an ambitious EP that has hints of torment and triumph pouring from its metalcore soul.
Metalcore is a popular musical subgenre born of a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk.
“It’s been a huge learning experience, and a lot of frustration, but it is all original music straight from our hearts,” Grant, the band’s lead singer, said. “We are super excited to get it all up and going.”
Grant, who also sings for the Marion High School choir, said listeners should expect “a lot of screaming and catchy or more melodic choruses.”
Lead guitarist Tyler, an aspiring mad-scientist of home recording, tracked the vast majority of musical parts on the band’s demo.
“Most of my musical ideas come from random moments,” Tyler said. “Sometimes I hear something in my head. Some ideas also come from songs I listen to.”
Whether it’s a guitar, bass, piano, ambient, or drum part, Tyler tests ideas outside of his sonic brainstorms with his instruments of musical creation and destruction.
“If it sounds awful, I trash it,” he said. “If it fits, I leave it. If it doesn’t fit [but he still likes it], I save it for another song.”
In describing their band’s sound, Tyler has learned to simplify his description to make it easier for people who are not familiar with metalcore to grasp.
“It’s kind of funny describing our music to people,” he said. “I tell them all the same thing, ‘We sound super heavy at times, and we sound super melodic at times.’ We like metal music with a melodic twist. We explore sounds we can create and intertwine melodic or ambient sounds into our music as much as possible.”
Tyler usually starts recording with a drum or guitar part, adding various parts as he goes.
So when is a song finished for Tyler?
He knows a song is right when he can listen to it in its entirety without hearing anything that could be done in a different, more pleasing way.
“If a song sounds exactly how I want it to and sounds good, I know it is right,” Tyler said.
Grant echoed Tyler’s sentiment.
“We just let it flow,” he said.
Within that framework, they also collaborate on lyrics, taking on themes of passion, shear disappointment, and defeating inner demons.
“I think about out music all the time,” Grant said. “I’ve spent so many hours lying in my bed listening to our songs before I go to sleep. I get images and ideas in my head of what should be sung, and what different screams should go where.”
Bands that hit hard lyrically and make comments on society influence these songwriters, who each became interested in music long before they were teens or pre-teens for that matter.
Sometimes, Grant finds it maddening to realize songs that don’t come all at once.
“You might want to push ideas out too fast and not be able to,” he said. “Being patient is the hardest part. But my lyrics on this EP are kind of about finding love in yourself and making sure that nobody gets you down as a person. The only person who can really stop you from that is you.”
Tyler doesn’t sing, but he said Grant’s vocals were perfect.
“Grant’s vocals sell it really,” Tyler said. “He puts in a lot of emotion. It’s amazing. His soft singing could fit any genre. And his screaming isn’t just screaming. It’s brutal. He does the scratchy mid-level yelling, passionate yelling, and can reach those low and devastating growls.”
Grant weighs in on song arrangement ideas to help tighten songs up.
“Song writing has changed the way I look at music,” he said. “Creating it is beautiful and crazy. It’s not easy at all, but when we finish something it’s like ‘wow, we did this’.”
Even though he doesn’t play an instrument in the band, he has added musical parts to songs.
“Sometimes I sing Tyler my ideas and he can play them on his guitar,” Grant said. “His musical ear is insane. He can hear a song and play it instantly on his guitar.”
They are recording their potential EP at Smoke Signal Productions in Goddard with producer and mix engineer Andrew Clapp.
The EP’s name, song list, and release date are unset. However, in building Exist, Exist up over the last two years, Tyler and Grant recently added three 19-year-old Derby musicians: drummer Joe Mazzara, guitarist Rhett Walker, and bassist Dylan Kallhoff.
“We went through so many people, some were just like ‘I don’t have a guitar but I’ll play,’ and we were like ‘Really?’” Grant said. “Others were really old, like 26 or 27. We wanted to keep the line up around our age and find members who just focused on the music.”
He said most of the demo music is all together and ready to record at the studio, and might try playing songs live in the area once they finish, but right now, they just have to record the songs the way they have envisioned them.
“We’re not trying to be anything that isn’t us,” Grant said. “We just want to sound like ourselves.”