Doom metal and a post-apocalyptic story concept, that might just be a more perfect pairing than Simon and Garfunkel. Built on drone and repetition, the genre’s blackened backdrops paint wastelands before words even touch them, so using such music to paint end-of-days scenarios is pretty obvious. Chapel Hill metal band MAKE take the conceptual pairing a bit further. Singer and guitarist Scott Endres used the story that plays out on the band’s newly released debut LP, Trephine, to explore his own anxiety about death. In it, a man who can’t stand the thought of not existing shifts between two states of reality, a barren, post-apocalyptic wilderness and the confines of a mental hospital. Never revealing which one is real and which one is imaginary, they leave it up to the listener to figure it out. We caught up with Endres to talk about the album’s concept before their upcoming show at The Get Down.
Mountain Xpress: The recent feature on you guys in Durham’s Independent Weekly made a lot of your anxiety problems and the way they relate to the band. Tell me a little about that. How does they intersect?
Scott Endres: I have this thing, man. I’m not religious. I hate even using the word atheist because I think that kind of creates sort of a default that belief is normative. I don’t have a very easy time when it comes to thinking about infinity or thinking about not existing. Even now I’m focusing on finishing a sentence, so I don’t start thinking about it. It bothers me, so I’ve tried to do as much music as possible, or just task-oriented things, and that’s the one that I like the most.
I’m trying to stay hopeful, like a positive existentialist and not just a negative nihilist. Nothing matters, so who cares? Well, maybe nothing matters, but you should try and care because things matter now. Music is just what I do, so focusing on it and having something to do instead of sitting around worrying about something that I can’t control; I try to appreciate that I ever existed at all.
How does that fear of non-existence feed into the concept on Trephine?
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but essentially, it’s a person who has this anxiety. I guess it’s partly autobiographical, but it’s sort of just musings. It was my way of controlling my own life and making sure that I didn’t fall into something that would spiral into a really dangerous direction, so I asked, ‘What would happen if this became too loud in my head?’
The resolution that the character comes to is that in the end the best thing to do is to gain control of that fear and that anxiety, and while there may not be a happy ending. It’s worth it to keep going and to get to your end …
One of the things that interested me most about the concept was the idea of the two states of reality with the desolate wasteland and the mental hospital, and the idea that we don’t really know which one is real, which one is fake. What intrigued you about that part of the idea?
Post-apocalyptic fiction, probably since Road Warrior came out, has just been my favorite form of fantasy. There’s something about starting over. Like, the power went out last night, and I was working on getting our CDs and shit ready for the release show. I just fell back on the couch and was like, ‘Goddammit.’ Then like a second later I was like, ‘You know, I’m not really entitled to electricity.’
That’s sort of my thing about post-apocalyptic fiction: How would we fair? To get everyone on an equal playing ground, and maybe the f—king bankers wouldn’t be doing so well in that situation. I guess for me, it was that same sort of idea. That aesthetic was something we were all really comfortable with. We felt the music had that sort of feel to it, so we were sort of in agreement that there was this really post apocalyptic thing. Spencer (Lee, bass) really wanted to write the very last song on the record, “Into the Falling Grey.” It was very inspired by The Road [the post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy], and that led me into, ‘Oh, what if we expanded on that idea?’
MAKE plays with Black Skies at The Get Down, 1045 Haywood Road, on Monday, Nov. 14.