The term “power violence” is bandied about so much these days that it would seem to some that it has lost it’s significance. It was created many moons ago to determine a sound that was as powerful as it was violent, a somewhat nitro and glycerine concoction. Not many bands these days can attest to that description and hold true the very ethic that was in place when the term was first coined. This certainly cannot be said about Endless Blockade from Toronto, Canada. They are the living embodiment of audio terror.
I caught up with straight talker Andrew Nolan recently for some choice words.
Can you give us an introduction to The Endless Blockade?
Formed 2003 in Toronto. Released three demos, two LPs, three split LPs and one 7″ (not including the first demo pressed on 7″) to date.
20 Buck Spin seems to be growing rapidly with a roster of quality output, how did the deal with them come about?
Yeah, we’re the fly shit in the sugar for 20 Buck Spin’s roster. I was in contact with Dave for a few years, mostly talking about our mutual love of old European industrial music before he asked to do our second LP. We said yes so we could be label mates with The Obsessed.
How is the scene in Toronto and Canada in general? Are audiences receptive to your style, or do you feel your appeal is more wide spread?
The scene in Toronto is very strong right now for a number of reasons. I think the knock on effect of the massive popularity of both Fucked Up and Cursed (RIP) has had a lot to do with it. There are a bunch of genuinely excellent bands in the city that totally get the DIY aspect of things. Shows are happening regularly and there are several different promoters who do a really good job with their events (instead of the usual one guy doing everything until he drops out modus operandi). Plus people like Matt from High Art For The Lowdown have opened up their live in studios for regular DIY shows which has given people a great alternative to bar culture.
People seem to be receptive to our sound here; it’s hard for me to gauge it. People mosh, which is as good a benchmark as any for me I suppose.
On a national level it’s hard to know, we’ve played very few shows in Canada outside of Toronto (we mostly play in the US) and we’re probably not that well known outside of Southern Ontario (where we only barely register on people’s radar). Promoting ourselves is not something we really bother with.
Being an ex-pat, can you tell us how the scene differs in Canada to the UK? Is there anything either of us could learn from the other?
I hope the UK slides into the ocean and is never heard from again.
How do you compare the hardcore/punk/noise/whatever scene to ten years ago, with the age of the internet making contact/networking easier, do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing?
I get the feeling that whenever I (as a 35 year old guy that’s stuck around for a few years) gets asked this question it’s to test whether or not I think everything sucks now compared to back in the day. Well, there were shit bands when I got into this and there are still shit bands now.
Ten years ago people said “the scene isn’t as good as it was ten years ago” and ten years before that the same type of people complained about the same things. It is what it is and you get out of it what you want.
Regarding the internet, well, it has changed the way the world operates, not just hardcore/ punk/ noise/ whatever. Networking is easier but just because something’s easier that doesn’t mean it’s better.
What the internet has done is give (almost) everyone a voice to their opinions. This has rendered most opinions worthless. Nobody cares what anyone has to say and nobody cares about information for more than a day. People whose sole function in life should have been working bland jobs, buying goods and popping out babies and holding up society with their humdrum existence are now convinced that they’re a unique and special individual that should be cherished and held on a pedestal. We’re all grist for the mill, people need to get over the idea that anyone else cares about them and that for the vast majority of the world (myself included) their role is to keep the world going, nothing more.
But back to the internet, in the current era having an opinion on the internet is like having an opinion on the quality of TV sitcoms.
Was the idea to incorporate “power electronics” into The Endless Blockade a deliberate move, or just something that “happened”?
The addition of non-musical sound into our music is nothing new; it was there on the first demo, but we did deliberately bring it more to the forefront on the new LP and into our live set.
It’s a natural progression for us, we’ve all been involved in noise for a long time now but it’s not like we’re ever going to release an all noise record under the Blockade moniker.
How do you compare your music to that of your peers?
Well, define peers and i’ll get back to you on that.
Peers as in, bands that have influenced you to create sound, musical and non-musical. Do you feel your music is at the very least on a par with these artists?
We are totally influenced by certain musical acts and schools of thought, but that’s all it is; an influence, a divine spark that brought the beast to life. I’m not really interested in whether our music is on a par with anyone else. The bottom line to me (and anyone else with a set of ears) is that we’re not as good as Infest or Autopsy and we’re not as smart as Howard Bloom, John Gray, Flann O’Brien, Robert Anton Wilson or Israel Regardie.
Now that the metal crowd is paying attention to us some people complain our LPs are too short. Reign in Blood is my benchmark for an LP and we’re not even in the same universe as Slayer were back then. So it stands to reason to me that our LPs should be shorter than the 29 minutes they recorded twenty years ago.
I keep seeing reviews of our record where people extol the anger that they perceive in our recording. It’s a sad state of affairs when anger in a hardcore band is something worthy of commentary. We’re weird, angry people that don’t think the same way as most of the people we’re surrounded by do and our music is a reflection of this. We do this band for reasons far greater than wanting to play in some poxy little band.
Weird angry people play weird angry music and sometimes they don’t even get along with each other; which just adds to the end effect in the best cases. So really our influences ultimately don’t really matter to the end product from my perspective.
When people complain about the state of music I think what they’re really complaining about is not an over abundance of crappy bands but an over abundance of chancers and fakers. The people playing the real deal are not trying to be friends with everyone, they’re not playing in bands to fit in with the world; in our case we’re doing it to separate ourselves from the world. Trust me; audience enjoyment is the last thing on my mind when we play live.
Just take a look at what passes for doom these days. Doom is supposed to be miserable music, so why are there so many bands calling themselves Doom that just sound like a bunch of droolers playing as slowly as possible and screaming a bunch of shit over the top? Anyone can fucking do that, there’s no internal expression in just owning a Khanate CD and not really getting it (hell, Khanate had as much in common with No Wave as they do with Doom to my ears anyway). Where’s the melancholy?
Power Violence is fucking easy if you can string together a few fast parts, some slow shit and a waltz time breakdown, but if you lack the passion and drive and you may as well just give up. Crossed Out? A monstrous fucking raging beast of a band. No Comment? An absolutely unfakable sense of distance from the rest of humanity and disillusionment with a fucked society that will never look like you want it to.
Influences just aren’t that important, it’s the fractured minds that play the music I like and write the books I read that I’m more interested in.
Can you tell us a little about the equipment you use, specifically for the more “non-conventional” arrangements?
For amplification we use Ampeg, Soldano and Orange. For noise we do different things depending on the circumstances; for Primitive I made 90% of the sounds at home using composed feedback, granular synthesis, oscillators and other stuff. Live we tend to travel light. Matthew uses pedal feedback, Eric tends to use scrap metal with contact mics and I use oscillators and homemade noise boxes.
So you’ll either think I’m a complete wanker with the next paragraph or if you have some basic understanding of ritual and magic you might see some parallels.
In a live setting the noise is generally only at the start and end of the set, used like banishing rituals more than anything. For years I couldn’t sleep after playing a show and now I’m finding that the noise opening and closing puts me into a good state of mind where once the show’s done I’m also done and I can turn off my brain easily. I think I (intentionally) pull a lot of weird shit out of myself in this band and the noise helps hold it in place for the duration of the performance.
I could go on at length, but the non-musical aspects are mostly there for what some people would refer to as magickal reasons.
I totally get what you mean with regard to reference to magickal reasons… It is like “being in the zone” when playing. Sometimes when playing and making feedback with my guitar, I punch it, well I don’t punch it, my fist punches all by itself. Bit strange and I almost feel like a contrived twat afterwards….but whatever.
Absolutely. And feedback is a magnificently powerful thing; just stand in front of a good amp and cab and feel it wash over you, it’s almost like a primal return to the swamps as you start resonating with the sound, it can be a very numenous experience.
Feedback is such a strange beast, it’s the sound of error and a lack of control, but we can tame it and use it intentionally if we learn. And microphone feedback is a very intense force, so fucking electrifying when it happens and so utterly impossible to really control and use well, it really hits you on a physical level when you get a sharp blast of microphone feedback.
How did the forthcoming collaboration record with The Bastard Noise come about?
We did a show for them in Toronto and they asked us. They operate on a similar wavelength to us. I suspect Wood, like myself, probably also sees himself as a physical conduit shaping sounds that exist in the atmosphere and just need to be materialised. But I could be completely wrong. I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s an unspoken mutual understanding between both Bastard Noise and Blockade that we both do what we do for reasons other than mere participation in a genre. We’re aware that we’re a part of something much larger than a bunch of guys hitting instruments.
Can you tell us about the side projects that you guys all have going?
Matthew plays bass in Brutal Knights and does noise project Gack that has two great releases with Torso (a split and a collaboration).
Those of us that aren’t in Brutal Knights play in Slaughter Strike, playing the metal of death.
I’m doing Joshua Norton Cabal on and off for about 20 years now, ranges from harsh noise to cinematic ambience and I also record as part of Windscale, which other than on a few recordings is probably too rigidly composed to be considered straight up power electronics.
Eric has a million things going on, I think his current extracurricular solo actions go under the title of Black Paintings. He loves wall noise and jazz so expect it to be somewhere between the two.
And the only thing that could probably truly be considered a Blockade side project is Death Agonies, which is all four of us performing harsh noise influenced by stuff that the labels Mother Savage Noise and Self Abuse were releasing in the mid-90s. We’ve self released a few things and have more planned on the horizon.
What can people expect from a live show, do you feel more comfortable in a studio setting or performing live?
Live people can expect a short set with little (read “no”) talking between songs; generally we tend not to play for more than 15 minutes, frequently less.
I don’t like studios so I’m more comfortable playing live.
What does the future hold for The Endless Blockade? Can we expect to see any progression?
Probably more occult bullshit and themed records, musically it probably won’t change a whole lot. Our third and final LP is due out in four years.
Any final words?
‘A wise man said once, sometimes you can say a whole lot more by actually saying nothing at all’.
More info on The Endless Blockade at: www.myspace.com/theendlessblockade
Interviewed by: Jas Murray