MAKE guitarist Scott Endres recently unleashed a doozy of a record that is as much yin as it is yang. Under the moniker “The Pod” the debut record for this project is all at once beautiful and destructive, gorgeous and brutal, magnificent and melancholy and a very challenging listen. Slickster recently caught up with Endres to discuss The Pod and find out what’s in store for the future of MAKE.
What was the driving force to form The Pod, and what did you want to get out of this project that you couldn’t say in MAKE?
Scott Endres: “Forming The Pod was a direct result of two specific things: a need to have a project that was completely my own with zero input from any outside source and a sudden desire to get into synthesizers and teach myself as much as I could from tinkering around. The initial thought was that it was going to be all Casios. Cheap ones, broken ones, unintentionally circuit-bent ones, etc. But then I started getting into the art of midi manipulation, creating my own sound templates from scratch and that almost became a project unto itself. If I’m remembering right a huge portion of my most active period came while MAKE was on hiatus too.”
What inspirations do you draw from to make such an eloquent, yet brutal record?
Scott Endres: “I think through the construction of most of my solo material there lies a paradox of hopeful naiveté and hopeless nihilism. And instead of giving favor to either side, I just let them clash and land naturally as they will. That sort of paradox in art doesn’t always work and can come across as forced, so it’s a tricky balancing act. But then again, I’ve never exactly been sure with this project with regards to what works or what doesn’t.”
Can you speak a little to how you approached the writing and recording of this record?
Scott Endres: “It’s a lot like emptying a big bag of dice and trying to figure out if there’s an interesting equation in there and an interesting way of expressing it. But dice are just dice, right? In order to make them say something interesting you have to melt a few, smash a couple apart, sand a bunch more down so they don’t work quite as intended. Then you might have something interesting. I don’t know. It makes sense in my head, at least.”
There is a palpable tension in the music especially between the chord progressions, and the vocals. Was this conscious in the songwriting process?
Scott Endres: “Yes. Much of the project relies on the tension of something that feels like it could fall apart or explode at any second. A musical interpretation of my outlook on life, I suppose.”
Songs like “Activated Charcoal”, and “Lifegiver” have an almost Portishead type quality in the music, but just a blast of vocals augments it.
Scott Endres: “Sure. It was never an intentional sound I was going for, though I love trip-hop and electronic music so it’s not surprising to find out other people hear things like this in my music.”
Can you talk a little about the inspiration for the album artwork?
Scott Endres: “You’d have to talk to my friend Katie Ellison about that! She is my go-to art collaborator for both MAKE and The Pod and I rarely give her anything but the barest of direction. She just does what she does and it is always wonderfully next-level.”
“The Analeptic Ritual” is a 14-minute brooding and building landscape of sound. Can you speak a little to the premise behind the song?
Scott Endres: “First and foremost, it was a way of using some improvised MAKE material from our time in the studio tracking the ‘Axis’ EP. We always make time for improvisation in the studio, but whether anything makes it to the album or the cutting room floor is another story. I had a long bit of stuff that just wasn’t right for MAKE but I really liked it and felt like I could mold something out of it. Heck, I think I even showed it to Spencer and Matt (the drummer at the time) and they were both like “This is great, but this is The Pod for sure.” And the narrative premise of the song is borrowed from Gene Wolfe’s series ‘The Book of the New Sun’ which I was reading at the time. I won’t say more than that, because I encourage everybody to read the series. Easily my favorite sci-fi/fantasy of all time.”
From a musical and artistic landscape, who are your major influences?
Scott Endres: “Lungfish, Godflesh, Spacemen 3, Glenn Branca, Andrei Tarkovsky, Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, Thomas Pynchon, Franz Kafka, Gene Wolfe, Lovecraft and, of course, Samuel Beckett.”
What was the first record you ever bought with your own money?
Scott Endres:”I can’t remember for sure but it may have been 1984 by Van Halen…on cassette tape in like, 2nd grade.”
What is next for The Pod / MAKE
Scott Endres: “Hell if I know! No seriously, the plan for MAKE was to get in the studio by the end of the year but we’ll see. Sometimes things just explode out of us like with Pilgrimage of Loathing. We must have written that whole album in a couple months. Whereas this latest batch has been under a totally different process and conflated with various personal life things stalling it. It’ll happen though. Soon enough. Can’t quite say with ‘The Pod’ on the other hand. Fits and starts. I just haven’t been depressed enough to break the project out lately…I guess!”