It’s becoming a familiar story: As vinyl increases in popularity, small bands, labels and most of all, pressing plants, have felt the crunch of major labels cashing in on the format’s resurgence. MAKE, the Chapel Hill-based heavy metal trio, recently experience the uncomfortable squeeze of having to wait around for the records they poured part of their lives—and often, a lot of their own money—into.
Though MAKE began recording their excellent new LP The Golden Veil two years ago, the record didn’t come out until mid-July. Even then, the album was only available via Bandcamp. Almost four months later, the band has its LPs in hand, and they celebrate the occasion tonight at the Cat’s Cradle Back Room with Solar Halos and Bitter Resolve. Spencer Lee and Scott Endres caught up with the INDY about the band’s bounce back from its year-long hiatus, as well as their thoughts on the vinyl industry and process.
INDY: You started working on the record two years ago. What took so long to finally get it out?
Spencer Lee: Part of it was just some scheduling stuff that didn’t quite work out. There was at least one session where we had a date and then that date wound up getting messed up, and we had to wait a full month before we could get in again.
Scott Endres: We only had so much money to pool together.
SL: We started off and we did the basic tracking. We got all the basic tracking done in the first session, and then after that, it was just building on that. We really wanted to take as much time as we felt like every song needed to give it what we felt like it needed, or what we felt like the song was asking for from us.
You took a hiatus. Was it planned or just something that naturally happened?
SE: We got to that place naturally. I think it was a short conversation that kind of revolved around, “If we’re not going to break up, I think we need a break.”
SL: It was a short enough conversation that I actually forgot that it happened for a long time. There was definitely a moment where it was like, “Guys, this is just way too crazy.” Working at Straw Valley [the now-closed coffee shop off 15-501], my hours were erratic. Between that and Scott and Matt [Stevenson, the band’s previous drummer] being forced out of their jobs on campus, our schedules never ever lined up.
SE: Matt and I did get disillusioned, not just with the metal scene but with scenes. Just everything. I had the job at UNC for seven years. I was going through “I’m too old to have this happen to me. I don’t know what’s going to happen next in my life.” Because of that, I ended up, psychologically, in a really dark place. That’s when I ended up working on some of the darker stuff I’ve done for The Pod, my solo project, just to kind of keep going, keep one foot in front of the other.
SL: Having that time off was good just to let some time pass and reset, both with our project and life in general.
This is technically the vinyl release show. It seems like it’s something that’s popping up more and more, where bands are facing delays as to when they can get their albums pressed. What was your experience with that?
SL: We sent in the order form on June 10, and there was some stuff after that about formatting and jackets, artwork tweaks. It took us a couple of weeks to get it done. We finally had all that nailed down in late June or the first week in July, and we got the LPs three weeks ago, maybe four weeks ago. So basically four months.
SE: It didn’t even really take that much longer. I feel like Trephine was two months or so.
SL: One thing I heard is that we timed it really well, completely haphazardly. A friend of mine who’s going through the same plant is saying he put in his order in late July, and he just got the confirmation that they’re actually even going to take the project. It got really insane.
SE: You have to say, “We believe enough in this record to spend nearly $3,000 on it and get this many other people involved.” We stuffed all of them ourselves. We printed all the liner notes ourselves—even doing just the stuffing part. I lament the idea that some day people aren’t going to have the same feeling I had when I first grabbed my dad’s Led Zeppelin IV and opened up the gatefold and was staring at the wizard on the fucking mountain or whatever. It’s part of the experience.
SL: Three months waiting for a record, not too bad. That’s deal with-able, but at the same time, it’s not going to be a sustainable timeline.
SL: There is one thing I will say about that, and it’s a positive thing, which is rare for me. But I got into LPs as a kid at a time when they were not particularly popular. I inherited my parents’ old record player just by me being, “Ooh, that looks cool!” when I was six or seven. When I was even younger than that, I had a little Fisher Price turntable and I would listen to kids’ movie soundtracks all the time. If there’s anything to be said about Frozen in particular, it’s getting kids into vinyl early. I could live the rest of my life never hearing another one of the songs from that movie and be super pumped, but at least if there are kids getting into listening to vinyl and knowing what it is, I feel like that’s cool.
Was it frustrating to have to get people to keep up? “It’s out digitally now, but stay tuned, we’ll have vinyl soon”?
SE: Honestly, I think people were pretty good about it. Most of our preorders happened the first week that we announced it was ready. If anything, we may have had the fortune of prolonging the process unintentionally.
SL: We didn’t really have a formal release show for the digital, but having another thing to do now—if there’s a silver lining to be had, it basically forces you into extra visibility if you actually want to sell your record.
Even locally, there are so many people doing so many things that if you’re not always on your toes, it can be tough to keep up.
SE: You will be forgotten! We did get forgotten! The first show we played, we were so sure it was going to be a smashing night—our first show after our hiatus. We were opening for White Hills, and we thought, “Oh, this is going to be awesome!” It was at The Pinhook, and there were maybe 10 people there. We were like, “Man, I think people fucking forgot about us!” We were a little sore, but this area is so constantly in a state of flux and evolution, I can’t even tell you if there is a metal scene in the Triangle right now.
SL: Coming back from that hiatus was strange. I’ve been running into the same thing a lot. Even just over the course of that one year, let alone the last three years, there were so many bands around here. A lot of them are still around but are just a lot quieter, or not really doing as much.