MAKE Vocalist/Guitarist Scott Endres Talks About The Band's Debut Album "Trephine"
North Carolina’s MAKE plays this lumbering, atmospheric metal that could be familiar to those who listen to bands in the style of Neurosis. They aren’t a complete knock-off of some well-known band though, as evident by their upcoming debut album, “Trephine.” The concept album dwells into the mystery of life after death and handling a post-apocalyptic universe. The trio, which started out as a four-piece, matches this lofty ambition with a mass of heaviness, coupled with brief fancies of melodic ambience. I had the opportunity to get some comments out of vocalist/guitarist Scott Endres about the band’s background and the creation of “Trephine.”
For those just hearing about you guys for the first time, can you run me down a little bit about the band’s history up to this point?
A couple of years ago, I was in and out of some projects. I met up with an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while, and he was telling me about a band that he was playing in, and he hadn’t been playing for a while. They were more of a mass metal project, and he wanted to do something a little bit slower. I said, ‘Oh, that’s funny. Me and this guy I work with (Matt Stevenson, who is the drummer for MAKE) had been talking about doing a slower and heavier project for a while.’
That’s the genesis of that, with that chance meeting. We got together a couple of times. I don’t think we knew exactly what we were doing. I used to be in a band years ago in Boston called Suntan that was a heavier, drone-like space rock. I wanted to do a heavier version of that. Beyond that, we didn’t know really know. We just started playing and met up with people like Black Skies and Michelle (Temple), who is running Lechuza Booking. Things just kind of fell into place along the way.
Did you notice that the band’s sound evolved from the first time you guys met until this point, and how so, if it did?
Yeah, for sure. I think one thing was that we learned what worked for us, what we all could agree on. I think it was a lot of process of elimination in that first year, saying, ‘Oh, that sounds like something else we’ve heard.’ With all those things getting dropped, we just ended up slowly build this thing we thought was our own. These days, I’ve even been getting more interested in pushing those boundaries and blurring the lines of genre without hopefully sacrificing anything. Someone once asked me, ‘If you do too much and are essentially pleasing too many people at once, are you really backing yourself into a corner and pleasing nobody at all?’ Right now, I’ve been getting into a lot of stuff like Mamiffer and nosier, droney things. I want to push that element; the minimalism, the droning even further, without too much thought involved. I really like the idea of being patient and seeing how long we can do something.
The band is releasing their debut album, “Trephine,” in March. Apparently, there is a concept behind the album that most people may not know about. Can you go into detail about that?
From the very beginning, if there was one thing that we sort of all agreed upon that we never had to talk about again, is that we considered ourselves an instrumental band with vocals. That might sound silly, but the vocals were always an afterthought; another layer. Half the time, we don’t get to actually writing lyrics until we’re in the studio and we need to. That’s been an important thing for us to adhere to. A lot of times, we have songs that don’t have names. I’m forced then into coming up with a name and that forces an idea and that idea we start talk about, and that becomes more of a story.
At some point along the way - we were probably halfway through writing what was going to be on the record - and we’re all super nerd about post-apocalyptic fiction, so the song titles started to morph into that. I don’t know if it was on purpose at the time or a coincidence, but we started seeing a theme. We talked about it and then a friend of ours, this guy Wes who did a lot of booking for this dive bar that put on a lot of great metal shows...had gotten into a car crash and died. I have this terrible anxiety about not existing for infinity after I die. One morning, I couldn’t get this out of my head. The guy was my age, in his early 30’s, and he’s not around, period. I’m no stranger to death, but I just couldn’t shake it. I talked to the guys and I really wanted to incorporate that into the record.
I’m not religious, so I don’t have that, ‘It’s okay if you die, because there’s something else.’ I don’t have that comfort. I started thinking what would happen to somebody, or myself, if I took that anxiety and ran with it, and went too far. I combined the post-apocalyptic story, the renewal of life, with something who had chosen to quit, go crazy and are in a mental hospital. Kind of patch them together and go through the perspective of each of those character and make them into one character and just not really decide which is the real reality; is one imaging the other? I got together with Spencer (Lee, bassist) and wrote all these paragraphs and he wrote the lyrics. It was pretty fun. We were just winging it and just decide that’s was what it was as we got closer to the end of it.
You said earlier that you considered MAKE an instrumental band with vocals. Was the music or vocals more important to get the concept across on “Trephine”?
For us, the music has always been the most important thing, but then I felt like personally I needed to get this shit out of my system. I didn’t want to hold onto it, but I didn’t want to be negative with it. It was really important to me, and I think the guys were great because they went along with it. I worked with Matt so he could see how it affected me. That’s where the name “Trephine” comes from. I needed to drill into my head and let the demons out. I needed to get rid of it and have it be like a positive experience. That became important later on. The next thing that gets released, we’ve already started planning for it. The songs are reflecting different movements within the story, and it was the complete opposite way before. The music was more important than the story that was attached, and now it’s the other way around.
Do you find it’s comfortable to do it the other way around, or was there a bit of a learning curve doing the concept first before the music?
I don’t know. We’ll find out (laughs). We just started. We got one post-“Trephine” song written. We’ll see. We got the concept. Who knows how the music is going to fit to it. We want to take our time and not force anything. We’ll see.
When I first heard about you guys, bands like Neurosis and The Atlas Moth were thrown at me. Do you think this is a fair assessment of the band, or do you think you guys stand out for whatever reason?
The part of that question I can only answer without feeling like a dick is the ‘for whatever reason’ part. There’s a ton of things that people have said to me that we sound like. That’s fine man. I have no problem with that. I would eventually like to become harder and harder to be compared to, or have other things compared to us. I’ve heard some things that totally took me aback. I like those bands, but it’s weird. The names that get thrown at us most often are bands who I really dig, but maybe own only one of their albums. I’ve had “Souls At Zero” on rotation since I was a kid, but I’m not a huge Neurosis fan.
I’m not going to sit here and talk about how different we are than anybody. That’s not up for me to decide. I just like doing what I do. If somebody else thinks that we are different for whatever reason, that’s awesome. I know me personally, because I know what my major influences are, I would like to think they come out in a way that’s I’ve learned something from. Since I was a kid, those bands have been Godflesh and Lungfish and Spacemen 3 and The Verve...Nick McCabe is a huge guitar influence to me. I would only imagine if those things have been an influence of mine for so long, that they might be coming out. We’re all really into Pink Floyd and Godflesh and Carcass. There’s not much that all three of us agree on at the same time. Some of the stuff I’ve been into for a long time, I haven’t seen anybody else give a shout out to.
If you were giving “Trephine” to somebody to listen to, would there be a particular song, or series of songs, that you would recommend to somebody to give them a small taste of what MAKE is all about?
I probably wouldn’t had known this until we were finished the record, but listening back to it now, my two favorite tracks - and hopefully the extremes of these will be pushed further continuing on - are “Returning To The Ruins Of My Birthplace” and “...And Time Came Undone.” Those are the songs that, at least on the recording, represent directions we want to go into, specifically the beginning of “Returning To The Ruins Of My Birthplace,” where it has the noise and the really repetitive riffs. That sort of drone and repetition really interests me.
I also love “After The Dust Settles,” even though the other guys don’t really have a part in it. It was one of my favorite moments. I’ve been getting into a lot of dark, ambient stuff, and would like to incorporate more of that into the other proper songs. “...And Time Came Undone” I think just has a good mix of the kind of riffs we like to play.
People tend to listen to music as individual tracks, instead of as a whole. Do you think this album better either way, that people can still get enjoyment out of single tracks, as well as listening to it as a whole?
A few of the songs on this record were written when we were a four-piece, and we have such an extended hiatus trying to get new material written, that when we got to a point when we had enough, we just said, ‘Look guys, we need to put something out. It’s been a while.’ We live in an area down here between Raleigh and Chapel Hill that there’s so much going on and we’re just itching to get back out and remind people that we’re still here. Since some of these songs initially didn’t have anything to do with each other - they weren’t written as one big piece - I wanted to bring an unifying theme to them.
I hope that this goes both ways. It’s pleasant, in that it makes sense from beginning to end, that it sounds like it all exists on the same album, but I think they are a collection of songs patched together. It’s not like “Dark Side Of The Moon,” where you start on one particular song and it might just cut into the next song. With the next record, that is the approach we want. I’ve always been into the idea of the album as the album. I’ve never been a person that just listens to a couple of songs, and if I do, it’s because someone called or something happened. I like to lay down on a couch, and put an album on, and experience the album as one statement. That’s something we’re definitely going for.
Is the band looking to do any live touring beyond local shows?
Yeah. We did a tour in mid-November with our great friends in Black Skies. Michelle from Black Skies runs Lechuza Booking and she’s got a lot of great artists - Horseback, Cough, Arbouretum - and we just signed on with her. Matt, our drummer, has been interning for her for a while, so it was just sort of natural it happened. Our plan is to stop doing the local stuff for the next year. We got a few things coming up, some festivals and stuff, but for the most part, we’re going to be focusing on doing week-long tours.
If you could tour with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?
I would have to say Lungfish. When I was 18 years old, it completely changed my perception on what live music could be, what recorded music could be. They introduced something that I didn’t understand for at least a year, but I was intrigued. That’s something that I’ve held onto. When I saw that band, they were opening up for Fugazi. We were there for Fugazi. I don’t even know if we knew that Lungfish was playing, but it blew my mind in a way that no band really has since. I’m not going to say that they are my favorite band of all time, but they have definitely had probably the greatest impact on me.
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