Give me one reason why this band aren’t famous

Photo: Takeshi Suga

There are two schools of thought when it comes to predicting which qualities a band needs to make it. (To avoid getting bogged down in a first-paragraph debate, let’s define this as popular enough to make music for a living.)

A. A combination of factors coming together: employing a well-connected manager / being championed by influential people / spending more time on the road than an escaped prisoner / establishing a sizeable fanbase / picking the right band name / sporting twattish haircuts.

B. The more romantic theory, which says a band will become successful (even if they have none of A) as long as they make Great Music.

I’ve always subscribed to B since my all-time favourite records were made by artists who have enjoyed fruitful careers. However, one band and one album is making me doubt the validity of this perspective more than any other.

ENDOR, both the name of the band and their 2010 debut album, is such a complete, angelic, smart, melodic proposition. The more I listen to their extraordinary record, the more I question why they’re not widely regarded as one of the finest acts Scotland has produced… unless A really does hold true since Endor don’t employ a well-connected manager, aren’t championed by influential people, don’t spend more time on the road than an escaped prisoner, haven’t established a sizeable fanbase, didn’t pick the right band name and don’t sporting twattish haircuts.

Listening to their album is an abundantly fulfilling and continually rewarding undertaking. The faster songs remind me of a more harmonious Pavement, especially All Your More Buoyant Thoughts and Without The Help Of Sparks, while their immaculate indie-rock ballads wouldn’t look out of place on an REM greatest hits compilation. The acoustic Chapel Doors, in particular, possesses the same unquantifiable simplicity that makes a song like Fake Plastic Trees so special.

Fly Straight And Always Wear Sensible Shoes is definitely my favourite Endor song, though, and has several moments of genius scattered throughout it – there’s the interlude of handclaps at 3:17, the bursts of harmonica, and the irresistible chorus which finds David McGinty (known universally as Jarv for reasons I’ve yet to discover) singing the lyrics as a two-way conversation between a girl and a guy, with their opposing points of view broken up by a subtle backing vocal of, “He comes back with…”.

McGinty’s songwriting varies between poetically abstract and intensely personal and poignant, the latter to the fore on Two Lovers (“Two lovers holding hands make our love look dead”), a lament which has a sudden mid-song tempo shift led by a brief flurry of a cappella and then a dreamy piano/guitar instrumental at 2:00 – it’s probably my favourite bit on the entire record and gets me every time.

If you don’t already have Endor in your life, you really are missing out.

March 31, Captain’s Rest, Glasgow (tickets) – supported by Randolph’s Leap, Esperi and Amber Wilson

Endor – Chapel Doors

Endor – Hold On

Hold On was their first single, released via Say Dirty Records back in 2006 and long sold out. Their second single, We Live In Doors, is still available on iTunes.

11 Responses to “Give me one reason why this band aren’t famous”

  1. Dancing monkeys Says:

    March 26th, 2011 at 12:39

    Endor are cracking and deserve so much more recognition, but I think opinion B is definitely naive. Now don’t get me wrong,I don’t think you necessarily need to have the twattish haircuts/right band name/play the music that happens to be in vogue, but the key thing is to be heard (we’re just assuming that the music is good, here, that’s a given!). Doing all these gives you a good chance of being heard as every young radio station/A&R man is looking out for the next band to cash in on whatever scene is selling well at that time. If you won’t do that, well, good on you for a start, but it does mean you need to get your music heard another way, and the two main options are using a good manager (or hoping sheer luck) gets your tunes in to the hands of an influential DJ/other famous band that loves you, or you gig and gig and gig until you build up enough of a fanbase that the industry has to take notice: if you’re filling out even just small venues regularly across the country, then labels will see the pound signs and take note.

    Combined with having great tunes, I reckon the latter is the way least dependent on luck, and unfortunately not every band is in a position to do it. If you look at the likes of Biffy, and more recently Two Door Cinema Club, both sacrificed huge amounts to gig utterly relentlessly: continuing to live with parents and live on virtually no cash while friends went to uni or got jobs, got flats, socialised. Some people aren’t prepared to do this, but mostly it’s that people aren’t in a position that they can. Maybe said band already has a flat/family/job before they decide that music is what they want to do and aren’t in a position to ditch it to do the necessary touring.

    I think it’s kind of sad, but it’s just the nature of the industry. Short of a massive slice of luck, if you aren’t part of a currently trendy seen then with so many other bands about, short of touring, how can you be heard? Endor are great, and one of the reasons I like the popcop is regardless of whether I agree with your taste, you genuinely seem to bring attention to bands because you love what they do, regardless of how “cool” they are, but I’m sure that there’s plenty other great bands in Scotland that would love to get the coverage even Endor get.

    But hey, what else do you do?

  2. Stu Says:

    March 26th, 2011 at 13:54

    They’re great and deserve a lot more attention.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    March 26th, 2011 at 16:28

    I bought “We Live In Doors” on 7″ vinyl in 2007. Yes they are a good band but there are too many people out there polluting the musical air and it’s very difficult as someone who likes to go see live music to sort out the good from the bad. Le Reno Amps are another example who have been about for a few years and whenever they support a supposed “bigger” or “trendier” outfit at the likes of King Tut’s it’s usually embarrassing how much better than the headliners they are.

  4. Alex Says:

    March 26th, 2011 at 22:48

    I used to be of the opinion that the music business was big enough that bands could make it because of either A or B and indeed all points in between. In other words there was no one set model ensuring a bands success. However I’m not so sure now.
    The impact of illegal downloading has decimated the industry more than the care to admit.
    The result is an Industry which is almost completely risk averse and is now dominated by “safe” acts which are more likely to emerge from A than B although I would argue that playing as many gigs as possible in what used to be termed “paying your dues” is no longer necessary as style over substance which has always existed to a degree is now almost the only factor which counts.
    Having said all that , I think the current situation is only temporary and new models will emerge and indeed are emerging which releases bands from the dominance of traditional record labels.
    Exciting times.

  5. Greg Says:

    March 27th, 2011 at 13:13

    I first heard Endor on this site, and then went to the band site to order the album. I live in South Africa, and of course will never find Endor in the shops here. The disc arrived from Endor with a hand-written note inside from the band thanking me for buying the album (and saying I am the only person on this continent to own the album). Nice touch.

  6. Murray Says:

    March 27th, 2011 at 21:14

    What a heartwarming blog and what a nice response from Greg in South Africa. I really liked Endor when I first caught them at the Connect Festival a few years ago. Some good stuff. It is also an interesting comment re the record industry. Endor is the kind of band that a wee indie label would previously have snapped up. That kind of thing just isn’t happening anymore, there are so many bands in Scotland that are making great music and deserve greater exposure, hard times.

  7. P Says:

    March 28th, 2011 at 21:27

    I reckon it’s a matter of perspective. Endor ARE famous. You (reader and writer) know who they are and what they sound like. If you like them, you’ll have a favourite song by them. If you don’t, I bet you’ll have a good reason. You probably know what they look like and you’d probably recognise them in a pub or in a queue at a shop. Hey, you might even get that nice little shock at seeing someone whose music you enjoy IN THE FLESH. Right there beside you in the real world.

    Maybe you’ve even got a t-shirt… or a single… or you’ve kept a gig ticket…
    Maybe you fell in love with your girlfriend at their gig…
    Maybe you’ve cried when you listened to them sing the chorus “Two lovers holding hands make our love look dead…”

    Or maybe you think they already get too much attention and they ain’t even as good as your band…

    My point is: those guys ARE famous.

    Fame just means lots of different things these days. There’s too much media operating at once for one – blogs, music websites, magazines, TV, YouTube, social networking… Not to mention the fact there’re too many musicians…

    It’s a new and better day when a band is no longer ‘unsigned’ but truly independent. The impression of an unsigned band was previously tantamount to being on the shelf – thank goodness the Internet has levelled the land and deflected this insulting and degrading assessment.

    I’m with Alex on this – exciting times.

  8. John D. Says:

    March 30th, 2011 at 13:43

    Halfway down this blog article I wrote almost 2 years ago is a wee story about We Were Promised Jetpacks and Endor ( http://www.pinup-nights.co.uk/fanz.php?ide=40 ). I am very pleased to say that the relationship between Pin Ups and Endor has been renewed since I wrote it, and following a great show at Pin Ups in October they will be playing Pin Up Nights Blogger’s Delight on Friday 27th May as the nominated band of Guest DJ The Pop Cop! Hurrah!

  9. The Pop Cop Says:

    March 30th, 2011 at 16:02

    Hurrah indeed, John D!

  10. BeHyped Says:

    March 31st, 2011 at 00:58

    You know I really do think option B will always be there but it still matters on the music getting out there. Option B will just become harder naturally as labels (especially majors) are less willing to takes risks on bands that are unknown but have great music. Losing money through loss of music sales isn’t going to aid launch funds for new singings.

    Lets hope streaming services gain traction (both in traffic and payment to artists).

    Endor obviously have a decent fan base though…

  11. ed Says:

    April 1st, 2011 at 10:20

    Cheers popcop,

    Thanks for your post, turned me on to endor, just listened, loved + bought the album, great!

    I’ve always believed in option B, and still do, though after playing gigs with bands and solo, i realise the weight of option A after all… however, we can still go on with our romantic view of music, that’s what it’s often about anyway.

    loads of good comments on here, particularly like Dancing Monkey’s post.


    ps: bonus on the bandcamp download, nice!

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