Interview with Eli Parker of Endo
With their most recent release Songs for the Restless (on Sony Music) out in stores already, Endo is out ripping up stages across the US. You'll find them gracing the stage at Ozzfest as well as a few headling dates thrown in (visit http://www.endomusic.com) Their raging brand of rock is not for the meek and mild, however.
Eli Parker gives Guitar.com a little Endo insight about writing and recording new record, where the previous record "Evolve" came from and what it's like preparing to tackle the second stage at Ozzfest!
Guitar.com: Hey Eli, let's start off with a little pre-Endo Floridian history. Can you give the G.com members a little background on you and how you came to join up with Endo?
Eli Parker: Where would like to start?
Guitar.com: Well if I understand correctly, Gil started the band and you were a player in a pretty successful regional band and...
Eli Parker: Yeah, Gil formed Endo about seven years ago. I was playing in some locals bands and we played with Endo, Endo played with by band, back and forth. The drummer we had at that time started playing with Endo and they wanted me to join but I was still working pretty heavily with my band. Three and a half years later, I finally joined up. Then we got Joel, the drummer we've got now, joined us about a year and half later. We got rid of the other drummer. Nobody's leaving at this point, we hope (laughs)
Guitar.com: I read something that you played with Suarez? Is that correct?
Eli Parker: What?
Guitar.com: I had read something somewhere on line that you played with Suarez at some point.
Eli Parker: No, the old drummers name was Joel Suarez, maybe that's the connection.
Guitar.com: Possibly. There's a popular Argentinian band called Suarez and I thought that that was what the article was referring to.
Eli Parker: No, my band was called Level Nine.
Guitar.com: Now was Level Nine more of a regional act or were you working towards going national prior to Endo?
Eli Parker: We were regional but we were doing pretty well. But of course like a lot of bands, the s--t started to hit the fan. Whatever...
Guitar.com: Yeah, unfortunately, that's a too true statement. Whether you're a cover band or The Who, it doesn't change. So how does the songwriting responsibilities play out? Is it every man for himself or more of a band vibe?
Eli Parker: 90% of the music on the record - Bitton (the bass player) and I sat in our rehearsal space and just wrote the whole record. Every now and then Gil would come in with a riff or a melody and we'd bring it to the table and we're start dissecting. But most of the time is was just Joe and me for hours and hours and hours writing the record.
Guitar.com: Now was that the same for the previous record Evolve?
Eli Parker: Well, Evolve - most of it was written by the bass player. There were different members in the band then.
Guitar.com: I sense that there's been a definite shift in material from Evolve to this new release.
Eli Parker: There's a humongous difference. I didn't even play on the first record.
Guitar.com: Not at all?
Eli Parker: I came in right after they tracked all the songs. I didn't write any of the material on that record.
Guitar.com: In a world totally pre-occupied with classifications, you would have to place the first record in the category of Rock/Rap, I would suppose. But you clearly don't get that from Song from the Restless.
Eli Parker: Absolutely. The Evolve record was a lot of Rock/Rap but the new record, I hear traces of The Cure, David Bowie....
Guitar.com: It's more melodic than the first.
Eli Parker: Right...Tool, I think there's something of everything on that record.
Guitar.com: Well you'll probably shake that Rock/Rap tag with this release.
Eli Parker: That I'm sure that's true. The whole Rock/Rap thing was cool at the time but when Evolve was released (2000 on Panacea Records), it was already two and a half years old. We took an entire year recording that record for an independent and then Columbia picked it up.
Guitar.com: Right - did you work with Paul Trust on this record as well (he was the producer on Evolve).
Eli Parker: F--k No! (laughs)
Guitar.com: I'll assume that things didn't go well at the time?
Eli Parker: Yeah, you could say that. Paul Trust... you can't trust 'em. (laughs) He produced and recorded the first record.
Eli Parker: Dave Schiffman recorded and produced the new one. He's one of Rick Rubin's guys. He's done the new Audioslave. He did the latest Weezer. He has his hands in everything (ed note: he also just did the new Johnny Cash: American III - Solitary Man - a very cool release).
Guitar.com: Well there's definitely a different feel for Restless. I think you're current fans will be a little surprised but not disappointed. Evolve may have been a better title for this record than the previous one because you've certainly evolved into something more significant with this release. You did some nice tracking with some acoustic and nylon string guitars on this CD, not a traditional orchestration for what you guys do. Did you take a lot of lessons as a kid?
Eli Parker: I've never taken a lesson in my life. Everything I've ever learned, I learned from just sitting down and dissecting songs on a CD and then playing them. I'm just not like one of those people that - my favorite band in the whole world is Dave Matthews. I don't have to be listening to thunderous guitars or all that kind of s--t. That's part of the reason why I don't think CD's sell nowadays. Music's not music anymore.
Guitar.com: I think you'd find more than a few people agree with you on that front.
Eli Parker: The reality is that bands just aren't putting out quality.
Guitar.com: I agree by and large. The level of quality has slipped.
Eli Parker: That's what I think. You look at the Audioslave record. It's a very musical record. Great songwriting.
Guitar.com: Yeah, that was a must have. I bought that the day it was released.
Eli Parker: Right. If it's good music, you're going to want to have it in your CD collection. There's so many bands out now and many sound so similar to each other.
Guitar.com: Technology has made that available to just about anyone who wants it.
Eli Parker: Yeah, like 95% of what's out there is all cut and paste. That's one of the cool things with our record. We wanted to get a real organic feel. So if we f--ked up anytime during one of the songs, we did the entire song over. We tracked that record from beginning to end. That's one of the major things our producer wanted to do. He said "Look, I don't cut and paste." If you look Pro-Tools on our songs when they're up on the screen, there's like three or four edits through the whole song.
Guitar.com: Right, minimal.
Eli Parker: It's not like every measure, there's something being effected. I've seen some Pro-Tool mixes where it's like, "what the f--k is that?" Some producers will let you lay down a verse and a chorus and be like, "Okay, you're done." Because they can cut and paste the rest of the song. But we're not about that, at all. Everything on this record is vocals, guitar, bass and drums, no synthetic sounds on this record at all.
Guitar.com: It kinda sucks that you have to make that claim on a record. I understand the value in it but you shouldn't have to clarify that issue. It should just be, you know? I suppose that it's the backlash of the technology craze at this point. So you're going out on Ozzfest this summer.
Eli Parker: Yeah, we're doing the whole tour.
Guitar.com: Very cool. Is there anyone on the tour that you're excited to be touring with?
Eli Parker: We have friends in Nothing Face. There are some heavy bands out there that I musicianship-wise are amazing. Nothing Face, Tom Maxwell the guitarist - I look up to him as a guitar player. That guy is amazing. There's not too many bands I'm excited about. I've seen Killswitch Engage and I've seen Chimaira, they just got added, you know that math metal stuff, it's pretty cool. They're really heavy and they're all great players but it does get a bit repetitive after a while. I think they're both great live. I saw Chimaira with Kittie and they s--t all over Kittie.
Guitar.com: So Ozzfest lasts through August. Any plans in motion for post-Ozz?
Eli Parker: We've been talking about stuff after Ozzfest. But we're still working on dates for the off-days for Ozz. It might still be a little bit early to say something as nothing has been finalized and I don't want to spoil anything before it's happens.
Eli Parker: Right now, we're just focused on some headlining gigs I preparation for Ozzfest. We pride ourselves on trying to be the best live band, period.
Guitar.com: If you're going to set a goal to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd, that's a good one to do it by.
Eli Parker: Exactly. There's too many bands that look like they went to Hot Topic and picked up a book on how to perform. (laughing)
Guitar.com: (laughs) Do they sell that as well. Seems like they sell everything else?
Eli Parker: Maybe I should write a book on how to perform live and sell it to Hot Topic.
Guitar.com: So what gear will you be taking with you?
Eli Parker: I'm playing a Vetta head. I'm playing the Line 6 stuff. And I'm all about being simple and sounding good. Since I got the Vetta head, it's so technical. I don't even want to know, it's ridiculous. I found a few great sounding settings and I stick with it. I really like the fact that everything is set and controlled right at my feet.
Guitar.com: Are you using a lot of the stock settings. It does have a lot of options available.
Eli Parker: I sat around. Everything that's on the record, I worked on modeling those sounds into the Vetta. Plus I'm playing Fernandez Guitar. They have that Sustainer built in. There's a lot of that on the record and I'm using it quite a bit live now too allot.
Guitar.com: So you'll be taking the Vetta head and couple of Fernandez Guitars.
Eli Parker: Yeah and three Fernandez Guitars; a Ravelle and Two Monterey's, one with a sustainer in it. Have you ever played one?
Guitar.com: Yeah, I have checked them out.
Eli Parker: They have the little push/push knob and one that has the one-note, it's a natural note and you push it again and goes to the 5th harmonic.
Guitar.com: They're very cool. I saw Reeves Gabrels use one and it really adds an interesting dynamic to his playing.
Eli Parker: I'm using one of his models.
Guitar.com: Reeves will be out on tour this summer, I believe. He's pretty sick live. You should check him out, although you'll be busy enough this summer, I would think. So simplicity will be your rally cry for Ozzfest. Same for effects?
Eli Parker: In the studio we tweaked out all types of Boss pedals and all sorts of vintage stuff. But I modeled them as close as possible into the Vetta head. And in the live application it's hard to tell the difference. And there's less to go wrong.
Guitar.com: I would think that's probably pretty critical given how many bands are coming and going on the Ozzfest.
Eli Parker: My rig is so quick. You plug in the two cabinets, the pedal board and we're done. Hit the power switch and we're ready to roll.
Guitar.com: How have your fans been receiving the new material with the warm-up shows?
Eli Parker: They've been loving it. Every single one of the headlining shows we've done, people that are lining the front of the stage, our single "Simple Lies," they're up there singing along with the song. It was on the Daredevil Soundtrack. There's some 500,000 people out there, somewhere with that song.
Guitar.com: Well, Eli thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Best of luck on Ozzfest. We'll try to catch up with you when you get up to Boston.
Eli Parker: No problem.