When local musician Charles Davis entered the recording studio last year to work on a solo EP, he had no idea it would result in the formation of a band. But today, nearly a year after the release of the EP, titled “And The Ends of The Earth,” he says his solo days are long gone. And, fittingly, the group that now plays with him at area clubs is called … The Ends of The Earth.
It’s not your typical story. In fact, when a young artist from NEPA says he often listens to hip-hip — yet names everyone from Elliott Smith to blues great Skip James and reggae legend Yabby You among his influences — well, that’s far from typical. And the band’s music? Davis describes the sound as pre-“Dark Side of the Moon” Pink Floyd. Again, not your typical NEPA band.
“It’s just a culmination of a longtime appreciation of music,” says Davis. “I try to be expansive and include as many things as possible.”
The “And The Ends of The Earth” EP was recorded in North Carolina and was released in late 2008. Davis, a native of the Wyoming Valley, was living in North Carolina at the time and playing solo shows. After finding a good deal at a recording studio, he decided to lay down some tracks with a few friends. This later led to the formation of a band. When it came time to name for the group, the choice was easy: The Ends of The Earth.
In addition to Davis on guitars, vocals and keyboards, the band features Max Hosey on percussion and Vince Insalaco on bass, banjo and mandolin. The group has played shows at the River Street Jazz Café, The Bog, Liam’s and Bart & Urby’s. Davis also describes the music as “blues and experimental” with a wide array of influences.
“I mostly listen to hip-hop and reggae and just try to apply that to having grown up on classic rock and old blues music,” he says. “Elliott Smith would probably be one of my bigger influences as far as modern pop music, but I listen to mostly old blues music — Tommy Johnson, Skip James and Yabby You, an older reggae guy. He’s fantastic. He’s crippled, and he worked with King Tubby — the guy who pretty much invented dub reggae — but in his pre-dub days. If he wasn’t crippled, he probably would have been Bob Marley, because he’s one of, if not the best.”
Davis freely admits some of the music found on the EP is a bit trippy. At one point, a lengthy radio broadcast can be heard in the background throughout almost two entire songs.
“There happened to be an old transistor radio in studio,” he says. “We picked up on this broadcast of this old Southern preacher talking about UFOs, and that was actually a jam that we split up into two songs. It was all freestyle.”
Still, Davis says such choices in the studio were made with a clear purpose.
“A lot of times you listen to things and they sound pretty thin, especially a lot of modern-day music,” he says. “It’s almost more of background noise than anything else. Even some of the best music that’s happening nowadays, it’s almost as if it’s being created just to be something to exist behind whatever is actually occurring. By including something like that, it’s almost like background noise for the actual music, which is supposed to be in the forefront.”
Davis says that as the band played along to the radio broadcast live in the studio, it started to have an impact on the music. An example of this type of recording in music history came from Pink Floyd, who in 1969, played live to TV images of the moon landing.
“You hear a Southern preacher talking about UFOs, it’s going to affect you in one way or another,” he says with a chuckle.
Davis says the CD is available only through the band, and that a new album is now in the works.
“The other album was recorded in a day and a half,” he says. “This one, we’re taking our time with.”
Davis adds that playing with the band has only helped in expanding the exploratory sounds found on the CD.
“It’s wild show,” he says. “Max plays everything from a harmonica to a saw with a violin bow to a didgeridoo, and he does this while he drums. He’s a true percussionist. He’s got a whole setup of things back there — little clickers and shakers and bells …
“It’s pre-‘Dark Side of The Moon’ Pink Floyd. Like Moby Grape, or Frank Zappa,” he adds. “Vince is a classical guitarist, and he brings that aspect to the band, and it goes interesting places. I was torn between playing by myself, acoustic, but I’ve pretty much just dropped it for the band because it’s gotten that positive of a response. I love it. It’s fantastic.”
Info: myspace.com/theendsoftheearthspace, myspace.com/songsbycharlesdavis. To hear a track from the EP, visit the online version of this story at www.theweekender.com/music