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Exile – Interview

By • Nov 17th, 2015 • Category: Artist Interviews

The legendary band Exile hit super stardom in 1978 with their hit “Kiss You All Over” but amazing the band celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013.  A new book has been compiled by Eastern Kentucky University professor Randy Westbrook called “50 Years of Exile The Story of a Band in Transition” and for the first time ever Exile is putting out a Christmas album titled “Wrapped up in your Arms For Christmas“ just in time for the season.  StageShottz Magazine had the pleasure of meeting up the Sonny Lemaire, Marlon Hargis, and Steve Goetzman on Music Row in Nashville to discuss the book, the band, and the new album.

Interview by William Simpson

StageShottz Magazine: You have a new book out called “Exile – A Band in Transition”, what prompted you to put out a book on Exile at this time?

Steve Goetzman: It’s not an autobiography, it’s actually written by a musicology professor at Eastern Kentucky University and it was not authorized or unauthorized.  However, he did interview the current lineup extensively and went back and grabbed as many of the former members that he could find and interviewed them as well.  Then he presented us five of us with a manuscript so we could check for accuracy. We helped him with that without asking for any deletions, you know we took it wort’s an all.  But we did help him get it right.

Marlon Hargis: How it actually came about was the author Randy Westbrook is a music professor at Eastern Kentucky University and he called me out of the blue and said he was writing a thesis for a degree and he wanted to do a book on the history of the band.  Over about a year period he kept doing interview and talked to all of us and it finally developed into a book.  He then contacted us again and asks if it was OK if he published it.  It was nothing we really planned or had anything publishing wise to do with.  Over the year or two we though well this is kind of cool.  As Steve said I don’t know if you would say it’s authorized or unauthorized but we have no problem with it at all.

Sonny Lemaire: 2013 was when the band actually celebrated 50 years as a band, because he is such a music fan and musicologist to write a history of a band or a group of guys that started in 1963 and somehow managed to stay together through everything up to 2013 and beyond was an interesting project indeed.

MH: and Randy is a musician himself so he related to all that.  It’s called a band in transition and we are kind of every band but the difference is we are still a band 50+ years later.  And as Sonny said it’s kind of a history lesson for young musicians if they wanted to be in a band, to read what to do, what not to do, and just about the reality of the business the good and bad.


SSM: That’s very unusual for a band to be together 50+ years, I know you guys have not been in the band since the beginning but you have been in Exile quite a while, how have you guys held it together?

SL: Well that’s the 64 dollar question.

SG: There are a hundred answers to that question.  We grew up together is a big contributor.  We all grew up in the central Kentucky area with the heart of it being Lexington.  We knew each other when we were very young even though we didn’t join forces until we were in our 20s. We worked together in other groups and before we joined this group we worked together in the studio doing sessions.  There was a tight knit music community in the area and we were all part of that and we are all part of a Kentucky legacy and that’s part of the glue anyway.

SL: It takes a certain personality type to be in a band as oppose to being a solo artist and as the band progressed the decision to find the next person when someone had to be replaced, that was both musically accomplished and had the temperament to fit in was the big big challenge.  For the most part it was a roll of the dice and how it worked was just miraculous that the choice that was made for the next person to come in worked.  Now there were some cases, obviously, that didn’t work very well.  It’s an amazing story, it really is when you think about it, that how each person that came into the band, how that person fit because the odds of anybody staying together for any length of time are slim to none.

MH:  I think that’s the secret to Exile is we had perseverance; we had the will to keep going, or either a mental illness (laughs).  I think it was Sonny that mentioned this in another interview; we never had a plan B.  The band had that focus that we were going opt do something.  And at some point, I don’t know if you call it luck or fortune, but we were able to break through.

SG: There was also a professionalism that was part of the bands creed.  I don’t know how it built from 1963 but it was tangible.  One of the ways to maintain that is the audience should never see any problems that the band is having.  If there was an argument between two band members the rule was get it resolved before we go onstage and it always was.  And in the rare occasion that is not the next rule applied, don’t let it show onstage.  And by the next day at the very latest it would be resolved.


SSM: You mentioned that you all are from central Kentucky and you just recently got voted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.  That has to make you feel proud to represent your home state.

MH: I think personally it’s the coolest thing that has ever happened to most of us.  It was a very important thing.

SG: We were inducted the same night that the Kentucky Headhunters were inducted, that was a treat of us.  We have a mutual admiration society between the two bands and that was really just the icing on the cake.

SL: When you look at the people that have preceded us into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame it’s impressive.  To realize you are a part of that is quite a compliment.

MH: We were touched by it and it meant a lot.  There are some great musicians that came out of Kentucky.


SSM: You had some input with the author on the book, what would you like the fans to get out of reading the book?

SL: I think just enjoyment of reading about us and reading about the history of the band.  We enjoyed learning about the early history about thing we didn’t know.  I think it’s a really interesting story of a band and it very compelling.

SG: I think any artists with aspiration of becoming a national act, it’s a tutorial.  There are a number of things that can be gleamed from that just as a solo artist, just the interactions we had with record labels, managers, agents, and that kind of stuff.  But groups in particular, if there are some guys out there that want to be part of a band this will be very helpful.


SSM: So you are putting out your first ever Christmas album before December so the fans can get a copy before Christmas.  How was that experience, doing something you have never done before?

SL: It was a labor of love, believe me.  It was a lot of work and I know we are all really proud of this project and so happy that we finally have a Christmas project out there.  I love Christmas music.

MH: We are doing a short Christmas tour this year and we are happy about that.

SL: Its titled “Wrapped up in your Arms For Christmas” which is an original song that we have written.  There are three originals on the project as well as seven cover Christmas songs.  We are very proud of it and we hope people buy it and enjoy it.

MH: Merry Christmas…Ho Ho Ho.

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