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The best kept secret in music


"The Edmonton Journal"

Wanted : Radio airplay

Edmonton's exit303 is entering fairly unknown waters. The band's rock single, 'All I Wanted', is now getting regular airplay on 96X, the city's only Top 40 radio station.

Music director Mike Anderson estimates All I Wanted will be aired on the commercial FM station more than 30 times a week, a rare feat for an independent band from Edmonton or anywhere else, for that matter. It was just added to 96X's playlist Wednesday.

The Bear, a rock outlet, plays local artists but only on Sunday's Red, White & New, which airs from 11pm to midnight. CJSR and CKUA air Edmonton performers on a frequent basis, but they're both non-profit stations with smaller audiences.

"We knew we had something special when we finished recording All I Wanted and we're thrilled that 96X has picked it up", says exit303's keyboardist Cameron Ambrose. "Mike Anderson has been a great supporter of ours since he saw us play several months back and we're very pleased that he is willing to add an indie into full rotation. We know people will dig the tune once they hear it."

exit303 plans to release it's new album, 'Into The Circle', on Oct 24, but the band has a few gigs lined up before then. The rockers play a three-night stand at the Urban Lounge from Sep 25 to 27.

Earlier this year, exit303 won a local songwriting competition for 'You're A Star', which also appears on the album. - Sandra Sperounes

"VUE Weekly"

This way to the egress

It's been more than three years since exit303 released their debut disc, 'trip to temple', and the ambitious local rockers haven't been sitting idly by, waiting for things to happen. Keyboardist Cam Ambrose has been building up recording experience running his own studio, Braindead Digital, and the band has been playing steadily around town, securing a local following as they get ready for the release of their sophomore effort, 'into the circle'. "Really that's been kind of our focus," Ambrose says. "Just writing new songs and getting out there and performing a lot so we could get our chops up onstage - just getting the band real tight. And I think that's paid off for us."

Ambrose recorded the band's first disc and was eager to get back into the studio for 'into the circle' to try out a few tricks of the trade he's picked up over the last couple of years. "All the different bands I've worked with have given me some insight into different things to try with us," he says, "and I think that's been a benefit for sure."

Recording in his own studio meant exit303 were able to give themselves enough time to ensure the sessions went just right and to experiment with different recording techniques. "You can let certain things go and say, 'Y'know, it's good enough,'" Ambrose says. "But this time we said, 'No, it's not. We're gonna make sure that every track we cut is of value and not try and fix it in the mix. Let's get it in the recording this time.' And I believe that led to a better-sounding album."

While exit303 released 'into the circle' themselves, the band has been frantically building up contacts in the industry, pressing the flesh with the right people across the country to capitalize on their local success. "You can't just expect phone calls and e-mails to get you anywhere," Ambrose says. "It helps greatly to go out and actually meet these people and let them in on what you're doing - get them in on the ground floor."

One place they've found a helping hand is local radio station 96X, which is sponsoring the band's release party and has been on board with them since first seeing exit303 play live and hearing rough mixes of the first single, "All I Wanted." The track has since topped their Hot 9 at 6 chart and is now getting airplay across western Canada. "People are really responding to the song itself right now," Ambrose says, "and that's all a band could ask for." - Phil Duperron

"The Edmonton Journal"

exit303 leads to local radio play

Edmonton band keen to promote new CD while striving to be cool on stage

If you head down Diligence Avenue, turn left at Studio Wizard Boulevard, you'll find exit303 - a group of Edmonton rockers with an ear for writing songs with gritty riffs and pretty melodies.

The wizard would be keyboardist/producer Cam Ambrose, who turned his home into a studio and owns a scary amount of recording magazines. But guitarist/vocalist Dean Park admits to experiencing some of his own creative magic when he writes songs - such as 'You're A Star' or 'All I Wanted', two songs from exit303's second album, 'into the circle'. Except he doesn't call it magic.

"It just happens," says Park, who was five or six years old when he wrote his first lyrics on a shoebox. "I don't know how to explain it."

Guitarist/vocalist Jay Holterhus also doesn't know how to explain exit303's recent radio success. 'You're A Star', an edgy number with psychedelic rhythms, won a songwriting competition at The Bear and 'All I Wanted', a ballad, was recently added to the playlist of 96X, Edmonton's only Top 40 station. It's a rare feat - the last time a local artist earned regular rotation was in 1996, when Power92 played Captain Tractor's 'Up The Hill'.

So far, exit303's 'All I Wanted' has received more than 300 spins on 96X in four weeks and was the station's most requested song five out of the last six days.

"It started off with all our friends calling," says Holterhus. "But we don't have that many friends, so it must be catching on."

'All I Wanted' is now getting airplay across northern Alberta - at stations in Edson, Hinton, Jasper, and Cold Lake. You might not think it's such a big deal, but this is how 3 Doors Down rocketed to global fame with 'Kryptonite'. A station in the band's home town of Escatawpa, Miss., started playing the song and before Brad Arnold and his Doors could put on their red capes, they were signed to Universal and touring the world.

The same scenario could repeat itself with exit303, says 96X's music director.

"They have songwriting talent and are great live performers," says Mike Anderson. "I just hope that a major record label sees this soon and gives them the backing that they need to develop into superstars. If not, maybe they should head to the U.S. to get 'signed' and find success. It worked for Nickelback, didn't it?"

exit303 remain cautious about their next steps. For now, Ambrose, Park, Holterhus, bassist Mike Ricketts and drummer Tristan Rodil are hoping to find a publicist, go on tour to promote 'into the circle' and enjoy two CD release parties at Red's withough suffering too many injuries.

"We're very animated on stage," says Holterhus. "I hold the record in the band for speaker bonks. It's really hard to look cool when you're hitting your head on stuff."

Tonight's show, which starts at 10, is only open to exit303's 18-plus fans while Sunday's gig is for all ages. Doors open at 1 p.m., the show begins at 2 p.m. - Sandra Sperounes


Trip To Temple (13 Tracks) - Released June 2000
Into The Circle (11 Tracks) - Released Oct 24, 2003
All I Wanted (from Into The Circle) - Sustained 75 spins/week on commercial radio - Peaked at #82 on Canadian Top 40 chart


Feeling a bit camera shy


D.I.Y. Do It Yourself: a term that once meant having the guts to take the world head-on. Over time, these three words have almost become panache; a means of touting a band as having the ability and drive to push their music and their profile to the utmost of means. Yet few bands truly understand the power of such a movement.

A gutsy rock quintet bursting out of Edmonton, Alberta, it’s no wonder exit303 has become one of the city’s most innovative and respected bands. They know differently. Celebrating their fourth year with the release of their independent sophomore effort 'into the circle', exit303— guitarist/lead vocalist Jay Holterhus, guitarist/lead vocalist Dean Park, keyboardist Cam Ambrose, bassist Michael Ricketts and drummer Tristan Rodil—prove that D.I.Y. still exists—nay, thrives in Canada.

Entirely self-recorded and produced, this album is quickly garnering the attention of a stunned industry. Infectious melodies are intricately wrapped with lush harmonies that are only equaled by their ability to pull out a searing riff just as you’re wondering if they can get any sweeter. You couldn’t get them out of your head if you tried.

“Self-producing is more often than naught a bad idea, but every so often, it yields something special" says Ambrose.  "We originally met with producer Nick Blagona (Foo Fighters, Tea Party), yet we knew where we wanted to go with the album ourselves. We figured that we would give it a shot. ”

It was obviously the right choice. With 'into the circle' garnering major label interest and increasing radio play across the country, the band’s D.I.Y. mentality has proved to be nothing but beneficial. The debut single “All I Wanted”  has already hit the commerical radio charts and continues to gain momentum with fans and industry alike. Proud yet humble, Ambrose downplays the band’s accomplishments, stating that the real work is still ahead of them.

“There’s much to lose from letting your achievements get the best of you,” he warns. “We’re certainly proud of what we’ve done, but there’s a long road ahead of us. You have to expect 110% from everything you do all of the time. We want to have great product out there, a stellar live show and while we know how to do it, that doesn’t mean we just sit back and let it happen. You can’t let anything slip or expect everyone else to pick up the slack. We’re creating our own destiny...we make it happen (because) we’re going for a career in music. We’ve got momentum and we’re going to keep it strong by getting in your face as much as possible.”