Face it: most things come to an end. Relationships die, flowers wilt, cheese goes mouldy, milk goes sour and George W. Bush only serves two terms as America's president. As KC Spidle sees it, an end doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing.
"An end is a new beginning, as cheesy as that sounds, but in a way an end isn't necessarily a bleak thing. It's just change."
Change was a big inspiration for Husband & Knife's An End, a 12-inch vinyl release coming out this month on Divorce Records. Spidle recorded the majority of this second solo effort during a five-month period when he was unemployed and dealing with other personal issues that inspired the album's overwhelmingly dark tone. He says making this album was a therapeutic experience. "I'm not in tune to how I feel half of the time until I make some kind of art. That's how I figure out how I feel sometimes."
An Endopens with the deceptively sunny-sounding pop of "The Sea," in which he asks to be lifted out of darkness and nothingness. It's a plea for change that runs throughout the album. On "Headless Army," Spidle battles with an army of himself, asks for a new start on "Clean," and speaks of "a new beginning" on the closing track, "Free."
The dark nature of the material doesn't stray far from its predecessor, 2006's Welcome Back to the Nothingness of Your Life. It's a big transition musically, buoyed by strong production and simple arrangements that add just enough colour to Spidle's downer-pop. "My first record was basically me learning how to use a four-track . This album was me learning how to use a laptop. So every album has been me trying to learn to use something. It's been a war with technology, as well as a war with what I'm trying to express."
Using a laptop for recording gave Spidle the freedom to be more creative with his arrangements, adding strange percussion noises and field recordings to give songs a psychedelic edge. Still, he was careful to avoid the temptation to overproduce. He says his music aims to sound organic and real, with minimal use of effects and extra live setting. His dedication to simplicity and repetition is partially indebted to the music he listens to, such as the pioneering electro-punk duo Suicide and---on a whole other musical spectrum---Johnny Cash.
It might surprise those unfamiliar with Husband & Knife to hear that the same KC Spidle who writes these quiet, chilling and challenging songs is also the same Spidle playing raucous punk rock in The Hold and Attack Mode---not to mention being Dog Day's drummer. He admits preferring to strum an acoustic guitar over his electric, and feels that the darkness of his songs, combined with the way they celebrate negativity, is largely informed by his love for punk rock.
That said, would he ever consider celebrating positivity?
"No, because it makes me nauseous to do that. I like The Beach Boys, but the thing with them is that I don't find them positive either. I think how dysfunctional they were comes through in their efforts of trying so hard to sound positive.
"Even if I'm happy, I still don't want to play happy music. It's just not challenging. I think negativity is a challenging thing, and a lot of people don't want to subject themselves to it. I find a lot of music works as audio band-aids, it doesn't deal with anything real and just sounds like superficial crap. What I've always liked about punk is how it embraces the most shocking and negative subjects in such a way that you can celebrate it. If you listen to a Black Flag record, they deal with a lot of crazy shit like mental illness and suicide, but at the same time you're listening to it, you feel empowered by it, and it makes you feel positive."
Whether or not you relate to Spidle's positivity-through-negativity vibe, it's worth exploring the dark visions contained in Husband & Knife's An End.