We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Familiar faces are returning to the D.C. music scene in a new way. Five months after the six-piece soul-punk band Lightmare performed their very last show at the Pocket in October, four former members are back with a new group they’re calling Endlings. With two demos released on Bandcamp and a debut performance at Silver Spring’s Quarry House Tavern planned for April 8, the band are ready to make itself known.
“We’re excited,” lead singer Shady Rose tells City Paper. “Outside the four of us, only one human person has listened to us play live. It’s going to be pretty interesting.”
Endlings consist of Rose, guitarist Mike “Beck” Beckage, drummer Yousef Karim, and bassist Frankie Hellfire. The formation of Endlings started while they were all still part of Lightmare, according to the band members, who described it as a gradual process. Because Lightmare had a very particular sound and tone, the music the band wrote and played was limited. Individually, these four began writing outside the soul-punk genre on the side. When they finally shared their work with one another, it led to the group of them jamming together and slowly evolving into a separate band.
Beck recalls the group deciding to form Endlings in the summer of 2022, but that’s as exact as he can get: “I don’t even remember, to be completely candid,” he says. “Since it was a very gradual process, before we even noticed what was happening it had already happened.”
Rose came up with the idea to name the band Endlings, a term that refers to the last of a species before it goes extinct. Living through the pandemic and current events has caused a feeling of finality in some people, says Rose. The name is meant to reflect that. “I think all of us in the band, and also those in our generation, paying attention to the world, are feeling as though it’s the end times,” they explain. “There’s so much going on that, though it might not be the end of humanity, it feels like the end of an era.”
The other three members say the music they’ve been making so far aligns with the band’s name. They write songs based on how they feel, which often gives way to lyrics that reflect societal issues they find important, whether that be climate change, transphobia, or White supremacy. “We’re writing as though it’s the apocalypse and we don’t have much time left,” Karim says.
“I think that music and art has to reflect the times that we’re living in, and the times we’re living in right now are extremely fucking bleak,” says Beck. “It’s kind of impossible to escape that feeling.”
But Endlings’ apocalyptic imagery isn’t meant to be entirely gloomy. It can also be therapeutic and part of the process of envisioning a better way to live. “It’s a transformative thing,” says Rose. “We’re in pursuit of a positive death of our own preconceptions and egocentrism so we can focus instead on the rejuvenating process of making something together and expressing ourselves.”
Endlings play rock that borders on psychedelic at times, but the band aren’t consciously trying to make a certain type of music. Rather, they create whatever they feel inspired by at the time, which has led to a rock base that incorporates elements of grunge and metal while ranging from noisy to gentle. “Our genre has no boundaries,” Hellfire says. “It’s limitless.”
“We’re just kind of like a wild time,” adds Rose. “We get up to wacky shenanigans on the sound waves, so we’re all about experimenting together and pushing our limits.”
Their song “Cigarette” perhaps best showcases the band’s range and refusal to limit themselves. Shaped from a guitar riff Karim wrote several years ago, the track transitions from a laid-back groove to heavy metal and ends as something more psychedelic.
“It’ll veer into one direction and then to another direction,” Karim says. “This piece was the song we tried to experiment with the most. We’re really trying to do as much of that as we possibly can in our songs and keep it interesting—mostly for ourselves.”
Their emphasis on writing is one of the factors that separates Endlings from their previous project. While part of Lightmare, they felt as though songwriting became secondary to performing, which took over as they played show after show. Now the four musicians are focused on writing new music that they genuinely want to write instead of writing or performing what they think their audience might enjoy. They want to take risks and experiment, regardless of what others may say. “A big thing for me when we started this endeavor was to put writing back at the center of what we were doing,” says Beck. “We’re just going to continue to make music and we’ll take shows as they come.”
“We’re really catering to what we feel in the moment and what we want to hear,” Hellfire adds. “Lightmare, a lot of the time, was about pulling people in, where as Endlings is more like ‘here we are, and come if you want or don’t.’”
Today, there are no plans to release anything like an EP or album anytime soon. The band are still working through the learning curve of self-recording their music, so the idea of putting out a big release isn’t top of mind despite them having enough material to do so. (Don’t worry, they intend to drop more songs on Bandcamp.)
But as the band members continue to write new songs and work on recording them, they do have some concert dates lined up. Along with their show at Quarry House Tavern as the opening act for Ammonite, they’ll also be playing at George Washington University on April 23 and Songbyrd on June 8. They’re particularly nervous and excited for their debut performance, which they’re encouraging people to come to. “We’re definitely eager,” Beck says. “I’m ready for people to hear this music and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Rose adds, “The best way to keep art alive in D.C. is to go and support the artists.”
Endlings open for Ammonite and KulfiGirls at 9:30 p.m. on April 8 at Quarry House Tavern. dice.fm. $13.