We’re incredibly thrilled and honored to publish our first artist interview with one of our favorite Seattle bands, Black Ends. Their website bio proudly declares “BLACK ENDS IS GUNK POP”. We caught them after the Sunset Tavern benefit show on December 29th, 2023, to talk about their massive year and exciting plans for the next one. Left to right in the photo above is Billie, Ben, and Nicolle, where Nicolle is showing off a fan made “GUNK POP” steel stencil. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.
How was the show?
Nicolle: That was really fun. One of my favorite shows that we’ve played in a really long time.
Billie: Best one I can remember recently, for sure.
Nicolle: It felt really good and it felt good to do something for Thenisia.
Our first time seeing you was this summer at Oracle Lounge with Flesh Produce in August. We loved the vibe of that show. There was a moment in between songs during your set where Nicolle got on the mic and told Ben to “play something fretless”. Ben thinks about it silently for a moment and then I can read his lips saying “everything I play is fretless”.
Ben: That’s amazing, I don’t remember that.
And then Billie, you were finishing songs standing up. Which I had never seen a drummer do before.
Billie: Yeah, as long as I got one leg working I can still…
What are your thoughts about being a band in Seattle? You posted on your social media earlier in the year about your excitement surrounding the Seattle scene.
Nicolle: Oh yeah, that was after our Animal House show. The all ages scene in general is incredible.
Could you speak more to that?
Nicolle: They just show up. They support bands and they care about music. It feels really good, it’s a different kind of feeling.
Billie: I feel like Covid had a lot to do with it too because there was this break in shows where no bands were really playing and then everything came back full force and there were all these new people involved in the scene and all these new bands. Everyone really killing it.
Got it. Do you think it’s “full force”, or do you think it’s “fuller force”?
Billie: I don’t know, I moved here in 2020.
Nicolle: There was a band that was incredible before Covid and not enough people know about them. And it makes me sad. They’re called Rachael's Children and they were probably one of the best bands in Seattle. I wish more people were around for that era.
How is the music infrastructure?
Billie: We could always use more DIY all ages venues. Losing the Cherry Pit was a big one.
Nicolle: Oh, yeah. Definitely need more DIY all ages spots.
Billie: As soon as one goes down, another pops back up. So there are definitely people that are invested in keeping it alive.
We want to talk about the band for a bit. You work with Jack Endino? What’s that like?
Nicolle: He’s a nice man. And he knows what he’s doing. He knows how to get good guitar sounds, that’s for sure. He knows instantly how to get a good guitar sound so I respect him for that, very much. We’re going to record at Soundhouse soon with Evan Applebaum. I really like that studio, it sounds fucking great.
You went on a Europe tour this year. Anything to say about that?
Ben: It was incredible.
Nicolle: Denmark is the shit.
Any big highlights?
Nicolle: Paris was incredible.
Billie: Our last day off in Amsterdam.
Nicolle: Billie got fucked up.
Ben: That’s what tour is all about. It was honestly one of the hardest things I have ever done. Because we were a lot of people in a small space for a long time and we’re all friends. It’s just trying.
Billie: Yeah, constantly encountering stressful situations and learning how to roll with them.
Nicolle: Absolutely amazing experience though. Everyone was so sweet.
Ben: Shoutout to Svendborg.
Nicolle: Incredible city.
Any new music in 2024?
Nicolle: Oh yeah, so much of it.
Billie: We just played a new song tonight.
Nicolle: Yeah we played a new song tonight. That was the first time we ever played that. That was really cool.
Billie, were you in a metal band before this?
Billie: Throughout my life I’ve probably been in five different metal bands. I’m a little emo kid at heart.
Here’s a question for each of you. What’s the primary thing you’re thinking about when playing and the primary thing you’re listening for during a show?
Billie: For the most part I’m trying to keep kick and snare in time with Ben. My monitors are all bass for the most part. I figure as long as we can lock in, everything else can go crazy. Besides that, just trying to be a showoff, provide some energy.
Nicolle: I’m thinking about my voice a lot. I just don’t want to be out of tune. Sometimes I am, and that’s fine, but I get very particular about how my voice sounds. I think about my voice a lot and I’m listening to Billie and Ben at the same time, trying to make sure I’m there in the pocket.
Ben: I think my mind darts around between Billie and Nicolle. I’ll try to lock in with Billie sometimes, then I’ll hear Nicolle play something and I’ll try to play something that either compliments it or doesn’t step on any toes. I want to walk a line between being a good foundation and also having my own self expression because I have things that I want to play but I don’t want to play something too ridiculous and forget about what they’re playing.
Nicolle: I get that. But the thing is Black Ends is about “do what you want”. Just do it good.
What are you looking forward to, what’s your next big step?
Ben: So excited to keep writing, get in the studio.
Billie: Got a new album coming.
Nicolle: That new song is probably my favorite we’ve ever done so I want to keep doing it.
We hope Black Ends keeps doing what they’re doing, and we’re excited to see them more in 2024! Connect with them below to stay current with their shows, events, and new releases!