Interview: Patrick - End Of A Year
Hailing from Albany, NY, END OF A YEAR is a 5-piece which has recently been signed to Revelation Records for the release of the band's second album, 'Sincerely'. The band takes its influence from the Revolution Summer period of DC Hardcore to create a convincing and forceful sound. This interview was done with vocalist Patrick during December 2006.
..Usual opener, just tell us how, when and where you guys all got together
..Patrick) Thank you for the interview. We got together by accident, more or less. It was a "Do you think he'd play? I don't know, he's pretty busy with his other bands," sort of thing for each of us. We all started playing together thinking that EOAY would be an opportunity to throw around ideas that wouldn't work in our other bands.
..I understand you have all been in bands prior to EOAY - many of them intense heavy/HC bands when compared with EOAY - any of those bands we would have heard of? Did you have any set goals or ideals when forming EOAY and, if so, have you achieved them? Has the ambition and aim of the band changed as it has progressed?
..Patrick) Some people may be familiar with BURNING BRIDGES, a straightforward hardcore band that released an album on Thorp Records. Though he doesn't like to talk about it, Hans, EOAY's guitarist, sang for that band. Andrew, our bassist, and Sean, our other guitarist, were both members of POLICE LINE that some people may remember from their split with DEVOID OF FAITH. It's on Bacteria Sour, if I remember correctly. They don't like to talk about that much either.
Our goals as a band have always been modest, so in many ways we've surpassed them many times over. We anticipated playing a few shows and maybe releasing a 7". Since we've become more comfortable with one another and with our instruments, the goal has changed somewhat. We are now trying to be the best band we are capable of being. My personal goal is to look back on my time with the band and be able to truthfully say I expressed myself as fully as I could.
..The band has recently released its second album, 'Sincerely'. Given the benefits of hindsight, is there anything about it you would change? Does it differ greatly in style from the debut album, 'Disappear Here', and, if so, in what ways? Do you feel the new album is a good document of where EOAY is right now, and the direction it is heading in?
..Patrick) This is always a tricky question for musicians. Personally, I would like to have a new set every 6 months. I would like to always play new songs and I am rarely happy with old material. 'Sincerely' accurately represented where we were as a band at the time and who we were as people. But albums are like snap-shots of race cars. They never really convey that artists are moving. I'd like to think we are moving.
'Sincerely' differs from 'Disappear Here' in the maturity of the writing, I hope, but stylistically isn't a huge departure. I've observed we have started to shed some of the jangly early 90s sound we had when the band formed. It seems like newer material becomes more and more streamlined.
..The album is released on Revelation Records - how did you hook up with Jordan and the gang there? Did you seek out any other labels? Has the label provided you with the support you had hoped it would? Is it a long-term deal?
..Patrick) I think we sent out two submissions to labels in our time as a band. I sent one to Trash Art and I think someone may've sent one to Level-Plane. I was really pushing for Hater Of God to release something. Revelation wasn't on our radar at all. Bob, the person responsible for signing bands at Rev, heard about us through a friend and got in contact with us. It then took a few months of convincing him that we would only lose a boat-load of money and not a shit-load.
So far Rev has been great to us. They released our album on the strength of the fact they liked the music, without expecting to make a huge return on it. We respect that a lot.
..Revelation has a history of Straight Edge bands in its back catalogue. Is that something you follow? Do you relate to/ respect the Straight Edge lifestyle - or are you more POISON IDEA boozers? Do you feel you identify with the bands on Revelation Records both currently and in the past?
..Patrick) Two of us are Straight Edge, two of us are boozehounds, and one of us is just a reasonable person.
Oddly, we only have one member with love for that classic period of Rev 1-12. Eric, our drummer, loves that material. My interest in Rev's catalogue peaks with the KISS IT GOODBYE full-length, which I think is the best thing Revelation has released. Not a popular opinion, I know, but go back and listen to that record; it'll kill you. We all have a respect for the Rev bands that came before us, though we may not be fans of each band.
..The vinyl version has been released on Slave Union Records - what was the deal there? Did Rev not want to put out the vinyl?
..Patrick) Justin at Slave Union has been a big supporter of us since the beginning and when Rev couldn't make up their mind on releasing the vinyl themselves, Slave Union was our first pick. Maybe Rev was concerned they were already overextending themselves on us, a band which doesn't have a very marketable sound. Ultimately, I'm not sure it was the best decision for them because I think the vinyl sells better than CD. Regardless, we're glad we got to work with a friend on the vinyl.
..The band's influences are proudly worn on your sleeves: You state DC's Revolution Summer era is a huge influence; the band is named after an EMBRACE song; the band's sound is without a doubt akin to that of RITES OF SPRING and DAG NASTY. Why was that period of DC music so inspirational to you?
..Patrick) Those bands really connect with people 20 and older who want to stay involved in Punk while playing music that challenges them and expresses them fully. That's where we were as people when the band started so the inspiration was strong. I think it becomes easy for some people to relegate Punk music to a youthful phase of their lives and they look back on it the way most people look back on their favorite childhood toys. But you can't do that to RITES OF SPRING, you can't do that to EMBRACE. That music resonates and actually speaks louder to you as you get older. That's strong stuff.
..How did you find working with Don Zientara at the legendary Inner Ear Studios? Had you recorded with him before? Given the band's love of all things Revolution Summer, did you spend a heap of time talking to him about that era? Did he bring/ teach any new techniques when it came to the whole recording process? What was the one most memorable experience of working with him?
..Patrick) We've gotten a little flack for working with Don because it seems so obvious- you know, we sound DC'ish so we go to the architect of that sound. It seems contrived.
..Yeah? Sounds like jealousy to me - fuck 'em!! Haha!!
..Patrick) But it was natural. Rev asked us where we wanted to record and we went home, listened to our favorite records and made a list of studios and engineers. Aside from a few dead British guys, the name that came up most often was Don. When we got a hold of him, he was so comfortable with our ambitions and sound we immediately fell in love. Andrew is an engineer himself and highly critical of other people's work so I expected some awkward situations during the mixing, but Don is so open while being so impressively knowledgeable, there is never any conflict.
Aside from Don being a joy to work with, the best part of Inner Ear was the casual sense of history the place has. WIthout being tacky, there is a wealth of DC artifacts in the studio. We used Fugazi's tambourine during recording for example. Weirdly, Guy P. was actually in the lounge playing guitar while we mixed. It was sort of surreal.
..Having read the lyrics to the album, you don't appear to be a band with any kinda political message or motive - would that be correct? Where does the inspiration for most of the band's lyrics come from - they are pretty quirky and obtuse in parts? Would/has the band ever tackled an openly political subject in its songs?
..Patrick) I grew up loving bands with agendas, political and spiritual. Though I still love that sort of band when I see a true specimen, I've become jaded to the fakers. How many times have you seen a band with a strong message, take animal rights for example, where the members aren't in agreement? There was a band from our area with a workers rights agenda, but the guitarist wore Nike sneakers. That sort of thing sours it for me. The music and words work best when they work together. The reason we don't address much in the way of politics is we can't agree on anything, and I don't think it's right to speak for people who don't share my sentiments. When I do sing politics, I try to personalize it so I can understand it and sing with passion. The song 'Anxiety II' on 'Sincerely', is, in some small way, about the politics of immigration. The US has a "Wet Feet, Dry Feet" policy towards Cuban refugees, and last year some people were jerked in a way that made me cry. They had made it to a bridge in Florida and believed themselves to be on US soil, which enables them to begin the process of filing for political asylum. But it was decided that the bridge, which was no longer in use, did not constitute dry feet status. That ruling was later overturned but after they had been sent back. My understanding of immigration politics is limited, but my understanding of being jerked out of things I thought I had is pretty extensive. So the song is about risking everything, thinking you've made it, and having it robbed from you. Inspired from that situation in Florida. That's as political as we get.
..If we could just discuss the ideas behind a couple of tracks on the album, starting with 'Harrison'. I don't really see you guys as Beatles fans - and even less so George Harrison fans. I assume the line stating, "Do I really have to be stabbed to get noticed," is in reference to his lack of media coverage when compared with Lennon and/or MaCartney - that correct?
..Patrick) The original title of the song 'Harrison' is "Harrison at Clapton's Wedding" and it's about Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd, leaving him for Eric Clapton. Even if his marriage had run its course, it takes a real maturity to stand beside your friend and your ex-wife as they marry. The men stayed friends. I'm impressed and fascinated by that idea. It's so easy to feel ownership over someone and it takes real strength to let people pursue their own ideas of happiness. None of us are Beatles fans, but I'm a George Harrison fan.
..And what about 'Beleaders'? Can you explain the original ideas behind this song?
..Patrick) I was living in Brooklyn when we wrote this one and the lyrics come from riding the train and being around thousands of people all day but feeling like there's nothing coming, so to speak. I was struggling to find purpose and every time I thought I found some, it wasn't enough. The things I pursue for status don't fulfill and my creative life only satisfies for a short while. Human condition, I guess.
..An interesting touch to the record is the suggested listening after each song. Do the songs listed have a direct influence and link on those after which they are placed? What was the aim of placing those songs after your lyrics? There are some interesting choices too Catherine Wheel, Nick Lowe and George Harrison instantly spring to mind. It also kinda suggests you guys are record collectors - that true?
..Patrick) If I was being honest with myself, I'd have to concede that the suggested songs are the better versions of the songs we created. I'm not the best writer in the world and if someone wanted a full understanding of the things I'm trying to convey in each song, they'd benefit from listening to those other works. It's also a nice way to suggest people listen to those songs and artists, because I think people should. And, you nailed it, we are pretty big music nerds and some of us are record collectors.
..Nice to know I'm not alone!! Haha!! It seems as if the band is prepared to go out and play any and all kinds of shows. You have any specifically memorable shows? What about some of the bands you have shared a stage with - has there been any complete rock star assholes? You ever play any covers live?
..Patrick) The nature of the show, being fairly priced, venue being respectful of the crowd, etc, is more important than the sound of the bands playing it. So we'll play with anyone, regardless of sound. As a result we've played with bands like Q & NOT U to bands like DOWN TO NOTHING to bands like ENGINEER. Some shows we do better than others, admittedly. When we played with Q & NOT U, we were the heavy band. When we played with DOWN TO NOTHING, we were the "Emo" band. Difficult to find other bands in our "heaviness" level to play with, so we play with whoever. Personally, I like to play with Metal bands because I respect their efficiency.
Funniest situation we've found ourselves in as a band, was a basement show where a local was needed and a Metal band called STAIT OF MYND jumped on the show. I just want you to reflect on that name for a minute. STAIT OF MYND. They arrived with a keg of beer in an ice-filled truck bed and proceeded to set up the most ridiculous drum kit I've ever seen. They then got very drunk and very metal and at one point the vocalist took off his shirt, to reveal a pair of Disney underwear riding up his butt. He tried to explain Goofy the dog away as "very metal" but the 6 people in the basement weren't buying it.
I've actually been bummed out more by the small bands we've played with than the larger bands, regarding attitudes. I've come across more "local rock stars" than I've come across national ones.
We've only played one cover live, 'Said Gun' by EMBRACE because there was some local joker threatening to kill me and it seemed appropriate. During practice we've learned 'Paralysis' by SWIZ, 'Subdivisions' by RUSH, and 'We Live As We Dream Alone' by GANG OF FOUR but we've never played them out. We are thinking about recording a Colin Newman track for a European 7" we're doing.
..Tell us a bit about life in upstate New York. How different is life in Albany when compared with that of New York City itself? You ever had desires to relocate the band to NYC? What is the economic climate of the city like? Is there a lot of homelessness, unemployment and poverty? What about political activism - are there many radicals in the city?
..Patrick) I lived in New York City for most of the time we've been a band and would travel upstate to practice and play, so I know both parts well enough to speak on this subject. Albany is the bureaucrat, stuffy, brother of New York. Albany is known for its lack of culture, which is a scary idea. Famous for being unremarkable. Much of New York State has gone through an economic downturn since principal industries left, but Albany avoids this somewhat by virtue of the fact our industry is bureaucracy. As the state capital we are assured some kind of protection in that regard. But the trade off is we have very little in the way of arts and music. The people who settle in Albany are typically stuffy and not interested in culture.
Though it would've made my life easier at the time, I never wanted EOAY to relocate to New York City. While it may be diverse and offer everything under the sun in terms of culture and subculture, it's really not a great place to be a band. Practice space is expensive as hell and there aren't really many places to play.
Albany goes through phases. At one time there was many people interested in politics and social justice. Currently there are more people interested in drugs.
..What would you say is the one best thing to do for those travelling through Albany? Is there a thriving Punk/HC scene there?
..Patrick) Albany's scene is struggling at the moment. I tell bands to please not come through Albany on a weekday. It's very difficult to secure a crowd for any show on a weekday as things are right now. Hopefully this will change as people work on generating interest. Albany has a vibrant MOSH scene, for lack of a better term. Typically, 4x as many kids will attend a show with that very basic heavy sound than they will for anything more complicated. This irritates many of the older kids, but it just puzzles me.
..Given the band's influenced so heavily by the DC sound, have you ever thought about up-rooting the band for DC? Do you think the style and nature of the band would differ greatly from that which currently operates in Albany?
..Patrick) We think about moving to DC every time we play there, not so much for the history, but because people actually like us there, a rare thing.
..If the media is to be believed, the next who could be running for US President could be former NYC Major, Rudolph Giuliani or former President Bill Clinton's wife Hilary. What are your thoughts on these options and who of the pair do you most approve of? You have any other better, or off-the-wall suggestions?
..Patrick) Well, I guess I'm somewhat of a cynic in this regard. I find it hard to believe anyone could make it to that position without compromising the parts of themselves which would make them worthy of the position. What makes great leaders, makes awful men, I suppose.
..Being Americans, what are the best and worst aspects, right now, of being an American? If you could change one thing, what would it be?
..Patrick) Best aspects include our ridiculously high standard of living. Worst aspect is the guilt of maintaining this standard of living by imposing our will on others. If I could change one thing, I would impart a sense of history to average Americans so they could feel some degree of comfort with the notion of the US empire declining, instead of fighting it at expense of other peoples.
..What do you guys do outside of the band? I believe that Albany has a University of particular renown - any of you attend, or have attended that?
..Patrick) Eric works in design, Andrew does sound stuff I don't understand, Hans is going to school to become a teacher, Sean and I play Civilization 4 on the computer and argue the virtues of Theocratic Police States versus Tolerant Technocracies.
..What are the next plans for the band? You the kind of band that think about the next album as soon as one comes out? You got any new tracks and, if so, do they follow the same sound and influence as those on 'Sincerely'?
..Patrick) It's a change of pace for us, but we're devoting a lot of thought to our next few releases. We're doing a few 7" leading up to our next full-length. If things go well, each 7" will compliment the full-length material lyrically. I'm trying hard to do my absolute best. The goal is to hold something in my hand I can be proud of for years, not just as a time capsule of my life at the time but also as a piece of art.
..I see you are heading to Europe in early 2007 - have you been over to tour before? What are your expectations?
..Patrick) We've never been to Europe and are all really looking forward to it. I was the nay-sayer at first because I love to traverse the United States and, at first, would've preferred to do that again. Something about it makes me feel accomplished. But the feedback we've been getting from Europe has changed my mind. People are so kind in the messages they send, it's hard not to be excited about visiting. Plus, I recently unearthed a journal of mine from a few years ago and one of the first entries reads "I would like to go to Europe with my band. That is my goal." So it's nice to think I'm actually accomplishing something I set out to do. Supposedly they feed bands there too... that is just too awesome to think about.
..Anything else you want to add?
..Patrick) Just to say, thank you very much for the interview. It was more thought-filled than most and we appreciate it. I hope I did the questions justice. Also, if anyone from Australia/New Zealand/Etc reads this and likes our music- please get in contact. We would like to make that trip our next goal as a band.