Interviews, Premiere

End Christian Have Thrown Out The Rulebook For Making Records

Hear a song premiere from End Christian's new LP, plus an interview with leader Christian McKenna

End Christian band

End Christian

End Christian are not your typical band. They don’t operate with restrictions, expectations, or clearly delineated roles for band members. Their ideas don’t get scrutinized to the point where inspiration gets smothered, and their compositions don’t adhere to traditional song structures. This wildly eclectic quintet makes music that’s guided primarily by intuition and freedom. In short, End Christian are a breath of fresh air.

End Christian will release their second LP, Bach Part I, on May 25 (preorder here). The LP follows the band’s 2017 debut, Energy & Strength. End Christian consists of Christian McKenna, Alap Momin, Richard Hoak, Vincent Rosa and Gillian Dreadful. Listen to ‘KARAOKE_SO’ from Bach Part I here:

Christian McKenna is the band’s nucleus; he’s also a member of Hex Inverter and the founder of Translation Loss records. During a phone interview with Culture Creature, McKenna said that End Christian developed out of his frustration with the routine process of making music. “99 percent of the time with other bands I’ve been in,” he said, “I’ll go back and listen to the original demo from the inception of a song, and I always end up liking that better than the sterile, finished studio thing that I labored over forever, and made sure it didn’t have pops and crackles. I always feel like I lose stuff in that process.” End Christian is McKenna’s solution to that problem.

End Christian’s soundscapes include electronic beats, ambient textures, and noise – but they don’t fit neatly into any genre. In terms of its ethos, the band might be closest to the improvisational spirit of jazz. “We don’t sound like a jazz band,” McKenna said, “but it’s almost a jazz, freeform approach.” He cited John Coltrane as an influence and said the band was inspired by the saxophonist’s constant search for new collaborators and fresh musical experiences.

One of McKenna’s strategies for getting raw performances is to use musicians for tasks outside of their primary specialties. Richard Hoak, for example, is best known as a drummer for bands including Brutal Truth and Total Fucking Destruction. McKenna explained, “I kinda wanted him there for his openness, not so much for his drumming skills. He doesn’t play any drums on the new album. He sings a little bit and he came up with some ambient recordings that he had ahead of time, and then we manipulated them and worked them into the arrangement. He wrote the lyrics and the bulk of the song ‘Anywhere With You.’”

A similar collaboration occurred with guitarist Mike Hill of Tombs, who appears as a guest on the album. “We had nothing preplanned,” McKenna said. “He was just supposed to play some guitar. I was like, ‘Hey, why don’t you try holding this bass for a minute, and try doing something here. Hey – why don’t you try singing?’ For the song ‘Venison Thaw,’ he had some lyrics written, and he knocked that out, too.”

end christian interview

Someday, McKenna says the band might try more traditional songwriting sessions, where musicians use their primary instruments. Given the context of the band, even that feels like it would be an experiment.

Bach Part I was originally envisioned as half of a double album, but the band decided to split the piece into two separate releases. Bach Part II will come out eventually, but it might have to wait until the band processes several other recordings, including one that features “baritone ukulele that’s laced with lots of 808.” McKenna says that the album title Bach Part I came from a collaborator’s tossed-off comment about Johann Sebastien Bach, and McKenna thought it was “kind of confident and cocky to call your record something like that.”

End Christian haven’t performed live yet, but plan to do so this year. The task of translating the recorded material into a live performance means that anything could happen. It’s all in keeping with the spirit of End Christian. “Every time we do something,” McKenna said, “I want it to be a zigzag.”

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