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Drag City’s longtime fidelity to Louisville’s underground has again paid off. The label just released an amazing anthology of the Endtables, the frenetic post-punk band that burst onto Louisville stages in 1978 and dissolved in 1980. We reviewed the disc last week, and I recently interviewed guitarist Alex Durig to see what he thinks about the Endtables getting attention after 30 years of relative silence.
On Louisville and its punk scene: “If you have half a brain, you’ll go crazy there. It [the scene] was a big tribe. If we weren’t onstage, we were in the audience for one of our friends’ bands. Being punks, you’d think that everyone would be full of piss and vinegar, but everyone was very supportive of each other and many of us became friends for life.”
“We had trouble finding places to play. We’d play anywhere, the art school or dive bars, but most of the time, when we said we were a punk band, they’d just tell us ‘Get the fuck out of here.’”
On his influences: “I listened to the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, but I really wanted to play guitar like Tony Iommi and Ted Nugent.”
On vocalist and lyricist Steve Rigot: “He was truly himself. When you saw him come onstage, you knew it wasn’t gonna be Robert Plant up there.”
“He was intensely creative and charismatic. He was the totem around which we gathered. He was larger than life and had different colored hair each week.”
“He has an amazing sense of rhythm and his talking/singing style was kind of a precursor to rap.”
“His lyrics were the best. They had this silly, comic book style, but they cut at marriage and society. Every time I hear ‘Circumcision,’ I die a small death. You’d have to go back to Ian Anderson’s “Thick as a Brick” to find lyrics that good.”
“Even though we lived far apart for many years, we were on parallel paths. I was researching autism and he was working with kids with developmental disabilities. He always had a great sensitivity. Nobody is not going to get along with Steve. Nobody’s more uplifting. If there is the fucking Buddha, then he might be Steve Rigot.”
On drummer Steven Jan Humphrey: “Recently [after news of The Endtables’ reissue], the phone rang at three in the morning. I didn’t answer. Then it rang at 3:30, then at 4. Finally I answered, worried that something was wrong and it was Jan Humphrey, our drummer. I told him, ‘I honestly thought you were dead.’ It was such a big rush to talk to him.”
On bassistAlbert Durig, Alex’s younger brother: “We tried and tried to find a bassist but didn’t have any luck. Finally I got my brother to play and it was obvious we should have gone with him in the first place.”
When asked what their parents thought about the 15-year-old Albert playing in dive bars on weeknights: “God bless ‘em. They just said, ‘As long as he’s with his older brother, we’re not worried.’ Of course, what they didn’t know was that Albert had to drive home because his big brother was too fucked up.”
On the Endtables and the band’s breakup: “It wasn’t like any other band at the time. Primal scream therapy was a more appropriate comparison.”
“We were just desperate to have a good time and made music that was as raw as it could be. “
“There was no one obvious reason why we broke up, but we were breaking every rule in the book. It was a suicide mission from the very start. How could it last?”
“The breakup has haunted me ever since. We were young and egos got in the way. I was 19 and couldn’t communicate or be assertive. If we knew then what we know now, it wouldn’t have happened.”
“I’d be completely into a reunion show. Anything’s possible.”