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Endless Boogie - Vol. 1+2 (2005)

Endless Boogie to dla mnie bezapelacyjnie jeden z ulubionych, nowych zespołów. Prezentowałem już wcześniej pierwszą i ostatnią płytę grupy. Generalnie nie ma w tej muzyce nic odkrywczego poza ciężkimi riffami opartymi na bluesie. O wokalach też trudno mówić słysząc tylko jakieś beefheartowskie pochrząkiwania i rzężenia, ale właśnie to paradoksalnie według mnie nadaje tej muzyce świeżości i oryginalności. Przedstawiam teraz dwa pierwsze pre-mini-albumy, które ukazały się w limitowanym nakładzie dla małej nieznanej wytwórni jeszcze przed oficjalną płytą. Słychać na nich już charakterystyczne brzmienie grupy, ale jeszcze nieskażone studyjnymi szlifami. Proszę zwrócić szczególną uwagę na dwa ponad 20-minutowe jamy.

Mark Ohe - bass
Chris Gray - drums
Jesper Eklow - guitar
Paul Major - guitar, vocal

Interview with Paul Major
by Ethan Swan (Vice Magazine)

Endless Boogie are the kind of band that break clocks. Not just because their songs usually surpass the 10-minute mark, but because when they lock into a cadence, it’s pretty much impossible to notice time ticking away. The rhythm section throbs along, echoing the proto-motorik expanse of the Seeds and The Fugs, while the guitars strut like reform-school teenagers. Eight or nine minutes can pass before most audiences realize the bassist’s been jamming out the same two notes, pounding out the foundation for a careening, sharp-edged solo.

For all their swagger, Endless Boogie are well-loved dudes; name checked by famous bands and adored by critics. They’re also lifers, having played in bands since the 70s. But I was a little skeptical to interview lead guitarist and singer Paul Major. On the one hand, artists who are really expressive in their music tend to not be really expressive in conversation. On the other hand, anyone who feels comfortable taking a seven-minute guitar solo probably isn’t too capable of dialogue. So I was shocked to find that Major was articulate, thoughtful, and astonishingly kind. Paul spoke about obscure bands like B.F. Trike and The New Tweedy Bros. with the authority and enthusiasm of someone who lives in records all day. He didn’t scoff when I mentioned The Pixies or U2, and seemed aware of current musical trends but unconcerned how his band fit into them. He considered each question before he answered, and was genuinely apologetic when he accidentally interrupted me. All this from a guy whose greatest hope is to empty his mind and let the sound pass through him.

What were you doing before Endless Boogie?

Paul: I have a long history that actually goes all the way back to the mid-70s. So yeah, I had one of the first punk bands in St. Louis, or pre-punk I guess because we started a few years before the ‘77 punk thing. We were doing Stooges and Velvet Underground songs and writing our own weird songs and doing folk psych type stuff too. Weird stuff with whips and saws, we actually tried to record sawing a piece of wood, which was really hard. I had a band, The Moldy Dogs, in St. Louis in the mid 70s. And then I came to New York and had a few bands with the same guy. But then after I got here I got more into hard rock, and sort of split off. Then I had a band called The Sorcerers, we used to do Motorhead and Hawkwind songs, and write stuff in that sort of bag: really long, pre-punk metal, long heavy jams. Then I stopped and was married in New Hampshire and lived in the country for awhile. I came back to New York and through my record collecting thing I hooked up with some friends of mine who moved here from Sweden and we just started jamming and that turned into Endless Boogie. Just getting together and jamming.

Your songs bring to mind a lot of older hard rock, but it reminds me more of underground bands from the 1970s than radio favorites. Both strains share similar sounds and gestures, but the difference is really that the famous bands train their excess towards indulgence, while for the unknowns it reads as audacious. I mean, when Peter Criss plays a 16-bar drum solo it’s disgusting, but when some teenager from Northern California in 1974 does it, it’s bravery—he’s like a pre-punk hero. How does Endless Boogie relate to this attitude?

I guess it’s the only way it can work for us. We do have some more concise songs we toss out once in awhile. Over the years we’ll grab onto a song we really like, sometimes from the 60s psych era, and sometimes from the late 70s punk rock era. But it’s really the stretching out thing that we do, for us it’s the only way we can really proceed. When we’re playing on stage, we play pretty much the same way we play in our space, we just try to get to a place and try to cut it off if it starts meandering. If the show’s really good it’ll take us there, we just try to get right into the instant and just feel it and get off that way.

Is that what you’ll do when you open for Pavement next month?

We’ll just do our usual thing. Everywhere we play we don’t really adjust too much. We might feel it but we don’t really plan on it. We never really plan until right before we play. Certain things will come along and we’ll play them for awhile until something else is fresh to us and then we’ll just go with that one. Sort of throw ‘em out but we never think, “oh we’ll do this one there because if we do it’ll have impact.”

Do you ever get into the challenge of the music, like if a crowd isn’t into it?

No, I think we just sort of do it. There’s certainly some places we play and some people are just standing there cold. We’ve been in the situation where the whole vibe is not conducive to what we do, and we still try doing the same thing and if we get off and lock in it usually gets people going. We don’t alter what we do so much, but we do try to get into it. No tactics!

I heard that Full House Head only took you two years start to finish, the quickest you’ve ever made a record. Why so fast?

I think what happened faster is we actually went into a studio and recorded.

Do you have rules about how you record? No pro tools or anything like that?

We’re not too tech savvy in the group, we’re more concerned with catching as much of the live feel as we can and being able to get that vibe going in that situation. Our approach was to record four or five hours of stuff including lots of improvised jams or riffs where we just go at them for the first time. Trying to catch the live thing. We’re still not writing out this thing to perform, we just react to what weird turns it’ll take, and maybe it’ll take the right turn.

That kind of sonic exploration and jam culture in general has a pretty tight relationship with drugs. Does that affect what you’re doing, how you work or how you want the audience to take it?

I think there’s an openness with the long thing, but definitely we’re not going for the drugged out thing. That would feel self-conscious if we were thinking something like that instead of doing it straight up in the moment. A lot of those jam groups get much more into solos and musicianship, and getting jazzy and trying to incorporate all of these elements and craft it. I think our spirit is more like the Velvet Underground jams and all those great bootlegs. It really comes more from wanting to get a groove going, being a dance band, and throwing unhinged sounds that are still rock and roll on it. More for the feel and the groove of it rather than having notes that come together and are composed like a European classical music vibe. So I think when we jam it’s really more like that, we’re really grooving, thinking like, “I want to be a dance band in a ballroom, but not a druggy ballroom.”

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