I Want You To Sit Next To Me

”I’ve let myself go in so many ways”. I wonder if there’s anyone out there that couldn’t relate to this simple sentence atleast once in a while. End Of A Year is one of those rare bands that can talk about all those little big drama’s in your life with unrestrained honesty and without sounding too whiny. They’re also the only band I know today that can evoke the spirit of bands like Rites Of Spring and all that old Dischord stuff without sounding like a rip-off or some worn out cliché. I sent these questions to Patrick (the singer) one evening at about half past midnight and found all five pages of answers the next morning in my mailbox when I woke up.

This interview was actually done for Kino, the paper fanzine of my friend Silas, but while plans for the next issue seemed to get lost in the whirlwind of wild plans that make up his life for the moment, I decided to 'publish' it here already, before it gets too outdated for anyone to care. This interview was done in August 2009, and in the meantime the band has a new full-length record coming up on Deathwish, 'You Are Beneath Me'. I stole the pictures from their last.fm page and myspace, which is linked below.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard something about End Of A Year, besides the last 7” on deathwish. Can you give me an update on what’s happening bandwise?
Sure. We're doing anything that comes our way. We do tours and 7" whenever we can fit them in and are recording an LP in November. We've all taken steps in our personal and professional lives to free up some time to tour on that LP when it comes out, presumably early next year. As I type this, we're getting ready to leave for a couple weeks in the US with Have Heart and others. We recently did a short tour with Bane and that was some of the biggest crowds we've played to. I'm told this Have Heart tour should be bigger, which is an interesting thing for us. We've spent the past seven years playing to 40 people and now we're getting put in front of 400. Weird life.

Europe (and especially Belgium) is being flooded with awful bands from the States, but I can only recall you guys playing around here once. How come you tour so little in Europe? And when you actually were here, how did you like it?
We've been to Europe twice and have plans to return in 2010. I can't comment too much on awful bands invading Europe, because we were one of those bands a couple years ago. We had a few records out and we played well on that tour, but we probably should have waited because we're better now. But then again, I always feel that way so what's the point in waiting? Our first tour in Europe was really life-affirming and fun. We got to see things we wanted to see, and other things we didn't know existed. It was wonderful. Our second time in Europe was a bit more stressful. I blame myself because I insisted on playing destinations that are cost-prohibitive with long drives. Also, we didn't have a driver for a portion of the tour and that added to the stress. I didn't realize I can drive manual until midway through the tour and prior to that we relied on bassist Sean Doody, who is good at many things- but navigating narrow Madrid streets while a line of angry Spaniards honk their horns at him is not one of those things. I can't say too many negative things at the end of the day, though. Any time you are alive and seeing new things, you're doing alright.

End of Year, named after an Embrace-song, is obviously heavily influenced by that particular 90ies emo-sound. Could you tell me something about your favorite music from that period and scene? The word "emo" is like "hardcore" in the respect that it means 50 different things. So if we count all that screamy, angry stuff from Canada as emo, my bassist should be fielding this interview because he has an encyclopedic knowledge of that material. Personally, I've come to appreciate some of the 90's emo bands, but each on their own merits. I'm not devoted to that sound in general. I like Sense Field because they were really comfortable being lame as hell. They had songs about saving yourself for marriage, which everyone thought was uncool, but I love that sort of stuff. Things get so boring when everyone has the same values and I like when bands put their less-popular opinions out for people to digest. I also liked that they danced the line of alternative rock instead of crawling deeper into that emo genre. I never got into Texas Is The Reason. Never got into The Promise Ring. Never got into Mineral. Never got into Sunny Day Real Estate. Never got into Jimmy Eat World. Never got into all that irritating screaming stuff like p.99 and Saetia. Hm. The more I think about this, the more I feel I may be the last person to ask about this topic. My bassist, at least, could discuss the finer points of Universal Order of Armageddon and that sort of stuff. I guess looking back to that time period, the bands that stand out most to me are the ones who were unfairly lumped into that emo scene without having that sound or musical values. I like Hoover a lot and LOVE Kerosene 454. To kids starting bands right now looking to Quicksand and the like for inspiration, do yourselves the favor of getting At Zero by Kerosene 454. It's the best alt-rock of the 90's in my estimation and that's saying a lot because most people consider the 90's the heyday of that genre. I've gone off topic again. I'm sorry. I've got one. You know who I loved and still love? Piebald. True enough that they sucked by the end, but for a short while they had something unique about them. I love everything leading up to and including If It Weren't For Venetian Blinds... although this may be a case of me associating music with a certain time in my life. I was traveling to Boston a lot around that time and maybe it rubbed off on me. Still, if someone doesn't find that song "The Sea and a Lifesaver" and it's refrain of "Coooome, come crash on my shore!" to be awesome, I urge that person to consult a therapist because they are miserable.

I honestly have no idea how old you are, so I’m sorry if this question is stupid, but if you were into that musicscene at that time, how did you experience it?
In the 90's I was partial to the heavy stuff. The softer music I was into wasn't from the underground music scene. If I needed a break from 108 I would listen to Elvis Costello and other stuff I could get at the public library. My town, at the time, didn't have many emo bands coming through so I didn't get the level of exposure to it that some people got. I got into 90's emo mostly after the 90's.

How do you think the ‘hardcore’-scene is now as far as mentality goes, compared to then?
I think it's more similar than people realize. Some people bemoan the commercialism of it today, but if they went back they'd see that a lot of the bands in the 90's had similar attitudes to bands today. One way it seems to have changed is the APPARENT popularity of the genre versus it's ACTUAL popularity. What I mean is, many bands in hardcore have 10,000 listeners taking their material from the internet while only selling 900 records and having 30 people at their shows. I don't care about the whole filesharing thing on a sales level, but I am concerned that people are starting to see music in a less interactive way. There are many more people today, it seems, who don't enjoy hardcore as a live phenomenon and prefer to experience it on their speakers at home.

I always found it a bit weird to see you guys as part of the Deathwish-family. You don’t seem to be like most bands on their roster, musicwise and mentality-wise I think. Do you (dis)agree?
We don't feel comfortable doing things the prescribed way. Being successful is easy. You do the same thing everyone who was successful before you did, but add enough subtle differences to convince the listener/reader/client/consumer/etc that you (and they) are original. So if our goal was success in the respect that most people define it, we'd try to be on the labels with bands similar to us. But that shit is so boring. Don't get me wrong, I like any label that is helping some band realize their goals. And bands should appreciate anyone willing to help them. But if I have any choice in the matter, I'd prefer to put music out with a label people don't expect. That said, us being on Deathwish has more to do with them being cool to us from the start than any sort of master plan the band has. I wrote them explaining our situation at the time and we started talking. Tre and I got along on a personal level and our professional relationship came out of that. We're planning on doing the LP with them and hopefully more in the future. When people use the term "Deathwish band" it seems they are talking about a particular sound and if that's the case I agree we probably seem out of place. But I consider us very much a Deathwish band in the respect that the label is very good to us and we like them on a personal level. I haven't met every band on the roster, but I've met several of the touring acts and I think their attitudes and goals as bands are more varied than people give them credit. Some of the bands are incredibly artistic in their approach to their craft and I respect that, regardless of what musical differences we may have.

I heard you have a tattoo that says “don’t be boring” in your neck. Would you care to share some thoughts on it?
I don't see myself as wholly original or profoundly exciting, but I feel pain speaking to someone who is legitimately boring. You don't have to climb the Matterhorn to be an interesting conversationalist. I don't personally relate to people who have never had the urge to explore the planet, but that's their choice and that choice itself is interesting. What I find offensive is lack of personality. Be engaging and interesting, please.

It’s probably highly unoriginal, but my favourite End Of A Year song must be Darnel. Not just because it’s so accessible, I also really like the lyrics and especially the line “I spent years on quiet girls, committing the only sin I know: I wasted my life”. But anyways, who is Darnel, and what is the song about/did it mean to you the time you wrote it?
You know, a lot of people seem to like that one. That's one we only play when we want to revisit that time in our lives, because the feelings that originally motivated it have cooled. I think there was probably more anger in that song than most of our catalog. I had been serious with a woman who I was hurt to find out had replaced me a couple months after our relationship ended. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and the distance from the situation to look at it objectively- that was a very childish feeling I harbored. Because what should I have expected? People want to be happy and if my ex wanted to get married to another man the day after we broke up, that is her right. But you know, when you are caught-up in your own feelings it's hard to acknowledge other people's perspectives. I think many people wrestle with that idea of "have I wasted my time?" regarding a romantic relationship.

You tend to use names of people a lot for songtitles. Do you care to tell me about some, how they fit with the song?
I know it's en vogue for every singer to be mysterious, but I'm usually open to explaining songs. Sometimes they are a little difficult to explain though. Often they are just feelings and feelings can get so muddy that it's difficult to pick a single idea from the mix. Humans are 99% similar on the genetic level so it stands to reason that our feelings are universal. Everyone, regardless of experience, has felt anger or happiness or hope or aggravation and a million other feelings on that spectrum. Sometimes I'll read or hear about someone whose story seems to put a magnifying glass on my own feelings. Then I write a song about them. But truth be told, sometimes the details of the song have nothing to do with the person they are named for. They just convey a feeling to me that reminds me of the song or the song reminds me of the person. Then, and I know this is weird, I feel like the songs are people who I can relate to or interact with.

What’s your own favorite End Of A Year song, and why?
It changes pretty often, but I really like the ones with the least attractive subject matter. "Let's Grow Fat and Unhappy Together" is altogether negative, but makes me feel good because I was being fully honest about something I don't hear songs about. There's a new song we just recorded called "Ethan Hawke" that has the best chorus I've written. The song is about finding your partner unattractive as you get older and how that idea scares me. And the line in "Dan Cooper" where I borrow from him directly and sing "I want you to sit next to me." For whatever reason, that line resonates strongly with me.

Since I've never seen you guys live, can you tell me about experiences you've had at shows that have stuck with you?
Tough question. I haven't really thought about this before and now that I am, I realize that I only remember the bad shows. I remember times I was not good or was preoccupied or was unhappy. Which might make me a negative person, but since I can only remember three situations like that, I guess it also means our band is good most of the time. So that's nice to think about. One time I played Star Control 2 (a computer game from the early 90's) for five hours before a show and felt like I was in space and couldn't relate to anyone. Which makes it sound like a scary drug, when it's really a game where you pilot a little spaceship. I'm usually pretty talkative and outgoing from the stage, but that night I hid behind an amp.


August, really?

So many things have happened since it seems:
* everybody died: michael jackson, vic chestnutt, jack rose, that guy from avenged sevenfold, and recently jay reatard.
* my friend Silas is kicking it in japan for 6 months, doing his graphic design-thing. will be back in april normally. this reminds me that i need to hang out with people more while they're here.
* i stopped pretending to be straightedge. so far, it's a bit of a letdown. if anyone knows an awesome lifestyle they think i could get into, let me know.
* these arms are snakes called it a day, so there really isn't any point in making a blog about music anymore.


Temporary Revelation

"And when we touch we are not really touching if our atoms did not repel one another we'd pass through each other like galaxies unscathed."


Improve On An Example

Sometimes this place scares me beyond all rationalism, and even my brand new overpriced headphones cannot keep the world around me out of my head. Like some kind of sponge I suck up every impulse of my senses, then analyse and twist it around enough 'till I can only see its most monstruous face grinning at me. And yet never do I feel more distant from everything than at those moments.
I grew up with the love and caring only those flashy cartoons can give you at 5am on saturdaymorning. When I got older I started to look at my heroes and heroïnes one after the other, and I cannot explain in any way how deeply hurt I was and still am to witness their begging hands beneath their supermancostumes, as much victims of this unsatiable thirst as anyone. Meaninglessness doesn't cut as much as it sweeps away the solid ground you thought you were standing on.
But then there's always this little voice in the back of my head, and through the assaults of noise and whatnot on my senses it urges me to wait for what is real, however long it takes, whatever places it might bring us to. What else should we fucking do?



Pose Hard, Show Your Scars

Cold World - Essen 11/07/09
After a weird and lonely night alone in a big empty house, since my parents had left for the weekend, taking Charlotte with them, i woke up way too late and had to hurry to be at Marijn's place in time. I rushed through the chores my mom had set out for me, jumped into the car and first went to pick up Silas. On arriving at Marijn's place in Ruiselede, his mother had prepared some really delicious cucumbersoup, so we were provided with all the energy one needs to handle the 3 hour trip (which eventually became 2 hours, thanks to M's "I try to stay under the 130 km/h mark"-driving skills). Our friend Gertjan completed the bunch, and off we were. Let me just say about the roadtrip that 2 hours is absolutely nothing when you have the Lonely Island songs to sing along too.

We arrived in Essen somewhere in the afternoon, so we had a couple of hours left to explore the city. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that it might not be the most exciting place in Germany. Some of us got really siked over the big corporate American chains there, but the most entertaining part was probably the coverband, playing Nickelback and Tina Turner songs (did you ever notice how 'Simply the Best' is written to be repeated over and over again?) for an audience that looked like it was still recording those songs from national radio onto cassettes (i don't mean this in a cool retro-hipster kind of way). We also had a little mini-quest for a special kind of chocolate that Marijn needed, but we failed, which bummed him out way more than he'd like to admit. Even the disco-wall in the trainstation couldn't cheer him up.

Elle came alone by train, 5 fucking hours to see a hardcore band. Try to explain to anyone not involved, they'll say your mad, but somehow for us those kind of things make sense, and don't even seem to be that much of a deal.
Arriving at the venue, there was some commotion, as some guy with a blood & honour tattoo and a toolkit was trying to provoke a fight. Pretty stupid if you ask me, since there were about 500 kids there, but no one ever said you had to be smart to be right-wing. In the end nothing bad happened, but apparantly the guy had drawn a knife somewhere, and it ended with 6 policemen entering his house to drink a cup of coffee.

The show itself. I wasn't really in the mood, i have to admit, but the first band of the evening that i enjoyed was True Colors, although i'm not a huge fan of their type of music. I love how the singer spreads his energy on stage, going completely crazy while remaining in touch with the audience and having zero rock 'n roll attitude (which can't really be said of every band that evening). He also dedicated a song to his daughter, which isn't that uncommon maybe, but it struck me as really sweet.
Other bands i saw were Dirty Money and Justice, and Cold World ofcourse. I'm suddenly becoming aware of the fact that i hate to write reviews about hardcoreshows. It's just really hard to explain without sounding like a retard or using the same expressions over and over again. Let's just say that Dirty Money and Cold World were really hard, and a lot of people got hurt and put pieces of paper in their noses to stop the bleeding, which looked kind of ridiculous. Oh, and there were a lot of girls in the pit. 'Only in Germany'.

The show in Essen also marked the starting point of the trip a friend of mine was going to make through Germany, hitchhiking and camping on his own for two weeks, endpoint being the Fluff Fest in the Czech Republic. As much as i admire his bravery, I really hope to meet him again there in good health and dying to share his stories with us, and i hope he finds at least a piece of whatever he's looking for in those two weeks on his own.


Travel light

If you think about it, many of the things that make you feel miserable in your daily life are a direct result of some deeply rooted inertia, a lack of energy combined with fear of falling out of the blue open sky in midflight, while also being completely conscious about everything you're missing out on: the feeling of accomplishment after a reckless adventure, the mental or physical touch of a stranger that strikes you with such warmth that you feel it for weeks, months, lifetimes to come, the memory of a warmth that has abandonned you, and you're not sure if you'll be able to ever relive it. It's like hearing the rythm of your favourite poem in your head, but forgetting the words and the meaning in time. Everything fades into a blur, and you see yourself in the centre with a million eyes fixed on you, filled with expectations, their image of you nothing but that: an image, a shallow 2D representation reality, with no regard to how you move, how you sound, what goes on inside and brings you to your everyday expressions. How easy it is to forget oneself when turned into the object of their gaze.

It's never easy to stop the train of thoughts, especially when it's derailed and seems to be going nowhere, an aimless projectile, bound to hit something really hard, really soon. Sometimes it just takes a beautiful day and a genuine smile, encounters with people that move you, inspire you and make the future seem worthwhile. Change is something that grows from the inside out, sinks into everything that surrounds you and makes sure that nothing ever looks the same.
It's summer and I want to live in this forever.

I want to conclude this little rant with some words that I stole from the site of a French screamoband called Baron Noir. It has everything and nothing to do with what's written above, but it somehow seemed appropriate. Either way, I never came across a better description of what this type of music and community means to me.

Conscients que la musique ne pourra jamais suffire à changer quoi que ce soit, c'est pourtant elle qui nous permet quotidiennement de cracher ce qu'on est obliger de retenir, la rage intime qui nous constitue plus que ce que le monde nous impose. C'est à cette rage qu'on reconnaît les nôtres et c'est sur elle que se fondent nos rencontres. On la braille dans un micro pour toucher ceux et celles qui s'y reconnaissent et se renforcer mutuellement. Parce que les seuls espaces de liberté possibles sont ceux qu'on prend, vole ou crée. ça ne va pas plus loin que ça. baise les artistes.


Basically we're fighting for the same cause..

There's a new issue of Kino available. I have to admit that my part in this project seems to diminish with every issue, but for this one I mostly blame the fact that it kind of revolves around Silas' mild obsession with Japanese culture. The guy spent a month in Tokyo with a girl he barely knew, putting most of us couch-adventurers to shame by pure guts. Anyways, the result is nothing less than awesome I think, with a trip report, the usual socialy-aware columns, interviews (Heaven In Her Arms, Birth, Envy and the not so Japanese-like Zann) and a couple of reviews (some of which I actually wrote!). If you're interested, please pick one up: Kinozine

Also, pick up one of these if you have the chance. There's an awesome article about monsters in it. Plus some other elitist-hardcore (or not so) rambling. Tales Of Shatou