Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Endino: "I don't name them, just record them"

I would have thought I was an oddball, thinking of Jack Endino (in terms of what I cherish the most in my own record collection) more as "the guy who did Up In It by The Afghan Whigs" rather "the guy who did the first Nirvana demos and Bleach."

But, in fact, this guy has been all over the map, literally and sonically, and long after Nirvana he keeps setting musical standards that keep bringing him different kinds of new bands wanting him to do his thing.

Endino kind of stumbled onto this theme as we were chatting at his Soundhouse Recording studio in Seattle on Saturday when I asked him what all he had lined up.

"Next Wednesday I have 3 Inches of Blood, they're from Vancouver, British Columbia. Then, in June, I am doing a record for Skeleton Witch," he said.

"I guess they are both metal. Two years ago I did a record for a band called High on Fire that was very heavy - actually, I'd call it stoner rock, doomy - but the record did well and, as a result, I got a lot of metal bands."

At that point he started to warm to his theme.

"It's like I did a grunge band that did well" (an understatement of the century for the producer who launched Nirvana!), "so I got a lot of grunge bands. I did a punk band that did well, so I got a lot of punk bands. I did Hot Hot Heat, so I got a lot of new wave pop," Endino said.

"That's how a self-employed producer's career goes. But it's all rock & roll to me. It's all guitar, bass, and drums. I just try to make them sound like they sound when they play live ... only better."

I don't have the patience to count the titles on his discography, but let's just say Endino has made a lot of records for a lot of bands (in twelve different countries, by his count). But on a Saturday night in Seattle, freshly home from a tour of his own - opening for Turbonegro, one band, it seems, he has not produced - he still generates enthusiasm rifling off their names (which often require careful alternate spellings).

"Last year, I recorded a band named Valient Thorr - that's 'Valient' with an 'e' and 'Thorr with two 'r's'. Yes, that is how it is spelled - I don't name them, just record them," he said.

"They have a lot of fans in Seattle and all over the world. They have these 'Thorriors' fan clubs. Google it, and the number of webpages that comes up is disturbing. I was amazed at how many fans they have. But the record sold well, and it helped my career."

His cell phone buzzed and rattled continually with calls and messages, as we spoke. After checking one, he said, "That's Early Man. The band is freaking out over the mastering job on a record I mixed. It's vintage old-school, like the first Metallica record, aesthetically the kind of thing I could do in my sleep. It's like we're in a dim place. in a cave."

In a dim place, in a cave. Or in a cinder block studio, behind a house on 15th Avenue Northwest in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, where I hope Jack Endino's discography just gets longer and longer and longer, full of more and more names only he and a few nameless Thorriors the world over can spell.

Third in a series of posts that shook out of my reconnecting this weekend with Endino, whose previous band Skin Yard slept on the couches and floors in the house I rented on The Hill in St. Louis, ca. 1989.

Also in this series:

Endino nears a decimal anniversary for "Bleach"
Up against it where Endino recorded Nirvana


The gig posters are from the tour Endino's band Kandi Coded had just finished with Turbonegro. Got to love a living legend who comes home from the road with gis g posters, like a kid fresh from his first road swing ....

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