One recent Saturday afternoon, a group of North Texas musicians huddled over a small makeshift assembly line in a friend’s garage in Denton. The product being assembled was a limited-edition vinyl-and-CD package of Photomaps, the sixth and latest album by alt-roots rockers Exit 380. The band members were there, of course –– singer-keyboardist Dustin Blocker, guitarists Aaron Borden and Jeremy Hutchison, bassist Jon Hutchison, and drummer Bobby Tucker –– along with a couple of friends, Denton musicians Andrew Tinker and Jessie Frye. Tinker, as producer of Photomaps, is largely responsible for the long-player’s lush but mature and serene sound.
Everyone was “sweatshopping it,” as Blocker joked, putting 300 album packages together and stamping each with a specially designed signature impression that has since been tossed. The copies that weren’t preordered will be sold (and signed, if the buyer wishes) at Exit 380’s album release party Friday at House of Blues. Now that the band has been around in various incarnations since 1999, original co-frontmen and current main songwriters Blocker and Borden wanted to make a big deal over the release of what they consider their strongest batch of tunes yet.
“We hadn’t done any vinyl releases before,” said Blocker, 35. “Once you pay for printing [vinyl LPs], the cost of adding CDs and MP3s to it is negligible, so we decided to throw them all together. It’s our way of controlling the quality of the listening experience, I guess. Most people aren’t audiophiles, but we wanted them to be able to really hear the instruments the way we heard them in the studio.”