Quickies : Big James Arsenian from Endast

Somehow, five years have fluttered by like a butterfly in a squall, since Montreal’s Endast disbanded. Vocalist James, big brother of the groups Arsenian brothers, packed up and headed for the mountains of Calgary, while Chris and his guitars remained in Montreal. Because, by law of attrition, it is written that no metal or punk group will forever remain dead – Endast have returned. Pepe Poliquin returns on guitars, as does Ryan Miller on the bass, rounded out by the brothers Arsenian.

That is to say, the same line-up Endast had when they disbanded – minus drummer Steve Harlall. Alas; One of the hardest working projects in Canada has returned – and it’s about bloody time. So, without further ado, here is what Big James had to say about the fine art of punishing microphones.

What does it take to be a vocalist? What strain does it put on the human body?

To be a metal vocalist, you really have to stop thinking of it as screaming and start thinking of it as being a singer. By that I mean, you have to take care of your voice and learn techniques. Without doing that, you can permanently alter your voice in an unpleasant way and you can wind up with a variety of back problems. How many metal vocalists have you heard complain about having back problems?! There’s so many.

How important are lyrics to a song and, in your opinion, who is the greatest lyricist of all time?

Lyrics can often make or break a song. A good hook, something for the audience to latch onto, is crucial in making a song memorable. One of my favorite lyricists personally is Neil Fallon of Clutch. He is a wordsmith. But then you can take a guy like Max Cavalera, whose first language isn’t even English, but knows how to write simple lyrics that get people fired up and screaming along.

See also : James Arsenian of Endast
If you were to dig through your personal music collection, what albums would you pick out as having the greatest vocal performances?

Anything that sounds like it was written to serve the vocals. All the best vocalists make songs sound like they were written around the vocals. Alice in Chains is a great example.

Has there ever been a concert you were at where the singer blew you away? Who made you want to pick up a microphone in the first place?

The first time I saw Daniel Tompkins with Tesseract, I was shocked by how much control he had over his voice. Just incredible…but it’s guys like Phil Anselmo and Chuck Billy and Rob Flynn that not only are great vocalists, but also are great entertainers who command the audience’s attention, that got me wanting to grab a mic.

Where do you pull inspiration from? What is your writing process like and how often do you write down potential lyrics?

I pull inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Personal experiences and conversations…movies, music, books… current events and historical events. Anything that strikes me as fascinating, I will usually jot down a note or two regarding that thing and then expand on that topic or feeling when it’s time to write. So, I’m always ready to make a note when inspiration strikes, and I’ve always got ideas that I’m mulling over in my head. Some turn into songs, some will never see the light of day. It’s a continuous, ongoing process.

Endast have a brand new music clip to celebrate their return. Check it out!