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The End Men interview with Matthew Hendershot & Livia Ranalli Hendershot

Canton OH @ Buzzbin - © Chris Jordan

Rather than drawing rash comparisons to a certain two-piece band or beguiling eccentric multi-instrumentalist I will let the name speak for itself, The End Men.  The intriguing New York City duo consisting of husband and wife Matthew Hendershot and Livia Ranalli Hendershot have been producing their unique brand of circus-centric blues based rock ‘n roll for almost three years now.  On a recommendation from a friend about “the wickedest drumming he’d heard since John Bonham” I decided to check them out.  It’s no exageration to say that Livia uses her drumset like few other musicians out there, utilizing techniques and producing sounds adding a layer to the two-piece that is usually sorely lacking in duos.  Comlimented by the bluesy, cruning rock stylings of Matthew on vocals and guitar, The End Men haven proven themselves a force to be reckoned with.  Blazing their own trail and taking little notice or instruction from anyone but themselves they’ve managed to create a unique and mysterious sound that burrows its way deep into your brain in a time when it’s hard to remember your cellphone’s ringtone. On the heels of the release of their debut full-length Play With Your Toys Matthew and Livia took some time out of their busy schedules to discuss all things The End Men with Psychedelic Baby!

Are either of you in any other bands at this point?  Have you been in any other bands that have released anything?

Matthew: Right now, no.  The End Men is our number one priority.  We have played shows with other acts though.  For instance Liv did a tour stint with Sea of Bees and later this year I'll be doing two shows with Matt King.  That stuff is mostly fill-in work though; creatively we are focused on The End Men.  When I met Livia she was drumming for Top Ten Lovers, and I was in The Dead River Company.  The D.R.C. put out two EPs and I think Top Ten Lovers had two albums worth of music that never came out.  Prior to the D.R.C. I was also part of an EP that was released for the band EVENEYE, which was a band full of Kansans all transplanted in Brooklyn.

Where are you originally from?

Matthew: I was born Western Kansas and went to school in central Kansas before moving to Phoenix, and then up here to New York.

Livia: I am from Milan, Italy.

How did you two meet?  How long have you known each other?  

Matthew: We met through an introduction from another NYC band, Hank and Cupcakes.  I was booking a monthly showcase at the time, and I was on the hunt for up and coming bands to play.  Her band was suggested and we booked them.  The band played a great set but it was mostly Livia that I was watching, as was everyone else!  I ended up organizing another show where our bands were able to share the bill and then she reached out to me for a letter of recommendation for her as an artist.  We talked a lot during that time period about music and about what kind of things we wanted to do with this musical project, sort of just brainstorming.  This would have been the end of 2009.  As the year came to a close things went south for both our bands, so it was an open door to start making music together.

Did your relationship or The End Men come first?  What led you to start The End Men? 

Livia: The reason why we ended up dating was we both were looking to build a new project as both of our past bands had felled thru, so the idea of The End Men did come before our relationship.  However, we only really started playing after getting married three months after our first meeting, hehehe!

Matthew: Yeah, we were already married by the time the first show happened for sure.  I knew from minute one of meeting Liv that I wanted to make music with her, seeing her drum has that kind of effect on people I think.  It’s really a sight.  Just getting to know her was another sort of motivation as well.  We just clicked.  I think there’s really only been a handful of days we’ve been apart since the first night we went out together.  Getting the boot from the D.R.C. was the event that triggered me to start thinking about fronting a band with these musical ideas I'd had for a while, but Livia was the catalyst for sure.  Working with her gave all these little bits and pieces of inanimate stuff life.  In a way I just sort of dumped a pile of puzzle pieces out in front of the both of us, and it was really her that figured out how they were all supposed to fit together.

I imagine there are some really cool things about being in a band with your wife.  I also suspect there’s some stuff that’s drives you nuts sometimes.  Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like to be in a band with your husband/wife respectively?  Some of the ups and downs?

Livia: It’s very easy to organize tours, band meetings, band practice and all of that stuff as you are always thinking and acting as one, you don’t have to argue about leaving for a while when you go on tour.  There are lots of benefits about being married in this deal.  I’d say the downside of it is that you don’t talk about anything else.  Seriously!  We are crazy one-track minded.  And also, if you have a music-related quarrel, that bleeds into the husband/wife relationship.  Luckily, we almost never have any of those; they’re trivial most of the time anyways.

Matthew: I think most of all it is that we share this dream as a team in a closer and more real sense than a lot of the bands out there.  There is a lot of juggling that goes into being in a band, and a lot of the time it is between the two relationships; your personal relationship and a band relationship.  Ours has the unique ability to grey those lines.  When we are working on our own relationship, it’s also helping the band and vice versa.  We have strong communication all the time and that helps with both the marriage and the band equally.

How long have you been in New York now?  How involved are you two with the New York music scene?  Has it played a large role in The End Men’s history?  How would you describe the local scene there?

Matthew: I moved up here in July of 2006, Liv in September 2007.  As far as our engagement in the scene, I mean I have had my hands in it in some way or another ever since I got up here; my first week in town I was auditioning for bands to play in.  EVENEYE and The D.R.C. came after that, and I always found myself sort of internally managing the bands I was in so I know tons of people and bookers and venues and the like.  But at the same time, it always seems like we find ourselves in one place when the 'scene' starts to bubble up in another.  There is a world of difference between what people think the scene is like here and the truth of the matter.  There are a ton of bands and a ton of venues, and just when a person, place, or thing starts to break through suddenly, everyone is already past it, onto the next thing; it feels like it’s almost by design.  Looking around you see a lot of people trying to capture lightning in a bottle a second time.  But, new stuff keeps coming all the time, and bands move up here all the time, and it just keeps feeding the mystique of it all.  But I don't see a solid scene in any of it.  Just a lot of people fighting to get what little attention they can.  It's actually something I'm very vocal about, trying to get at least small factions organized and working together.  Like, "hey let's all start booking this venue and make it cool" or "let's start sharing shows and get people interested in this group of bands" instead of always being just out for self.  I guess the good news is that as of late you hear a lot more talk like this, but all in all, it still kind of feels like crabs in a bucket sometimes.

Livia: Yeah, I don’t think there’s really a “New York Music Scene" anymore; if there’s ever been one.

I heard you discussing the meaning of your name, The End Men and was really impressed at the level of thought that you two had put into it.  Can you explain some of the different meanings behind the name, why and how you chose it?

Matthew: So, the name of course comes from Vaudeville.  From the get go I have advocated bringing back the “show” element to it all.  I mean not to be rude, but there are a lot of boring live bands.  I can love an album but seeing that same band live can be like exercise, a chore to watch!  I guess the idea of the show, the variety and the jokes and stories were going to be there even without the name.  That’s what led us to even be looking into that sort of source material to begin with.  It's funny though because we found the name and liked the idea, but then we were also able to snap up the website address and all the social media rights.  It was like this untouched thing that seemed too good to be true really.  Plus it sounds good.  It looks good written down and it’s easy to say and remember.  We are still training the populous.  Some folks like to combine End Men into one word or not include "The", that type of thing.  It has this great natural symmetry though, three words, three letters each.  Each one capitalized, The End Men.  We’re still working on a solid logo though hahaha.

Livia: In fact, if anybody reading this interview feels inspired to craft one please do so!

I know that there was a third member in the band initially who subsequently left the band after you recorded Build It Up.  However that was some time ago and at this point and you’ve played most of your shows as a two-piece.  How did the transition into a two-piece work?  Was it a difficult transition or did it just seem to kind of come naturally?

Livia: Jason is a good friend of ours and we had a great time collaborating with him but I think we all felt we had come to a point where we needed to take different paths.  After Build It Up came out Matthew and I started planning frequent trips out of town, we really wanted to play a lot more anywhere we could.  We also wanted to tour Europe and the U.S.  Jason was much more hesitant about investing all that time and sometimes money, into the band, as he also had a video production company he really wanted to focus on.  Our problem was that the music we had at that time was not meant for a two-piece band.  So we decided we would start working on new material that would make it possible for us to be independent, and eventually have people on board for some jams if they wanted, but without having to depend on them.  So we started writing as a two-piece and it really seemed to be the right direction to go.  We talked to Jason about it and he was really understanding about it.  I’d say it felt really natural.

Normally I don’t like using The White Stripes as an example of duos because I don’t think there are many other two-pieces out there like them.  They were very aware of the restrictions and limitations that arose from playing with two people, but they didn’t fight it.  Instead, like you, they seemed to embrace the fact it makes you “think outside of the box”.  What unique attributes do you think being a two-piece band brings to The End Men?  What are the major pros and cons of working as a duo?  

Livia: I really like how it motivates you to think of a much wider variety of sounds and how it sort of forces you to push yourself, nobody else is filling that blank for you.  I feel like I’ve started using the drums as a much more complete instrument since we started playing as a duo.  I also truly enjoy the silence that you can build.  Some bands fill every moment with sound out of fear of that silence; I think silence is a very important element in music.  Working in the studio is easy.  You can add all you want.  Sometimes though we wish we had somebody on stage play whatever it is on the record that we can’t play on stage because we’re too busy on our respective instruments!

Matthew: In the studio environment it's fine because you have the time to craft the sounds you want.  I think because it’s just the two of us.  We let each other go with a lot of slack and a lot of experimentation and that kind of stuff, which is great when you have the tracks to play along with and you can always add and sculpt.  I've never been keen on trying to play live to tracks, loops or samples, so we actually have to be able to do everything in the live show.  It’s a challenge, especially since the sound that we produce is very, very full sounding but that’s also part of the benefit.  People see a duo setting up and they get this idea of what they are about to get, then it drops in and immediately, we've got them.  I think it comes as a genuine surprise and that adds to the impact.  People want to expect the White Stripes because it is the easiest common denominator, and I think the White Stripes are great, so that works getting our foot in the door of their brains or whatever, but it doesn't take long if they are actually listening for them to say, "This isn't like the White Stripes at all, but I still like it"!  It actually leads to a lot of people saying a lot of really flattering things that I'm not sure they otherwise would!  But it is kind of great to get those ego cookies from time to time.

Columbus OH @ Scarlet and Grey - © Chris Jordan

You recorded your first album Build It Up before you had really begun playing out much.  Can you talk a little bit about why you went about things that way?

Livia: We arranged the songs during the recording sessions!  It was a little insane but I enjoyed working that way.  I like how recording pushes you to create, fast.  It just happened this way out of necessity.  We needed to have something recorded so we could get people to hear what we were doing in spite of the fact we hadn’t done anything yet!  You might call it impatience, we were just very eager to produce something.

Matthew: The songs we did out for the first gig were all tunes that had been kicking around for a while that I had done.  Again, sort of the puzzle pieces, but none of them were finished.  Having started and ran with two other bands already in NYC, I just couldn't see a point at all in putting in all the effort to gig and not having something that people could take with them.  It’s easy to love a band when you are drunk and at the show but even easier to wake up the next morning and not remember their name or something.  The album was a preventative measure.  I think we all knew this had serious potential, and I think the audiences at the first two shows saw it too.  That was the real motivation. It was like, “look, people like this stuff, let's make sure they are able to remember it, and talk about it and share it” and all of that.  So getting the EP out became a priority.

How have things changed as far as writing and recording goes since that first album?

Livia: The songs from the first album are mostly all Matthew’s idea, which we took and put together as a band, but the raw material was already drafted.  Play With Your Toys was really a co-writing experience for the two of us.  We pretty much wrote and arranged all the songs together, and we had played that material quite a lot before hitting the record button.  The only exceptions are the Play With Your Toys I and II tracks which we sort of improvised during recording.

Matthew: There is a lot more, 'production', I guess you could say on Play With Your Toys.  Build It Up was viewed as this sort of functional necessity.  I didn't want to be out there without the best business card a band can have, so we made the songs just as they were live, we just tried to capture it and make it sound as good as we could.  With Play With Your Toys we had and took a lot more time to really create and craft an album.  Writing since then has, as Liv said, been almost totally collaborative.  I'll still write lyrics on the train or whatever, but musically we hash all that stuff out jamming in the rehearsal studios.  All these little jams and riffs come out of goofing around and then when they start to take shape, I tend to look through what I've been jotting down and see if it will fit with the ideas and melody, or if we can manipulate the words to fit the music or whatever.  The songs are stories, so like all things there are a lot of ways to tell a story.  Maybe we cut a word or six or whatever to make it fit the idea of the melody, but that's all part of it.

You’ve self-released two albums at this point, 2011’s Build It Up and the recently released Play With Your Toys.  Can you tell me a little about the recording of each of those albums?  Who recorded them, the equipment that was used?

Matthew:  I went to school to be an audio engineer so I have, just by nature of that, amassed a fairly decent collection of microphones and recording equipment as well as a great deal of knowledge and philosophy.  It's a funny dichotomy though because half of the stuff is real legit, like a bank of Focusrite preamps and a stereo tube compressor, that kind of thing, some nice microphones.  Then the other half of it is stuff I've built, or stuff that’s in disrepair but under the right circumstances sounds great totally by accident!  More than the gear though, I think what pleases me most about the records is that we trusted our taste when it came to the sounds.  We did a lot of listening but not a lot of contrasting with popular music.  It was like having an idea for a sound and tweaking and tweaking to get it the way it sounded in our heads instead of trying to copy a sound we knew from something else.  Jason's leads on Build It Up are a great example of this I think.  It was this fantastic Sheraton but we played it thru this seventy-five dollar bass practice amp that is pretty much transparent sounding.  If you just peg everything at 10 all the sudden it starts to sing.  I used something like three different mics on it, and then had a tube pre in the chain.  After messing with and blending those sounds, it just turned out epic sounding.  All in all I think knowing that what we had was simply what we had and we had to make the best of it worked in our advantage.  Also with both records, we went for a very natural and very 'live' sound to convey the vibe and energy we wanted, Play With Your Toys is a great example of that.  I've had people tell me that it isn't a very loud record, and honesty they’re dead wrong.  Compared to something that has been slammed in mastering, like most modern releases, sure, it is going to seem that way.  I promise you though, reach for the volume knob and goose your system a bit and that album cooks.  The difference is of course that it moves up and down and so the loud can surprise you and add some depth, instead of just being compressed and loud from start to finish wearing you out.

Was the Play With Your Toys album easier to record?  You had experience with the first album and there were only two people playing this time around, did it make thing simpler or easier at all?

Livia: No!  I felt like an eight-month pregnant lady walking around wishing the thing inside of her were out already.  All jokes aside though, the album took forever to be launched.  There were more songs to work on than Build It Up and we had a much more specific idea of how we wanted the album to sound, which instead of making it easier made us more demanding of ourselves and each other.  We also struggled with the mixes for a while.  The fact that there was only two of us and we had only worked on one album before may actually be the only reasons why it is out now hahahaha!

Matthew: I think the open ended nature of it made it more difficult actually.  There was no rush to get it out, so we took our time.  Also time was a huge factor in the whole thing.  From start to finish it probably took us less than a month to record, mix and master the album.  The time issue being that we didn't have a month straight to work on it. It was a day here, two days there and so on over the course of nearly a year.  That and we didn't do it the same way.  We had a different approach to getting the drums, new gear and amps, new instruments, as well as a much larger scope that we wanted to bring to the finished product.  If you listen to Build It Up and then Play With Your Toys they are really from two different worlds.  I think that also makes it fun for us though.  If it was cut, copy, paste, we just wouldn't want to do it.  We are big advocates of, “Hey what if we try this?  Hey what about that”?  It was all about experimentation and exploration, finding ways to entertain ourselves in the process of trying to tell our story.

You have played several overseas tours at this point; do you particularly enjoy playing overseas?  Do you have any international tours planned for this year?

Livia: We have only toured Europe once so far, but I am happy to say that we will be going on our second European tour in mid-September.  We’ll play in Italy, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and maybe Switzerland.  I’m excited to be back on my good ole continent.  It’s a good way for me to get back and reconnect with family and friends and play shows and travel a lot all at the same time.  In general also, I think that touring is my favorite aspect of playing music.

Italy @Il Circolino - © Laura Pedrali

Matthew: I am an experience-junkie by nature, so I love doing all kinds of things and getting to travel and see new places and history and all of that while playing shows, it’s my perfect idea of a vacation.  That and I love food, and between Italian food and German food, yeah, count me in.  Also it is something not a lot of bands get to do, I mean, not a lot of bands get too tour for quite a while and here we are touring Europe for the second time in as many years.  It's like getting a scout badge or something, I kind of love that.  But I got that same feeling from our recent tour of the US as well.  I guess what it comes down to is new places, meeting new people, trying new things and to be afforded the opportunity to do that by way of touring with your music, that’s just beautiful to me.

What else do you have planned as far as touring this year?

Livia: We will play three to four day mini-tours almost every weekend.  Pretty much anywhere in a seven or eight hour radius from NYC.  It would be nice to schedule another proper tour before the end of the year, I guess we’ll see how things go.

Matthew: We are going to be heading out to Ohio again in July and doing a lot of stuff in upstate New York with friends there.  We try and make it up there every other month or so really. One thing, kind of like what Liv mentioned, we do a lot are these long musical weekends when we can string together three or four shows over a weekend somewhere.  We've done trips like that to Albany/Rochester that we will do again; also Boston/Worcester and Ohio.  We've made some awesome friends in some great areas.  So again, it's like vacation for us.  We get to go see some of our favorite people and it just so happens we’re also playing shows in the process.  That's how I know we will be at this kind of thing for the rest of our lives, because these trips are the trips that we would be taking for fun anyways.  Some people go rock-climbing, we go rock-making.

I hear the work “circus” thrown around a lot in reference to your music.  Why is it that people seem to keep making that comparison?  Do you agree with it?

Matthew:  I love it if people get that from the records!  I would really like to be able to convey that at the shows, and I think we do to some extent.  There is a lot of that ramshackle sound to a lot of it sure, and this sort of fun atmosphere and whimsy, but at the same time, there’s cracked paint, loose bolts, some dirt and maybe a few undesirable characters.  You know, all that stuff that makes circuses so great in the first place!  At the end of the day, a big priority for us is to make a performance an event, create a spectacle out of playing our songs live.  It’s where I think we have our most fun and we hope people are having fun along with us.  I've never been to a pristine circus.  They are always a little rough around the edges, and I kind of love that.  Moreover, I've never come across a circus, no matter how dodgy, and didn't want to go and do everything that could be done there.

I’ve already referenced The White Stripes and I’ve also seen strong comparisons drawn to Tom Waits from others.  I’m curious to hear who you would cite as your major musical influences though?

Livia: I think that it’s funny people keep comparing us to them.  I cannot see where the similarity is apart from the girl on drums and guy on guitar combo.  As for Tom Waits, I do admit he is an inspiration to us.  I like how percussive and earthy his music is.  I like a lot of different stuff.  My recent playlist is made of the most bizarre mix of artists. From Cab Calloway to Them Crooked Vultures…  I don’t know if I can mention any specific artist as major musical influence.  I would rather say that I think that our musical inspiration is a product of everything we listen to, from actual bands to the sounds surrounding us.

Matthew: We listen to all kinds of music all the time, one day Clutch, one day Gorillaz, the next Rolling Stones, but that isn't really what I think of when I think of actual influences.  My personal influences come from a few different sources and memories.  One of those of is fishing with my dad and mom when I was a kid and the radio was always on the classic rock and oldies stations.  Singing along to everything from, I don't know "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and that era of music, and then also Zeppelin, Stones and that whole rock thing.  We use to cover all those song in these brunch gigs we would do.  Playing songs like "Love Potion #9" and "The Weight", all this stuff that would come from that particular set of experiences.  Another was this place called The Watering Hole in my hometown that had this juke box I would play with all the time.  My parents would be in there with friends and us kids would get quarters from the bartender to keep us occupied or whatever, and it was all these great country tunes like "The Race is On", "If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets", again all over the board but all in that same vein.  Then of course I'm hanging out with my friends and we’re playing Metallica and rock and roll that was current to that time frame, I think I was like 7 or 8.  I remember tapes that my neighbor and I would make where we would fake our own radio show and just play songs off the Metallica tapes we had, talking in between them into the little onboard microphone.  It wasn't until I was eighteen or nineteen in college studying music history and appreciation that I was introduced to the deeper blues stuff, Robert Johnson up thru Howlin' Wolf, the origins of rock, and at the same time people who were really out there like Jaco Pastorious.  I was a bass player from the time I was fourteen years old, not guitar, so Jaco blew my mind.  Pat Metheny, guys like Michael Hedges, Bela' Fleck and the Wootens, all these kinds of folks who were just really pushing boundaries.  I think that’s why a guy like Tom Waits was very appealing to me.  Because there were no rules to that music, he was just doing whatever he wanted but basing it all in that bluesy kind of vein.  So yeah, when the Tom Waits comparison comes up, I understand that.  I mean I'm flattered by it.  That anyone would even put me in the same class as him, but I do get where it the comparisons come from because I think he was probably listening to Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin just like I was.

I don’t like classifying music, its art and I think it kind of defies logic in that respect.  Instead of labeling or classifying your music how would you describe The End Men?

Matthew: Its rock 'n roll, that's what I always say!  Rock 'n roll the way it should be.  I'll leave all the colorful descriptions to folks like you hahaha!  And there have been some great ones for sure.  One of my favorites was "a musical fall down a flight of stairs, laughing all the way".  That seems about right.  Hopefully though, people can describe it as a really fun couple of people having a really great time making music.

Livia: As a terrible twosome!

Nashville TN @FooBar - © Chris Jordan

Digital music has exposed me to a whole universe of music that I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to and it’s rapidly changing the face of the music industry.  What are your thoughts on digital music and distribution?

Matthew: I think the "rapidly changing" part of that question is an understatement.  With the democratization of music that has come about through the advent of technologies and what have you, the Industry with a capital I is long gone man.  This is the new world and no one knows what the hell we are doing yet.  Some folks are having success still going at it the old way, others are completely rethinking it and that’s working for some of them as well.  I think you will still see major labels staying fairly dominant for a while, but even that success isn’t near what it used to be.  The rest of us will just have to be content that the whole ‘gold plated diapers’ era is gone and we may never see anything like it again.  I think what we are all, well most of us anyway, need to wrap our heads around is a new definition of success.  For myself, I just want to see a situation where we can make our art and perform it and have that be a sustainable practice, and I think that is completely possible even without a major label record deal if need be.

Livia: Digital distribution has certainly opened a whole new world to all those musicians who aren’t part of a major label, it’s the blessing and, somehow, the curse of the current music non-industry.  It has offered an opportunity for unsigned and emerging bands to get their music out there, but it has also saturated the music industry with a lot of good, mediocre and bad stuff.  Sometimes I wonder if people are getting jaded by this constant, excessive flow of music.  Similarly, the spreading of digital music has allowed many broke artists to produce their own material, but it comes down to the same problem, some of it is just bad quality.  And it just doesn’t sound as honest as analog, sorry to say, but it’s true…

As much as I love digital copies of the albums I have so I can listen to them on the go, I am very much a physical release guy.  I like being able to look at album art and liner notes, feel something in my hands while I listen to the music.  Do you have any sort of connection to physically released music?

Livia: I agree with you.  It’s the whole sensory involvement that makes it worth it!  The listening experience combined with reading the notes, watching the album art and even just the smell of the record paper, I just love that smell!

Matthew: I absolutely agree.  CDs aren’t the experience that records are but having that booklet filled with art and messages makes for a great visual experience.  I would love to give people an amazing packaging experience, but I’d like to see us find a positive and good way to do it.  We dealt with that when we had our CDs manufactured.  The choice came up if we wanted them shrink-wrapped or not.  Now, first I thought to go without it, easier on the environment, which is a good thing.  But then I thought that people, whether they realize it or not, wouldn’t go for it.  Tearing that wrapper off makes it yours; no one has been there before you!  That said, I can’t wait to do vinyl releases instead of CDs and go with reusable sleeves, that way we can get the best of both worlds. 

In a time where most people are pushing vinyl product and many musicians are releasing cassette tapes why release the two albums on CD?  Is it a conscious or aesthetic decision in any way?

Livia: Nope, it was just what we could afford!  I would love to release music in vinyl format, as I enjoy the dirt in the sound of it, but it takes a little more money.  We are thinking of releasing a vinyl version of Play With Your Toys if the CD sales go well enough.

Matthew: Yeah, exactly what she said.  I am itching for a vinyl release too, just to have that experience of seeing it and knowing that your music is physically etched into that record, I can’t wait for that day.  Unfortunately it isn’t that easy and it costs more money than CDs do, so, audio quality wise you still get the best sounding format from the disks.  Maybe minus the character of vinyl, but it’s something you can have, a little something you made that people can take home with them to remember the experience, or perhaps have their own more personal one with.

Where can our readers get copies of the Build It Up EP and the new album Play With Your Toys?

Matthew: Well currently if you want to buy the physical product you need to find us.  Either at a show or contact us via email and we can ship them out.  Build It Up is nearly out of print though!  Digitally you can grab downloads from our Bandcamp page at   We found out that soon you will be able to tune in and hear us on Pandora, so that’s quite cool.  We did have a service that put us out on other streaming sites and also got us on iTunes, but they were taking a pretty big cut of the sales, so it just wasn’t making sense to keep it going.  If you are buying through Bandcamp though the money goes straight to us instantly and that’s pretty cool.

I’ve seen more and more female rock musicians, drummers especially, the last few years; in fact only one band I’ve interviewed so far hasn’t had any female members.  Rock definitely used to be a boy’s club though.  How do you feel about how women are treated in rock these days? Do you feel like gender is still an issue?  

Livia: I’ve honestly never cared whether girls are involved in bands of not, as long as the music is good.  I think that women can contribute a lot to the world of rock, as long as they don’t let their gender define what they do.  If you like what you hear regardless of who is playing, then gender is not an issue.  If you need to check the girl’s skirt or cleavage to make it interesting, then there is something missing in the music and that’s a problem.  I do believe there is still a stereotypical approach to this topic though.  Many people compliment me as a ‘girl drummer’.  It used to bother me; it felt like they put me in this sub-category in the main ‘drumming’ world.  I don’t mind anymore, I don’t care.  I just hope people can evaluate what they hear regardless of who it’s coming from.

Matthew: I also don't know that I would agree that it’s valid to say “more and more females” are in the game now than before.  I mean, we are talking about rock, which is maybe 60 years old in total.  There have been a lot of women rocking right along with everyone else the whole time I think.  Really the only reason gender is still an issue is because people think of it being an issue.  If we got over that initial hump though, I think everyone would find that they’ve been listening to women rock a lot more than even they realize.

I ask everyone I talk to this question so please list as many or as few as you’d like, who are some bands from your local area that our readers should be listening to that they might not have heard of?

Livia: Thanks for asking.  There are a bunch of really interesting bands in the NY area that are worth checking.  To mention a few: The Moho Collective from Rochester, they are really one of my favorite bands, and not just in the area.  Then The Slaughterhouse Chorus (Albany), Henry’s Rifle (Albany), The Skeletons In The Piano (Saratoga Springs), Ghost & Goblin (NYC), The Gypsy West (NYC).

Matthew: Ghost & Goblin is one of my favorite bands out there right now.  They just put out a new record that is really brave and I love hearing that out of such a young band.  The Moho Collective are also amazing, like mind-blowingly good stuff.  I can’t wait to hear the new album they are about to put out. Liv also mentioned Skeletons In The Piano whom we absolutely love.  Not only do they rock musically, they are some of the best folks.  We go to Albany a lot to play, but we would go just to hang out with them and Kane Grogan and the Slaughterhouse Chorus guys, they are all like, friends for life, even if we didn’t absolutely love what they are up to.  We’ll be playing Skeletons release part for their new record called Please Don’t Die in May.  I’ve already got the digital pre-release, but I’m also winning an eBay auction for one of the test pressings of their record. I could probably just ask for one, but it is much more fun this way!  We belong to two different music collectives also that are just great groups of people and friends who are also out there rocking.  One is Built 4 BBQ, based out of upstate New York.  Liv mentioned a few of the bands, The Slaughterhouse Chorus and Henry’s Rifle that are kind of the anchors in that group.  There’s also the Pistolwhips (a band to really look out for), Charmboy, Maggot Brain, and Linear North as well.  Here in Brooklyn we are part of something called Bear Republic, Republic of Bears, that includes the Ghost & Goblin guys along with Teen Girl Scientist Monthly, Boy Girl Party, MindTroll, Jackpot Tiger, and a few more.  That spans a really broad spectrum of music just in that little group.  We’ve also just moved into a new rehearsal space with some great friends that are making killer heavy music, Bröhammer and Godmaker.  The Mad Doctors which are this insane act here in Brooklyn, that we are really excited to do more shows with, they get nuts on stage and there is a dancing robot.  We have several Brooklyn bands that we consider great friends, Liv mentioned The Gypsy West.  Also Band Antenna who are in part responsible for getting us started doing shows.

How about nationally and internationally?

Matthew: The Misery Jackals out of Ohio, also Dave Hammer’s Power Supply and Black Betty who all helped us out on tour.  Skinny Jim and the #9 Blacktops from Illinois, Stuck Lucky in Nashville, The Latenight Callers out in Kansas where I’m from, they were all great.  Also out in Kansas there is a band called The Gypsy Sparrows that my old roommate, Jeff Perkins, plays every possible stringed instrument for.  He’s a true musical genius.  The guy builds his own Frankenstein-guitars and kills playing them, but also has the ability to just pick up any instrument with strings and murder it within minutes.  He’s one of my best friends and biggest motivators musically, just how great of a player he is.  I guess lastly, but not least we got hooked on a band from Chicago called Mutts that are doing some big things now which is great to see.

Utica NY @ The Uptown Theatre - © Nicola Raggi

Is there anything that I missed that you’d like to talk about or anything else that you wish to mention?  

Matthew: I have to be honest, I think this is by far the most thorough and in-depth interview I’ve ever done!  You got it all and then some!

Livia: Really?  Are you asking that to Matthew?  My friend, I hope you took a day off…

© David Hannan

(2011) The End Men – Build It Up – CD? – Self-Released?
(2013) The End Men – Play With Your Toys – CD? – Self-Released?

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright

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