END IT by Kenny Savercool
END IT by Kenny Savercool

Interview: Baltimore’s END IT on gatekeeping Hardcore, the growing struggle, and more

5 mins read

Baltimore Hardcore crew END IT delivers with ferocity and purpose on their new EP, Unpleasant Living, out now on Flatspot Records. The message? Mind your business. On Unpleasant Living, the band takes heavy influence from 90’s Hardcore, drawing comparisons to acts like Leeway, Gut Instinct, and Maximum Penalty.

The six songs address everything from questioning the systems of society to gatekeeping the music scene they love.

The EP was recorded with Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, who helped bring an even bigger intensity to the band’s incredibly fast-paced tracks.

END IT has additionally announced a record release show on July 22nd at Metro Gallery in Baltimore and you can check out the band’s full list of upcoming shows below. The vinyl pressing of Unpleasant Living is sold out, but CD’s are still available, via Flatspot Records. Both formats, also include the band’s 2020 EP, One Way Track, and 2017 self-titled release.

END IT have one of the charismatic and chaotic live shows in Hardcore/Punk today due in part to their frontperson, Akil Godsey. We’ve heard they’ve randomly burst out into acapella covers of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to The Moon” and other standards (but Punk non-standards) at recent live shows.

We got an opportunity to conduct an interview with Godsey and END IT drummer Chris “Gonz” Gonzalez on the heels of their just-released Unpleasant Living EP.

Check out our interview below, which has been lightly edited for general clarity.

What inspired you to create a music video for “Hatekeeper” that embodied a Hardcore version of The Playa Haters’ Ball sketch from Chappelle’s Show?

Chris Gonzalez: Chappelle’s Show was a staple in our lives growing up and we still quote different skits to each other. So, one day, we were bouncing off ideas for the video and we all immediately thought of this skit and said we “had to do it.” R.I.P. Charlie Murphy.

How would you explain the meaning behind the overall theme(s) and storyline(s) that can be heard across “Hatekeeper?”

Akil Godsey: It’s about gatekeeping Hardcore; keeping the tourist from getting comfortable enough to dictate what’s right and what’s wrong knowing they won’t be around to deal with the [after-effects].”

In addition to yourself and your fellow bandmates in END IT, who else contributed to the creation of Unpleasant Living? Who’s the other voice that can be heard throughout “New Wage Slavery?”

Gonz: Our boy, Justice Tripp, from Trapped Under Ice, Angel Du$t, and COLD MEGA. He killed this part. We sent him the song and an overall idea of what the song was about and he knocked it out of the park first try and recorded the vocals [by] himself.

How would you personally say END IT’s overall sound, style, and aesthetic has grown and evolved since your last release, 2020’s One Way Track EP?

Godsey: We lived through a pandemic and as much as things have gotten more stressful, there’s a sense of freedom I’ve, personally, been able to experience. With the world being so backed up, there’s a lot of things that have slipped through the cracks that society has been able to take advantage of, if they’re thinking outside of a pre-COVID mindset.

What is the significance behind the striking black-and-white images that can seen across the collage-style Unpleasant Living EP cover?

Gonz: The artwork was definitely inspired by our single, “New Wage Slavery,” which our guitarist, Ray worded best: “the growing struggle between the ruling class and common people/citizens that becomes more apparent every day as we get f**ked by those in power in this country and in the world in general. F**k them all, steal their sh*t.”

It is collage of strong photos from Baltimore that show some of the struggles our community [faces] every day.

END IT - Unpleasant Living EP (cover artwork)
END IT – Unpleasant Living EP (cover artwork)

Why did you decide to include both END IT’s One Way Track EP (2020) and 2017 self-titled release within the vinyl and CD versions of Unpleasant Living dropping July 8th on Flatspot Records?

Gonz: All these songs are coming out on vinyl for the first time, so you gotta go back and have them re-mastered, so that things are equitable. Our whole catalog is only 40 minutes, so why not include it all? It’s showing respect to where we came from and where we’re heading. We are very big on respect.

What would you readily cite as some of your primary sources of inspiration and influence during the creation of Unpleasant Living?

Gonz: The Pandemic, our everyday frustrations and struggles, and our f**ked up government.

What did the writing, recording, production, creation, etc. processes behind your Unpleasant Living EP typically entail? What assorted roles does everyone in the band generally play?

Gonz: We usually just have the guitar and drum parts ready for the studio and lay those down and, then, lyrics get written in the studio while the leads and bass parts get recorded. This EP, we all contributed to lyrics and bounced off ideas to find what we were looking for. Akil – vocals, Gonz – drums, Ray – lead guitar, Pat – bass, and Johnny – rhythm guitar.

Godsey: The “process” for us [is] really us living our lives. Every person in this band has a completely different 24 hours [than] the other, so it’s very interesting that it comes together like this. Akil is perpetually under-employed and everyone else is middle class, to a degree. So, you get whatever crazy bullsh*t Akil endures during the day with the stability and society-minded input of the rest of the band.

I’ve never seen END IT live myself (unfortunately!) but in preparation for this very interview, I’ve been asking around and speaking to fellow fans. My friend Tyler DeMarco (At The Interview) said, “[they] broke out acapella “Fly Me to The Moon” and, then, just proceeded to murder everyone in white polos and business khakis…” How do you think END IT’s live shows remain so unique and stand out from your Hardcore contemporaries?

Gonz: Akil can sing [their] aSS off. [They were] in choir and [they] knows lyrics to so many random songs. [They don’t] know what song [they’re] going to sing until, like, five minutes before our set. It always gets the crowd choking before we even play, so it definitely makes it fun. [They’re], also, one of the funniest psychos I know, so [their] banter in-between songs [is] ridiculous and on-the-fly.

Godsey: So, I’m a Punker at heart. I believe in structure, in terms of keeping people safe ‘cause a lot of people can’t defend themselves in a truly chaotic environment, however, I love to subjugate the norm. Hardcore [has] been full of dudes being brolic and tough. I’m not tough. I’m just a wild asshole who likes to make noise and have a good time; classic hooligan.

All of this is based off an idea that Hardcore shows should be fun ‘cause it been my solace for the last 15 years. I’m performing the show that I would like to see.

Shout-out Paul Bearer from Sheer Terror.

What’s planned next for END IT?

Gonz: We just want to play all over and, hopefully, hit the West Coast as soon as possible. We really want to play out of the country sometime next year, as well. We’ve been slowly writing more songs for a future release, so there’s always new music on the way. END IT TAKEOVER 2023!

Previous Story

Osaka Hardcore – BRAVE OUT comment on new EP, local punk scene, and more

Next Story

Revolutionary sounds: 5 speeches and lectures that helped shape “Symptoms of Modern Hegemony” by NJ hardcore band SCARY HOURS