Ballard VOX EP Review + Interview: Black Ends

Black Ends EP Review + Interview with Nicolle Swims

Brittne Lunniss for Ballard VOX

Nicolle Swims of Seattle-based Black Ends is a force to be reckoned with. The Alternative Indie “Gunk Pop” rocker consumes listeners with her devilishly cool vocals and layers of warped guitar in the group’s sophomore EP, Stay Evil. With Johnny Modes on drums and Ben Swanson on bass, Black Ends produces a biting sound not often heard in today’s scene. Mixed and mastered by Jack Endino, Stay Evil’s four-song EP is eerily beautiful with a cool simplicity. Swims makes a craft of creeping under listeners’ skin in the first track of the group’s EP, “Monday Mourning.” This is carried throughout Stay Evil, giving listeners an alt-90’s grunge experience charged with a modern punk aesthetic.

Photos by Andy Perkovich

Nicolle took the time to chat with Ballard VOX over email about the group and their new EP. Her answers are below.

1. The term “gunk pop” has been used to describe the sound of Black Ends. How would you define this subgenre for new listeners?

Listen and find out! Basically it’s pop music with a little dirt mixed in. I try to make the music as clearly gunky as possible.

2. Locally and nationally, we are in the midst of extreme social, political, and economic unrest. How do you think artists can use their music to promote lasting social change?

I think people just need to speak up. Being vocal about things goes a long way and silence is truly the thing that halts any change. Lasting social change is a group effort and working together is the way it needs to be. Form communities and work hard, and fight for what is right.

3. What does the phrase “stay evil” mean to you, and what was the inspiration behind this track?
Stay Evil is about abuse and getting revenge on your abusers. I basically wrote this about someone who has hurt me, and I kind of wanted to portray that lyrically. I wanted them to know what I felt since they couldn’t possibly ever feel it. Stay Evil and get even. 

4. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed artists to create and promote their music in new ways. How has quarantine changed the creative process for Black Ends?
The creative process has basically been non-existent band-wise. It’s hard to get together in the midst of all this. I’ve been really trying to stay as creative as I can lately. I’ve been playing guitar a lot and learning albums I like. How I focus and create things right now has definitely changed. 

5. Stay Evil has been receiving huge praise across the Seattle music scene! What was it like creating this EP, and what can we expect to see from Black Ends in the future? 
WORLD DOMINATION. We will be taking over the world in 2021, haha! We have a couple of singles planned right now. Definitely going to be making an album in the near future, hopefully sooner than later. Making this last EP was really fun and easy to make, honestly. We finished the record in a short amount of time and mostly recorded everything in Jonny’s basement. Low was finished back in the end of May, and I had been listening to a lot of Television back then so the guitar parts on that song are very “Tom Verlaine-y.” Overall, it was a super fun record to make. 

Black Ends gives listeners a whirlwind concoction of twangy riffs and hook-filled storylines. It’s as if the group has seen you, known you, and been with you during your darkest hours. Listen to this EP when you want revenge, when you seek retribution, or when you feel like the rest of the world doesn’t understand you. The only thing Stay Evil will leave you craving is more.

Photos by Andy Perkovich


Brittne is a PNW-native, sociologist, and musician. Her passion for writing began at a young age when a family friend gifted her Beth Joselow’s Writing Without the Muse. While she typically authors pieces for academic publications, Brittne particularly enjoys writing about Arts and Culture.

You can follow her on Instagram at _brittne_ann_


Andy has lived his whole life in the Puget Sound region. Although he began photographing live music just a few years ago, he is a long-time local music aficionado. Andy’s passion is concert photography because he can capture a completely unique moment. When not at shows, he can be found with a crossword or comic in hand, and spending time with his cat, Hank.

Using Format