On July 31st, 2012 we attempt to find out more about ambitious beginnings of MAKE, a sludge/doom/post metal band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We talked them about their crushing debut album entitled “Trephine”, live shows, their upcoming EP and lots of other stuff. Scroll down to check out what Scott Endres and Spencer Lee have to say.
Hey, guys. How are you? I must admit you should feel absolutely beautiful after all the great reviews your debut album “Trephine” got [smiles].
[laughs] Well thank you! We’re doing pretty well! Working hard, but it’s all worth it.
It feels pretty good, yeah. A little weird too, since we’ve essentially been done with the record for almost a year now and reviews keep coming in. What with the self-release locally, the “official” release date and then the vinyl release. Not to say I’m not confident in my music or my band, but I didn’t expect this kind of reaction at all. I can’t say I’ve ever felt “absolutely beautiful” but yeah. It’s pretty cool [laughs].
[smiles] On the other hand, the story behind it isn’t funny at all. Please remind us what’s the storyline behind the outing.
The record is based upon a character in the midst of a semi-comatose dissociative fugue, and unsure as to which of several “realities” he’s experiencing is/are real. One is a hospital bed, one is wandering through post-apocalyptic Earth, and in one he finds himself in the midst of one of Mount Vesuvius’ eruptions in the distant past.
There was a bar which, to simplify things, was basically the punk and metal home-base in Chapel Hill called The Reservoir. One of the main guys there passed away and the shape of the story is essentially a mirror to my own form of coping with that immediate reminder of my own mortality. That said, there are all sorts of themes within themes inside the record. Even the drone piece at the very end of the CD was meant to portray the act of traveling through a post-apocalyptic landscape.
How do you remember the week you spent at the Track & Field Studios? Could you please describe the experience of recording this joint? Were you limited in the amount of time you had for the whole process?
It was really a fantastic experience. Nick Petersen is as fun to be around as he is good at recording (very), and I personally didn’t feel any pressure from our time constraints. The one bummer was that I had to leave a couple of times to go to work, but the sessions themselves were great.
Limited with time and money, yes. I think we got it all done in four and a half days before we sent it off to James Plotkin for mastering, but I might be wrong. My memory isn’t always the most reliable part of me. That said, Nick and I have known each other for a decent amount of time now so we’re able to communicate very easily with each other. I mentioned in another interview how empathetic to not only the process Nick is, since he’s an active musician himself, but specifically regarding the type of music we’re playing and the way we’re attempting to portray it in the realms of a recorded product. I just show up with a bottle of bourbon, a list of things I want to accomplish for each day and Nick gets it done.
What was the real job of both engineer and producer of the record? Was it a strictly technical job, or did they have a real impact on the album?
We really wanted as much input as we could get from Nick. He’s brilliant at what he does, and it certainly shows. He wanted the record to sound how we wanted it to, but the mixing and tracking were really a team effort. He left every decision up to us, but we asked him for as much advice as we could get.
Nick engineered the record himself and co-produced with the band, meaning many of the sounds and ideas which appear on the record came from either a collaborative brainstorming or just great ideas he’d throw out there. And unlike some past studio experiences I’ve had, most of them worked and made whatever given part better, ha! To me, one of the most important aspects of creating something is to be open-minded and spontaneous. Have an idea? Let me hear it! I have an idea? Let me record it! Some of my favorite moments on the record happened this way, like the lead tremolo ebow part at the end of Valhalla. Completely spontaneous. Or, you know, I’d say “Hey Nick, I want to do some stuff with Matt’s ride cymbal…so-“ and he’d just nod, leave the room and come back with a contact mic, put it on the cymbal, go back to the control room and say “Ok, we’re rolling!” I’m really looking forward to getting back in the studio with him in a few months.
A lot of people mesmerized by your outing haven’t heard a word about you before. What have you been doing before forming the band? Tell us about your other projects and musical activities.
I’ve been playing in another band called Systems for about four years, now. I also recently started playing in a band called WOWOLFOL that our good friend Rich James of the band HOG put together to perform music he’s written. I guess the best way to describe it is heavy, psychedelic country music.
Yeah, it’s hard to get the word out when you have limited resources and can’t tour a whole lot! We’re trying though. As much effort as we’ve got is what we’re trying to put into this band. Before MAKE, going backwards, I’d lent a brief hand to HORSEBACK on Invisible Mountain and an early live performance, collaborated with local triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) drone project THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT, had a drunken, doped-up, train wreck of a band called *SONS (which at different points featured both Jenks from HORSEBACK and Matt who plays with us now) and before that I was living in Boston and New York playing with a space-rock, shoegaze sort of band called SUNTAN. Currently I’ve got a solo bedroom project which consists of mostly dark ambient, noise and drone material called THE POD and I’m in the very earliest stages of trying to put together a dark ambient electronic drone project which won’t be limited to the bedroom. Hopefully more on that to come.
What’s the story behind your collaboration with Devouter Records? How did you end up on their roster?
There’s not much of a story here, at least not one that I know of. Phil might be able to tell you more but as I told somebody recently we had met up with a recent UK expatriate who’d heard about us and wanted to help spread the word. He called me one day to let me know to expect a call from Phil, who also co-runs Stressed Sumo records. Just a couple of emails where I made sure we weren’t selling our souls and it was a done deal. I had no idea we were to be the first on the label until Phil asked me if I could include “Devout001” on the artwork! Not sure what made him take the leap of faith but we’re absolutely humbled he did.
How many shows have you been playing so far? What’s the farthest you have been from your hometown? How do you choose places to play in?
I’ve honestly lost count of the number of shows we’ve played so far. Most of them have been in our general area, but we’ve done a couple of short tours. The first was with our great friends (and an absolutely amazing band) called BLACK SKIES, and the second was with another favorite band and our new friends, DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT from the UK. The BLACK SKIES tour took us up the east coast and as far as Cincinnati, Ohio. For the DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT tour we started with them in Chicago, Illinois and made our way to Brooklyn, New York. I think that makes Chicago the farthest from home we’ve been. As for choosing where to play, it really depends on a lot of factors. We’re not too picky about the actual location as long as we can hopefully play to at least a few people. Our booking agent, Michelle Temple (who started Lechuza Booking and plays in Black Skies) helps us out a lot with that. She’s killer. Tons of props to her.
What notable artists have you met on the road thus far?
We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play with some really amazing bands. Touring with DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT was an absolute blast. We played with ENCRUST (formerly HUNTERS) in Chicago on that tour, as well as COFFINWORM in Indianapolis. Those were a total treat. We’ve been on some great bills at home, too, with ALCEST, DEAFHEAVEN, RED SPAROWES, DOOMRIDERS, CALTROP, THOU, COUGH, CROWBAR, BLACK TUSK, and the list goes on. In October we’re going to be playing with THE ATLAS MOTH and ALTAR OF PLAGUES at Hopscotch Music Festival, which we’re all thoroughly excited for. We’re also pretty privileged to have a lot of amazing heavy bands to play with around here.
Aren’t you tempted to visit Europe with MAKE? Have you received any support from your fans overseas? Any signals that promoters would love to book you here?
I think we would all be absolutely psyched on playing shows in Europe. [laughs] trouble is that we’re all pretty short on money, so it seems like something that may have to wait a moment. That said, though, we’ve certainly received a lot of support from overseas fans. Devouter is based in the UK, and we’ve sold some records there. Also, most of the major press we’ve gotten has been from the UK and western Europe, so our not having been there is certainly not due to lack of support on that end.
Yeah. If you know anybody who wants us there and can afford to make it happen, don’t hesitate to put them in touch with us. We’re mostly housebroken.
How is the post metal / sludge scene in Chapel Hill, North Carolina? Is it easy to develop a band identity there?
The metal scene here is really awesome. Especially for being such a small town/area that hasn’t gotten too much national attention for metal in particular. That comes as something of a surprise to me, though, with all of the amazing heavy bands from around here. For anyone who wants to hear what’s going on around here, check out Horseback if you haven’t already, as well as BLACK SKIES, HOG, CALTROP, IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG, BITTER RESOLVE, TORCH RUNNER, and OLD MOUNTAIN to name a few. Also, our last show was with a band called SOLAR HALOS. They’re kind of a supergroup of folks from different awesome local bands of past and present (CURTAINS OF NIGHT, FIN FANG FOOM, and CALTROP). It was their first show, and they absolutely slayed. Watch for them.
A lot of creative people down here. There are quite a lot of different personalities shining through. So much so that I wouldn’t say there’s a specific scene for post, sludge or whatever tags you want to use…a lot of us who play heavy music are good friends and try to support each other. The upside to the smaller scene is that you don’t find yourself saying “Oh, good. Another band that sounds like this” very often since each band really is trying something different.
What band would you choose to team up with if you considered releasing a split?
I don’t even know where to start with this one. There are so many bands I’d love to release splits with.
Scott: Right off the top of my head I’d say Dragged Into Sunlight. We really had a great time together, I’d like to have a sort of permanent document of that.
You’ve mentioned about possible EP release later this year. Any update on that?
We’re in the process of booking some studio time at Track and Field again, hopefully in early October. The songs are written, it’s just a matter of really solidifying them in our minds and recording them.
Yep. We’re actually getting together very soon to figure out how much money we can spend, how much time we need and how we should spend that time. The tentative plan is to record and mix two main tracks. One should be about 20 minutes long, the other a more average length for us. We’re hoping to get those completely finished with the time we have, demo a couple other new ones for reference points and use the rest of our time to record improvised soundscape material which we’ll likely spend a decent amount of time cutting up and mixing at my place later. We hope that we can at least have this available digitally before the year is through.
Thank you so much. Would you like to add anything else?
Thank you! It’s been a pleasure!
So long and thanks for all the fish!
“North Carolina post-metallers bring the thunder and then some.” Kerrang
“The band’s knack for seismic sweeps and surges should be more than enough to pique your interest.” Rock Sound
“MAKE’s three accomplished craftsmen have laid down what may be one of 2012’s finest metal records.” Heavy Planet
“Consistently mesmerising.” Terrorizer
“A psychologically disturbed Neurosis/Isis/Horseback hybrid.” Metal Hammer
“MAKE creates an intoxicating blend of all things in the slow, stoned, and sludgy realm of metal with touches of doom, drone, and post-metal, as if Rwake, Earth, and Isis joined up for a colossal jam session for the ages.” Heavy Blog Is Heavy
“You would be hard pressed to find something better than this.” Bring The Noise
“Make’s doomy-psych metal offering is huge.” Roomthirteen.com
“A well-developed and sharply executed batch of songs that work as a narrative and atmospheric whole.” Independent Weekly