For New York City’s End of Hope, there’s no time to waste on flowery, circuitous bullshit. This quartet of dudes from around the Big Apple’s rock and metal scene play the kind of sludgy, punky music rooted in acts like Black Flag, FEAR, Nuclear Assault, and Crowbar, with speed and kinetic energy at the forefront of their sound. Now, hot on the heels of their lead pipe of a debut Cease & Destroy from last year, the band have decided to pay homage to rock and roll’s ultimate lifer band via a kickass cover of Motörhead’s “Iron Fist.”
Before listening to our exclusive premiere of the track, we checked in with guitarist Ken Wohlrob about what inspired the band to take on one of Lemmy’s greatest if perhaps less famous tracks.
Of all the Motörhead songs, why “Iron Fist?”
We didn’t want to pick an obvious one. It’s odd, but “Iron Fist” actually doesn’t get covered as much as some of the other Motörhead songs. Bands tend to cover “Ace of Spades” or “Orgasmatron” or “Killed by Death.” When bands do cover “Iron Fist,” they play it like a speed metal tune, trying to outdo Lemmy, Eddie, and Philthy with sheer velocity. But they strip out that boogie that’s an important part of the Motörhead sound. We wanted to put the groove back into it and then put a NYHC spin on it.
Tell me about what Motörhead means to you — how did the band influence you?
For me, Motörhead is THE band. Their entire catalog never leaves my phone. I always want it at the ready and don’t want a lack of WiFi to get in my damn way. I have all the original Bronze Records versions on vinyl. I’ve also got the weird little EPs like Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers or the Motördamn EP where they jam with The Damned. I think Bastards is one of their best albums even though most people hate it or have never bothered to listen to it. For me, they are unimpeachable. There are bands I used to really love that don’t listen to that much anymore. I’ve never had that with Motörhead. They invented their own sound. That perfect hi-octane drive with a ton of grit to it. There’s an energy and honesty to their music that cannot be denied. When [vocalist] Davey Gunner and I first talked about forming End of Hope, the pitch I gave to him was that I wanted to create a sound that melds Black Flag and Motörhead. I viewed them as standards to be met.
Were there any challenges that covering “Iron Fist” presented to you guys?
We didn’t overthink it. It’s Motörhead. It should kick you in the balls. That’s what Lemmy would have wanted. Because we recorded it during the pandemic, we didn’t actually have a chance to rehearse it together. We all showed up on the day of recording and just had at it. Dave Richman, our drummer, gave the original a few listens and then worked it out in his head. Then we had at it. As a cover song, “Iron Fist” is actually a bitch to play. That Motörhead shuffle riff that they use in so many songs is played at a really fast tempo. I’ve heard the song a million times, but when you have to dissect the actual timing of it, you realize how much of a mindfuck it can be. It’ll throw you. I wanted to make sure we kept that groove because to me, that’s one of the important things that always set Motörhead apart. Davey also made a smart choice of actually singing it very clean. Everyone always tries to get all gravelly when they sing it. Almost like they’re doing a Lemmy impression. Davey sings it in a style that really goes back to the NYHC roots. He taps into the punkier side of Motörhead in a perfect way.
Do you remember where you were when you heard Lemmy died?
I was at my job. It really caught me off guard. At that time, you could tell Lemmy was slowing down. But he would never want to let anyone down. If you watched live footage from some of the European festivals, you could tell they dropped the song tempos a little bit. And Lemmy’s voice wasn’t as strong as it used to be. But he showed up no matter what. We always joked that Lemmy and Keith Richards would outlive us all. And it just happened really goddamn fast. It was like one minute he was there and then gone. Suddenly you realize we’re now at the point of B.L./A.L. (before Lemmy, after Lemmy). Although fitting for a guy born on December 24th. I spent the whole week listening to the entire Motörhead catalog, from start to finish. You always forget about certain songs. Then suddenly you hear one again and go, “Goddamn, ‘Shake the World’ is a hell of tune!” What a stunning legacy to leave behind.
Listen to our exclusive premiere of End of Hope’s cover of “Iron Fist” below: