It’s Tuesday night. July 23. 7:30 p.m.
An explosively loud sound roars from the main room of a San Antonio pool house. Sweat and electricity fly. Heads and limbs rock. The first live-audience performance for hardcore band End Means.
One month later, four out of five of the band members will fill the stiff plastic chairs of a classroom. Each day they wait to perform again.
Although their first show was quite recent, the project launched over a year ago by seniors Canyon Tillman and Hunter Caballero, by whim.
“[The first band I was in] was picking up steam, and then we just kind of dropped off,” Tillman said. “After that I met Hunter. We became really good friends. And then we were like, ‘Aye, let’s start a band.’ So we did.”
The project expanded last year, when sophomore Sean McFalls contacted Caballero and secured his spot as a guitarist. A few months later, senior Alec Behun joined as a rhythm guitarist. In October, Anzio Caballero, Hunter’s older brother, was recruited to play drums. With these roles filled, Tillman was left to do vocals and Caballero to play bass guitar.
McFalls is the only member to seek formal lessons for his instrument, and has been doing so for three years. The other bandmates can say they learned from years of practice: Caballero picked up his first guitar when he was eight and Tillman has created music since eighth grade.
Today, these talents are exercised every Friday evening, when they rehearse and songwrite. Their music-creation process is layered, allowing for input from each member.
“Sean will come up with a guitar riff, and we’ll just build off of it and add drums,” Tillman said. “The last thing we usually add is vocals and lyrics.”
End Means released their first music for streaming—A four-track EP titled “Summer Hate Tapes”—on July 26 of this year on Bandcamp.
Described as heavy and violent, their sound is inspired by artists ranging from Knocked Loose to Xibalba.
Behun summarized the emotions they wish to evoke with their music in one word: “Joy.”
This goal has been realized: At shows, listeners are seen smiling or dancing hysterically. End Means is able to connect to their audience through their music’s harsh noise and unlying message about mental health, personal conflicts, and loneliness.
Their lyrics are statements of protest, observations of both personal and societal problems. (“Money breeds pigs. Pigs bring filth. Filth brings disease. We are immersed in our own greed.”)
Unsurprisingly, their music has inspired physical outbursts of rage.
“Some guy kept hitting himself in the face and made himself bleed and there was just blood everywhere,” Tillman recalled about a recent show. “I was like, ‘Man, that guy needs to calm down.’”
One piece of music, constructed in McFalls’ living room, is favored among the band and their listeners.
“We have a song called ‘Regrets/Feedback’. I think I can speak for all of the other members that that’s kind of our favorite song to play live because we get the most energy back from the crowd,” Tillman said. “It’s pretty nice to see people react that way.”
Over time, each member has grown comfortable performing in front of audiences. Today they perform about every three weeks, most often at Twin Sisters Cantina, a venue in South San Antonio. Gigs are landed via Instagram DM’s. Before a show, they rehearse for an hour, load all of their equipment into a car, and mentally prepare themselves for what’s to come.
Several members can recall how they felt during their very first show, and how it’s since changed.
“The first show was nerve-wracking,” Caballero said. “But eventually you get used to it. You get used to people watching you play and yell and act kind of goofy.”
Their 15 to 20 minute shows are hot and exhausting—like finishing a marathon. After each performance, End Means refuels by stopping at McDonalds or Mama Margie’s. Once they were commissioned $10 each. But mostly they make money off of merchandise. Performing regularly has proven to be an eye-opening, surreal experience.
“Most of the time I forget [I’m performing]. I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m playing right now!,’” Tillman said. “I really enjoy it.”
From the beginning, most members’ parents approved of their musical pursuits. McFalls’ parents even avidly supported his band, and made appearances at shows.
One member—unsure of how his parents will react—refuses to share the fact that he plays in an aggressive punk rock band on the weekends.
“My parents don’t know that I’m in a band. I just tell them I’m going to go hang out with Hunter,” Behun said. “I don’t know if I can explain to my mom what hardcore music is.”
Even with parental approval, End Means has faced obstacles to play. Several times they’ve missed opportunities to perform because of the long school days. But balancing music and school doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“There’s really not much to balance. I’m in all dual-credit classes, and we don’t have much work,” Tillman said. “Every Friday we can hang out and jam.”
This freedom has allowed them to contribute to the hardcore music scene, one that is constantly evolving. Following a period of popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, the genre dwindled. Recently, it has resurged. However, one thing will remain the same: the genre’s strong sense of community.
“I like the way that you can express yourself well and the way people treat each other in this scene of music,” McFalls said. “It’s very supportive.”
Currently, End Means is working on recording a new demo. They hope to be signed to Closed Casket or another a record label in the next couple of years. They also want to earn enough recognition to play at This Is Hardcore, a music festival featuring the biggest names in aggressive punk rock.
End Means will play their next show on November 23.
~Ally Lozano- Copy Editor
~Ella Malone- Staff Writer