End - The New Standard of Hardcore

Back in 2017, END released their debut EP, The Unforgiving Arms of God and almost immediately exceeded the expectations typically associated with any kind of side project. Comprised of members of a wide range of existing bands including Counterparts, Fit for An Autopsy, and Misery Signals, END instantly translated as it's own entity. To apply any kind of asterisk to the project seemed to undermine an effort that was obviously much more deliberate than it was creative experiment.

Though the initial introduction of the band was brief, there was a sense of anticipation of what was next, even as members returned to their primary projects. Three years later, END has again emerged, this time to a fervent fanbase that seemingly grew from the mystique of just one EP. Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face marks the debut LP from END and it is already being hailed as one of the most important hardcore releases of the year. Less for who is involved in the project but more for it's contribution to the landscape of heavy music.

Ahead of the June 5th release on Closed Casket Activities, frontman Brendan Murphy discussed the project, the cringe of being called a supergroup, and what lies ahead for END.

Everything suggests that the creative process for the band is very collaborative. Everyone has some input. Was it tough to navigate 5 different perspectives and channel all that into this project?

MURPHY - You nailed it, it’s extremely collaborative. I think it has to do with the fact that not only do we have 2 record producers in the band, but everyone aside from myself is an incredible musician to boot. I’m just the guy who screams. I guess it does get a little difficult when you’ve got everyone throwing out equally good ideas at once, but it’s welcomed. I mean, have you ever heard anyone complain about there being too many good ideas to choose from? It kinda kicks ass.

There’s a lot of discussion about the various other bands associated with END. Do you feel like that helps or hinders when it comes to expectation?

MURPHY - I feel like I’ve had an opinion on this since I started touring over decade ago and no one has really asked my opinion until now, so thank you for that. Hear me out: it’s sick when a bunch of people from different bands come together to form a new one, there’s no debating that, HOWEVER I think it’s important to establish that the new band is an entirely separate entity from the others that the members play/played in. We started End to scratch a different kind of itch that we just couldn’t reach with our other bands, not to bypass the initial grind that new bands go through just because we’ve already established a fanbase, you know? Also I know it’s meant as a compliment but calling us a “super group” always makes me cringe a little. It’s like, how am I super? Last night I dropped some pizza rolls on the floor so I just sat down and ate them instead of putting them back on the plate... I’m SUPER?! (Laughs)

There seems to be a subtle theme rebuking religion in the songs. Lyrically, what was the headspace like when writing these songs?

MURPHY - Using religious metaphors as a crutch isn’t exactly new for me, in fact I’ve done it for years in both bands I play in. My head space when I’m writing isn’t necessarily about me trying to tear down organized religion as much as it is me trying to paint a picture of my own mental health for the listener. I don’t really care what people believe in, you know? It’s not my place to tell people what or what not to believe. Maybe it’s me trying to pick apart my own god complex? Maybe the metaphors just sound kinda cool? Maybe it’s because the imagery associated with the darker side of religion is a common theme that most metal bands lean on? I’m not sure.

As individuals, everyone in the band has worked a ton since your 2017 debut. How has the last three years helped END to evolve?

MURPHY - I think a big reason why we’re all so confident in End is the fact that this was never intended to be anyone’s main project. We never once approached this like, 'fuck we gotta do the record and go on tour now now now,' it’s always had a more relaxed vibe. Rather than rushing we chose to take our time and put everything we have into creating something genuine. With End there’s not really any deadlines, there’s almost no pressure at all, it can just be whatever we want it to be and I think that that in itself is something that takes a backseat for most bands once they make it to a certain point.

Style aside, this is a very angry record. Does this band find any therapeutic value in hammering out a project like this?

MURPHY - I mean I can’t speak for everyone but for me, I definitely do. My other band Counterparts served as my only real outlet for almost a decade and while I’ve used it in the past to highlight some darker themes, I feel like there are certain things that I needed to save for a heavier project. It’s hard to explain because at the end of the day, no one is telling me what I can and can’t say with Counterparts but having a project like End allows me to tap into topics I was afraid of attaching to Counterparts, if that makes sense?

Less a question and more an observation. "Sands of Sleep” felt like a proper way to punctuate way this record. It’s less a frenzied, more focused kind of heavy. Did you guys write this one with an ending in mind?

MURPHY - I feel like it was always Will and Greg’s intention to go for a slower more focused type of heavy for the closing track. Honestly I wasn’t really sold on it until the idea about having Tanner from O Brother was brought up. I remember hearing the instrumental and being like, 'fuck are they gonna make me try and sing?' (Laughs). I feel like there’s a reason why on most heavy records the softer song is last. Just kinda makes sense.

This seems like the kind of record that was made to perform live. How frustrating is it to have a loaded gun like this and not be able pull the trigger?

MURPHY - I completely agree, I can’t wait to play these new songs live. They’re everything about the EP but amplified. The fast parts are faster, the heavy parts are heavier, etc. It’s frustrating to have to sit at home and do fuck all when I should be playing shows with both of my bands, but it’s necessary right now and it’s not like we’re the only ones stuck at home. At this point I feel like no one will get anywhere near a live show until at least 2021.

Are there any plans to utilize digital means to maybe stream some performances or hold a socially distant show?

MURPHY - It would be sick, but I feel like I don’t really have the means to contribute vocally. I don’t own a mic and honestly if I started screaming in my apartment, the walls are god damn thin my neighbours would kick my ass before the first breakdown kicked in. I guess if I lived near the rest of the band I could just take a trip to the studio, but unfortunately I’m stuck in Hamilton. But if we can find a way to do it I’m sure we will. Even if it kinda sucks it will at least occupy like an hour of my time which would be a welcomed change to my regular routine of waking up and staring at the wall until bed time.

Considering the response, do you see END becoming more than a passion project and sliding into a primary focus?

MURPHY - It’s definitely possible, but I feel like right now each of us have too many other priorities. We’ve all discussed that we want to make it MORE of a priority but I feel like as long as Will and Greg are recording, I have Counterparts, Jay is cutting hair and Billy is doing session drum work for other bands it’s just not realistic. Who knows what the future will hold though?

Hypothetically, what's the short list of bands you’d love to see END share the stage with?

MURPHY - Personally I’d like to do some more larger scale metal stuff to see if we those kids fuck with us. I think we know that we’ve got like the metalcore/hardcore world on board but I’d like to see how we fit in on like a proper death metal tour, you know? Off the top of my head I can’t think of any specific bands but I think you know what I mean. Maybe because a lot of the bands I’m thinking of we’ve already discussed touring with and I might get in trouble for not keeping my big mouth shut. (Laughs)

Order Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face HERE