Endless Heights on finding more than just 'Viscous Pleasure'

With this band, we've found our music is most exciting when we're doing something that scares us. If it feels uncomfortable, then you know you're doing it right.”

“I'm getting goosebumps.” Joel Martorana, lead singer of Sydney band Endless Heights, is in a vulnerable state when he speaks with Beat. After all, the realities of the band's second studio album, Vicious Pleasure, are finally sinking in as its release looms. Never shying away from the personal and the introspective as far as his own lyrics are concerned, Martorana notes how the album is a stark and direct look at some of his innermost thoughts, feelings and secrets. “It absolutely scared the shit out of me,” he says.

“Writing this album, it became pretty clear that there were a few things down below that I had to give a bit more air-time to. Stuff that may have been suppressed a bit. I had to trick myself into letting myself open up – I'd improvise these lyrics while I was recording the demo, just thinking they were placeholder lyrics and that I could change them later.” Of course, when the time came to show his bandmates, Martorana knew that the subject matter of these songs – even if they were supposedly just placeholders – would have to be breached.

“There were definitely a few of those lyrics that they'd hear me sing where they'd look at me and be like, 'What the fuck does that mean?'” he says with a nervous laugh. “That's when I knew I'd really have to explain what these words meant. I'm lucky that I was able to do it with these guys, who I've walked through life with for the better part of ten years now. They told me that what I was writing about was real, and that people needed to hear it. If I had to describe Vicious Pleasure to someone, I'd say that it's an album that comes from the heart.”

It says a lot about Endless Heights that they’ve never had a lineup change. Originally forming as Your Ghost Is A Gift in the late 2000s, the band changed their name in 2009 and came up through the local hardcore scene. When one describes Endless Heights as a post-hardcore band, that's in quite a literal sense. With the release of their debut album, 2013's New Bloom, the five-piece moved away from screamed vocals and the more aggressive edges of their music to create something with a similar energy that was, simultaneously, considerably removed from their origins.

“It's still something I struggle with, to be honest,” says Martorana. “It's funny, when you have a niche genre background, you pick up a lot of good habits as well as the bad habits. When I'm performing, I'm still embodying what I learned from being at hardcore shows. Every time I touch a microphone, I'm there giving it 150%, because that's how I learned to perform. That means I can also do stupid things like blow my voice out from time to time. That's alright, though – I don't think we'll ever quite shake where we came from.”

Vicious Pleasure started coming together in 2016, where two new songs – ‘Drain’ and ‘Pray I Fade’ – were released as a seven-inch at the end of the year. Both made it to the final cut of the record, as did 2017 singles ‘You Coward’ and ‘Come a Little Closer’. All four of these songs are strong examples of the band's evolution between album releases – something Martorana himself is especially observant of. “With this band, we've found our music is most exciting when we're doing something that scares us,” he says.

“If it feels uncomfortable, then you know you're doing it right. We wanted to give ourselves more and more permission with this record. If we're going to make something heavy, let's make the musically heaviest song we've ever written. If we're going to write a slow, pretty song then let's make it the slowest and most beautiful song we've ever written. Let's make something heartbreaking. Let's make something beautiful. There was endless potential that came with these songs as we were writing them, and I knew we'd get there in the end.” Martorana laughs, adding: “It helps that I got to be a total drama queen while writing the lyrics, too.”

Endless Heights’ sophomore album Vicious Pleasure is out now via Cooking Vinyl. They’ll take over Northcote Social Club on Saturday April 18 with Harbours and Paradise Club.