Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feature :: Ace Enders and A Million Different People - T.T. The Bear's Place, Boston, MA, 2007

The shadows cast on Ace Enders in the dim back room of T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge make the bags under his eyes seem to crawl down his face. Behind the walls of instrument cases and gig bags that surround Enders, a member from Steel Train pops in to grab a guitar and then runs back on stage to play his next song. Enders Yawns. He’s been traveling for hours in a van with his wife, Jenn and he’s exhausted. Trying to revolutionize the music industry will do that to a twenty five year old.

When he was nineteen in New Jersey, Enders started the pretty pop punk outfit, The Early November. They built a strong fan following, releasing two EPs, a full length album and a triple disc LP, but the band went on an indefinite hiatus in March of 2007. Enders’ new project is called Ace Enders and a Million Different People. The name disregards brevity like the introspective, acoustic favored solo album from 2004, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business.

Being the creative force behind The Early November’s lyrics and instrumentation, Enders is used to doing things independently. He recorded the acoustic EP the band released in 2002 by himself and wrote his solo album three months after The Early November’s first release, The Room’s Too Cold.

The mission statement for I Can Make a Mess posted on the band’s website was about getting back to the beginning and trying to do things a little differently. “I wanted to go back to the time when the only thing that mattered was the music and not all of the other messy things that come with it,” Enders says. Now, four years later, he really is starting over and finding that his biggest problem is being broke. “After The Early November ended, we all thought that we would be able to get a little bit of money to start our own new things,” Enders sighs. “It turns out that we were left pretty much where we started.”

Enders' focus is now on the music more than ever. His previous bands have gained him firsthand experience with the problems in the industry and the freshly blooming digital medium. “There is a huge miscommunication between bands, fans and the industry. There’s no respect at all for anything,” Enders says, shaking his head. “So many fans steal records and so many bands make records to be big and just want people to buy them.”

Enders' attempt to resolve the problem is an organization he started with his wife, Jenn, called The Sound of Evolution. When it’s mentioned Enders eyes light up and his tone changes, “Ah, The Sound of Evolution! That’s my favorite little project right now.” It is an amalgamation already hundreds strong of bands, people, labels and other groups that agree on the organization’s mission statement. outlines its goals, which include creating an alternate form of distribution and compensation, attempting to grant artistic control to the songwriters and to build a respectful relationship between artists and fans.

“It’s going to be basically the same idea that Radiohead had,” Enders says. “Donating for records and picking your own price and stuff like that.” Unfortunately, due to contract and financial restraints, Enders has to release an album through his old label, Drive-Thru. “Obviously, I’m not as big as Radiohead, so it wouldn’t have been as big of an impact at all,” Enders says as he rips the label off of the water bottle he holds, “A little band like myself would not have been able to stay afloat doing that.”

His solution: do both. He already has one eight track album available for download on Fuse’s website called The Secret Wars. He plans to release another before his new record, When I Hit the Ground, hits stores next year.

“This new record is going to have wrapped up in it everything that every other record tried to say,” Enders says. Through the whispering, wailing laments and infections melodies of the songs he’s already released, his lyrics reflect what he is going through now, starting all over. “It was like everything I had invested my life into in the past six years went away and left me with nothing pretty much,” Enders fidgets and pops the plastic of the water bottle.

One of the ways Enders is trying to actualize the relationship to his fans is by letting them pick what songs he’ll play. Using, fans can vote for their favorites before a show and Enders reviews it when making his set list. “The hard part is not knowing all the songs that I have,” Enders says. “Like Early November b-sides that never made it onto any Early November record and that we’ve never ever played. People call them out during shows and I have no idea.”

Ace Enders has a million different projects. In addition to his records and The Sound of Evolution, Enders has other aspirations. Such as Regular Music, his own independent record label. His intention is to give artists all the control and allow them to make a living just being artists, without having to conform to a certain sound or role. There are currently three bands on Regular, Peter Nischt, Nothing Ever Stays and One Two Three Four.

“It’s extremely had starting up a label, especially when you don’t have any money,” Enders says. He can’t even put his own band on that label as he is still contractually obligated with Drive-Thru Records from when he was in The Early November. Enders is okay with the situation, “I wouldn’t want to leave Drive-Thru anyway, because they’ve been very kind to me and I’m happy with our relationship.”

Enders has also built, by hand, a studio for Regular Music in the basement of a shopping center. It’s called Pink Space. He works as a producer when he isn’t busy with his other projects.

After the interview, Enders takes the stage and all the stress and exhaustion seems to be lifted from him. He plays the songs his fans have picked with as much charisma and intimacy as he did with The Early November. He took suggestions from the crowd, playing “Sunday Drive,” a slightly obscure, yet fan favorite. He didn’t even have trouble remembering how to play it.

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