With a Month-Long Residency at The Cave, MAKE's Spencer Lee Expands Upon His Beloved Metal Foundations | Music Feature | Indy Week
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With a Month-Long Residency at The Cave, MAKE's Spencer Lee Expands Upon His Beloved Metal Foundations 

Spencer Lee performs an improvised set with Clark Blomquist, right, and Scott McConnell (not pictured) at The Cave in Chapel Hill. Lee's weekly residency at The Cave extends through the end of the month.

Photo by Alex Boerner

Spencer Lee performs an improvised set with Clark Blomquist, right, and Scott McConnell (not pictured) at The Cave in Chapel Hill. Lee's weekly residency at The Cave extends through the end of the month.

Chapel Hill post-metal monoliths MAKE can safely be categorized as lifers. After more than a decade of consistent releases and gloriously chaotic shows, it feels difficult to imagine a Triangle where guitarist Scott Endres, bassist Spencer Lee, and drummer Luke Herbst aren't constantly tweaking their idiosyncratic doom metal machine. The music has never felt constricted by genre limitations. On last year's excellent Pilgrimage of Loathing, MAKE constructed plenty of bleak landscapes for doom fans to curl up in. It also reveled in inventive stoner sludge and post-rock ambience and other bits that hinted at influences beyond the band's obvious heavy metal lineage.

Fittingly, Lee is doing a residency of improvisational music at The Cave each Wednesday this August, with a unique guest musician featured each week. This week's iteration features Lee collaborating with Natural Causes' Ian Rose. On a recent Thursday, Lee was happy to chat about the band's performance philosophy, his thoughts on the Triangle's music ecosystem, and chasing trends.

SCENES

Like everything, they have upsides and downsides. The upside is that they create an easy way to share art and find your people. Especially within heavy metal, which has such a distinct aesthetic. To be able to spot someone out and be like, Oh, sick Sunn O))) shirt and relate to them is great. When those scenes become insular, it can be hard for people to bring outside elements in or even disseminate the music beyond that scene.

The Triangle is a small place with an abnormally metropolitan mind-set for a place of its size, and I think there's value to how the scenes here are set up. I think the vast majority of people like far more art than just their genre. As much as I like metal, if I could only listen to metal for the rest of my life, I would go crazy. We have played on bills with folk bands before and it's been a great time.

PERFORMANCE

We have always wanted to create a performance experience that is in line with the emotion that we're putting into the music as we're writing. Meaning that when we're playing, whether in the studio or in a live setting, the idea is to encompass what we are feeling and experiencing in our performance.

We try to make our art a communal experience to try to understand ourselves and make sense of what's going on inside and around us. I can't speak for everyone in the band, but I personally love playing live. I look forward to the catharsis of those moments quite a bit.

TRENDS

Trends can be exhausting, but I think a lot of it is unintentional. They can be equal parts fact and fiction. Many of them can be the byproduct of the media, a journalist connecting a few dots. It might not be that every band is doing it. It might be that a band blows up and people are into them, so the writers want to find other bands that sound like them. It isn't always a bad thing. Trends aren't something we actively engage with or necessarily avoid either. We take a lot of influence from other artists and we wear that on our sleeve. In a genre like metal, there is a huge body of subgenres, and sometimes if you aren't looking outside the umbrella genre of metal, things can get stale.

CARRBORO

My family moved to Durham when I was thirteen. From the day we got here until the time I was about to graduate from UNC, I was like, I have to get out of here, first opportunity.

That moment came and went, MAKE was already going and I was in another band called Systems, so I figured I would stick around. The more time I've spent here, the more I love it, and Carrboro as a town feels like my place in the Triangle. A few of my best buds are involved in the Nightlight circle. I'm working on getting out more.

MOTIVATION

It's definitely not financial. [laughs] We break even, not a lot of bands even have that opportunity. At this point, being able to make a record and have it pay for itself is the main thing we care about. As long as we aren't going totally broke doing it, awesome. Otherwise I think we all have an innate compulsion to play music. I know that the earliest photos of me as a toddler are with toy guitars. It's always naturally been what I've been drawn to. We love doing it, but also it feels like what we need to do to maintain our sanity.

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