The End = The Beginning

The end of time or the beginning of something new? Much can be suggested when it comes to new post-punk duo Endtimers.

Opening the blinds and finally seeing the light of day is post-punk duo ENDTIMERS with their eponymously titled debut album. There has been much to contemplate of late not only on a global scale but also for many on a personal level. Such interference is no different for lead vocalist and writer of Endtimers Gøran Karlsvik. A restless soul who requires much to do in the creative field in order to keep a whole plethora of unwanted intrusions at bay.

Any suggestion of this latest creative project being an end of the line of sorts for Gøran Karlsvik is certainly wide of the mark because Endtimers defines a flurry of creative activity during these last eighteen months, which has been nothing short of a renaissance for Karlsvik, whether as frontman for long timers This Sect, or utilising every spare moment tinkering away with solo pursuit CONTRARIAN, or making strides with army in numbers, Damokles.

As said, Endtimers is the latest addition to that roster of line-ups, and one to rival all mentioned so far, especially after repeat playing of Endtimers’ debut album. However, more significant is the fact that Endtimers is not the sole responsibility of Karlsvik because that would be a massive disservice to fellow compatriot Fredrik Ihler. Responsible for all instrumentation, the Swedish living quarters half of this duo, Fredrik Ihler creates sounds that sit comfortably with the melancholia of Karlsvik’s lyrics. There are, however, glimpses of light and suggestive in melodies heard during the captivating trio of songs ‘When You Sleep I’m Awake’, ‘Morbid Confessional’ (Don’t be put off by that title!), and chorus rousing anthem of ‘New Lows For Everyone’.

Boasting such a powerful sound, and thus giving the impression of a full band, such examples of this experience can be found during ‘Forever Not Yours’ and ‘Time Won’t Heal Us’, Endtimers first LP is the sound of a band with a wealth of experience, which is true.

With the expression “Only a stones throwaway” being relatively true when it comes to the two members of Endtimers, how exactly did the duo meet given the distance of Norway and Sweden between them, and when exactly did this project begin bearing creative fruit?

Gøran: “Endtimers was formed around Spring 2019. Fredrik sent me an album’s worth of instrumental demos and asked if I wanted to do vocals. I had one listen and was instantly hooked. Both me and Fredrik are old friends from the band scene in Oslo and knew each other from doing split-gigs with our respective bands and touring together. Fredrik eventually moved to Sweden, but we kept in touch over the years. We’ve always had a sense of mutual respect and admiration going on, so I guess it was written in the stars that we would end up in a project together sooner or later.”

Fredrik: “I think I recorded all the music in 2017-2018 in Gothenburg in Sweden. It took me 3 weeks because I’m usually inspired for 2-3 weeks at a time, and it can go 1-2 months to get inspired again. I wanted to make harder music and with angsty guitars and huge drums. I wanted to play all the instruments because that was on my bucket list. I also wrote lyrics and melodies for a bunch of the songs. Then I searched for singers to fit the music I was making, but I didn’t find anyone. It was so frustrating! So, I gave up the project and let the songs rest on a hard disk. However, one night when I was in “party mode” (drunk) I sent a message to Gøran and asked how he was doing. We ended up talking a bunch, and I remembered the songs I’d recorded and asked if he was interested in singing them because it finally made sense in my head that Gøran was the right vocalist for the project, so I sent the whole album to him. I think Gøran sent me a song with vocals just hours after I sent the songs to him and, to reiterate my earlier comment, it makes perfect sense that we made a band together.”

Why the decision to be only a duo?

Fredrik: “The decision to be a duo was easy because the instrumentals were pretty much done when I sent them to Gøran. Also, I want this to be a duo in the future so I can be free to make exactly what I want without thinking about hurting other people’s feelings.”

Gøran: “Things are more focused and goal-oriented by being a duo. We both have different bands and projects that we play and perform with, and this is just a nice change-up, a new way for us to explore music and get fast results. We have different tastes yet somehow we “click” on the same things when it comes to actually writing and recording music.”

How would Endtimers therefore describe its sound?

Gøran: “It’s a bizarre tapestry of our different influences for sure, but what I take from it is that it’s rooted in some sort of emotive Dischord-esque, post-hardcore [sound] but doesn’t limit itself to that thing. At least that’s what I initially set out to do with the project. I bet Fredrik has a different answer. The result is more than that though, as I can notice some shoegaze elements, as well as distinct indie rock flair, and some very bleak post-punk. There are very little rules in Endtimers, sonically, whatever sounds and feels right is definitely ok.”

Was the original plan to record an album straight away rather than building to such a goal with a few singles and/or EPs?

Gøran: “The plan was always to do a full album. A few singles in the form of music videos will, of course, appear.”

Fredrik: “The album was always the plan. I just love albums!”

When and where was the album recorded, and how long did the whole process take to complete?

Gøran: “When Endtimers got started I was in a pretty bad state; hospitalized at a psychiatric ward after a very heavy suicidal meltdown. Working on the record gave me a sense of purpose during this period, and I went out of my way to record vocals at the hospital, in my room and at the gym. Put mattresses up against the walls for sound proofing. The staff didn’t mind, they pretty much encouraged me to do so. Kept on recording at my studio facility at the venue Mir after I was discharged from the hospital, until everything felt done – and here we are! All of Fredrik’s parts were recorded in Gothenburg. We’ve both struggled with mental issues on and off during the recording, so I guess that’s been the most frustrating part – but also a glue and a sense of kinship between us – we tend to lift each other up from those dark places.”

Fredrik: “Well, the album took a long time to complete, but I think it took a “short” time to record. If it hadn’t been for Gunnar Kjellsby, who kept pushing out mixes and helped us finish the album, it would’ve taken so much more time to get it done. I wanted to mix the album, but I wasn’t in any shape to make that happen. And it’s for the best because Gunnar is a sound wizard and my favourite producer, guitarist and best friend.”

Listening to the album, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is the clean sound.

Fredrik: “I agree with the “clean” sound, but that’s more the music. Gunnar knows that I love the American type of rock sound. The vocals are chaotic, so I love that the music is pretty organized.”

Gøran: “The overall sound can be attributed to our brilliant producer Gunnar Kjellsby, who also produces This Sect. I wouldn’t describe the sound as “clean” necessarily – it’s all done in the service of the songs. There are many layers of stuff, both instrumentally and vocally – we wanted everything to be upfront in a way, where you can actually hear what’s going on, instead of drowning the details in the mix.”

Overall, the mood is quite thick and heavy in terms of the album, therefore was it a difficult album to make because of this, especially considering such songs as ‘Epilogue Saint’ with its mournful, funeral-esque sound?

Gøran: “Heavy as fuck! I went through a period of extreme introspection, and it certainly shows in the lyrics and performance. I know Fredrik was going through his fair share of bad shit as well. I love the album, yet it’s somewhat difficult to listen to without tearing up.”

Remaining with the song ‘Epilogue Saint’ because it sounds equally at home with, for example, This Sect but with a slightly cleaner sound as mentioned before, but with pure hardcore/screamo vocals on occasions. Therefore, what more can you tell FLW about this track?

Gøran: “We both have that track as our favourite. There is a sense of actual desperation there, and you can feel it. Didn’t set out to sound like any of our other projects, but we both have our own style, so I guess our backgrounds shine through, it’s inevitable.”

Fredrik: “I remember recording that track. It was just two microphones on the drums during the intro of that song and it sounded so huge. I think it was the last thing I recorded for the song. Then I tried to record some creative drums with a weird arrangement, and I think I succeeded. I just love the surprises you get in that song. Every song on the album is written using the drums first. I play all the drums first without knowing what to do on guitar and bass.”

Delving a bit into the lyrics of the album, the words appear to reflect personal issues and those of the general public. A reflection of the past and present if you will. Please explain.

Gøran: “I was dealing with demons both past and present while recording [the album] as well as chemical imbalances in my brain. This is probably some of the most personal work I’ve done. It is sort of the lyrical continuity after the This Sect album, ‘Everything We Know Into a Black Hole’; the album chronicled my meltdown, and this album [‘Endtimers’] comes from a place of healing and introspection.  Don’t wanna go into details about the lyrical content because I want to leave it open to interpretation for the listener. There are certainly feelings of loss, anger, empathy, fear and regret there.”

Interesting timing with the name of the band and debut album. Do you really believe in such things?

Fredrik: “Gøran came up with the name. And it sounds awesome!”

Gøran: “I do believe that things are looking bleak for mankind, yes. There’s a certain dystopian streak in most of the stuff I make, that’s just how I roll. I can quote my all-time favourite band DEVO on this: “De-evolution is real”. Plus, Endtimers sounds rad as a band name.”

Interesting artwork that suggesting broken and/or lost time. It would make a great vinyl cover. Any plans for a physical release of the album?

Gøran: “The cover is a collage of pictures of broken glass, in several layers. We would love a vinyl release, but as of now, we can’t afford it. Interested parties can get in touch!”

Fredrik: “It must come out on vinyl. We are poor musicians, so it can take some time.”

Such an album as ‘Endtimers’ could be a soundtrack for so many people right now, but do you think that anybody is really listening?

Fredrik: “Thank you! I don’t think people are listening. I think if we could hit a certain crowd that isn’t our friends on Facebook or Instagram, then I know people could like it. But it’s hard to find people that like our kind of music without knowing exactly how to promote it in a smart way. It’s difficult. Gøran is great at promotion, but it takes more than one person to make a band stand out. So, I have to step up my game on the promotional side of things.”

Gøran: “We’ve received some good press coverage. I guess it also helps that we’re both very active and visible with other bands and projects. It’s all done DIY through my own label Sect Appeal Records and I’m only one person, so therein lies the limitation. I certainly hope people are checking out the album because I’m proud of it. What really makes it worth it for me, is when people outside of Norway are listening.”

(Photography/artwork courtesy of Gøran Karlsvik/Endtimers)

Endtimers is out now and available digitally through Sect Appeal Records

FLW - From the Tapes

Debut album ‘Endtimers’ has plenty of reference points musically, with one genre popping up now and again and that being indie and heard during such numbers from the band’s LP ‘On Remembering’ and ‘New Lows For Everyone’. Such influences when writing and recording comes from both members of Endtimers vast musical backgrounds and collections as they explain in relation to their new record and those “indie” references:

Gøran: “I get some of The Smiths and The Sound vibes here and there, as well as newer stuff such as Modest Mouse and Built to Spill, plus of course the shoegaze Slowdive vibes. Fredrik can give a better answer to that.”

Fredrik: “I listen to a lot of indie pop artists like Veronica Maggio, Alvvays, The Naked And Famous, but I also love Blink182, Rancid, The Interrupters, Alkaline Trio, Garbage, At The Drive In, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, not to mention Robyn and Sigrid. I don’t want to sound like any one of my favourite bands. So, I just make music that I don’t know how to do. It’s so easy to copy your favourite bands. So, I don’t do it. Except Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, who play guitars in Garbage. I steal a lot from them. The way they play is just magical. I also steal from our producer Gunnar Kjellsby. We have played in bands together for 15+ years and he is my guitar hero. So, all the instrumentation on every song on the album sounds like surprising music I never thought I could make.”

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