headbangers eN~DoR~PHiN have weathered stints in the school
choir, lineup changes—even Christian rock—in their mission
to push the boundaries of nu metal
then there were three: (l-r) Shlyke, Masse, Wray. Photo
by Leif Zurmuhlen
are proudly showing off their new rehearsal space. It’s behind
a seemingly empty building next door to their former rehearsal
digs on Broadway in Albany. They’ve apparently traded up:
It’s roomier and better built, due to the fact that they finished
it themselves with better quality materials, and it’s set
off from their next-door neighbors—so it’s quieter.
Aaron Wray, the band’s drummer and resident carpenter, pulls
out a prized possession from behind the amps and scattered
instruments. It’s Jesus Ruxpin: a cuddly Teddy Ruxpin doll,
but with the sign of the devil seemingly burned into his furry
forehead, nailed to a cross. It was made for the band by a
fan, and they bring it to all their shows. “I don’t know who’s
more disturbed. Him for making it, or us for displaying it
everywhere we go,” Wray laughs.
EN~DoR~PHiN began years ago in the Kinderhook basement of
high-schooler Chris Masse. Sharing musical tastes that leaned
toward the metal and hard-rock end of the spectrum, Wray and
Masse would jam together after school on a daily basis, Wray
hitting the skins—with abandon, no doubt, if his present form
is any indication—and Masse playing guitar, keyboards and
making other various sounds.
Growing up with a father who is a pastor, Wray’s early musical
influences were of the Christian-rock variety—with heavy hitting
rockers-for-God Stryper gracing his record collection. “I
grew up being pretty musical. I always took some kind of music
lessons,” Wray says, adding that for the most part he stuck
to the brass in the beginning, and sang in the chorus. “I
listened to a lot of Christian music for awhile, and then,
I don’t know, somebody corrupted me.”
He moved on to Pantera, Sepultura and Biohazard (back when
they were good, Wray prompts), and migrated to drums. His
parents never really had to put up with his drumming habit,
however, because he and his bud played at Masse’s house, which
was father-free five days a week due to the fact that Masse’s
dad worked as a salesman. “And my mother didn’t care,” Masse
says. “We’d go right there after school, too, so she wouldn’t
be home till 5:30, and we’d have played for a couple hours
The two would perform their own metal tunes for hours on end
(they were never into playing covers), and eventually they
formed the current incarnation of eN~DoR~PHiN. Bassist “Shlyke”—forced
into a nickname because at one point the band included three
members named Chris—rounded out the band.
A year and a half into the threesome, they hired another guitar
player, Chris no. 3, “Bone”—who quit suddenly last winter.
“He just said he didn’t enjoy playing anymore,” says Masse.
But eN~DoR~PHiN soldiered on without missing a beat. “It’s
actually been really cool getting back to a trio,” says Wray.
we didn’t expect to happen, but it seemed to flow nicely,”
The name came after some weighty thought about their music.
“I was thinking of something that would be representational
of how I look at the band in general,” Masse says. “And obviously
Aaron helped me with it. He pondered the dictionary definition
of an endorphin, and that’s what music is to me,” he says.
“Same idea.” (endorphins are proteins that offer analgesic
qualities and occur naturally in the brain, so says Webster’s.)
The upper and lower case spelling of the name arose from Masse’s
design background. He designs all things eN~DoR~PHiN, and
lends his talent to other bands as well, including fellow
Kinderhookians F-Timmi. When Masse is not playing, practicing
or hanging out with his bandmates, he’s putting his graphic
design degree to work at Media Logic.
Now, it’s not that Shlyke doesn’t speak at all, he just picks
his words carefully, and uses them wisely: “I like all the
crap and they like all the good stuff,” he says self-deprecatingly
when asked about his musical interests (and he only speaks
when spoken to). “They love Faith No More. I don’t,” he states.
like Mr. Bungle, and you don’t,” Masse points out to Shlyke.
good music,” the bassist admits, “but I don’t like it.”
What’s Shlyke’s first memory of a favorite band, you ask?
“Anthrax,” he says without missing a beat. Masse and Wray
share musical tastes, and are prone to listen to, along with
the aforementioned Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, just about
anything Mike Patton touches.
EN~DoR~PHiN finally got around to laying their heavy-yet-melodic
metal sound down on CD last year, hooking up with the producer
Neil Kernon, who has worked with Queensrÿche, Dokken, Hall
& Oates and many others, and has earned a few platinum
albums along the way. EN~DoR~PHiN hooked up with him through
their friends, Boston-based Dropkick Jesus, who were preparing
to go into the studio with Kernon. They suggested the boys
of eN~DoR~PHiN do the same, so they sent him some songs, and
Kernon signed on to their debut album The Fifth Season.
a real cool guy,” says Wray. “He was great, and it was a compliment
that he liked it enough to work with us.” The album highlights
the band’s writing skills and musical chops, with intense
keyboard and guitar sounds mingling with the pounding complex
rhythms coming from Shlyke and Wray. Bone offers some guitar
on the release as well.
don’t try to be like anybody,” Wray says of the band’s
try to not be like anybody,” adds Masse.
I guess in mainstream music, we’re probably going down the
road of Tool or System of a Down, or something like that,”
Wray offers. “Our songs are pretty bizarre. They’re not radio
Masse continues, “we actually don’t have any choruses. We
have chorus-like parts, but nothing ever repeats. . . . Maybe
it’s just a death sentence for being on the radio, but screw
it, I guess.”
EN~DoR~PHiN’s songs are usually written music first, with
Masse subsequently adding lyrics “We write pretty slow,” Masse
admits. “I think a lot of it is because we write together.”
kind of picky about stuff,” Wray adds.
In the midst of their pattern of traveling out of town for
gigs, and playing many a local show, eN~DoR~PHiN plan on releasing
a five-song EP in the fall and shopping it around to those
in the industry—with a short tour planned as well. “We’ve
got kind of a good idea of the direction that we’re heading
now, and I think it helped working with Neil Kernon on the
last record,” says Wray. “Everyone kind of knows their place
in the studio. . . . You can do a lot more in the studio with
three guys—and a lot of crazy stuff—than you can live.”
just climbing our way up,” Wray concludes. “I know it sounds
cliché, but we’ve really been all about the music.”
EN~DoR~PHiN will play Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany)
on Saturday (June 1). For more information, 432-6572.