In August 2012, I heard a rumour from a very reliable source that Endor, one of my favourite bands in this or any other country, had decided to call it quits after almost 11 years together. But I refused to believe it.
I waited about three weeks before texting the band’s singer, David McGinty, known universally as Jarv, and he replied: “Technically…not split up, working on different projects” – which even I know is musicianspeak for, ‘We have split up’. But I looked the other way and whistled a happy tune. Let’s call it Fly Straight And Always Wear Sensible Shoes.
A couple of months ago, my buddy Paul Downie, who had been co-managing Endor, told me about the latest signing to his Comets & Cartwheels label, a duo called Fake Major who were made up of Jarv and fellow (former?) Endor member Richard Ferguson. But even then I kept thinking buoyant thoughts.
So I decided to meet up with them a fortnight ago for the interview you’re about to read, and Jarv and Richard talked excitedly about their plans for Fake Major, the music they were recording together and how its back-to-basics foundations of vocals and acoustic guitar differed from Endor. And, still, I couldn’t bring myself to accept it.
Until January 31, 2013. For it was on that night I attended a showcase gig to celebrate Comets & Cartwheels’ new partnership with BrewDog at the beer group’s bar in Glasgow. Fake Major were first on and, after about 10 minutes of unfamiliar material, a voice approached the microphone to announce they were going to play “a song from the band we used to be in”. Used to. USED TO. Like a dagger through the heart, if you really want to know.
And what they played was Endor’s Chapel Doors, honest-to-goodness one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. And then it dawned on me: vocals and guitar. That’s all it is. That’s all it ever was. Even the most simple of song structures is enough to lose yourself in its poignant grace.
Endor – Chapel Doors
So to Fake Major, a duo of vocals and guitar. As much as I secretly want to hate them for ending Endor, a band whose only album, their self-titled 2010 record, never quite got the fanfare it surely deserved, it’s still main men Jarv and Richard running the new show.
While Endor, certainly in its latter stages, functioned as a seven-strong unit with elaborate instrumentation (yes, I classify having a trombone on stage as elaborate), Fake Major find themselves more at ease in their compact guise.
“Logistically, we used to be all over the place,” admits Jarv.
“We’re only relying on each other now,” says Richard. “The whole point of Fake Major is that the songs would be good enough to just be played by the two of us and a guitar, and that would be as good as coming to see it as a full live band. We’ll probably still do gigs with friends playing drums, guitar and bass. And we’ll play gigs with just the two of us and one guitar, but it’ll be a different experience for each.”
Another key difference in the Fake Major sound centres around the vocals, and a recording technique borrowed from Simon & Garfunkel.
“We wanted to sing more together, harmonise in and out of each other,” explains Jarv. “We’d never done that before. It holds the recordings together in a way. We record on one microphone in one take and we record backing vocals separately. That’s how you get that really close sound.”
With their debut EP scheduled for release at the end of March, and Fake Major already working on another one, it’s clear Jarv and Richard are keen to shake off their reputation as merchants of slow progress, which saw them deliver one solitary (albeit remarkable) album in a decade-long existence as Endor.
“There’s going to be a much higher output – that is one of the main things I want to do,” emphasises Richard.
For the historians out there, Endor played their last ever gig at Brew at the Bog in Inverness on May 5, 2012. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m glad to say I was there to witness the finale of this extraordinary group. I wonder aloud if there’s any real future for these flawless indie-pop tunes at Fake Major gigs?
“We don’t want to make the Endor songs the focus of the set, so when we’ve been playing them it’s been like, ‘…and here’s one for the oldies’,” says Jarv. “We’re only doing one or two just now, but we are really proud of them.”
“We do enjoy playing them so we would never stop doing that,” offers Richard.
I suspect he’s possibly just trying to appease me… but I’ll take it.
February 12, Non Zero’s, Dundee
February 18, Bloc, Glasgow (free)
February 24, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh
March 16, Hootananny, Inverness
March 27, Bloc, Glasgow (free)
May 4, Brew at the Bog, Inverness (tickets)