The cycle shall continue

With the rapid success of ‘Into The Opaque…,’ Endless Cycle have been working hard through their own blood, sweat, and tears to have themselves heard in the Metal world. Playing a good mix of Death/Thrash and Progressive Metal, their collective sounds are an excellent choice for the more eclectic Metal taste. The band was kind enough to answer questions for BRUTALISM about how they came together, a bit on their thought processes in the studio, as well as some of their best (and worst) moments spread throughout the contact of fans, webzines, and the music industry.

Hello from BRUTALISM. Congrats on the success of your debut album; it seems to be going well with the fans. So what inspired the concept of ‘Into the Opaque?’
Maarten: There’s not really one big concept embedded in ‘Into The Opaque.’ Yet, there’s a certain thin red line hidden throughout it all in a quite somber perspective, if you ask me. I mean, the way we as human beings treat other people or nature – with alongside sometimes strange or even repulsive excuses – isn’t something to be proud of, right? Sometimes it’s even purely pitch dark, which in fact gives you immediately the explanation of the album title.

In practical terms, we wanted to put our music on an album because we collectively had the feeling the time was there to lift Endless Cycle up to another level. And by doing so, we also thought we would have something relevant to show concerning venues and clubs outside our region in order to get more opportunities for more gigs.

Are there any certain tracks that deserve special mention, either behind the meaning of the lyrics or how the songwriting came about?
Maarten: In retrospect, I have to say that the conception of songs like “Failure” and “Blueprint (Aquaphobia)” had been kind of amusing. Back in in 2005, the table at my living room was sometimes completely littered with little pieces of paper on which I had rapidly wrote down the skeletons of some riffs or a couple of phrases. Those riffs were given the label in the likes of “Sigma Enigma-esque” or  “Like #4 from Symphonies Of Sickness”, and had only the names of the chords or a bunch of fret numbers. Tempo, feel and time marking were in my head. Also, another riff of that song could have been easily written down on another piece of paper, where after I was often left confused about what sequence the riffs had or, even worse, forgot about what the hell I was searching for along the way. You can also probably imagine the horrors I had to live with whenever my cat jumped upon that table just to play with a bug, or, as my balcony door was opened, a sudden breeze appeared and messed up all my ideas. Nevertheless, after numerous moments of cursing, mumbling and wishing the world all kinds of evil diseases, the aforementioned songs were eventually composed in that way.

How did Endless Cycle begin back in 2006?
Elmer: Actually, we gave birth to Endless Cycle in 2005 already. But don’t be mislead by the age of the band, as the early years we were mostly trying to find our musical identity as a band. Boris, Maarten, José and me (Chris only joins us since 2011) had very broad and diverse interests and we didn’t want to focus on one specific direction (or genre if you will). However, when combining everything we had in mind, it was pretty tough to produce something that still made sense nonetheless. In short, it took us some time to define the peculiarities of Endless Cycle. When we were all clear on what we wanted with this band, we stumbled upon the next obstacle: the necessity of a lead guitarist. The scarcity of excellent guitarists with a good fit within the group withheld us quite some time from flourishing. Nevertheless, more or less a year ago, we found our desired lead guitarist in Chris! So now we are ready to introduce Endless Cycle to the world by means of our first album ‘Into the Opaque….’

What makes Progressive Death/Thrash Metal THE choice of music to play? What are some of your influences that made you go ‘yeah, this is the stuff for me!’
José:  Well, it’s just fucking awesome! For us it is the music that we all listen to. We all individually listen to different bands and genres of music but Progressive Death/Thrash Metal is really where we come together along with genres like Jazz, Prog-rock, blues and so on.

Do you create your music separately and then put it together or does everyone come together in a studio and just jam it all out?
Boris: Well, more or less both! At first one member comes up with an idea or even a whole song, this someone can be anybody of our band but in most times it’s Maarten. After introducing his ideas, we evaluate as band which parts are good enough to stay and which parts do not fit in the potential song. After making this decision all the other musicians, will put their own ideas in it while jamming and when they’re at their home. I can say that Elmer works a bit like I do: the first ideas are the best ideas. Therefore, Elmer begins to drum a groove in our rehearsal room and that first try out is frequently the best groove to play. After the music is filled in with instruments, Maarten and I separately look where in the song death grunts and clean parts should take place. Like I said before, I usually think of a groove for my grunts on the moment I hear the first tunes of the new guitar riff. When Maarten and I know which parts stay instrumental and which parts are for singing and grunting, we write the lyrics. Sometimes there are influences from the other band members, but mostly it’s from Maarten and I. We write our own parts, so Maarten writes the clean singing parts and I write the dark and death grunt parts. We show the lyrics to each other and the others, ask for feedback, change it again and there it is. A new song has born. We rehearse it like a motherfucker and then we play it for our audience with all the passion we have. That’s because, writing new songs and lyrics and playing it for the first time at a show is the best thing to do and I like it a lot. It’s important for the continuity of the band as well.

As the band progressed along, have you seen much support for Endless Cycle despite being a rather ‘unknown group’ and mostly having to self release almost everything you’ve done so far?
Chris: Since I have only been a member of Endless Cycle for one year I don’t really know the whole history in great detail, but as far as I can remember, Endless Cycle has always received a large amount of support from our friends and family. We’re still busy building up a solid fan base, because we are still a relatively unknown band and have only been doing gigs frequently since the release of our album, which was just a little over two months ago. We hope to gain more and more fans with every gig and every album we sell, but since our musical style is often a matter of love it or hate it, we don’t expect our fan base to grow as rapidly as we would have liked. On the other hand, most people that do like our music often tend to really dig what we do and that is really valuable too.

Since we released our album we also had a lot of support from Hard Life Promotions. Their excellent work got us an incredible amount of reviews and some great interviews, including this one, so we are really grateful for their part in the support of Endless Cycle.

Any luck with finding a label soon, or would you rather prefer to keep everything under your own release?
Elmer: Since the release of our debut album, people have been asking us about potential labels. And of course, a label has quite some benefits compared to a self-release. The only problem is that labels are far from eager to bring in new, unknown bands these days, despite their potential. The risk is just too high to take I guess. We learned this lesson pretty soon and decided not to delay our long sought-after CD any longer. We decided to take our chances by releasing ‘Into the Opaque…’ on our own. Obviously, this means a lot of work to promote your album, but we figured it is definitely worth the try! Therefore, it was not so much a choice to release it on our own, but more of a necessity. Hence, of course we are open for any potential label and we think that positive signals from our fans and the media will also come to the attention of potential labels.

Any tours in the works or are you still waiting to see how the responses to the debut album comes forth before you embark on something as big as hitting the road?
Elmer: Waiting is deadly in the music business. You’ve got to be one step ahead at all times. At this time for example, I am busy planning shows for May until October already. However, we don’t do much touring, as these come with a number of obstacles. To begin with, a tour is really hard to arrange for bands without a big name nor a label. Secondly, we want to spread our shows more or less evenly to get our live presence going. A tour seems to “suck up” gigs from the surrounding period, after which there tends to be a quite period. We want to avoid that. And third, tours are pretty tough to combine with work and study obligations, which we all have. So we don’t really focus on tours so much. However, this doesn’t mean that we aren’t open for it when an opportunity arises of course!

Looking across the span of sub genres of Metal- which would you say you appreciate the most, or possibly despise the most, if any, and why?
José: Difficult question... I respect and appreciate almost every kind of music. I think that death-/thrash-/prog- metal would be my weapon of choice. But I don’t really despise any kind of metal. I just don’t like it as much as the ones that I named before. But if I have to name one, it will be: metal-core because way to many metal-core bands sound the same. But then again, I am NOT saying that they are bad, it is just that some of them lack a bit of an authentic sound.

What does Endless Cycle embody in Metal itself that you try to deliver to listeners to really drive a point home, either in lyrics or musical structure?
José: Well, we make the music from our hearts. We like to search further and discover new ways and new meanings with our music. I think that EC delivers a slightly different kind of metal to the listeners because it shares a big load of feeling and thoughts in it. We want to deliver emotions with our music, to really make the person feel what we feel.

Does Endless Cycle have a rather large fan base or do you usually get comments on a Facebook or Myspace page that keep you inspired with criticism… both good and bad?
Boris: In these times, you need Facebook, Myspace, or a social webpage and so on to communicate with the fans and to give information to potential fans. However, a real life gig is the best way to meet with the fans (some of them are very good friends us) and meet new people who are for example not that positive. I think negative criticism with a positive influence is the best feedback a band could get, because it leads to discussions and later on improvements. Of course it’s fun to hear only positive facts but the negative parts are a learning lesson which you can use in the future. We have had a lot of compliments the last couple of years, but also criticism. We used it in our advantage and improved our live performance. We also will experience criticism about our album ‘Into The Opaque…’ and will use it for the future songs. But still we need the digital way of communication and I must say it is going great. More and more people are becoming aware of Endless Cycle. And our website and our Facebook page are being visited more often by people from the Netherlands and Belgium whom we have never even seen or spoken to before. So, new fans are arriving!

Best or worst criticism received?
Chris: Let us begin with the worst criticism. I can’t remember exactly which review it was, but the production quality of our album was compared with what I believe they called a black metal demo tape. Nothing against black metal, but we all know that such a comment isn’t very flattering, mildly put. In another review, some of our songs, including “Failure,” were labeled as “just random riffs and ideas thrown together”, so that isn’t something you want to hear either.

The best criticism came in a review by Metal to Infinity. With a score of 8/9 and praising words like “This band is perhaps the best newcomer of 2011” and “I can’t reward this album with a +90 score, because they have much more to offer in the future” I don’t have to explain why this review belongs among the best criticism we received so far.

What is your number one goal for the future of this band, be it personal or on a universal endeavor?
Boris: Personal or band related is the same, because we want to be acknowledged as a serious, well-known progressive band who wants to become as famous as possible. We want to play as many gigs there are to play, we want to make new songs and eventually record a new album and most of all we want to show the whole world what Endless Cycle is all about!

That’s about all I have for now. Thanks for sharing your music with BRUTALISM and hopefully your next album will work its way into our archives again!