One of the more successful bands in country music history is doing it all over again. Exile, who topped the Hot Country Songs chart repeatedly in the 1980s, recently dropped an EP entitled "People Get Ready." It's their first new release in over two decades -- and the first since 1987 to feature J.P. Pennington, Les Taylor, Sonny LeMaire, Marlon Hargis and Steve Goetzman.
Goetzman talked with Billboard recently about the re-formation of the group, and said that it all come together because of the band helping out a friend in need.
"It was a strange set of circumstances. Our former tour manager had gotten hurt on a motorcycle, and Sonny LeMaire called everybody and said 'We need to go back home,' which is Lexington, KY to do a fund raiser to help him out. We raised about $40,000 that night. It was just wonderful," he said of the experience. Playing together live brought out some familiar magic, according to Goetzman. "What we had not counted on was how much fun we had on stage after all those years. We just looked at each other and said 'We've got to keep doing this."
He admitted that there are some intangibles about being in a band, but with age comes wisdom. "Being in bands is like a family, and the longer you stay together, the deeper you go into family dynamics. Back in the heyday, we had problems like families have problems. We dealt with them well. Now, we're just brothers, and family still. Most of the egos have gone. They haven't entirely shrunk, but it's nearly there."
One of the songs that Goetzman says the band has received positive feedback to is the rollicking "Bread On The Table," which was co-written by LeMaire and Pennington, along with Shane Minor. "They had that in their back pocket when we got back together. We just fell in love with it. They had a demo and we tried to copy it as best as we could. We're real happy with it."
Another cut from the project that is a highlight is the title track, a cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic. "We're all Mayfield fans, and that song really lent itself to an A Capella version, even though JP plays a little guitar in the breaks."
As a listener, time has had no effect on the Exile sound. Tracks like "It's Gotta Be You" and "I Can't Be Your Fool" sound like they could be easily mixed in with hits like "Crazy For Your Love" and "She's A Miracle." Hearing that from listeners is music to Goetzman's ears. "When we got back together, so much time had passed that we didn't know what to expect. But, a good band should be more than the sum of the parts. We've always felt that there was some magic was there, and it was still there."
One song that their fans still demand in concert is their 1978 pop smash "Kiss You All Over," which the band recently re-recorded with Trace Adkins. "We lovingly refer to the song as our 'Eneregizer Bunny.' It keeps getting new life, and put into movies all the time. We played the Opry last year, and decided to play it on the show. Trace was watching us, and he comes up to us, tells us he's a fan, and asks about doing something together, so we went into the studio re-recording it." No word on when the cut will be released.
What does the future hold for Exile? "We're touring quite a bit," Goetzman says. "We have some plans in the works that are at the drawing board stage right now," he says, adding that the band will end up playing between 60-70 dates this year.
Keep up with Exile's tour dates on their website.
Did you know… Before Exile went country they topped the Hot 100 in 1978 with this gem: