Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Interview: End to End



I came across this band completely by chance around Christmas time in 1992, well after the band broken up. Even though I had never ordered the record from Foundation Records, it arrived in my mail box anyway. I pulled the 7-inch out of it's mailer, scratched my head, and basically wondered "what the fuck?"

There was a note folded up inside the celophane record sleeve. As I opened the note, the first thing I noticed was it was written on a photocopy of some dude sitting on a Xerox machine in his underwear, with a lone hairy testical hanging out of his Calvin Klein nut huggers pressed upon the glass. Written across this pleasant image was something along the lines of "Merry Christmas, douchebag. -- Don Steadfast"

Don Steadfast (Don Binaco) was a penpal of mine. We both did zines at the time, so we came to know each other after a while of crossing paths at shows in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His completely unexpected Christmas gift to me that year still stands as absolutely one of the coolest things anyone in the scene had ever done for me. I mean, maybe you get ultra cool records as gifts from a very good friend, but that's normally not the kind of thing you expect from a penpal/acquaintance. What an awesome dude.

Anyway, since that day I have been a huge END TO END fan. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the band had a site on MySpace (link at the end of the interview). Answering questions are Jon Roa (vocals), Shawn Connell (guitar), and Erik Egan (bass).

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Before forming END TO END, Roa was the original singer for Chain of Strength. Why did Roa leave Chain of Strength? Drama with other band members? Different goals? Also, at what point did he leave the band (obviously, before they recorded, but did he play any shows with them?)?

ROA: No drama at all. I never played one show. I practiced with COS maybe three or four times. I started the band when I brought the idea to my friend since fifth grade, Ryan Hoffman. I wanted to form a hard-hitting band named after a song I wrote entitled, “Chain of Strength.” Ryan ran with the idea by getting Bratton on board and writing about four complete songs. The songs were more like Dag Nasty and Marginal Man, which was not for what I aiming. I wanted to play harder and faster. At the time Ryan and Bratton did not. After a practice, they asked me how I thought it was going and we all knew it was not going well. It was a severely amicable spilt. I was the biggest COS fan and still consider Ryan and Bratton to be my friends. Any time Ryan needs me for anything, he can call and I will do whatever he wants.

Egg: More importantly, Jon was the original singer for Justice League. “Live and loud- Hardcore! Fast and proud- Hardcore! It’s what we play. It’s what we say- Hardcore!” P.V.H.C. The scene was fun as hell at that time.

Porcell invited END TO END to tour the east coast. Was he courting the band to be on Schism Records?

ROA: I do not know. I was just happy that things were moving right along at such a quick pace. Porcell gave us a good opportunity.

Shawn: The band dissolved over the opportunity, as the majority of members were not in a place that seemed to permit it (school, work, etc.). We were very exited about the opportunity, but it was not the right time for such. Porcell and others were interested in END TO END (as I have been told), which was flattering to say the least. Schism would have been a great label to contribute to.

Egg: That tour offer was the beginning of the end.

Was the tour offer during the time period when Ryan Hoffman did a brief stint in Judge?

ROA: That I cannot recall. Even though he eventually came back to California, I was initially bummed that Ryan took off to be in Judge as I felt that with the newer Pomona bands sprouting up that the area was going to be formidable once again. I like healthy competition and thought that New York was throwing down the gauntlet for anyone who wanted to challenge them. I wanted to. Still, we had Statue, Chain, End to End, Pissed Happy Children….not a band show line-up, eh?

Shawn: I have no idea, and was not privy to information about Ryan and Judge. I cannot confirm any of this.

Three originals made it to the 7-inch. Before breaking up, the band had planned to record 12 songs. Were they all written, or was the band working on the songs?

Shawn:Prior to our recording at “Spot Recording” in Orange County the band was fully involved with playing shows, song writing and planning for the full length LP. In total END TO END had more than enough songs to complete an album. In fact, from the ashes of “Addiction” (pre-END TO END) about one whole LP worth of music was assessed and ultimately scrapped.

In short, we were ready for the recording minus a label and financial resources. A few of the sounds written during the last days of END TO END made their way onto the first LP by PROCESS called “World of Fire”, which was released by Dennis Remsing and Conversion Records. There were only minor changes to these songs. PROCESS consisted of Bryan, Erik and Shawn from END TO END.

ROA: I think we had 15 songs or so. I think that PROCESS used some, but the album was going to be good -- real good. We were a tight band. We practiced a lot and it showed.

Egg: If my memory serves me; we had a bunch of songs. We probably would have written a few more for an LP. Some of the songs that were in the works went on to become PROCESS songs.

What label was the LP supposed to be on? Did the LP have a tentative title?

Shawn: The label had not been determined, no title had been established. Chances are, the record could have been released by several labels, any would have done a fantastic job. The EP as you know was released by Ryan Hoffman on his “Foundation Records” label with coordination from ROA.

ROA: I was shooting for Foundation, myself. I am a real loyal person and Ryan was doing Foundation and so that was the thing. I was going to suggest to the band that the title be “Square One.”

The band came to an end prematurely after Roa became concerned with the work ethic of the band and issued an ultimatum. To the best of your memory, can you give us a fly on the wall account of the conversation. Who vs. Who. Things that were said. Anything thrown?

Shawn: The band did not come to an end because of work ethic. From my point of view, the “truth” of the matter is that ROA was disappointed because the other band members, myself included, were not availible for the East Coast Tour because of prior-commitments. The difference in priority created a strain on the band that ultimately destroyed it. In reality, we were working well together and had a great deal of momentum and great friendship. The Tour would have been fun, and in hindsight, perhaps we were approaching life a bit too conservatively. To be clear, there was never any outrageous animosity, or wild drama that resulted from this. It was all sort of surreal, as one day we had a working and progressive band and the next day it was all over. ROA went on to do other things and the band PROCESS resulted from the remainder of END TO END.

ROA: The bands work ethic was never in question. We all worked hard. Shawn was a workhorse. He lifted air conditioners by day, practice and did school by night. He went from a skinny kid to a v shaped thing that could hold his own in any fight. Erik wanted this all so bad he tried to learn guitar before we got Shawn thinking it would be easier to find a bassist. Bryan missed going to Bad Brains to buy a cymbal. We were committed. The only thing that presented a problem was the tour was so fly by the seat of our pants; we had to commit to doing it and then go on it-NOW. We had to but tickets, settle things with work and school, pay rent, etc. and get on the plane in something like 18 days. We had no money, no record out, it was daunting but I did not care, I wanted to throw caution out the closed window. The others did not. I reacted and the band responded in kind. I will say that Erik Egan and I shouted at each other about the whole thing but I can see his point and I think he can see mine. Years later, drummer Bryan Bos admitted to me that he should have voted to do the tour. Also, I think Shawn got mad at me for being quite promiscuous (I was 19 ferchrisakes).

Egg: Jon quit due to the fact that Shawn, Bryan, and myself were not willing to put our school on hold. That Judge tour happened in the middle of the school year while Bryan was still in high school and Shawn and I were in the middle of semesters in college. We would have been all over it had it happened during any of our school breaks. When we turned the tour down, Jon quit. Shortly after, he wanted back in. By the time he called, we had already decided that his quitting was not the attitude that we wanted to deal with. Process was born from this incident.

Are any of you guys in the photos taken for Chain of Strength's staged photo shoot for the True til' Death EP?

ROA: That (the photo shoot) gets a lot of flack but I will tell you what: Chain played an honest to goodness set for those photos and the kids went off because they could not help it. That show was not even in COS’ hometown! It was in OC! The audience did not have to react but they did. If you hear of any shit about Chain it is usually from people who got on the late freight of hardcore.

Shawn: No, we were not directly involved in the Chain of Strength recording or photos in anyway, other than to provide morale support. Many of them have been close friends since grade school. I have known Paul “Frosty” Hertz since 5th grade and I know ROA has known Ryan Hoffman for just as long.

EVERYBODY is doing reunions. Have the guys in your band discussed that option? Are you all still friends?

Shawn: Fortunately, the band members are all still alive and kicking. We have discussed it collectively and the general response was “not enough interest”. I was hoping for an opportunity to get back into the studio and see where it would lead us. At this time the collective members are involved in other bands and projects such as: “GOLDEN BOY”, “PROCESS” (preparing for studio time, reform under consideration) and other interesting opportunities and pre-bands are forming (say tuned!). I know ROA is getting ready to dish something good out.

ROA: I consider the END TO END guys my friends but I think reunions are regressive. I am forming something new and therefore have not any time for a reunion. I would play with those guys again in a heartbeat; heck, I would even record the record, but as far as playing out? Under a different name, sure, but bands have a life span and End to End has ran its course.

Egg: I think we might be doing something in the studio, but as far as live, I don’t know. I have continued my friendship with Shawn and Bryan over the years. I spoke to Jon the other day for the first time in probably 10-15 years. I don’t have any ill will towards him. Process is working on an anthology release, some live stuff, and quite possibly some new tunes.

How was END TO END formed originally?

Shawn: END TO END was formed following the demise of a band called “Addiction”. The band included original members: ROA, Tom, Erik and Bryan. Tom was replaced on guitar by Shawn, as Shawn was just completing final record projects with Pissed Happy Children (PHC).

Were END TO END Straight Edge?

ROA: I did not and still do not do drink, smoke or eat meat. The whole band were vegetarians as far as I can recall. I do not know if that makes us a straight edge band. I thought Pushead’s term de-vice was pretty cool. How come no one uses that term?

Shawn: Not officially or formally - I think, but we prescribed to great-living, positive intention and freedom from self-inflicted burdens.

Do you guys still listen to hardcore?

ROA: Yep, Some favorites are: Botch, Lightning Bolt, The Suicide File, Arsons, Walking Concert. I want to hear Triple Threat as I bet they are good. I like Death By Stereo and Throwdown. I cannot wait to hear Report All Suspicious Activity. If it is loud, fast and has meaning, I dig it.

Shawn:Indeed, both the so-called oldies and new stuff.

Egg:Absolutely! Terror, Converge, Comeback Kid, Bane, Throwdown, Walls of Jericho, and Most Precious Blood are some of my current faves. The classics are still pretty hard to beat though.

Tell me about a defining challenge during the band’s existence?

Shawn: The challenge at that time, which I do hope is not the case any longer, was that there really seemed to be defined boundaries between local scenes. From my point of view it was easy to determine which bands would be likely to play shows and which would not. Sometimes this apparently had to do more with where the band was from, notwithstanding talent or other variables. The scene was also still getting its “legs” about bands with Metal influences and other changes were evident, which caused a bit of turbulence. All in all, it was a great time to contribute and be involved. We are all astonished and proud to know that there is still some interest in the works we completed. Thank you.

Egg: Definitely the whole punk-influenced metal and vice versa thing was looked down upon at the time. I’m a fan of hardcore AND metal. Now, everyone (and their brother) is considered “Metalcore”… don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of those bands, it’s just funny how much times have changed.

If someone wanted to get in touch with END TO END, what is the best way to do this?

If you would like to contact END TO END directly you can send an email to end2end@juno.com

If the mail is addressed personally, it will be redirected to any particular band member.

END TO END can also be reached at its official tribute page at:
http://www.myspace.com/endtoendpage

END TO END products, including the 4 song CD with bonus live footage can be obtained from:
http://www.indecisionrecords.com

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