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By: Scott Bowden
North Carolina’s MAKE are about to drop their new album The Golden Veil, which Scott Bowden recently reviewed. Scott liked the release so much that he wanted to catch up with the band on a more personal level and discuss the album in a little more depth, their plans for the future and more. Read the interview with guitarist/singer Scott Endres and bassist/singer Spencer Lee below.
(((o))): Thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at Echoes and Dust. I recently reviewed your latest album The Golden Veil, and as you know I liked it so much that I wanted to find out about you guys some more.
Can you give us a history on MAKE?
Spencer: Hey, Scott! Thank you so much for the kind words and for your time, man, and I’m so glad you dug the record! We formed… It had to have been in 2009. I was in a mathy, technical band called Systems at the time, and one of the guitarists (Daniel, who played on our first EP) and I had been talking about doing something slower and sludgier. He and Scott, who had played in SUNTAN and *SONS among others, were old friends and Scott had been talking to Matt independently about doing the same thing around the same time. If I remember right, Scott and Daniel ran into each other at the bus stop one day and got to talking about this, Daniel told me about the idea of playing with them, and I think I first met Scott and Matt at a Systems show we were playing at Daniel’s house. The timeline of events is a little fuzzy, but I remember our first practice super vividly. We did a lot of jamming, titled one of those jams ‘Drifting, Landing’, and I think that wound up getting reworked into something on EP1. It was an instant click in terms of how we worked together musically. In terms of current projects, Matt has left the band to focus on a fantastic solo electronic project under his own name (Matt Stevenson), but the three of us have started a new project that will hopefully emerge from the shadows soon. Our new drummer is another killer by the name of Luke Herbst who has played in Totimoshi and ((Thorlock)) among others. We’re very excited to have him.
(((o))): Can you tell us what the significance of the album title The Golden Veil is? Is there a theme, either lyrical, musical or even just a mind-set that you intended to capture or portray to the listener, which explains the title a little further?
Scott: I don’t remember what instigated it, but I found myself watching multiple videos dismantling the dubious theories surrounding the golden ratio’s occurrence throughout the history of art and nature, etc. Which got me thinking about how we, as a global human culture, find it nearly impossible to just see the world for what it is without superimposing all of these “divine” explanations for everything, which ultimately seems to spread a lot of grief and ignorance…a sort of anti-intellectualism which somehow also manages to kill peoples’ natural inclination toward wonder and experiencing joy without unnecessary baggage.
(((o))): The album appears to have been three years in the making, is there any reason for the long(ish) break?
Scott: There was a period shortly after we released Axis, I think, where it seemed like all the momentum we had just sort of fizzled out. Matt and I both found ourselves wondering if we had it in us to continue and rather than just outright dissolve the band we decided we needed a break. That coupled with all of us simultaneously having significant career changes which threw our schedules completely out of sync with each other…it just took a really, really long time to get motivated again and then get shit sorted out.
Once that happened, we decided we wanted to do the recording in multiple sessions with long periods of reflection and scrutiny between them in order to make sure we were happy with what we were doing, especially since we went into the studio with a lot of open-ended ideas and not much completely set in stone.
(((o))): Are you planning to tour the new album quite extensively, or do you struggle with being in a “modern band” scenario like so many others who only manage to tour a few weeks a year and do the rest over weekends?
Scott: No real plans right now, no. I’ve always identified more with the Brian Wilsons and Andy Partridges of the world…meaning I hate touring. I actually kind of even dread doing the live thing at all, other than the 30 or so minutes I’m actually on stage. Spencer and Luke are different in that regard. So I guess I’m the shitty anchor in the sea. I just feel so much more exhilaration in the studio and practice space. That’s my comfort zone and where I feel the most creatively fulfilled.
(((o))): Your previous album Trephine was released on Devouter Records and we can’t help but notice that you have chosen to self release your new album. Is there a specific reason for this, and if so, why?
Scott: Well, I think Phil (from Devouter) was just busy and not in a place to make it happen. We had a mutual friend send the masters out to a handful of people and for a second it seemed like there was some genuine interest, but…as things often go…it was sort of stalling and we’d just been treading water for so long we just said “fuck it, let’s get this ball rolling already.” I mean…we’ve been without a label for this long, I personally didn’t really see the point in fussing over it.
(((o))): The digital release of The Golden Veil includes 2 bonus tracks that won’t be included on the vinyl pressing. Is there a specific reason for why these tracks aren’t on the vinyl release?
Scott: Fidelity. That’s the only reason. Ideally you want to keep each side as close to the 18 minute mark as possible and the only option that made sense was to keep all the traditionally structured “song” songs on the vinyl. So the vinyl is basically the “rock” version and the digital version is the Director’s Cut. It’s a bit of a bummer, but to any avid collector of vinyl it shouldn’t be anything new or shocking. Hopefully.
(((o))): Let’s talk musical gear. Everyone loves it these days, especially me. What are your guitars/basses/drums, strings, amplifiers, cabinets, pedals of choice, and why?
Scott: Orange TH 100 played through an Orange 4×12 cab. I used to full-stack it, but I’ve gotten older and lazier. I’ve owned a lot of pedals throughout my life, but the same few have been with me since the beginning and are now the only few I use. They are: A Boss PS-3 pitch shifter/delay which I love…more than any other delay pedal or unit…because it has this great sort of dub style to it, which has become embedded in my own personal playing style over a couple decades of bands. Then there’s the Holier Grail, my go-to reverb friend.
There’s a heck of a lot of dynamic range with that thing…from subtle to completely washed-out. And then there’s the Boss tremolo, the little Danelectro flange that I got for $20 years ago and have always loved, and the infamous MXR phaser, of which I’ve got an original! I barely use those though.
Spencer: Japanese Fender Jaguar bass through pedals- a volume pedal, a micro POG (which I’ve not yet used with MAKE), an El Oso bass distortion by Heavy Electronics, a Memory Boy Deluxe, and a Boss RE-20 into a Sunn 300T and out through an Aguilar DB810. I mostly use the Memory Boy for noisy wash and the RE-20 for my main delay. I’m a big fan of every piece of equipment in that chain.
(((o))): When it comes to writing music, how do you guys go around it? Does it start on an acoustic and get added to? Do certain members record all ideas and send it to the others to learn? Do you go into a practice space with a certain idea and direction in mind and jam until it feels right?
Scott: You’re closest with the latter though there’s never any preconceived idea or direction. I wholeheartedly believe in the magic inherent in just letting whatever music is inside of you come out naturally. That said, we have essentially evolved into this state of writing. Mostly because it has worked so well and all other methods have not. If there’s any real conscious decision it is that we’re becoming more excited about having less conscious decisions, even in regards to a game plan when entering the studio.
Spencer: Yeah, I think we try as best we can to let the music write itself. We spend a lot of time crafting it, for sure, but most of that crafting manifests itself as extemporaneous playing decisions we each make that we like and decide to keep.
(((o))): How much does your musical equipment influence your writing? Do you find that you rely heavily on certain effects or sounds?
Scott: One of my biggest gripes about people who rely on effects: If you let the pedal play you, instead of you playing the pedal…you’re wasting everybody’s time. Anybody can do that. The pedal should be an extension of your personality and your personal style, or it needs to disappear until you develop one.
That said, I sometimes find myself relying too heavily on my own style instead of pushing myself out of my comfort zone that inevitably stunts my growth as a guitarist. Luckily I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m always able to recognize and rectify it.
Spencer: I buy equipment to fit a sound I already have in my head, but pushing that equipment beyond my original intention for it has definitely given me more angles for musical experimentation. Like Scott said, though, any piece of equipment relies almost entirely upon the creativity of the user. Yeah, you pretty much have to have a high-wattage amplifier to play heavy music, but beyond that it’s all about how you use it. Case in point: we used a Mesa 400+ for bass on our first EP. It belonged to Daniel, and an inexperienced me had no idea how to dial it in. It’s one of the best bass amps ever made, and my tone on that EP was horrible.
(((o))): As mentioned in the review, North Carolina (although a big state) has had some really great bands rise up through the ranks to near legendary status among some of their fans and followers. Is there a particularly good and supportive scene in North Carolina, and do you find that you take a lot of influences from it?
Spencer: There are some absolutely outstanding bands from North Carolina for sure, and there is definitely a thriving music scene here. The nature of that scene and some of the immensely supportive people in it have afforded us a lot of opportunities, from general exposure to playing Hopscotch Music Festival to our tour dates with Dragged Into Sunlight. There are definitely lots of bands and people in this scene whom we admire and respect to a huge degree, and we can’t thank them enough for their immeasurable roles in helping us get to where we are now, but I wouldn’t say they influence us. The heavy music from this area definitely has a style of its own, but I think that comes more from the bands here working from similar bodies of diverse outside influences than from influencing each other. Then again, though, part of the reason so many of us work off of those common influences is that we have a scene here that is strong and in-depth enough to provide us with access to them.
(((o))): Are there any bands you think we, and others should know about from your area?
Spencer: Oh, absolutely. As far as the heavier bands go: Solar Halos, Bitter Resolve, SOON (who have a killer record on the horizon), Irata, and Goodbye, Titan are definitely bands to check out. There’s Horseback as well- I figure everyone knows them already, but anyone who doesn’t should change that VERY quickly. There’s also a cool scene of gnarly punk rock here that’s generated some awesome bands like Flesh Wounds and Natural Causes.