Ya know, serendipity is one of those white people words that really grinds my gears, but damn, do I have a situation where it applies. It was June of 2016 — the month that kicked off a year of living with my sister in Baltimore. Out of the hazy bender that unfolded, one night remains in the forefront of my mind. Well, actually two, but I try my best to suppress waking up under my kitchen sink after the Classhold show. Anyway, it was a week ass Wednesday and my sister was sad about a boy, so we proudly took ourselves to the first show we could find in search of some humanity. KG shots were taken, Dolly Parton was sung, and, most notably, we got some aggression out to Seattle powerviolence outfit Endorphins Lost (who subsequently slept on our barren floor).
While many brain cells were laid to rest that night, drummer Chris Napolitano and I kept in touch. Once I began seeing Endorphins on the PR dole, I knew that we were well overdue for a Graveyard collab. Despite their upcoming busy touring schedule, bass player and vocalist Brandon Hayden was able to spare some time to talk keeping it short, sweet, and a little dark.
DIAG: The Graveyard was really stoked to hear about your new split coming out with Osk. I know our editor, Robin, really appreciated the real talk in “Mercy for One.” Tell us about the concept behind the album. Oh, and how did you get hooked up with Osk?
I would like to start by saying thank you again for hosting us when we were in Baltimore! For anyone reading, we played a gig in Baltimore Maryland in 2016 and there was an impossible driving rain the entire time we were there. We would have drown like rats in a bucket had it not been for you! Ok, with the proper how-do’s and thanks out of the way, the concept of the album is just a further extension of the concept of the band. This band is kind of like a short and sweet master thesis. The lyrics to these songs are merely observations of human qualities that help shape our society. Society is like some horrible machine that you can only stand and watch as it tears its way through time. People need it, people want it; but in the end, the sum of all of its parts creates this absolute terror of a “model” that we are all responsible for yet no one likes to be held accountable for. People are left to do as they wish, and still we as a society continually backslide to lower characteristics of life.
In Endorphins Lost, we just frame these moments instead of the “bright and shining” moments of society. The hope is to constantly call to attention these traits as to never forget what “we” should strive to rise above. The record still is on schedule for a official release on February 1st. We have known the good folks in Osk for a few years now and were lucky enough to do some gigs up in BC with them. Always inspired by their music and general demeanor as humans we were pretty stoked when they agreed to do a split 7 with us. We wanted to do a split and bring them into the states to go on this upcoming tour with us. Osk will be turning 10 years old this year and sadly they have never toured stateside! Do to unforeseen circumstances, Osk will not be joining us on the road. Fortunately though, for everyone who is a fan of extreme music this record will be!
DIAG: EL demonstrates the effectiveness of the short song style, known to many powerviolence fans through the work of Capitalist Casualties and so on. What are some of the pros and cons of working within this format? Do you ever just wish you had a little more space? Asking as a known prattler.
For me it is all pros! I feel like this style of music is like taking a song to a creative writing class or something. My idea of good writing is to say more with less words. Everything there is intentional and has a purpose, like a perfect sentence. I feel like music of this nature should be as brief and harsh as the ideas it portrays. The content is so manic, it only seems fitting for the music to be complementary so. There are no rules or guidelines for song length. When we write a song, it’s just like writing a first draft. You step back and ask yourself “What is the message I’m trying to get across and what is just filler?” then you just start the process of taking things out that don’t need to be there. Sometimes a song might end up being 2 or 3 minutes long, sometimes 15 seconds but its really situational. It depends on what the lyrical content feels like it calls for. I personally think that short songs are the best. From a writing aspect it forces you to really decide on what needs to be said and what doesn’t. As you can probably tell from this interview thus far, I, too, am a known prattler.
DIAG: It looks like EL is starting 2018 off right with an extensive Western US leg. Have you met any life-changing characters while vaning it across the country? Besides my resting bitch face, of course.
Of course! Why do you think we do this?! If it was for fame and fortune we would have selected a different genre! Ha, yeah we have met some truly inspiring people and it is the major highlight of touring for us. A great example of people who are making a life changing difference in their community is the Ostrow brothers and all the people in the extreme music scene in Colorado Springs. Bryan and Sean Ostrow have been doing some really great things all for the love and respect of DIY music and the musicians who perform it. Those guys took their passion for music and made it something noteworthy in a pocket of the country that might otherwise be looked over by musicians. They have a rippin’ venue called Flux Capacitor and host an amazing fest annually called 71 GRIND that’s packed with top notch grind, doom and hardcore punk bands. Yes, it is always a treat to roll through Colorado thanks to those lads in C. Springs.
DIAG: Thirsty Thursday recently examined the fine line that’s ridden by musicians who address mental health topics. Unsavory corners of the mind seem to be a recurring topic in EL. I’m curious — how do you feel about some of the celebrity responses to the passing of Charles Manson? Or alternatively, the responses mistakenly commemorating the life of Marilyn Manson.
Haha! Really? I actually had to look this up before weighing in on this question. I try not to follow current media or “buzz” topics at least. This is hilarious! Ok, i agree it is a fine line to walk as a musician. Obviously, when you write about real events or conflicts surrounding mental health, we are wholesaling tragic events for our artistic advantage. However, I hope that we are not perceived as guys who just want to exploit people. I feel that there is a lot of need and use of “dark art” in our culture. If it takes some grizzly imagery and harsh sounding music to command some attention to the need for a change so be it. I also feel like also feel like when you take something negative like the lyrical content of many extreme bands and you flip the script by transforming it into something positive like people banging their heads to heavy music and having the time of their lives with a smile on their face, it’s not exploitation, it’s more like repurposed emotion.
I personally think there are a lot of “Charles Mansons” out there and that he was a wonderful tool for staring into a deranged mind and attempting to learn something about aspiring dictators/leaders. As described in the book “Mindhunter” by John E. Douglas, ‘he made it clear to us from the outset that despite the celebrated trial and voluminous news coverage, he didn’t understand why he was in jail. After all, he hadn’t killed anyone. Rather, he considered himself a societal scapegoat. An innocent symbol of America’s dark side.’
I feel like people who exploit someone’s crimes or someone’s death are walking a thin line of calling attention to the past and contributing to the problem. I don’t know, it’s easy for me to say because i am only looking back on the life of Manson, I didn’t live in the times like some of the people i see have commented on his death. I suppose living through it gives them some grounds to comment. I think that sometimes the best way to say something is to say nothing at all. If someone wants to condemn Manson all they have to do is not recognize his death as being significant, and with that he passes away out of the spotlight and into obscurity which is exactly what we didn’t want. It’s ironic that celebrities’ reaction to his death is in turn raising notoriety once again to Charles Manson and he is still stealing headlines even from beyond the grave. This bit about people blindly reacting to Manson’s death mistaking him for Marilyn Manson because they didn’t actually read the article is pure gold though. It’s like a headline from The Onion came true.
DIAG: According to my personal interpretation, Endorphins Lost is an ode to aggressive unease sewn into a storm cloud of powerviolence. What does this discomfort mean to you? What’s your artistic process for illustrating it?
This discomfort is reality. It is the world around us, you can look at the positive aspects of life and continue living in a world that looks beautiful behind your rose color sunglasses. You can focus on the negative, be a doom crier and wallow in the knowing that “the end is near” Or you can find some ground in the middle. Realizing that these things described ARE real life and that we can only benefit from recognizing this behavior, holding accountable for it and responding in a sane fashion.
My personal artistic process is just sitting on a bench on a public street and listening. Listen to how the world works around you, there is black and white and it takes the the two to make balance. For every horrid human device there is a counter offer of greatness. If there was no unrest in the world, we wouldn’t know peace. I guess the music fits the mood, and, currently, the mood is dark.
Thank you to Endorphins Lost for speaking with us, you can find them on facebook.
You can find Jenna on instagram.
Tune in next week to Thirsty Thursday for more from Jenna.