For people whose passion is real rock, unadorned, Endino's name looms large. Set Myself on Fire marks his fourth solo release and his first in 15 years since the monumental Permanent Fatal Error. Five albums as guitarist for cult-status Seattle band Skin Yard preceded that.
Along the way, he became a mega-influential producer/engineer—it was Endino at the board for many pioneering Sub Pop releases that put grunge on the map. His early recordings of Nirvana, Mudhoney, TAD, Soundgarden, L7, and Mark Lanegan propelled rock in unexpected new directions. Endino is still at it in the studio, as 600+ albums and counting bear his no-holds-barred stamp.
Set Myself on Fire pulls it all together for 2021, a 14-track bonanza spotlighting Endino at his best yet. "I finally got comfortable with my voice, and with being a front-man," says Endino from his Seattle studio. "This album is my most focused, has my best singing, and dare I say it, the catchiest songs—though it still sounds like me and my loud guitar."
It sounds like many terrific musicians. A squad of sought-after players joined Jack and his linchpin bandmates Johnny Graziadei (drums) and Sam MacDonald (bass) for Set Myself on Fire. They unite for one powerful performance after another, filleting you at full force.
Drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Skin Yard) unleashes rhythmic virtuosity on the tense opener, "Wantonly." Zeke guitarist Chris Johnsen joins in for the sweeping strides, jagged edges, and dark beauty of big, tough "Toast the Sun." Dan Matthews, lead vocalist for the Black Clouds, joins along on the title song, a churning guitar, drums, and bass arsenal on the prowl—a gorgeous portal to hell.
It is a landmark release for N.J.-based independent label Capacitor Records, founded by both Matthews and Brian Kelly. "Set Myself on Fire is a perfect example of an artist finding that ethereal thing they've been searching for," says Matthews. "This record perfectly combines Jack's signature writing style with all of the writing and productions he's been a part of."
Jack Endino assaulted his demons head-on. Now he has a very clear mission—for everyone. "My outlook on this album is somewhat apocalyptic," he says. "I've seen enough death to have no illusions about my own mortality. I am always aware of entropy and the relentless passing of time. Life is short and getting shorter, so one must go forth and rock, literally or metaphorically."