An Extended Exography
Terrie (guitar), Sok (vocals), Geurt (drums), and René (bass) form The Ex, choosing their instruments by drawing straws to decide on who-plays-what, and start from scratch. For the first half year the group concentrates mainly on an extended hit-and-run graffiti publicity campaign, the name being chosen based on the fact that it could be sprayed on a wall in two seconds flat!.
They play their first gig on 31st August in De Bakkerij, Castricum. Coby takes care of the live sound. They begin playing regularly, mainly in Dutch squats and youth clubs.
In June The Ex make their record début: the 7″ EP All Corpses Smell The Same. Two more releases follow that same month: New Horizons In Retailing, a 7″ flexi-disc with the Raket magazine from Rotterdam, and a contribution to Utregpunx, a 7″ vinyl compilation from Utrecht.
René leaves, Bas (ex-Bernhard + The Lockheed Rockerz) joins. In October they release their first LP, Disturbing Domestic Peace, (including a free 7″ EP), produced by Dolf Planteydt, an independent sound engineer who they will work with often in the years to come.
In October they have their first concerts abroad, in Berlin Germany.
Geurt leaves, Wim (post-Rondos, pre-De Kift) joins.
The group releases Weapons For El Salvador, a benefit-single for the resistance movement in El Salvador.
In August, together with members of Svätsox and De Groeten, they squat the Villa Zuid in Wormer, to save it from destruction, and spread a free flexi-disc with brochure, Villa Zuid Moet Blijven around the village, to explain why the Villa must stay.
Early in the year they release History Is What's Happening. At the same time, together with twelve other local bands (it's a real punk boom in the tiny village of Wormer, north-east of Amsterdam: the "Wormerwave" a.k.a. the "Wormerwelle"), they release the Oorwormer compilation-LP.
Wim leaves, Sabien joins. They embark on their first Swiss tour.
Dignity Of Labour is a box of four 7″ singles with somewhat industrial music inspired by the rise and fall of a paper factory in Wormer. Partly recorded among the ruins, partly at the Koeienverhuurbedrijf (Cow-Rent-Company) studio.
Bas leaves, Luc and Yoke join, both on bass-guitar. In the autumn The Ex and Alerta (from Deventer) tour England for the first time. The direct result is the 12" split-EP The Red Dance Package
Blueprints For A Blackout is their first double-album, released in March. Much of it is produced while improvising in the studio, containing experiments with more complex song structures and unusual results. The combinations of unlikely instruments such as violin, oil drums, accordion, oboe and marimba give a new twist to the Ex-sound.
Together with Svätsox they tour Switzerland.
In collaboration with the anarchist quarterly Gramschap ("Anger"), they release Enough Is Enough, a split 7″ with the Iraqi Kurdish group Awara, their first encounter with non-western musicians.
In October they do a benefit tour for the striking British miners, together with Morzelpronk, Zowiso, agitprop poet Nico van Apeldoorn and others.
At the end of the year Sabien moves to France. Kat joins.
In January Yoke leaves. As a four-piece they release Support The Miners' Strike, a benefit live-LP.
They tour Switzerland again, this time with Zowiso and If (from New Zealand), followed by a benefit tour with BGK and the Wandas for the anti-militarist Onkruit organization.
In September they release Pokkeherrie, their 6th album.
Former Rondos singer John joins, and they release the double single 1936, dedicated to the Spanish revolution, which partly consists of arrangements and adaptations of Spanish folksongs, and which is accompanied by a 144 page photo book, originals from the CNT archives.
They play for three weeks in Italy and Switzerland and later in the year team up with Chumbawamba from Leeds.
Too Many Cowboys is a double-LP, partly recorded live (in late 1986, during a tour with the Membranes from Manchester). The album is accompanied by a 24-page newspaper and a flexi-disc with Nico van Apeldoorn's rant "Wie Vermoordde Hans K?", based on Bob Dylan's "Who Killed Davey Moore?".
A lot of touring that year, playing in Britain, Austria, Germany, Greece, also scouring Eastern Europe in their fluorescent red fire-engine. They make a successful appearance at the Carrot Festival in Warsaw (the first Eastblock-festival where bands from the West were allowed to play) and are immediately booked for the following edition in Budapest the year after (which will result in a world record at the Czech border: a 17 hours hold-up!).
Together with Chumbawamba they record the 7″ Destroy Fascism!, under the pseudonym of Antidote.
John leaves, guitarist Nicolette joins.
The Ex tour Italy and Switzerland with Chumbawamba, plus a 15-date tour in Britain. Jeroen is the new live-sound engineer, as Coby moves to Leeds.
They decide to stop changing the name of their record-label with every new release and stick to Ex Records. Its first release is Hands Up! You're Free, a compilation of three John Peel sessions for BBC radio from the period 1983-1986, followed by Aural Guerrilla, recorded in Rochdale, England and again produced by Jon Langford. The LP also contains a special treatment of Peter Hammill's "A Motorbike In Afrika".
Meanwhile in Holland the group cause a stir with "Rara Rap", an anti-apartheid single, released for the benefit of imprisoned presumed firebomb activists. Then they record two songs for Intifada, a well-documented compilation-album about the Palestinian uprising.
Nicolette leaves. Once again a four-piece they tour Europe with the Dog Faced Hermans from Scotland, whom they met the year before.
During the summer they record another double-LP, Joggers And Smoggers, at Amsterdam's squatted ADM-complex, an old shipyard. The Ex are supported by a whole slew of guest-musicians, such as Ab Baars, Wolter Wierbos, Wilf Plum, and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore. The album is slightly reminiscent of 1984's Blueprints For A Blackout, but the musical palette is even more extreme, jazzy and experimental.
In October they tour the US East coast for the first time, and the three week tour is filmed by Jan-Karel Lameer and broadcast on Dutch television later that year.
Back in Holland they perform the Joggers album live on stage with guests, as The Ex Colossus Big Band, during the Dissonanten festival in Rotterdam.
The Ex play for the first time at the Dutch Noorderslag festival, and release Treat, a split live-cassette with the Dog Faced Hermans. The latter take a year off, and guitarist Andy joins The Ex.
During the spring they tour Russia, along with producer Dolf's band Morzelpronk and Estonia based Ne Zhdali.
They release the single "Lied Der Steinklopfer", with lyrics in English and German by anti-nazi writer Kurt Tucholsky.
For the first time they release a CD: a 3" single in a 10" sleeve called Dead Fish (also out on vinyl as a 10″ disc!), which comments on the decline of the indie music scene.
The English label Clawfist specializes in split releases. For issue number 4 The Ex team up with The Mekons. The latter play The Ex's "Crap Rap", The Ex play The Mekons' "Keep On Hoppin".
In January The Ex and New York cellist Tom Cora go into the studio to record 12 songs. At the same time the group start their singles project "6": every two months subscribers receive a 7″ single with extras, such as posters and pamphlets. Every issue has a special theme, and the music goes from rock and folk to jazz and rap, either on their own or together with Kurdish saz-player Brader, Dutch improvisers or the Belgian comedians Kamagurka and Herr Seele.
During the summer The Ex tour for four weeks through Canada with NoMeansNo and in November they tour Britain and Ireland with Dog Faced Hermans.
On top of this The Ex and Tom Cora release the album Scrabbling At The Lock, in which The Ex add a new musical dimension to their expanding oeuvre. On this album the urge to experiment and the search for sounds that don't fall under the specific rock music category come to full growth. "Scrabbling..." is the best selling record in their history so far.
Their constant drive for renewal, their social involvement and the incorruptible manner in which The Ex keep their ground within the pop industry wins them an unexpected recognition with the award of the Dutch BV Pop Prize 1991, which they receive at the Noorderslag-festival.
In March they finish their singles series with the sixth issue (on 12″, and therefore unfit for the compilation-box!).
Most of the year The Ex tour extensively with Tom Cora in North America and Western Europe.
In May they release the Live at the Bimhuis video, recordings from a special improvised concert they gave a year earlier. This results in an invitation to play the Bimhuis October Meeting; a gathering of important contemporary improvisers.
They also start with the re-release of their older vinyl albums on CD.
The release of And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders is a further development of the double-unit Ex-Cora. Kat sings a traditional Turkish tune, while Sok more than ever intelligibly conjures politically affected lyrics into beautiful aphorisms.
Colin, bass player with Dog Faced Hermans, joins at this point to occassionally mix the live sound and Yoke returns, as the group's uncrowned queen of merchandise.
Concerts with Cora take the group to Switzerland and Holland again and to prestigious jazz-festivals such as Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf, Mimi and Moers. On their own they tour France and Germany. During this period Kat also joins the Ig Henneman Tentet for the Dickinson CD and tour.
After a US tour with Tom Cora, and a couple of festivals in Nancy and Vilnius, The Ex work together with musician/performer Joop van Brakel (a.o. ex-Nasmak) and DansWerkplaats Amsterdam, a dance-group led by choreographer Wim Kannekens. The concerts of the project "It's All Too Beautiful" are presented as performances, in which music and modern dance confront each other.
By then, Dog Faced Hermans have done their very last concert and Andy joins the Ex-ranks full-time! This doesn't keep him from shooting a video documentary with Isabelle Vigier about Montreal's rebel news orchestra Rhythm Activism, comrades of The Ex for a decade.
Sound-man Jeroen moves to Zürich, Switzerland, and Colin takes over.
Next to more "It's All Too Beautiful" dance-performances, The Ex tour with Braaxtaal, the band based around vocal dada-performer Jaap Blonk.
With the release of Mudbird Shivers The Ex are joined by vocalist Han Buhrs (Schismatics). His blues and Beefheart influences give the Ex-sound an even more robust and at the same time experimental dimension.
Terrie and Andy also team up for a series of improvised guitar-concerts, resulting in the video Sounds Of Bells.
Shortly after, an even more intense collaboration follows with people such as Han Bennink, Ab Baars and Wolter Wierbos from the Dutch improv-scene: the instrumental improvisation double-CD Instant. An extended version of the group described as The Ex & Guests tours Western Europe, including in its midst two highly contrasting drummers, namely Australian Tony Buck and Amsterdam-based American Michael Vatcher, who are replacing Kat, who is on pregnancy leave.
As well as this Luc, Andy and Terrie join Katie Duck's dance-group Magpie for a series of improvised performances.
In December The Ex throw a musical party at the Paradiso club, announced as "Een Plezante Aangelegenheid" (A Pleasant Affair), after which the group's activities are postponed for exactly one year.
Although The Ex are supposed to have a sabbatical, due to Terrie's year long round-trip through Africa, its members are not idle. Sok tours with the troubadouresque punk-folk posse De Kift, bass-player Luc can be heard on The Untraceable Cigar, the CD of the melancholic free-jazz quartet Roof (featuring a.o. Tom Cora), and Andy plays with the energetic klezmer-noise outfit Kletka Red who release the CD Hijacking on John Zorn's Tzadik label.
In December The Ex do one short European tour, and Terrie joins in again during the last show in Austria, coming straight back that very same day from Ethiopia.
Han Buhrs leaves The Ex to work with his own bands Schismatics and Diftong. While Kat has a second post-pregnancy leave, the others play a string of concerts with drummer Han Bennink. Terrie, Andy, and Luc do a short tour with Necks-drummer Tony Buck.
G.W. Sok publishes "Ex-rated", a collection of 69 used and unused lyrics he wrote during the first 17 Ex-years.
In May their singles and photobook 1936 is re-released by Ex Records together with AK Press Publishing in the USA, with this time no vinyl but cd-singles instead.
In August Kat is back behind the drums. The Ex are offered the "Jazz Compositie Opdracht" by the Dutch broadcasting company NPS: they are commissioned to compose an hour of music, and invite the Instant Composers Pool (ICP) to join them for the performance in Groningen. Then the five-piece go back on the road, first in Holland, together with the Malian kora player Djibril Diabate, followed by the American East coast and Chicago.
The Ex tour France, Holland and North Germany, and play various festivals: in Madrid (Spain), organized by free radio ELO; in Victoriaville (Canada); and in Moers (Germany), where they are joined by the ICP Orchestra.
In June they record their new CD in Chicago (USA), recorded and produced by Steve Albini, an old fan, in his recently built studio. The new album, released in October 1998 on Touch & Go USA and Ex Records Holland, is called Starters Alternators. The well-received album is dedicated to Tom Cora, who died earlier that year.
After the Summer The Ex tour Holland, together with Lanaya, a trio from Mali, with a.o. Djibril Diabate.
In February, The Ex play New York and Houston, and then head for the US West coast to join up with Fugazi, with whom they play seven more shows. Back in Europe they tour Germany, followed by the release of the joint Tortoise/The Ex collaboration for the In The Fishtank series, a special studio & recording project of music-company Konkurrent, their distributors.
End of May they celebrate their 20th anniversary at the sold-out Paradiso in Amsterdam, where they have invited artists such as Shellac, De Kift, Kamagurka + Herr Seele, and Eritrean vocal legend Tsehaytu Beraki. The week after, they tour Scandinavia together with Shellac.
In October they tour Italy, for the first time in 12 years, followed by the Hungaro Carrot Festival in Budapest, Hungary, and three shows in a row (with special guests) at Instant Chavirés in Paris, France, followed by a US East coast tour in December, once again with Fugazi.
In the spring The Ex tour France and Poland (where their van gets stolen), and the Terp label releases two improv-duo CDs with Terrie, the first one is Hef, with saxophonist Ab Baars, the second is The Laughing Owl, with drummer Han Bennink.
Kletka Red, Andy's other project, release their 2nd album Hybrid (on Red Note). Around the same time The Ex produce the soundtrack for director Dick Hauser's short dance-film "Men Of Good Fortune".
The next project, due to an invitation for the renowned Holland Festival, is the 20-piece big band called Ex Orkest. Directed by Hamish McKeich (of the New Zealand Opera), and with lyrics by author and ex-soccer international Jan Mulder (ex-Anderlecht, ex-Ajax), the orchestra plays the festival in June, followed by a short tour. It's an imaginary trip through the Netherlands with a series of bizarre, cultural and social curiosities. Live recordings of this tour are released a year later as Een Rondje Holland.
In late October / early November the band does an extensive tour through Italy with the band Zu from Rome.
G.W. Sok releases "Van God Los", the columns he had written as Goeroe Overflakkee for the now-defunct independent Opscene music-magazine.
In April The Ex release two new CDs, the aforementioned Ex Orkest live-album, plus the new studio-album Dizzy Spells, once again produced by Steve Albini. Partly served with the same sauce as the Starters album from 1998, but qua ideas and performance more stratified and varied although they haven't lost their original principles. As of old they rant against nowadays' consumer-society and the power of multinationals.
The band plays the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in England, and tours France, Holland, and the USA. In June Luc and Terrie team up with members of Sonic Youth and ICP-orchestra, to record another Fishtank-session, which will be released in late 2002. Luc tours with the band 4Walls (ex-Roof) through France and Canada. Andy plays guitar with Katie Duck's dance-troupe Magpie. The Ex Orkest makes a short European tour.
In September they embark on a short US tour, invited by the Cinematexas film-festival in Austin. Halfway the ocean the plane turns back. It is Tuesday the 11th.
In November The Ex curate the 15th version of the three-day Unlimited festival in Wels, Austria.
During IDFA, the International Documentary Filmfestival in Amsterdam, the documentary Beautiful Frenzy has its premiere. The Ex portrait is made by the independent Swedish filmmakers Christina Hallström and Mandra U. Wabäck of Cut Productions, and gets released on video in January the next year.
In January The Ex and drummer Han Bennink travel to Ethiopia for a special series of concerts. In February Ex-drumster Katherina goes on tour in Belgium and Holland with Czech violinist/singer Iva Bittova. In April, shortly after their 1000th gig (which took place in Tourcoing, France) The Ex once again play the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, this time with the Ex Orkest, leaving a big impression on the international audience. It turns out to be the last concert with Luc, who leaves in September, after 19 years in the band, although he does carry on on bass, with 4 Walls.
In October Andy plays with the Trio Moor/McLean/Fuhler (with Cor Fuhler and ex-Dog Faced Herman Colin McLean). Together with electronic musician Kaffe Matthews he releases the CD Locks. The duo tours France and Italy. During the same festival in France Terrie plays an improv-duo gig with Han Bennink.
In November Andy and Terrie form a four-piece with Han Bennink and Hamid Drake at the Unlimited Festival in Wels.
The CD Fiets consists of eleven improvisations by Terrie and double-bass player Rozemarie Heggen, who had appeared in the most recent live editions of the Ex Orkest.
In January, the aforementioned Rozemarie, formerly a member of the Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orkest, ASKO, and Nieuw Ensemble makes her official Ex-debut. By this time Grrrt has replaced Colin as sound-man.
The band composes the music for "Two Men Walking", a new short dance film by Dick Hauser, and in February The Ex goes on tour for the first time with the new line-up and a brand new set of songs. They do shows all over Holland, together with the group Konono No. 1 from the Republic of Congo.
In May they tour Italy, together with saxophonist John Butcher from London, followed by a tour of France in June, together with sound-poet Anne-James Chaton from Montpellier.
In September The Ex tour for three weeks in the USA and visit the East coast, Texas, and Chicago. During that period they record a new album, for the third time in a row with album with Steve Albini, in his Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago.
In November/December they do a short French tour and concerts in Great Britain and Ireland.
In March The Ex once again leave for Ethiopia, for their second three-and-a-half-week tour. In 2002 they visited the North, this time they travel South, through an area where hardly ever any European bands have played before. In Addis Abeba they play for the Ethiopian TV and do a workshop at the Yared Music School. Next to their own songs The Ex plays versions of songs from their favourite Ethiopian singers, which also can be found on a special cassette-release for Ethiopia. The other side of the tape contains songs from their new album Turn, which is officially released later in the year.
They visit Canada, tour Austria, do a few shows in Holland and tour the US West coast.
In November The Ex celebrate their 25th anniversary with a two-day festival at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. At the same time they celebrate the release of Beautiful Frenzy on DVD by Blowpipe/Moskwood, containing the original film plus lots of live-extras. The event is followed by a convoy tour with a lot of the festival's artists playing in five French cities and Brussels. Among them are The Evens, Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed Trio, Silent Block, Zea, John Butcher, Anne-James Chaton, Han Bennink, Wilf the living Ex Jukebox, filmmaker Jem Cohen, plus 73-year old Ethiopian saxophone-legend Getatchew Mekuria, for the first time ever in Europe.
In March Rozemarie leaves. During the French tour and in St. Petersburg, Russia she gets replaced by Massimo Pupillo, bass-player of Zu from Rome, and during concerts in Greece by Colin McLean (ex-Dog Faced Hermans). Next to that The Ex play other European festivals in a.o. Biel, Moers and Bourges.
During the months of June and July The Ex is involved in an adaptation of "A Clockwork Orange", directed by Ola Mafaalani. Together with theatre-group d'Electrique they play 20 shows at the old NDSM-shipyard in the harbour during the Over Het IJ festival.
The CD "In The Event" is a collaboration with the French sound-poet Anne-James Chaton who regularly tours with The Ex. The disc containst the 30 minute Événement No 19 and Andy's remix of the title-piece of which the original stems from Turn. The compilation Singles. Period., contains all the singles The Ex released on vinyl between 1980 and 1990.
Next to a couple of guest-appearances (together with Andy) in the John Cale Band, Terrie goes to Italy in September for four concerts with Original Silence, an improv-group set up by Massimo from Zu, including Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke of Sonic Youth, the Swedish sax-player Mats Gustaffson, and DJ Olive from the USA.
After the summer the group works as a four-piece on a new live-set. They have no bass-player anymore, but instead both guitarists switch between guitar and baritone-guitar. In between they play at festivals in Gent (Jem Cohen's Fusebox) and Strasbourg (Nuits des Européennes). In November they tour with a completely new repertoire through Germany, and end the year with a short tour in France.
Early in the year The Ex does a series of concerts in Holland, their first regular concerts over there in more than a year, and in February they go for a ten-day tour to France, in the company of kora player Djibril Diabate.
In April they go into the studio to record a CD with Ethiopian sax-player Getatchew Mekuria (born in 1935!). During that same period The Ex and Mekuria present, accompanied by Xavier Charles (clarinet), Joost Buis (trombone) and Brodie West (alto-saxophone), and with Colin on bass, an Ethiopian night during concerts Groningen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Diksmuide (Belgium), Paris and Tourcoing (France). The songs are Getatchew's, with new arrangements by The Ex & Guests.
The Ex play Spain in May, followed by some Dutch shows with Zea. Around the Summer they play festivals in Zagreb (Croatia), Roskilde (Denmark), and Lärz (Germany), Nickelsdorf (Austria) and Parthenay (France).
In September they're flown over to Chicago to play at the 25th anniversary festival of their US record-label Touch And Go. It is the 13th time they visit the USA.
In the autumn they play again in Spain and then tour France, Italy and Austria, together with the Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed trio from Ethiopia. The album Moa Anbessa, by Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests, is released in December on their sub-label Terp Records. At the same time The Ex is back in the USA for a ten-day East coast tour together with DJ Rupture.
In January The Ex do two shows with Getatchew Mekuria in his home-town Addis Abeba, to celebrate the release of the Moa Anbessa CD. The presentation concert in Hagr Fekir theatre is recorded for Ethiopian TV. Since CDs are still rare in Ethiopia, they decide to release 10,000 copies on cassette and just before returning to Europe, they hand out promo-copies to the local taxi-drivers, the best guarantee for good publicity.
Terrie and soundpoet Jaap Blonk tour France in late January.
In February The Ex fly to Dublin for a one-off show, followed by an appearance together with Chicago's Tortoise in Paris, after which they tour Scandinavia with Huntsville from Norway, followed by a 10-date tour of Belgium, France + Switzerland.
In April the CD Zeng! by Terrie and Han Bennink is released on the Terp label. The duo are also involved in "Transparency No. Wolk. 3", a live album on the label of painter/drummer Rik van Iersel.
Terrie plays on the album The First Original Silence of Original Silence, a band including Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
In May The Ex works together with theatre company d'Electrique in "A Clockwork Orange", touring theatres throughout the Netherlands.
11 Ethio-Punk Songs, a documentary of the beginnings of the The Ex + Getatchew Mekuria project in 2006, made by French filmmaker Stephane Jourdain, comes out on DVD. They also tour with Getatchew in Holland and France, with guest musicians Colin McLean (bass), Xavier Charles (clarinet), Brodie West (alto saxophone) and Joost Buis (trombone). Dates include the Transmusicales Festival in Rennes and the Africolor Festival in Paris.
The DVD Building A Broken Mousetrap by filmmaker Jem Cohen is released in November, featuring 9 songs from The Ex recorded during their concert at the Knitting Factory, New York City on 11th September 2004.
On 7, 8 and May 9 The Ex curates three days of concerts during the 25th anniversary of Music Action, a leading new music festival in the French Vendoeuvre. The band plays with musicians like John Butcher, DJ Rupture, Clayton Thomas, Afework Negussie, Han Bennink, Wolter Wierbos, Joost Buis, Charles Xavier, Brodie West, Getatchew Mekuria and dancer Melaku Belay.
In May The Ex presents Zea in Ethiopia, with concerts and workshops and appearances at the festival of the Alliance Francaise, the Hager Fekir Theater, a music school for streetkids and various night clubs.
From May 29 to June 8 The Ex + Getatchew Mekuria + Guests are on tour in France and Switzerland. In August is the whole project is on tour in the United States. The tour ends in New York at the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts, a big concert in Damrosch Park.
Drummer / singer Katherina and guitarist / singer Jon Langford (Mekons) make an album full of folk punk songs under the name Katjonband. The CD is released by the American label Carrot Top Records.
After 29 years and 1371 performances Jos Kley aka G.W. Sok decides to stop as singer of The Ex. He is lacking the enthusiasm, inspiration and commitment to continue and wants to focus more on his writing and graphic design. The Ex goes on tour with Arnold de Boer of Zea as replacement. De Boer plays guitar, electronics writes the lyrics and sings. In march they go on a European tour with the Ililta Band, a group around the Ethiopian singer and masinqo-player Chalachew Ashenafi. A month later the band goes to Spain, including Barcelona and Madrid.
The DVD The Convoy Tour: 25 Years Of The Ex is released, documenting The Ex's 25th anniversary tour through France.
Andy Moor + Colin McLean release the CD Everything But The Beginning (Unsounds, 17U), compiled from recordings of improvised performances with dancers.
In August and September the band tours again with Getatchew Mekuria, playing diverse jazz, world music, and rock festivals, followed by a tour in Canada in September.
The Ex also releases 30, a compilation double CD/LP featuring remastered recordings selected from their whole back catalogue.
In the last week of December, The Ex organises for the third time the project The Ex Presents In Ethiopia. This time under the name "Saxophones", The Ex, tenor sax player Ken Vandermark from Chicago and Ab Baars , perform together in Ethiopia. Also on the programme is a saxophone repair workshop by Friso Heidinga of "Amsterdam Winds".
During the band's first British tour since 2003, The Ex is joined on stage by Brass Unbound, a horn section made up by The Ex of Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Roy Paci and Wolter Wierbos. The tour kicks off on 29 January in Bristol and also takes the band to Dublin where the tour ends on 7 February.
The first single the band has recorded with De Boer is vinyl single Maybe I Was The Pilot / Our Leaky Homes, released in March. The most important riff on the A-side of the single is an adaptation of a riff from a song by Ugandan musician Iganitiyo Ekacholi. The title of the flip side comes from the book "Heat" by British journalist George Monbiot.
In March the band is in Steve Albini's studio in Chicago for recordings for the new album Catch My Shoe, released in September.
In February The Ex went on tour in Ethiopia together with Mats Gustafson and Paal Nilssen-Love, which included a very special concert together with Getatchew Mekuria at the University Campus, Siddist Kilo in Addis Abeba.
In March The Ex toured the USA following their Catch My Shoe release by USA label Carrot Top. Tours in Germany, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, UK, Russia and Canada. Some of the tours with Getatchew Mekuria and others with Brass Unbound.
The Ex returned to the studio with Getatchew Mekuria and recorded a full album of beautiful tunes, that would become Y'Anbessaw Tezeta.
At the Roskilde festival in Denmark The Ex curated one stage for one day and at the ATP festival in Minehead The Ex played a very special concert with Getatchew Mekuria.
Tours in France and Germany were followed by a special tour of The Ex and Brass Unbound in Italy, since the tour began with recording a full album together. The Ex, Ken Vandemark, Wolter Wierbos and Mats Gustafsson flew into the south of Italy where they spent three days at Roy Paci's home and studio to record what would become Enormous Door.
In the summer The Ex made an extensive festival tour with Getatchew Mekuria, celebrating the release of the Y'Anbessaw Tezeta double album. It would be the last tour of Getatchew Mekuria in Europe, and one not to forget; the tour ended in Nijmegen at the Valkhof Affaire festival where Getatchew Mekuria played two extra encores solo outdoors in the pouring rain.
For the first time in their 33 years of existence The Ex went to South America, to Brazil where they were joined on stage by Wolter Wierbos. One very special moment of the tour saw the band playing on the rooftop of the CCSP building between giant sky scrapers to about six hundred people which was a great contrast to the small cafe in Ankara, Turkey, which kicked off the Balkan tour in October.
Spain and France had a visit from the band just before they commenced their special The Ex 33⅓ Anniversary Festivals in Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and London, where, at the Cafe Oto, the And So Say All Of Us DVD was filmed.
The year began, as many years of The Ex, with a tour in France, but this time they brought along Zerfu Demissie, the Begana player and singer from Ethiopia, creating an enormous contrast in music and adding some extra inconvenience with the transport of a two meter high fragile wooden harp in the van, but musically and personally a perfect fit.
Tours in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland followed. And Brass Unbound jumped in the van for a tour of France with The Ex with the freshly pressed Enormous Door album in the back. A special concert performed in Gorky Park, Moscow, for hundreds of Russians (free entrance) instigated by a celebration of 400 years of cultural and business relations between Russia and The Netherlands. A strange relationship it is but for the music, The Ex and many Russians it made a lot of sense.
Time for new Ex songs and for The Ex festival. In January The Ex played in a small Irish Pub in Groningen, packed with people, which was the start of an offensive presenting the new double A-side 7″ That's Not A Virus / How Thick You Think. They played national radio and TV and set up a five day Ex Festival in five cities in The Netherlands, inviting Fendika from Ethiopia, Han Bennink and Peter Brotzmann, Thurston Moore, Chocolate Billy (from France) and many more.
In the summer The Ex toured with Fendika and with Circus Debre Berhan, an amazing children circus from Ethiopia. The Ex and Fendika found time to record a 7″ together halfway through the tour at the Next to Jaap Studio in Voorhout, right in the middle of the Dutch flower fields.
The whole band, with friends and guests went to Addis Abeba to do one last tour with Getatchew Mekuria in Ethiopia. The concert at the National Theatre was especially memorable where he was honoured by many many people.
Back in East Europe happened another classic roof concert, in Krakow, with Brass Unbound, on top of an old restaurant with the people standing on the square. The Ex went to Mexico for the first time, to Scandinavia, to Germany and ended the year at Cafe Oto in London.
The year begins yet again in France, on a rooftop, where The Ex plays a live version of “That's Not A Virus”, which becomes their first new video in five years; it's a hit.
The Ex tours with Fendika, promoting the newly released 7″, and does an extensive USA tour with Ken Vandermark joining the band.
With the Danish band Selvhenter The Ex made a split 7″, which contains the song "From The Top Of My Lungs".
The DVD And So Say All Of Us is released and at the Bimhuis The Ex presented a double CD compilation of 25 years of history of The Ex at the Bimhuis, Amsterdam, one of the world's leading jazz clubs.
In January The Ex play in New York at the Winter Jazzfest. On the merch table the band has a box for donations, as they are collecting money to buy Getatchew Mekuria a special chair and some sort of a pension since he is not able to play and perform anymore and needs help. In Early April Getatchew Mekuria sadly passed away which comes as a big shock to all the people who loved him and his music, who played with him and who adored his music. Ethiopian National Televison broadcasted his performances and played his music extensively.
The Ex tours in the UK and in Italy, in France, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Spain and The Netherlands.
With Fendika, Zerfu Demessie and Circus Debre Berhan they make a series of wonderful concerts starting in Wels, Austria, at the Unlimited Festival 30th Anniversary and then the Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, NL, where they also curated a whole day.
Many home matches for The Ex in a relatively quiet year; for a full Paradiso at the Van Onderen Festival and opening for the Sleaford Mods in the Melkweg.
On April 4, one year after Getatchew Mekuria's death, The Ex organises a special photo-exhibition in Addis Abeba, with photos from the 170 page tribute photo-book The Ex published, with pictures from Andy Moor, Matias Corral, Nick Helderman and a selection of historic photos from Getatchew's private album.
The Ex takes about three months to create a whole new set and then presents it in Amsterdam's OT301, plays it twice more in Amsterdam at the OCCII, at De Ruimte and on a short tour in Begium and France and then enters the Electric Monkey Studio in Amsterdam. A new album is recorded in October and mixed in November.
They play a great festival in Kotrijk curated by Thurston Moore and the year ends with a short but intense tour in France and Switzerland ending in Poitiers to celebrate the newly renovated Conforte Moderne.
Most Ex tours do not happen in the winter but when there’s an invitation from the more sunny side of the world we quickly pack our bags, do a short rehearsal and leave homes and families behind to go out and play our songs. It was half February when we played in Istanbul, a city that always strikes you with its mix of cultures that seems to have such a strength that you expect it to lift up the whole European continent, flip it over, let it bounce on its priggish nose and put it back into place. And the welcome is warm too, we have played in Istanbul quite often and there are quite some people who keep coming back to see us.
Two weeks later we went even closer to the sun: Abu Dhabi, the most “east” The Ex has ever played in forty years. We got invited by the Arts Center of the New York University Abu Dhabi to play the Barzakh Festival. A nice festival with great music from all over the world for a unique audience. We played together with Fendika and somehow Malaku always knows the Ethiopian connection in every city he is wherever in the world, so we ended up having great Ethiopian coffee and food in an Ethiopian restaurant and Ethiopian music and beer in an Ethiopian nightclub. We did not sleep in one of the many seven star hotels but stayed on the campus and had good conversations with Ugandan taxi drivers and Libanese cooks and waiters. Definitely a city where you wish everyone to have at least twenty seven passports.
So back home we started promoting and playing our new album called 27 Passports. From Deventer to Groningen to Tilburg and then to Amsterdam where we had arranged the downstairs room of the great Semai Ethiopian/Eritrean Restaurant that is sometimes used for weddings or as a nightclub. We build a stage and set up a PA, put in a few lights (we don’t need much) and set up a merch table and a box office, invited great musicians from the UK, Poland and Eritrea, had superb food upstairs and were ready for a super release party of our new album. And it was fantastic. Thanks to everyone again who were there, who helped, who built, who cooked, who danced, who played, who screamed and who cleaned.
France was next, we started at the Banlieu Bleues festival and could easily keep driving on the energy we got there from the French audience. You really wonder who ever decided France needs fifty eight nuclear power plants.
In May we landed in Catania where we learned about dwarf elephants who landed there at least eighth hundred years before us and who have magical powers and know when the Etna will erupt. We played on Uzeda’s 30 years anniversary, which was a nice sonic eruption in itself, on the beach.
A bit different and less sunny was the (still pre-Brexit) UK tour that followed. The title “27 passports” might seem to stand for the 27 EU countries that are abandoned by the UK but that’s not true. In “Ex language” -27- just means a lot, like, sometimes you play someplace and you wonder who else is playing and it turns out to be twenty seven hardcore bands. And “seven” is the only number under eleven that has two syllables (we say null not zero) and sometimes that’s just what you need.
In the summertime we played some festivals and were very very busy trying to get about 80 different musicians and acts together for one gigantic festival in Amsterdam to celebrate the 50 years existence of the PARADISO. We used the upstairs room, the big room and the basement and it was a super party.
Germany, Austria, Belgium and more places in The Netherlands received us and we gave them 27 passports and then we went to Leeuwarden, capital of Friesland, where the organizers of the Explore The North Festival asked us to do an acoustic show for a live radio show with Jan Douwe Kroeske, and we did it and it was the first time ever The Ex played an all acoustic set. To be followed by a very much electric set elsewhere on the festival with guest vocalist -Sound Poet- Jaap Blonk, yihaa!
This year The Ex turned 40, with 4 band members who have done 104 Ex Years all together. We started with a special tour in February - four days full on spectacle with Fendika and Circus Debre Berhan. And then La Reunion, just one degree more east than Abu Dhabi but double the time to get there and then you’re still in France anyway. It’s a strange world but we do like France and all it’s départements so three weeks later we were back touring Paris, Le Havre, Rennes, Allonnes and Nantes.
The Festival International Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville (Canada) is a special one where The Ex has played before and always met a great audience, organizers and other musicians. We played a big hockey hall but in the afternoon we saw John Butcher play a solo set in a small church which was phenomenal, heaven was literally coming down in the form of hundred year old scurries of dust blown from the upper support beams by his impressive oscillations.
A few days later we took a train to London for the Raw Power Festival where our collective search for a drum stand turned into a separate performance that got a unique round of applause since Kat managed to have the whole drumkit tied together, tuned and working just in time since the time schedule was extra tight. Italy and Spain followed, we hit a busy festival season and it was fun to bump into old Chumbawamba friends all the way up in Helsinki. The season ended at one of the most amazing festivals you can imagine: Konfrontationen Festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria. If it happens again this year then go find out yourself because it’s too hard to explain in a few sentences here.
Then finally the EX 40 festivals. We did four in The Netherlands in September with a very special selection of old and new friends. We got more and more trained in playing, organizing and being hostess and host at the same time. And after two tours, in the UK and Italy, and a very special concert at the Sarajevo Jazz Festival where The Ex was for the first time and where we met good people and heard imposing stories about the old and more recent history of the city, we continued the EX 40 festivals in London. Three exciting days in the very special Café Oto, it’s always a treat to be there and to be able to invite so many friends and great musicians.
The year ended, like seven other years out of forty, in France at Instants Chavirés, in Montreuil, although we keep calling it Paris in our statistics and that’s why we keep getting lost on the way to get there. Capsized authorities indeed!