I recently caught up with the Canadian metal act Endast to discuss their newest release, Black Cloud. James and Chris Arsenian, Pepe Poliquin, Ryan Miller and Blair Youngblut took turns answering questions about the band, the new album and what the future has in store for them. Here is how the conversation went.

Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Chris Arsenian: When we wrote our new album Black Cloud my main goal was to take a much more emotional approach. In the last two years we have noticed that the crowds have been getting more intense physically and emotionally; it’s amazing how much power that holds. I find it hard to put to words the feeling you get when you connect with a venue full of people on that level. I think the whole band would agree that it’s one of the best feelings in the world. All that hard work in the jam space, time in front of a computer or miles cramped up in a van it all pays off when you’re on stage and everyone bangs their head with you or screams the words to our songs. To put in simpler terms, it’s a god damn magical experience.

Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Chris Arsenian: I don’t think we are re-inventing the wheel when it comes to our writing process really. We try to change it around every once in a while. It will start with me writing a shit ton of riffs at home and bringing them to the jam space. Sometimes Blair and I will work together on piecing the main skeleton of a track together and other times the whole band will be there. Once we have the main structure down we will fine-tune the song as a band with everyone’s input then leads and solos will be added and we will tighten up all the transitions. We find this way works best for because even though I write the majority of the riffs everyone gets their say in the song writing process.

Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Blair Youngblut: For the most part what we listen to changes very often, like what we listened to a year ago might not be so exciting to put on now. We all have very different tastes in music as well. Even though we play metal we all still listen to everything else under the sun. To list any bands wouldn’t justify our broad spectrum of influences. I would say some of the biggest influences would come from a lot of the bands we’ve toured with and shared the stage with. When you get to know a band and love their music as well, it’s a much bigger influence on you and you’re playing.

Now that your new CD, Black Cloud, is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Ryan Miller: The new tracks are solid. Am I happy? Totally, I feel that these songs are Endast.

Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favourites or that have good stories behind them?
James Arsenian: The single “Black Cloud” is a personal favourite. It’s about the difficulties we’ve had as a band and how we have had such a string of bad luck since day one it seems like there is a black cloud over our heads all the time. We have literally seen the ground split open in front of our practice space preventing us from leaving from tour. Turns out a water main had burst and it literally split the concrete and started a flood. What are the chances of that? However, as the song says, we always come out on top so we’re not going to stop. We’ve learned to embrace the black cloud and we welcome it. It fuels us.

What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of Black Cloud?
Ryan Miller: Heart and sacrifice… In the end, you will hold your head high.

I understand you are confirmed for a few festivals this summer but what other touring plans do you have in support of the record?
Blair Youngblut: Yes, Heavy T.O. and Heavy MTL. July 23-24. The month of July should be pretty busy for us. We will be playing a bunch of shows in some of our fan’s favourite cities. These shows will be filmed in hi-def, on and off stage for an up and coming DVD. We will be releasing the album Black Cloud on iTunes Canada July 5th, 2011 and we’re going to tour our asses off as much as we can. So look out for the dates near you!

Check out the song “Martyr”.

When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Pepe Poliquin: Yeah well in our first tour in the States we were on tour with another band called Seething and James and their guitar player Tapley booked the tour together and didn’t realize one little thing is that we were in Kansas city and we had to be in Las Vegas the next day and that drive was 26 hours so during that drive we saw some crazy stuff, we saw some lightening and mini tornadoes, it was something else and then the next morning we were driving towards the Colorado Rockies and it was sunny and we were in August then going up in the mountains it started raining pretty hard that was still not too bad and then it started snowing like crazy there were cars in the ditch and scooters and I was trying to slow down and it was slippery. James thought it looked nice outside so he was taking pictures while I was driving, but on my side of the window and I was like get away from me! And just on our way down it was sunny and then the Desert was there I never thought I would see all the seasons in one day.

When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Pepe Poliquin: One time we had a show in Windsor which is 9 hours away from Montreal, so while we were heading over to Windsor it was raining and after around 3 hours of driving I was feeling something weird coming from the front of the van and all the sudden something popped. We were in the left lane so I thought that we had a flat tire so I’m trying the change lanes while I’m trying to get in the right lane and the van just shifted by itself going into the middle road toward the opposite way of the road but I managed to stop it, so I went outside the van and the front wheels had fallen off. We didn’t know what to do so we called CAA to get towed to the next city that was Nappanee. We went to a Canadian tire so they could look at the wheel. They could fix it but they didn’t have the part and it was too late to order it. The next day was a holiday so we rented a room for 3 days and the thing is that apparently there was nobody at that show, but we actually had a lot of fun partying in the hotel room so it was not so bad.

Any closing words?
James Arsenian: Pray For Rain.