MEND is a musical duo by Kassi Cork and Max Glascott, formed and based in Chicago. Stylistic influences range from hip-hop to industrial with nods to dub-step, acid, electro, classical and beyond.
Photos courtesy of Chelsea Ross Photography.
Allure Charm: So tell us about yourselves.
Kassi Cork: I’m Kassi Cork and let’s see – I have played piano since I was 8, started writing music when I was 13 and went to school for music education. I teach private piano lessons. That’s the boring info. I also used to play in an industrial band and once played on a cruise (the Gothic Cruise, no less). If i was a ninja turtle I would be Leonardo, even though I want to be Donatello.
Max Glascott: I grew up in and around Chicago. I was raised around visual arts and at some point decided that music was more gratifying. I started producing solo works when I was about 12 and started “The abominable twitch” as my primary focus. Kassi and I met in high school. I spilled ketchup on her trapper and we’ve been pals ever since.
Kassi: I demanded he draw me a comic of him destroying my Trapper Keeper as an apology. I still have it.
AC: Ha that is awesome. Kassi, how did you go from playing piano to being in an industrial band?
Kassi: I have always been into electronic music and grew up hanging out in the Chicago industrial scene and the singer for Cruciform Injection and I were talking about music once and I jokingly said “if you ever need a keyboard player, let me know.” A week later I joined the band. I played with them from 2003-2010. I was really confused about backing tracks. I thought I had to play everything. I was dumb.
Max: Yeah. I felt the same way about DJing. I didn’t understand that you could just play other people’s music. Thats another story though.
AC: How was MEND created?
Max: Well…Kassi and I had been experimenting casually for years without any real project in mind, as we both had our own outfits to worry about. A couple years ago, I was hitting a ceiling creatively with my solo work, and I didn’t really know where to go. Kassi had tons of music written and she sent over a few pieces for me to work with and we just kept nursing it until it turned into a cohesive sound. “MEND” as an identity was the result of trying to do something simple yet compelling. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t…haha. But I think its easy to remember, easy to communicate, and lends itself to an intriguing aesthetic.
Kassi: We had no idea if anyone would even like it, but we were mostly making it for us. We didn’t even check to see if anyone else had the band name MEND. The is a boy band in the UK called The Mend. It gets confusing sometimes. But we are so thrilled that people love what we do because we love what we do. I’ve never had so much fun making music ever. Test Landing was our first track, it was a piece I originally wrote for harp.
Max: Working on that song came so naturally. We needed to keep going.
Kassi: So i started sending Max MIDI files of all these pieces that were hanging out on my computer. He could translate all these ideas I had into really lush electronic tracks. I think our first few songs were written completely via the internet.
Max: Yeah. I might be jumping the gun, but we had a full length completed after a year. It came together pretty quickly in retrospect. That was all lost though…But that’s a different story. Ha.
AC: Why the name MEND?
Max: I was auditioning several names for another side-project, and I was really looking for something short and interesting. “The Abominable Twitch” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Symbolically, of the both of us I think it kind of fit with our world…we were kind of ‘on the mend’ respectively. I know I was definitely trying to fix shit in my world…Whether or not it was a conscious influence on the name, I don’t know. I often think of how it looks first. If it looks cool, and can tell a story, then it’s worth exploring.
Kassi: It just fit. It made complete sense, it wasn’t even a debate or really a conversation. We just kind of knew that was our name.
AC: What inspires you?
Max: Good music inspires me. Interesting people inspire me. I also torture myself and get overworked and spend too much time NOT writing music, and it just flies out eventually.
Kassi: People, visual art, music, space, and weird chords that collect in my brain. Just the other day we were writing a new track and getting amped up by listening to the Blade Runner soundtrack and Squarepusher. I think we both motivate/inspire each other in some ways – one of us will have an idea and the other will get an idea from it. But I think that is what is supposed to happen with collaborative song-writing… i think.
Max: We share a vision for sure. We definitely bounce off of each other.
AC: What are the most fun and stressful parts about this music business? This could be actually making the music, getting ready for live shows, etc.
Max: Playing shows will always be stressful, but they will always be fun and infinitely gratifying in ways you never expected (most of the time). I think we love the music making process a lot. It’s so great to start with nothing and walk away at the end of the day with a piece of music that didn’t exist when you started. It feels like sorcery. Playing out can certainly feel like that too, when it goes well.
Kassi: Agreed. The one other thing that can be very stressful in both live and in the studio is when stuff doesn’t work for some wacky reason. But I guess that is just part of making electronic music though. I also get stressed out by doing anything last minute.
Max: I always assume my gear is constantly broken or ready to explode. That way I’m not worried about. I just know the end is near. Haha. So when it actually works out, its that much more exciting.
Kassi: Its super mega exciting when people love the music and come up to us/message us to tell us they love it. That’s such an awesome feeling. What is not awesome is when random dudes come up to us while we are in the middle of playing and say weird stuff to me. That has happened a few times now, but thats another story.
AC: If you could live in any fictional world (Star Trek, for example), where would you live and what would you do?
Max: Oh boy
Kassi: NERD QUESTION! YUS.
AC: Fire away!
Kassi: Okay, have you ever seen Dragon 1/2 the anime? Where is like a normal anime and then for some reason everything gets super cute and tiny and ridiculous. Yeah. That’s my world.
Max: The ewok village always seemed quite fun.
Kassi: I had that toy as a kid. I could live in the Star Wars universe as long as there are no JarJars/gungans.
Max: I might have to go for something a bit more first world though. Or maybe an episode of REBOOT.
Kassi: Max is the Batman. Don’t tell anyone. Actually, have you ever seen Baman and Piderman? Its a web cartoon. There is one called Da Band which pretty much sums us up as friends/a band.
AC: (after watching) Okay that was awesome. If there was a book written about your life, what would the title be?
Max: Is that a Golden Retriever in my oven? : The Max Glascott Story.
Kassi: Kassi Cork: American Salad Dressing
Kassi: MEND: serious music, total weirdos.
AC: Awesome titles. Like, seriously.
AC: What problems do you run into with each other?
MEND In The Studio
Kassi: Well, I actually think we work quite well together. But i’m super organized and Max is freeform. But I think we have been friends long enough to know how to work together. We both get easily distracted and speak in a strange language that only we both can understand. One time we spent an hour watching Boys II Men videos instead of practicing for a show.
Max: I definitely get distracted easily. But I think we’ve known each other too long to even identify real problems any more. We probably just put up with each other’s shit without even knowing it.
Kassi: Sometimes I get all “come on Max, we gotta stay on task. We have this show tomorrow and I’m freaking out blah blah blah I suck, wah wah.”
Max: “Freeform”…. that’s very diplomatic of you.
Kassi: I told you, I’m Leonardo. He was the most diplomatic of all the Ninja Turtles. But in all honesty, I think we just know when to let the other go off on a weird tangent.
AC: If you were stuck on an island and could only have three things, what would you have?
Max: Peanut butter, potatoes, and a knife.
Kassi: An El Camino, Jorts and my smartphone.
AC: i’m guessing the El Camino is to sleep in? Because, you know, it’s an island and no gas.
Kassi: Well if I am trapped on an island I obviously didn’t plan very well, did I?
AC: Point taken. When is your next show?
Kassi: Our next show is in Chicago on Nov 7 with Assemblage 23. Bam.
AC: What do you do when you’re not making music?
Max: I work a lot. I play poker on Fridays. I cook. I watch movies about space. I have a cat.
Kassi: I teach piano. Have two cats and a rad gent. Ride my bike until my legs fall off. Drink fancy whiskey drinks. Pretend I’m tough.
AC: If you were to make it big, what would be the first five things you’d want to do?
Max: I’d want to make a movie and score it, and buy a castle. That feels like five things…
Kassi: I would want to buy a castle down the street from Max’s castle, high five Richard D James, buy a yacht, and visit Mars. I would also settle for just playing a show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Oh! Movie score or video game score would be awesome. I second that.
AC: What kind of movie though? Does it matter?
Max: Something heavy.
Kassi: Agreed. Maybe something like Drive. Or maybe more artsy.
Max: That was an incredible soundtrack.
Kassi: Or Tron. We would totally be okay if Disney wants us to do the next Tron soundtrack.
Kassi: Wait, no, it’s Disney. I’m sorry.
Max: I’m over Tron. It’s in my blood… And I’m over it
Kassi: Oh, I run to that soundtrack and it makes me feel epic and awesome.
AC: Are you working on new material?
Kassi: Yes. We are trying to complete a full length album. We have a bunch of new tracks that aren’t quite finished yet. Maybe by spring we will have something new and complete.
Max: Our sound is evolving and we keep writing. The new stuff is much more “heavy” than the EP. I’m really excited to see where it ends up in the coming months. Other than that we keep working on new material for shows, trying to keep it fresh.
AC: Can’t wait. Anything else you would like to say?
Max: I guess, we’re just excited to keep going. All of our currently available material is online and available. There will be much more, very soon. Thank you!
For more content from this interview: www.allurecharm.blogspot.com