Oslo/Stockholm duo Endtimers is yet another excellent band fronted by Gøran Karlsvik (This Sect, Contrarian, Damokles, etc.), working here alongside multi-instrumentalist Fredrik Ihler. Their 10-song, 40-minute debut full-length is set for release on June 25 via Sect Appeal Records (you can pre-save the album on Spotify, or pre-order on Bandcamp), and just might be my favorite example of Gøran's work since first hearing This Sect back in 2014. It's an unexpectedly catchy fusion of surging, heavy, emo-esque material that's tough to pin down. Mr. Karlsvik has described the outcome as "a tapestry of shimmery shoegaze, off-kilter indie rock, and bleak post-punk," but you're sure to uncover even more, and it's another of those peculiar instances where the end result just feels different than all of its assorted components.
Check out album-opener "Epilogue Saint" and its accompanying video below, followed by an interview with Gøran for some added insight into the Endtimers tale thus far. And trust me, if the track doesn't grab you right away, just wait for the metaphorical bomb to go off around 1:07...
We've discussed on numerous occasions the degree to which you keep busy with a vast assortment of projects, so how was Endtimers born amidst your already packed schedule?
Me and Fredrik have been good friends for about 15 years, and we've gigged and toured together in other bands, so there's always been a sense of mutual respect and admiration going on. Two years ago, I had a complete suicidal meltdown, and was admitted to the psych ward—this meltdown phase got "documented" through the new This Sect album, Everything We Know Into a Black Hole. I was pretty lost when I was at the hospital, but had a small home studio there, and was tinkering with mostly electronic music as my Contrarian alias. In the middle of that period, Fredrik contacted me—he'd been going through similar stuff and had composed an album's worth of instrumental demos, and asked if I'd be interested in doing vocals. I jumped at the opportunity, it gave me a purpose while I was there. I stacked mattresses against the walls in my room and in the gym for soundproofing, and started recording. The lyrical content from that period is quite difficult to listen back on, but I'm glad I did it—it comes from a time of heavy introspection, dealing with my demons in the past and the present, as well as chemical imbalances in my brain—and the end result deals with healing, empathy, and personal evolution. Had heavy thoughts, for sure. When I was discharged from the hospital, I kept on recording at the studio facility I share with my other bands and projects—This Sect, Damokles, and Contrarian—and just kept on working until the album felt complete. All in all, I recorded the vocals for the album three times over before it got done. It was a learning process, as I recorded on my own, with Fredrik living in Stockholm and me in Oslo.
You had told me before, but I don't think it really hit me until re-listening to the album after seeing the information for a second time that the band is simply a duo, which I would never have guessed. Between yourself and Fredrik, what's the division of labor?
Fredrik is first and foremost a drummer, but he's a multi-instrumentalist, and very studio-savvy. So, he takes charge of the instrumental side of things, while I focus on vocals, lyrics, and the visual presentation. Our producer, Gunnar Kjellsby (who also produces This Sect), was of course very important in the evolution of the album—the glue—as we all worked remotely from our respective studios. Gunnar also added some guitar overdubs that we really dug.
This material has been in the works for two years, during which time we've gone back and forth as the songs and rough mixes were starting to take shape and talked about how there's an emo influence and a Dischord type of sound happening, but like so much of the work you're involved with, there's a dark and distinctive edge. Those "emo" vibes end up sort of buried within a swirl of sounds that are heavy—without being "metal"—and carry that lush, glistening type of angle—but aren't necessarily "post-punk"—etc. Not that it matters, but now that the album is complete and you've had some time to sit with it as you prep for its release, has a clearer vision of how it all falls together coagulated for you?
I just love how the album has come together, it's a pretty special blend of our backgrounds and preferences. It sounds like an album's worth of songs, not just a bunch of tracks thrown together. It conveys a certain atmosphere and works as a cohesive whole. What maybe surprises me the most is how shoegaze-y and big-sounding it is. There's a lot of misanthropic anger there, but also tons of absolute dreamy beauty. I was thinking about this album as some sort of confessional "emo" thing to begin with. The end result kind of surpasses that intention and formula. While our roots are in hardcore punk and similar sounds, the album as a whole is a varied mix of influences—a tapestry of shimmery shoegaze, off-kilter indie rock, and bleak post-punk.
We're premiering the video for the album's opening track, "Epilogue Saint," which is an especially interesting tune because it's somewhat misleading in how it opens with a very slow and dreary aesthetic, but then just explodes after the first minute and really transforms into something completely different that the listener wouldn't anticipate. Share a bit about this song in particular...
It's the track that we both have as a favorite, it just felt natural as the introduction to the band, and is also the album opener. It has the highs and lows that flow through the album. It has a very real desperation to it—as furious as it is melancholic. The emotions that went into this record are very real to us, and "Epilogue Saint" serves as the prime specimen for this.
The 10-song full-length will be out via Sect Appeal Records on June 25, but I don't really know many details beyond that. Will this be a digital-only release? Is it a one-off that will see the end of Endtimers?
It will be digital-only for now, as we're both broke and are self-releasing. If I win the lottery tomorrow, getting this out on wax is on my Top 5 priority list. It deserves a vinyl treatment. However, I'm sick and tired of "the waiting game" when it comes to the music industry (or lack thereof)—sending emails into a void and dealing with assholes. We made this great album that we're proud of. It does nothing good just sitting on a hard drive, so we figured we might as well get it out there ASAP, and hopefully it'll get some traction. There's nothing I'd love more than a vinyl release—interested parties, don't be strangers. It's not a one-off, we work really well together and dig the sounds we collectively make. We've started assembling demos and will get back on the recording horse come early-autumn.