The Exies released their third album this week, but singer and guitarist Scott Stevens doesn't want to talk about writing 11 new guitar-heavy rock songs, covering Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime," overcoming the departure of a founding band member or getting dropped by Virgin Records and catching on with the indie label Eleven Seven. He wants to talk about Paris Hilton.
Stevens and the Exies are behind an Internet petition opposing judicial leniency for Hilton. The socialite was recently sentenced to 45 days in a California jail for violating the terms of her probation stemming from a drunken driving arrest last September. Her fans (or Hilton herself, depending on whom you believe) have been circulating a competing petition calling for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon Hilton, which incenses Stevens.
"If it was any one of us, we would do our time," he says by phone from Lincoln, Neb., on a tour that stops Monday in Hartford. "She shouldn't get a free pass because of her celebrity or because of her rich father. She is completely negligent in accepting responsibility for what she's done."
Stevens is particularly vexed by all the media attention lavished on Hilton, noting that she's not much of a singer. Or actress. Or role model.
"The public is duped into thinking that someone like Paris is worthy of attention, when there are real artists out there - real independent filmmakers, real musicians struggling to get attention for their records -and The New York Times is writing about Paris," he says. "She's famous for nothing. She's an amateur porn star socialite. She has no talent and she's kind of a wart on society."
Although Stevens' excoriation of what he calls "the Paris Hiltons of the world" meshes nicely with the title of the Exies' new album, he says it's coincidence that "A Modern Way of Living With the Truth" came out around the same time Hilton was sentenced.
"It's uncanny, but we didn't plan for this to happen," he says. "We would be speaking about this anyway, even if the record came out in three weeks or a month ago."