It’s perhaps surprising that a band specializing in defiantly out-of-time music should make it to its 10th anniversary. But for The Scarring Party, standing apart from musical trends both locally and nationally has always been second nature. The group’s demented, vaudeville-by-way-of-Edward-Gorey aesthetic—built on the bones of banjos, tubas, accordions, typewriters, and the pinched old-timey vocals of singer-songwriter Daniel Bullock—has evolved and mutated over the years, but the singular vision behind it has remained constant. Still, even something impervious to the whims of taste and fashion must come to an end. “10 years is a really long time,” Bullock says, “and it definitely feels like a really long time inside of the band.”

“I started playing with Dan when I was 18 years old,” adds tuba player Isa Carini. “I’m 29 now. It’s kind of an odd feeling. A good feeling, but odd.”

That odd feeling is put to music on what is being touted as The Scarring Party’s final album, End Times. (Fitting, too, for a band that has long described its music as “end-timey.”) Whereas the group’s last proper record, 2010’s Losing Teeth, was filled with quirky and darkly humorous character sketches like “Raymond Dogboy,” End Times, perhaps inevitably, is a more somber affair. “This record, given the subject matter and knowing it’s our last one, is a lot more moody,” Bullock says. “I wrote it as a concept piece about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff. I tried to get that to coincide with the fact that we typically write albums and songs about the end of the world and apocalyptic miserablism. It was a good opportunity to rope in the kind of end-times bent with this concept piece.”

While the record represents the final statement from The Scarring Party, it also represents the latest iteration of the band itself. Bullock and Carini have been the only constant members over the past decade; they estimate there have been at least eight different Scarring Party lineups, each with its own variation on the band’s core sound. “It’s made every version of the band unique and interesting,” Carini says. “Certain records sound like weird, fucked-up Disney records, and others sound different.”

“When we first started we didn’t really know what we were doing,” Bullock adds. “Everything had a ramshackle quality because that was our best imitation of people who knew what they were doing. With the second record, we figured out what people’s strengths were. But then those people were all gone. So you’re really not back to square one, but it’s definitely ‘square different’ every time.”

Also new was the band’s reliance on the generosity of its fans. End Times was funded via a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $7,000. For Bullock, the move was less about money and more about simply gauging interest. “After our hiatus, we spent what money we had banked on a second West Coast tour,” he explains. “The idea was, if we’re going to put in a year’s work to make one more record, we wanted to know there was interest in it. We were all in agreement when we were talking about making a record that we wanted it to be a present for the people who have supported us.”

“Not necessarily more of the same,” Carini adds, “but something that…not wraps it up in a neat way, but something where we get to do this thing we’ve always wanted to do to finish it off.”

And though the end is nigh for The Scarring Party, its wonderfully weird and wonky sound will resonate with listeners who are on the hunt for something out of the ordinary. Those listeners may ultimately miss the band, but the band will miss them, too. “We’ve met some interesting people over the years that we refer to as ‘our people,’” Carini says. “Whenever there’s a weird person hanging out by themselves at a show…I will still, always, even after this band breaks up, be like, ‘That’s one of our people.’”

Before End Times is released at The Scarring Party’s final show Saturday, August 8 at Company Brewing, listen to two tracks from the album, “A Church In The Wild” and “Broken Branches,” only at Milwaukee Record.

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