Excel to release long-lost album ‘Seeking Refuge’

From the dark alleys and dead ends of Los Angeles, EXCEL have been delivering maximum crossover since crossover first crossed over. Their classic albums Split Image (1987) and The Joke’s On You (1989) remain linchpins of the genre decades after their release. The band continues to pack venues across the globe and appear at European festivals. On 19th July, fans will have a chance to hear EXCEL’s long-lost album.

Originally released in 1995 while grunge dominated airwaves and MTV, Seeking Refuge offers a glimpse at an EXCEL many have never heard before. Out of print for decades, Seeking Refuge will finally get its due, complete with a guest shot from H.R. of Bad Brains (on “Take Your Part  Gotta Encourage”) and a video starring Tony Alva for the anthemic single “Unenslaved.”

“A lot of people who know EXCEL don’t necessarily know about this record,” bassist Shaun Ross  explains. “It’s been out of print since ’95, and it was just kind of forgotten.”  

At the time that Seeking Refuge was recorded, Ross was working for Fuct streetwear and living in their warehouse. “One of the owners had a friend who knew H.R. from Bad Brains, and they just dropped him off at the studio,” the bassist recalls. “He ended up living with me for the better part of the year in the Fuct warehouse. It was a crazy time.” (As a result of H.R.’s appearance on Seeking Refuge, Dan and Shaun would soon witness firsthand the reunification of the Bad Brains.)

H.R. makes a guest appearance on “Take Your Part Gotta Encourage” while EXCEL incorporate elements of rock, funk, and grunge on tracks like “Plastic Cracks” and “Drowned Out.” For lead single “Unenslaved,” they hit a hallowed Dogtown landmark to shoot a video starring skate pioneer Tony Alva. They re-emptied the Gonzales Pool, a.k.a. Gonzo Pool, where some of Alva’s  most famous moments had been captured in the movie Thrasher. 

Produced by Ron Champagne, (Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains), Seeking Refuge didn’t fit into any of heavy music’s prefab categories circa ’95. “We didn’t get a great response,” Ross recalls. “Between ’90 and ’95, the market for thrash and even punk kinda died with grunge becoming so popular. And we didn’t use our original logo, which in retrospect was a big deal because it didn’t look like an EXCEL record. We fixed that for the reissue.” 

In late 2023, Ross and Clements welcomed two new members to the EXCEL family: Greg Cerwonka of Chula Vista thrashers Take Offense will take over on guitar, while Damon DeLaPaz of pop punk vets Fenix TX will handle drums. “We’ve already started writing,” Ross enthuses. “The goal is to record in 2024 and have a new album out by 2025.” 

Excel’s Seeking Refuge was reissued by Southern Lord for Record Store Day 2024, and sold out. Now available on red vinyl and on all digital platforms via Southern LordSouthern Lord EU and Bandcamp.

Photo credit: Becky DiGiglio

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