Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
Matt, bassist: Honestly sometimes I’m not sure how to describe our band, haha. Groovy, energetic, unusual. That’s what I’ve been settling on lately. As for myself as a musician, I’m just a guy who yells and punches my bass. I can play complex bass lines and I do that for other projects I’ve been in, but for End of the Line I either want to chug or groove. I have more fun that way.
Chris, drummer: I’m a percussion player, but I can pick up almost any instrument and play it halfway decently. Which comes in handy during the writing and refinement process.
I would describe End of the Line as innovative and more original than many of our peers. We enjoy the mainstream sounds but we like to sound a bit more raw, and tend to have our biases set against mirroring the common approach. We have a stable sound that’s our own and it’s creative.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
Steve, guitarist-singer: It all started with Guitar Hero 2 around 5th grade, I picked up a real guitar around 2014 right after I graduated high school, met Matt at the tail-end of 2017, and the rest is history.
Chris: I had a rough childhood and sort of clung to music early on. Even as an adult I move around a lot. My attachment to music led me down the path of the musician, as an outlet to express my views and feelings. That attachment eventually spiraled into an obsession!
Matt: I picked up drums in 3rd grade (2003 or so), dropped ‘em for bass guitar in 6th grade, but I never applied myself as a musician until about 2016 or so. I met Steve in 2017 at a skate shop where a mutual friend’s band (Invora) was playing. She introduced us to each other, Steve asked me to help him write an EP, and in early 2018 we had a few songs and a dream. Things didn’t come together until about 2020, actually, and we didn’t meet Chris until just before The Reckoning was released! But he’s been a good fit to keep us all balanced. I’m happy to have him on board, it’s one of the few good things social media has done for me.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
Steve: I’m not a very articulate man in real life, so I use music and other creative writing like film scripts and stuff like that to articulate and process whatever’s going on in my life. Most of the lyrics that I write are pretty doom-and-gloom, so what does that tell you?
Chris: My influences span many genres, bands, and artists. I’d say my most influential artists have been Dave Grohl and Jimmy Sullivan for their composition and musical prowess, Lars Ulrich for his approach to the music industry and his ability to just stay in the pocket, Neil Peart (the professor of percussion!), Zakk Wylde for his style, Phil Sogrosso for his powerful techniques and riff structuring, and Brian Gates for his unique and innovative style of guitar, and for his recording process with massive layers of guitars. Gates and Sullivan really inspired me in the classical sense of composition, using the DAW like an orchestra with many moving parts.
When I contribute lyrical ideas they’re generally intellectual observations or philosophical in nature. Most artists have covered all the basics and it’s all been repeated, so I try to get outside the box and plink around with different concepts.
Matt: I listened to a lot of pop punk, prog rock, and nu metal as a kid, and my tastes expanded to metalcore, hardcore, punk, and death metal from my teen years onward. I’m not sure what inspires me – angst, frustration, an impulse toward anarchy? Those all seem way too edgy, but also way too true. As for actual musicians? Can’t name any that I specifically look to as an influence, to be quite honest, but I’m always inspired after seeing a live performance. Especially local shows.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
Steve: Everything that I do creatively is done for the sole purpose of not having to work a real job anymore. So buy our stuff.
Chris: I want to live comfortably with music as my full-time gig, and reach the most people with my music in hopes of enlightening them, bringing different perspectives, and encouraging them to feel motivated to grow and heal.
Matt: For me this has always been a passion project. I just wanna be on a stage, I don’t have any real thoughts of “making it” – if I can turn music into a profession, it’ll be as an engineer. However, I’m the one who manages the band in terms of promotion, booking, production, social media… meaning I do everything that would be considered “work”. But I think Steve and Chris work more than I do in many regards.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
Steve: When we officially finished and dropped our first EP. It was like 5 years of every step we’d make forward, something would happen that would stall the project for weeks or months: lineup changes, financial struggles, personal struggles. But when it was finally finished and people started saying how legit it sounded, it was like ahhh, proof of all that hard work we put in.
Chris: So far the journey has been up and down and I’m generally more on the humble side of thought, but I’m pretty damn proud of what me and some classmates were able to do at the age of 16 with some spare time and our parents hard earned cash haha. My first band ever “Fist Full of Angels” had formed during my junior year of high school and by January of 2011 we had released our EP “A Part of Me.” For our age and resources we put together an album that blew 90% of the rock/metal scenes first albums out of the water in terms of production quality. And our playing sounded much more mature than our age group. That album sealed the deal for my life as a musician.
Matt: My proudest moment so far was when we played our first show as End of the Line. We were at the Underground Lounge in Chicago. By all means the show was a disaster, as due to miscommunication half the lineup was unable to play. But Steve, Chris and I put on an admirable performance and it was a great start to our “resume”. Drew a decent number of people, too.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
Chris: It’s a challenge! You don’t wanna be that guy pestering everyone to listen to his demo CD but at the same time… you gotta be that guy, y’know? Our approach is very reserved for the most part, we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew, but we’re hungry! So, for now we’re relying on interpersonal communication with our network of friends and acquaintances. Shake the tree and harvest whatever falls off, really. We’re aware the market is oversaturated with millions of other bands trying to do the same damn thing. To match that level of promotional work or exceed it would take a larger team and budget than we can afford at the moment. But I’m personally not worried. After we refine our live approach with more shows and we’ve written another album we’ll be turning heads for sure and the rest will fall into place as needed.
Matt: I hate promotional work with every fiber of my being. Even though I’m in charge of promotion, I’m no good at it. Because you can write good music, you can send out links, you can market yourself as much as you want, but you still need to do something to make the other person actually give a damn that you exist. Everyone’s busy and there’s 2,000 other bands being formed as I write this very sentence who are all gonna be doing the same thing.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
Steve: Right now we’re taking the DIY approach of getting in touch with other people in the scene, or trying to weasel our way onto a lineup, or just organizing a show ourselves with some musician friends, just to make something happen. That’s often the way to go, because we’ve found out very quickly that a lot of people in the industry are flakey, from talent buyers to promoters. The best way to make anything happen is to learn how to do it yourself.
Chris: Like I said before: we shake the tree and pick whatever falls our way. That comes with its own challenges. Being experienced in different bands from different areas of the US, I’ll second Steve’s sentiment that a lot of promoters and underground venues can be flakey or shady. But there are some real stand-up guys and gals that are totally transparent and have no issues working with you no matter what level you’re at. But it’s a battle to find them, or to find creative ways to work around the unreliable nature of local scenes.
Matt: I send emails and hit up friends, and then get zero responses. So it’s going great! I’m looking into working with actual booking agents. Good ones, who will help to actually promote the show that they’re booking (why are there PROMOTERS who don’t PROMOTE???). I have the DIY ethic, but not the DIY interpersonal skills, and so I’ve become more open to the middle man approach.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
Steve: Whatever gets people to find our music is fine by me. I think the digital format rules, actually. You can complain all you want about audio quality, but I think that’s just antiquated thinking. Plus, with everything being digital, we don’t have to worry about the overhead of having to make a stockpile of physical CD’s to “maybe” sell at shows, and then we’re stuck with a giant box of CD’s taking up precious van and rehearsal space. It’s so much easier and cost effective as a DIY band to just have a QR code at our merch table with a link to our music and have people buy it or stream it all they want that way.
Chris: I’m all about just getting people to listen and I love the decentralization of source material on the web. But, at the same time; Lars was right about Napster! His case helped tighten loose ends and ensure musicians and their works are protected from a variety of situations, guaranteeing compensation.
For us, it’s great to throw our work out there and get an audience. To be able to do that knowing that if someone decides to just use our songs without permission (because we’re underground) we could get our compensation without any worries.
Matt: Streaming services like Spotify or Youtube music are probably bad for artists, but extremely pro-consumer. Consider this: for $10 a month you could buy ONE album, or you could buy every album that has ever been released and ever will be released. Does it pay us well? God, no. But does it pay us? Yes. If people don’t wanna drop money they can still support you via streams and that counts for SOMETHING. Money talk is boring, but we work way too hard and invest too much of ourselves into this art to come up empty-handed, you know?
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Steve: Grace by Jeff Buckley. Enough said.
Chris: Nothing Else Matters by Metallica. If you listen to it a few times you understand why. It’s one of the best well-rounded tunes ever created. Just about everyone’s musical tastes overlap into some form of rock/country, and that song was one where Metallica kept their heavy metal tone while letting hard rock and country intermingle. That song probably has more listens than any other song on earth.
Matt: The Failsafe, by Misery Signals. I wish I was good enough to write something like that.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
Steve: If someone came along from some major record label and handed us a giant bag of cash and said, “We want to sign you. You have complete creative control and you own the masters. This money isn’t a loan that you’ll be paying back for the next decade, it’s us investing enough money so you guys can quit your jobs and start doing shows full time. You worry about writing great music, we’ll worry about getting that music in front of as many people as possible.” That would be ideal.
Chris: I dislike the shady people at every level top and bottom, they make it almost impossible for most of us to operate. But most of all, why is there so much god damn ego in music business? Can’t people just express themselves on stage and then geek out about music stuff backstage? It’s gotten a little better in recent years at the top end of the spectrum. However, there’s still drama.
Matt: I would like the entire industry to stop being cringe. I don’t ask for much.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
Steve: We have a full-length album in the works right now with the first single set to drop on the near horizon. Keep your ears peeled.
Chris: Slowly putting together our next album with the band and grinding my job for extra funds. I’ve also been more of a recluse lately to help save and conserve funds as well as preserve my health. After all I live in Chicago. So I go out seldom, and other than being out in the city working I’m usually home or at the studio. It just fits with the mood ya know? Wanna make sure I’m set on all fronts with a charged battery for the band and able to survive, while living low risk for the time.
Matt: We’re working on releasing a few more singles in the coming months, starting with “Blood Ties” which we plan to put out on June 2nd (really just waiting on artwork). I’m also involved with another project in which I mainly just learn material that their bandleader writes (he writes more complex basslines than I do, it’s pretty cool). Other than that, trying to balance my personal life and day job against my musical career is always a struggle but I’m doing alright.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
Chris: Matt will have the full scoop on this but generally our web link on any of our social media pages. For merch, the best way to obtain that is to make it out to a show sometime. We sell out of our vehicle usually, or set up a merch table when we’re able to.
Matt: linktr.ee/eotl_chicago has all of our links, from social media to email to streaming services We are most active on Facebook. I plan to become more active on Youtube as well, but organizing content can be a pain.
Our music is on Spotify, Youtube, iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon Music, iHeart, and many other services that I do not keep up with very well.
All of our merch is sold in-person at shows or by personal delivery around the Chicagoland area (I’m from Northwest Indiana, myself). I have never delivered a single package in my life, but eventually once I get more merch lined up I plan to sell via our bandcamp as well. All in due time. Thank you for this opportunity to talk about our band!
End Of The Line links:
Band/Artist location – Chicago
Facebook – You Tube – Bandcamp –
Instagram – Apple – Spotify – Amazon – LinkTree –
Check our page for End Of The Line