A constantly evolving experimental rock band embracing the philosophy and creative freedom of punk rock without always paying attention to the accepted template of its sound, Self Defense Family are the brainchild of vocalist and songwriter Patrick Kindlon, who created the group as a loose collective of musicians living in and around Albany, New York.
Self Defense Family evolved from the similarly open-ended band End of a Year, with the group exploring less aggressive and more atmospheric settings for Kindlon's lyrics in their new identity. In addition to a steady stream of singles, SDF issued their first album, the strikingly minimal Heaven Is Earth, in 2015, while 2018's Have You Considered Punk Music doubled down on the group's spare but intelligent attack.
Most of the players who've floated in and out of Self Defense Family since 2011 were already in bands but were looking for an additional creative outlet, and SDF have embraced their collective nature so strongly that no two recordings or performances have included precisely the same line-up (even Kindlon sits out on occasion, and he's also a full-time member of Drug Church as well as a writer and artist). The group was founded and originally performed under the name End of a Year, taken from a song by Embrace, a short-lived collaboration between Ian MacKaye and his brother Alec MacKaye. The name suited the band's music, which resembled the approach of the more adventurous Dischord bands, and in 2003 End of a Year made their public debut with a show at State University of New York Albany; they cut a lo-fi demo of their songs that they gave away at the performance, and a more polished demo, titled Warm, appeared a few months later. In 2004, End of a Year released their first album, Disappear Here, through Oneohfive Records; in 2005, they issued the first of many singles, in this case a split 7" with the band Three Fifteen, and it was one of the group's 45s that caught the attention of Revelation Records, who struck a deal with End of a Year to release their second album, 2006's Sincerely. In 2010, End of a Year hooked up with the independent punk label Deathwish Inc., and issued the album You Are Beneath Me.
Not long after the album was released, Kindlon decided the band needed a new name; he compared the shift in monikers to Will Oldham changing the name of Palace Brothers to Palace Music and later Bonnie "Prince" Billy, reflecting the group's growing musical spectrum, and the 2011 single "I Heard Crime Gets You Off" was released under the handle End of a Year Self Defense Family. A few stray releases used Self Defense as the group's name before 2014 saw the release of Try Me by Self Defense Family, a concept album dealing in part with the ups and downs of adult film actress and entertainer Jeanne Fine (aka Angelique Bernstein), who is featured in interviews on the album conducted by Kindlon. For 2015's Heaven Is Earth, Self Defense Family began exploring new sounds by recording the tracks to their album at four different studios where they had never worked before. 2018's Have You Considered Punk Music found Kindlon and his collaborators moving even deeper into atmospheric, dynamic sounds as the vocalist thoughtfully murmured more than he ranted. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi