Indy rock band hits the road

On Friday, I-Exist heads out on a nine-day, nine-city tour in guitarist Buddy Jackson’s sister’s Ford Expedition. They’ll venture from Barrington, Ill., all the way to Atkins, Ariz., live on bread and water —almost literally—and don’t expect much bathing time.

“I’m kind of freaking out,” Brian Lenington, I-Exist’s lead singer, said.

The band—featuring Butler senior percussion major Cameron Bailey on drums, Jackson, Lenington and Jon Bolotte on bass—hopes to capitalize on the buzz it generated with its 2009 debut album “Within Imagination.”

The single from that disc, “Fire Fly,” made it onto the “Saw 3D” soundtrack.

“We have fans in Russia now,” Lenington said, the disbelief faint but still noticeable.

Jackson describes I-Exist’s style as “modern ambient rock,” while Lenington said the band mixes heavy alternative rock with “really cool new age-esque stuff.”

“Fire Fly” and “Pass Out” are pretty hardcore, but songs like “Particle” and “Out of Body” explore the band’s gentler side without going soft. Their potential is evident.

The dedication of the band, however, is what sticks out the most. Determined to go on tour, they finally decided to commit and head out.

“All the promotion and booking and everything has been done by us,” Bailey said. “We’ve been tracking people down, looking up cities and Google-ing like crazy .”

“We’ve probably sent out about 1,000 e-mails [to different venues around the country],” Lenington added.

That dedication is also what pushed them into the “Saw” movie as well. They had a friend interning at Sony who managed to hook them up with the right people. Eventually, they talked to someone who said he could get them on the soundtrack.

“It’s one of those things you never believe is going to happen until it actually does,” Lenington said.

They said they pushed hard and did everything Sony asked to make sure the song went on the album. The best thing, they said, was the “validation” being on the album gave them, and that it pushed them on the international scene in a way they never could have accomplished by themselves.

The band’s camaraderie is as strong as its dedication.

They poke fun at each other, practically complete each other’s sentences and already have an established group order.

Lenington is the clear spokesman, answering most questions or adding to what others say. Bolotte, although not available for the interview, is known as the “grandfather” of the group—jokingly—because not only is he the oldest, but they all admit they look to him for the bigger decisions because he’s been in the business longer and played with a couple other bands.

“Grandfather Johnny and Baby Cameron,” Jackson joked.

Bailey is the only one still in college.

They’ll need that camraderie to survive in the ever-changing music world, but they’re confident that they’re in their moment after their success with “Saw” and the hope they have for their upcoming tour.

“There’s no reason we couldn’t be one of the biggest modern rock bands,” Lenington said. “We’re a good band in a good city in a great place right now.”

“I mean, we’ve been together for four years, but we’re still a young band,” he continued. “It’s just a reality. In my opinion, bands like Tool didn’t put their best stuff out until they were in their 40s.

“We still have a long way to go.”