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Endpoint was one of the most popular underground bands to come out of Louisville, Kentucky. No other band could tour the US and Europe, and played its final show December 30, 1994, for over 2,000 people.

Their sound evolved from moshable, singalong-inducing hardcore heavily influenced by the coastal straight-edge scenes and skate rock into moving, more mid-tempo heavy indie core of a more intellectual variety that defined modern hardcore in the 1990s.

Endpoint was part of a hardcore movement that had been building since the mid-1970s, including west coast bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys, and east coasters Minor Threat and Bad Brains. They were especially influenced by the New York style of hardcore that sprouted in the mid-1980s with bands such as Agnostic Front, Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits. These groups most influenced Endpoint through their metal riffs and positive lyrics, and they are considered founders of the modern sound of hardcore. Yet unlike many midwestern bands during this era, Endpoint did not just ape their influences. Instead, they forged a unique sound, thanks in large part to Louisville native Rob Pennington, whose soulful crooning and high pitched wails defined the band's sound.

A considerable number of their songs dealt with social and political issues, about which the band felt strongly. Like many bands in the punk and hardcore genre, they focused upon issues of social justice, and like emo and straightedge bands they stressed self improvement and personal transformation. In their lyrics and in the liner notes of their albums, they discussed issues dealing with government policies and women's rights and abuse. Endpoint was the definitive Midwestern hardcore band throughout most of the '90s, leading the charge for progressive, positive, empowering politics with uplifting, cathartic anthem after anthem championing the oppressed and the free-thinking rights of the individual.

For example, an Endpoint t-shirt from 1993 read: "Warning: Every 26 seconds a woman is beaten in the United States. This statistic is based solely on the incidents of abuse that are reported. In truth, this number may represent only one tenth of the crimes committed against women. And this number will only increase unless people speak out against these atrocities. Please take a stand and help us smash this disgusting cycle." On the back was an outline of a woman lying face down and the band's logo.

Endpoint began on November 17th 1987 under the name Deathwatch. Duncan Barlow had just experienced a break up with his band Substance. Jon Cook and Will Chatham felt that he was a link- too "heavy metal" to play the music they were writing, so he joined with bassist Jason Graff and drummer Kip McCabe to form a heavy band. We decided that Rob Pennington of Fist should sing, and we began playing out. They changed name to Endpoint from Deathwatch mainly because they had that name as a joke, when they became serious about our lyrics and music, they decided to change to a name that seemed to follow their ideas. Kip quit to join Brain Dead, and they picked up Rusty Sohm at a party they played with his band Feedback. They released only one record, posthumously in 1991, which was a split 7" with another local band named Crain, other tracks appeared on CD re-issue of “If The Spirits Are Willing”.

In 1988, the band changed their name to Endpoint. In 1989, they released a 17-song mini-album on cassette only (recorded in 3 days, later reissued on LP by Doghouse) through the Slamdek label, called “If The Spirits Are Willing”. The album available in Louisville area stores in May 1989. However, following this release, the band only performed twice for the remainder of the year. For whatever reason, in the fall of '89, Duncan Barlow, Jason Graff, Rob Pennington, and Rusty Sohm decided to give it one more "Go!" and took to the stage at Tewligans. Something clicked at that show with Kinghorse, and gave Endpoint enough spark to fuel the fire another four years.

"If The Spirits Are Willing" unleashes the speed and the fury of Endpoint's early hardcore/punk/heavy metal blend. Later Louisville bands, such as Falling Forward and Enkindel (later The Enkindels) greatly based their own sound upon Endpoint. In fact, in the late 1980s and early 1990s the hardcore "Louisville sound" was Endpoint's sound.

Within a year of its release, "If The Spirits Are Willing" replaced other bands as the cornerstone of Slamdek's mail order business, eventually selling more than any other hardcore cassette on the label. Like any other Slamdek release, it was a truly independent affair. The cassette constantly went in and out of print, sometimes being unavailable for months at a time; it would then return with completely different packaging. Unlike other bands on the Slamdek label, "If The Spirits Are Willing" was never carried by any national distributors. As a result, the album was essentially available only in Louisville stores, by mail order, at Endpoint shows and in out of town stores that bought directly from Slamdek. Its definitive and most common version is its 1994 reissue on compact disc. The compilation disc contains twenty five songs, documenting Endpoint's first seventeen song cassette, their tracks from the first Endpoint/Sunspring 7", their contribution to the Slamdek Christmas 1990 tape and five of the seven songs they recorded in 1988 under the name Deathwatch. Two of the Deathwatch tracks, "Wool" and "Dignity," from the Crain/Deathwatch 7", are missing; as is the still-unreleased Juniper Hill version of "Wool."

Although Slamdek was a local and regional favorite, neither the label nor most of its bands ever gained the national and international popularity of other independent punk labels, such as Dischord, Alternative Tentacles and Victory Records. Yet Endpoint did move on to the national spotlight, if in a limited way.

For the Endpoint and Sunspring 7", Endpoint recorded two songs in November 1990. One of them, "Promise," was for a 7" compilation, A Change For The Better, on Vicious Circle Records. The other, "Priorities", was a spare song that was recorded just because the band was in the studio. The split 7" created a bond between the two bands that lasted up until the two played their final shows and reunions several years later. In December 1993, a second split record was released with Sunspring. "Written In Rock" paid tribute to Rick Springfield, an early - if ironic - inspiration for both bands.

Rusty decided that Endpoint was not in his future, so they began searching out new drummers. Three months and fifty billion lousy drummers later, they picked Lee Fetzer out at a party, they had known him for years, so it was a wise decision. About the time they got Lee, they were given Chad Castetter from a Greek god, or so Chad thought... Jason Graff quit to move to Alaska and grow a beard. Jason Hayden of Bush League joined for his required one year stay, and quit to be in Sunspring for his required ONE year. Endpoint's next move was to release an album called “In A Time Of Hate” (1990) through Conversion label, based in Huntington Beach, California. The album did not receive as much acclaim as the previous releases or the future albums, perhaps due to the lesser quality of the recording, but the songs were well constructed, and the record continued their punk/hardcore influence.

In 1990 Endpoint guys created hardcore parody band under the name "Kill The Man With The Ball", leaving only one record, ‘Christmas Straightedge,’ on Slamdek Christmas 1990. The group played some intentionally annoying shows in which they demonstrated their namesake by turning the pit into a huge version of the elementary school playground game Kill The Man With The Ball.

Later, the band signed to Doghouse Records, which was at the time a small independent label in Toledo, Ohio that would eventually help Endpoint become a centerpiece of the international hardcore scene, and the label grow into the sizeable independent entity it is today. The first album to see the light as a result of this partnership was 1992's monumental “Catharsis”, arguably the best record of the band's impressive career. The album featured a collection of the band's most harrowing and heartbreaking yet alternately inspiring songs. Endpoint soon became one of the more popular bands on the Doghouse label. That same year, Endpoint released an EP “Idiots” of covers similar to Metallica's Garage Days, paying tribute to The Misfits, Rites of Spring, Ian Mackaye's Embrace, and Louisville's Malignant Growth - complete with a cover spoofing Samhain's blood-soaked Initium cover shot. This period they tried Kyle Noltemeyer out on bass and he stayed for a white, until the burdens of touring and Satanic influences became too much, and he retired his position.

And as a total coinsidence Lee Fetzer quit right alter they returned from Europe, leaving them in a real nasty position for some shows they had lined up. They tried out some drummers and decided to choose Kyle Crabtree, a former frat boy who soon became a deviant like the rest of them. He came through like a champ, learned their set in one week, and they hit the road. They still had one problem, no bassist. Curtis Mead, Split Lip teen idol, filled in for a while, But for 1993 tour of the States Pat McClimans from Indiana of Scab played bass. He decided to move to the Bluegrass State and play for Endpoint.

In 1993, this lineup conceived “Aftertaste”. This particular album was not considered by many to be one of their best, but at the same time it showcased the band's talents by being a considerably different style than previous releases. This record featured songs with much slower tempos, less streamlined song writing, less furious lyrics and even an acoustically driven ballad. This steady dissolve from frantic paces to more intricate material became prevalent in their genre. Even though the band had changed their sound, their lyrics and opinions remained strongly political, with continuing messages concerning women's rights in their printed material.

The members of Endpoint also became involved in various other projects, with Barlow and Noltemeyer's Step Down project becoming Guilt, which was probably the most popular of the side projects with which any Endpoint members became involved. Guilt was later signed to the major label Victory, known for popular hardcore bands like Snapcase and Earth Crisis, and recently Hawthorne Heights and Spitalfield. McClimans fronting Scab prior to joining Endpoint, later a guitarist for Falling Forward, Tramlaw and ultimately played for another major Louisville local band, Metroschifter (together with Castetter and K. Scott Ritcher). By the end of Endpoint's existence Metroschifter was still a major player in the Louisville scene and continued for several years, eventually also signing with Doghouse Records. In 1994, Endpoint decided to call it a day, playing a huge farewell show on December 31 and releasing “The Last Record” in 1995, a mini-LP that, while not as important as Catharsis, is perhaps their most focused and accomplished work. Barlow and Noltemeyer Guilt project eventually broke up and reunited with Endpoint front man Rob Pennington to form another major band called By The Grace of God until the year 2000. Pat McClimans formed a southern-inspired rock band called MT Rhoades and His Lonesome Woods Band in 2000, and continues to perform today, as The Pat McClimans Group, or The PMG. Rob Pennington formed a band called Black Widows in 2001, which eventually changed their name to Black Cross due to a dispute with another band of the same name. Black Cross was the unification of two fallen bands, By The Grace Of God and another Louisville local The National Acrobat. The appreciation of early 90's hardcore (or DC hardcore) and association of Black Flag's aggressive period created as what people know today as Black Cross.

The Band is reuniting for a show in Louisville, Ky on May 15th, 2010, together with reunited Sunspring. It is a show to raise money for Jason Noble, of the bands Rodan and Shipping News, who is currently battling cancer.

Compiled information from:

Slamdek If The Spirits Are Willing MC page


Ryan J. Downey at Allmusic

If The Spirits Are Willing CD sleeve history, by Dunkan Barlow

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