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By Michael Lara
“I was up above it! I was above it! Now I’m down in it!” That massive raging ranging modus operandi always proliferating from the ever honest mind, body of soul of Trent Reznor is something that one can see wholly manifested in so many since his NIN’S 1989 debut. Of course, it duly led to his natural inclusion to the storied inaugural Lollapalooza tour in 1991 that I was very fortunate to be present for its full fruition in entirety at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.
Endless Hallway - Autonomy Games (2009)
Deeply impacted in the psyche of ENDLESS HALLWAY, one of the City of Angels most passionate tribes and brothers in arms for progress, they flushed out all within themselves collectively in recording their debut 20 years later, 2009’s Autonomy Games.
Making their Japan debut at January’s Rockstar’s 2010 Taste Of Chaos showcase alongside headliners IN FLAMES and others, ENDLESS HALLWAY connections were established backstage at Zepp Tokyo in making a trans-Pacific chat via Skype possible the following month.
Gathering all around tech Jedi master Joe Mullen (drums), Ryan Jackson (vocals), Jono Evans (guitars), Michael Tye (guitars) and Evan MacCarthy (bass), each had aplenty to say from their care package of questions from Tokyo and on their five days in Japan, fueling a understandable hunger to return for equally massive Fuji Rock or Summer Sonic festivals this summer:
THIRSTY: Greetings from Tokyo!
Ryan: We can’t wait to get back there. We just put together our video update, our adventures, so it’s maybe going up online, maybe tonight.
THIRSTY: So you got that package there and you didn’t open it, right?
Ryan: Shall I distribute them? (5 separate sealed envelopes)
THIRSTY: Oh yeah, please do. Who’s going to go first?
Ryan: (Looking at all his bandmates) Yeah, who’s going to go first? Ah, it’s going to be Michael Tye first man. Okay now, we got “Puzzles”, we got “Guppies Time”, we got “Whisky”…
Michael: Whisk! (big broad smile)
Ryan: We got “Replenishment,” I kinda want that one and then we got “Message in a bottle” or “Message in two bottles.” Which one?
Ryan: Okay, Michael Tye is going with “Whisky.” Should we do it now or disperse all of them?
THIRSTY: No, no, just do it one at a time man. We gotta savor each moment separately.
Michael: It’s like Christmas!
THIRSTY: Now the question should be with it.
Michael: Ah, okay, I’m going to read it aloud. “Oh take me to the next whisky bar. Something to bookmark surely… With so much out there to discover and relish online or not, what makes you stop and bookmark a person, place or thing and why so?” Um…probably…anything that’s pushing some sort of limit I guess you know or someone that’s obviously not putting out something ordinary and it’s like, um, this is amazing.
THIRSTY: It is. Ah, technology of today.
Michael: Man I just wish I were there.
THIRSTY: Well, you all will be again in a matter of months so don’t worry.
Michael: So what makes me bookmark a person, place or thing?
Someone who has maybe something that I don’t have or do something that I don’t do that I admire. Someone who’s, ah, completely not doing what the rest of society is or whatever… I mean, I could be walking down the street and seeing, like, some dude playing guitar on the side of the street and looks like a bum and most likely people are thinking “what a weird fucking old bum, blah-blah-blah, but sometimes there’s this cool aesthetic to it in what they’re doing and to, you know, know that they honestly don’t give a fuck to whatever else others are doing. I dunno…
THIRSTY: No, you do know, you just said it.
Michael: Yeah I guess (big smile). I guess it just stands out as the easy answer.
THIRSTY: Well, it’s the honest answer you know.
Then our net connection cuts out…
THIRSTY: Can you see me now?
Joe: Yeah man.
THIRSTY: Cool, we’re back on track! So who’s going to go second?
Evan: We can’t hear you!
Ryan: Nah, we can’t hear you at all.
THIRSTY: Can you hear me now? No?
Another reboot and then…
THIRSTY: Now you can hear me yeah?
Evan: It’s weird man, we can either see you, but then not hear you or the other way around.
THIRSTY: Huh? Okay, lemme try something here.
Ryan: Yeah man, it’s totally silent.
THIRSTY: Okay, hold on. Can you hear me now?
THIRSTY: Drink to that my friends (as they are all enjoying beers at the time)! So, package #2!
Ryan: Okay, I’m going to go next.
Ryan: Yes, “Replenishment.” Here we go… Oh, sandwich holder?
THIRSTY: Not just any sandwich holder, many (Japanese) tend to not like the crust on theirs so to speak. You’ll see.
Ryan: Right. Okay so…”What would any Olympics, World Cup or festival be without tasty treats to re-supply oneself? Here in Japan they tend to have an aversion to crust in their sandwiches. What would be the same for you and conversely, what would be the greatest attraction? Why so for both?” Aversion… Hmm…
THIRSTY: Yeah. So what is not necessary and what’s mandatory?
Ryan: Right. This is very poetic. This is probably the most poetic interview we’ve ever done. I like it (big grin). That’s a great question. Um… Well, I would say um, for me, my sandwich is great art. And I’m really picky about great art. Like I tend to go. I pick the greatest example of that medium and I will champion it. Whether it’s, you know, buying merchandise or having… For instance, I am a huge fan of Hayao Miyasaki and my room in my apartment is covered with Totoro (famed Japanese animation character from the 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro) stuff. And conversely with music, I’m big into RADIOHEAD and NINE INCH NAILS and I just think, ah, I think the sandwich… You have to fight for it as an artist. You have to be responsible for others artist art, you know what I mean? If it’s great, you have to promote as if it is your own. Because I think, ah, I think what makes the world go around honestly is great art. That’s the lasting communication.
THIRSTY: Yeah we’re all in relation.
Ryan: Yeah. I think ah, it’s just great art. For me, finding the best art I can and trimming away the crust and getting it out to as many as people as I can. With our music, that definitely applies. We’re really, really strict about our products and we really make sure whatever we put out blows our minds before we get it out to anybody else. So we’re very certain will blow away at least one’s person minds. I think I picked the right package.
THIRSTY: Huh-huh! You said “package.” (All them laughing)
Ryan: I like how it just turned from metaphorical poetry to Beavis and Butthead. Ha-ha!
THIRSTY: Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.
Ryan: Al right, who’s next?
Evan: Think Joe.
Ryan: Okay, Joe’s taking “Guppies Time.”
Joe: That’s so awesome. That’s so cool. There’s a hook in it! Has this been used?
THIRSTY: Of course it has! You better believe it!
Joe: “Nothing like fishing for guppies as a curious kid. What holds the same fascination and why?” Um, I’m trying to think what is fascinating to me now as guppies were when I was a kid. Actually, I got a staff infection from fishing for tadpoles when I was 7.
THIRSTY: Oh no! So this question is good for you.
Joe: Yeah. Um, I guess, guppies would be like what Ryan was saying, anything that’s great art. I mean, that is the most fascinating thing to me. Um, among other things, but that’s kinda like what I am involved in is music and making music and I guess, just in finding things that are inspired enough to contribute to what I am doing and are inspired enough to help me in some way, kind of, to find something that inside of me that I didn’t know that I had I guess. So, I would say I guess it’s just finding awesome art and music and stuff. It’s the only thing nowadays that has that kind of weight, you know?
THIRSTY: For sure and speaking of weight, what has recently been the heaviest thing you’ve found?
Joe: Um, trying to think… Well, I would say going to Japan, just experiencing the cities in Japan was… Well, I kind of put those 5 days into one experience and one thing that I kind of looked as a way to be inspired and I took as much as I could from it. I kind of have placed Japan, something like RADIOHEAD or BJORK or something that has been a huge inspiration for me. I really got a lot out of that. It was super heavy. Gained a lot of perspective. Everywhere I went to Osaka, I really paid attention to the details of the way people move, converse and the way there was no trash on the ground and how there was no, well, I didn’t see a lot of homeless people and the way buildings were built. And the clothes that people wore.
Ryan: The culture.
Joe: Yeah, the culture, everything that makes up the Japanese culture. It was nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was definitely so heavy, it was like almost overwhelming to take in all at one time, but I know it was really a big ass guppy! (Huge smile, eyes alive)
THIRSTY: Well, it must be a real catalyst for you all.
Joe: It really is. I’ve been to a lot of countries in Europe too and I’ve never been impacted the way I was in Japan.
THIRSTY: Why do you think so?
Joe: Um, I dunno… Maybe because it’s been around for a really long time and there’s not really anything around it to taint it, corrupt it or whatever and take away its integrity or something, you know?
Ryan: It seems really culturally intact. That really blew me away.
Joe: The Japan culture has been mastered in what they do for a long time and it just felt like… I felt like a 6-year old kid in a room full of the coolest like teenagers you know?
THIRSTY: Like you were in a Jedi council meeting.
Joe: Yeah, I think so too (beaming).
Ryan: I think, well, we all had a conversation after we came
back to Japan where it was like… Well, at least for a couple of us, definitely that kind of a revelation from living our whole lives in LA and having a worldview because of where you live, you know? The world kind of sucks, but at least there’s art you know? And then going to Japan for the first time, it was a revelation like “Holy crap, there’s actually a place in the world that I could be happy in, where I could live and be happy in as a human being.” I never knew that there was a place on Earth I could feel comfortable in that way. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that. It was definitely shocking. Like “Wow, I can be happy.”
THIRSTY: I fully understand. I came here at first on a one-year contract and it has gone far beyond that and I would have never dreamt that. Here I am still. But you guys will be back in July or August so get ready. Last Fuji Rock, while onsite, I had a fun chat with a band from LA I bet you know, BILLY BOY ON POISON.
Ryan: We actually played a show with them a year or two back at a place called Safari Sam’s, but it’s now shutdown, but we met them a few other times and they’re really nice guys.
THIRSTY: Most definitely cool.
Evan: Al right, I’m going to do “Puzzles.” Okay, oh wow, that’s awesome man! Alright, here we go, here it is: “Puzzles, pranks, games are part of any festive gathering as we all know, no matter the continent or nation. What puzzles, pranks or games do you find mandatory and why? Which past ones have deeply engrained your psyche and why do you think?” Um, okay, um, well I guess you could look at this in a few ways. Like, you know, I would assume it would be putting a whoopee cushion under someone’s chair (all chuckling).
THIRSTY: You’re far more inventive than that, come on now.
Evan: Exactly. So, I’m just saying that because I don’t want to go way too deep in the water. I guess as for as a game goes, um, I think it’s a funny thing about the game. I think a lot of people in life get sucked into games that they don’t realize that they’re playing and the next thing you know, they’re standing outside of a bar all night, trying to do some shit that they really don’t want to, didn’t believe in and didn’t want to be a part of or connect with people they really didn’t want to. Or some weird social game, you know, and I feel lucky to have connected with a group of people in this band who understand. A few other band friends like SONNY MOORE, NICO VEGA and some other guys. I feel we all speak on a certain unspoken level where we just not playing a lot of games that a lot of people get sucked into and we’re just more interested into passion, you know, something visceral, something that just comes out of you.
THIRSTY: Something natural.
Evan: Yeah! Exactly. And um, I mean, as far as far as pranks go, you could take that literally sure and we’ll mess around, but…
THIRSTY: Well, let me ask you this Evan…
THIRSTY: Within the five of you, who is the court jester?
Evan: Man, I mean, Tye’s a funny guy and Joe’s a funny guy, we’re all funny guys, but I’d say probably Ryan is the court jester.
Evan: He’s generally the guy who, regardless of what is being said or done, there’s going to be a pun in there. And he’s going to do it with a relatively straight face in the middle of the most serious shit no doubt about it. He’s gonna roll and honestly, that’s another great thing: To keep it like that, you know what I mean? To keep it not all serious, it’s time to grow up.
THIRSTY: It’s Peter Pan time!
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Evan: Exactly dude.
Ryan: That’s so cool.
THIRSTY: “You can fly, you can fly, you can fly!”
Evan: Yeah man. Those are words of wisdom. Straight up and um, I guess as far as… Maybe this is a little deep, but as far as the puzzle goes or an ultimate game goes like that, something that I have been fascinated with recently is, and I’m sure everyone is in a way, whatever who deals with this kind of thing… I guess, you know, people end up talking shit about things, but I think that some of the time they are not actually about it… I mean, say some stupid ass rap video comes out and feels cheap and worthless, not for anyone’s lifetime, where they’re going to be decades from now and what they believe in and what they want their fame to be a part of them. And I think sometimes when people talk shit about some stupid movie or stupid thing, I don’t think they really want to be that negative, but I think that it is a puzzle and I think it’s a confusion to them as to like why, why? Basically, I think the puzzle is how can you make something that you… It’s like the Avatar thing. Can you make something that’s cool and affects people, but also, um, gets to a lot of people or do you have to be just some art project that 400 people see your art project and it was really amazing installation and you’re very cool in some little circle, but you really didn’t get to reach anybody, but you had integrity I guess. Or do you have to be this fucking clown and have a million people see you for a minute?
THIRSTY: Well then, what makes you feel?
Evan: Um, I think it’s probably not that different from anybody else, but I would say when somebody is truly honest and they… Like for instance, with an actor in a movie, you can tell that they are sort of looking at themself through the camera…
THIRSTY: Like how do I look?
Evan: Yeah and you can tell when somebody isn’t. You can tell when it’s just one of those weird famous actors who isn’t famous for being good-looking or isn’t famous for riding some fucking motorcycle or whatever. They’re just famous because they make you feel and I think that’s what makes me feel something when someone loses track of their posture or their facial expression or whether or not that’s okay. When they lose track of that, just fucking spill out for a second. And when someone does that on the stage or in a movie, you just seize up watching it-that makes me feel something and it’s crazy that that honesty is such a valuable thing. That thing can keep you going for a year you know?
THIRSTY: Yeah for sure, like when you look at that classic movie On The Waterfront (1954), when Marlon Brando goes, “I could have had class. I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody, but instead of a bum which is what I am.” That scene!
Evan: Yeah yeah yeah… Absolutely, and I was reading about that. I was reading about how certain movies at the Oscars™ have gotten snubbed. And how Citizen Kane (1941) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) were so fucking intense that people, instead some Fred Astaire movie won best picture that year. Everybody loves Fred Astaire and that’s great that everyone saw it, but it takes people 50 years to somebody to realize that this guy looks like he’s about to jump off a building and there’s so much intensity. I mean, they’re not talking about that Fred Astaire movie anymore. They’re talking about that one that made you feel something.
THIRSTY: Well, these are the games that you ask for man…
Evan: Exactly. That’s right.
Ryan: Hey, um, can I jump in on this one?
THIRSTY: Yeah sure.
Ryan: I have a puzzle. This is something that has been huge to me for the past couple years. Is the puzzle of making that kind of art you guys have been just talking about, huge art that affects somebody, that uplifts people, but it uplifts more people than it doesn’t. For example, Avatar (2009), the majority people who saw it walked away left feeling like a million bucks, I was one of them. The challenge to me is the most interesting thing about art, and this is what I see in Miyaski’s films as well, is he will create these kind of movies that will deeply impinge on you, you’ll really feel something really special, but they have the elegance and grace to avoid upsetting you. You see what I’m saying?
THIRSTY: Oh yeah. My favorite of his is Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (2001)-the original Japanese title of course renamed for overseas Spirited Way.
Ryan: It’s almost like Bambi (1942).
THIRSTY: Oh, I’d say it’s more like Pinocchio (1940) personally.
Ryan: Well, what I mean about Bambi, in it the mom dies and that’s very upsetting for a child to watch that. I was very upset when I watched it. And to me, you can create an emotional response that way, but an artist who can impinge on somebody without upsetting them, without having a main character die… If you can navigate art that way, I think you walk away with something really, really special. That’s really what my intention is. I want somebody to have a surplus.
Then our connection cuts out… And another reboot
Ryan: Yes! Reconnected! Okay, I just hope what I said got across: The ultimate puzzle is to create art without upsetting people.
THIRSTY: Well, upsetting people is alright.
Ryan: As long as they walk away with being more uplifted than depressed.
THIRSTY: Right. I think you are doing your job when you make people think.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s the bottom line for sure. I believe The Downward Spiral by NINE INCH NAILS is uplifting you know what I mean?
THIRSTY: Oh yeah. Actually I think the depressing makes you an optimist.
Ryan: Right, right, that’s how I feel about that too.
THIRSTY: That would be Jono for the last package, “Message In A Bottle.”
Jono: “Message In A Bottle Baby, come on come on” (singing away with a smile). “Blackjack”… “Blackjack gum!” It’s gum huh?
THIRSTY: Well, it was. You’ll see Blackjack is one of the numerous gums they have here in Japan, but just read the question.
Jono: “Message In A Bottle. A POLICE staple of course and in this tiny plastic bottle that could contain anything in it, what would you want to find in it and why?” I want a controller for the universe!!!! Um, what would I want to find and why? Hmmm…
THIRSTY: It’s small container of course, but big things come through small things too.
Jono: That’s right. Um, man, I guess, in addition to what everyone else was saying about creating great art that can create emotional impacts from them on others and in addition to what Evan was saying… I guess it would be the golden ticket to helping people, whether it’s through art or whatever.
THIRSTY: Well Jono, just imagine you’re there walking down Redondo and Manhattan Beach and you find this and decide to open it, what would blow your mind to find inside it?
Jono: I guess an alien!!!
Ryan: That’s a good answer though.
Jono: Then we would know there is real life out there.
Plenty of life and passion forged between Michael, Ryan, Joe, Evan and Jono as ENDLESS HALLYWAY are something wicked this way comes, deservedly so for either of the below this summer: