As we talk about Endiana's recent jog through Europe, bassist Tim Fuller asks half jokingly if people would really want to read the real dirt about the excursion.
"We were going to call the tour Cannibals, Drug Dogs and a Thousand Dead Bodies. That kind of sums up a lot of what happened in France," he laughs before lead singer Matthew Aaron breaks into the details.
Seems they took up an offer to play a single show in Dublin, and wound up in Paris, breaking bread ("crepes, and red wine," per Fuller's expansion) with famed "Vampire of Paris" Nico Claux. They then stumbled on the most generous club owner ever, a man named Dom who loaned the duo his bread truck so they could continue the French slate of performances.
That's where the drug dogs come in.
"We borrowed this man's bread truck and finished the back-half of the tour," Aaron says. "And I'm not saying drug dogs got into the back of the truck at any point. And I'm certainly not saying there were drugs in the back of the car."
It seems, parsing everything they're not saying, that they were confronted by eight armed French officers, who made them pull over to the soft shoulder where a canine unit was unleashed upon the back of the club owner's bread truck. But hey, this is a happy story.
"At least we didn't wind up in French jail," Fuller laughs. "We made it to the next show."
This is Endiana, my friends. A band you haven't had the chance to hear in person of late, but rejoice because there's a new album and a new show on the horizon. The band, and its new lineup, will be performing in July at the Rathskeller, promoting its latest Not a Greatest Hits CD and a DVD project.
"Last year we put out two five-song EPs over the course of the year so we could make 'singles' happen as quickly as we were churning them out," says Aaron. "So our new project allows us to put those two EPs together into a full-length record. We spent the last six months to a year making live videos for our back catalog and those have become the DVD."
Based on the rough edit of the DVD I was able to watch while preparing to interview the band, the DVD serves as a solid introduction to the band's sound for new fans and Endiana veterans alike. Interview clips with Aaron are interspersed between live takes on their strongest material. I compared the material to Billy Joel's Songs in the Attic, which introduced fans of The Stranger to his early work. That got Aaron excited.
"Live albums seem so much more honest," Aaron explains. "[The live sound] is what you're gonna get if you come to see us anyway, so we might as well be truthful about what you're gonna see. We have a strong band, guys that really play for the song. We work things out over a period of time to make them go the way we want."
Fuller concurs. "Matt tends to write these stripped-down songs and we ... they kind of go wherever they go, once you get everybody else involved," he says. "Sometimes they don't go very far, and sometimes they get completely changed. We pretty much take everything on an 'as it comes' basis. That is also, I think, influenced by whatever we're listening to at the time, and that's what we liked about doing the EPs. We were operating in real time rather than committing to a group of ten or fifteen songs."
Fuller and Aaron, the only two remaining original members of Endiana, seem excited to get back to playing a big local show, though their absence has been by design.
"I think focusing locally is easy to do," says Fuller. "You can be occupied by trying to get a good turnout at your next gig here locally, and especially if you're playing too much I don't know where you're going to find the extra time to even think about working regionally, let alone nationally. We've taken a break from that. We used to play a ton when we first started, but now we just play quarterly in town — quality over quantity."
That has freed them up to focus on making their Rathskeller return something to behold, says Fuller. "I think we worked really hard on the presentation we took to gear up, and we're going to have a showcase of what we've developed for that show. It's not going to be the band banging out songs for hours, there's going to be some dynamic to it."
Now that they've made names for themselves both here and abroad, one thing Aaron appreciates is how the Europeans treat music as a legitimate career option. "The whole craft is received differently there," he says. "It's not just appreciated as an art form, but even more as a business decision for your life, and a necessity for their culture. It's a part of their normal lives, you know?"
With the new project complete, Fuller and Aaron are excited to get back into the studio to continue work on their yet-untitled full-length, due out sometime later this year. With the new lineup intact, they have room to explore new territory.
"We're really excited about the potential of a new record. Since the time we've been changing — I don't know if evolving is the right word — things have started to move at the pace that we always wanted to. I think that we're finally in a place where everybody understands what the vision is."