Sunday 16 September 2012

20 Questions w/ Enabler

All Hail The Void

Hey Guys, well the interviews have been coming thick and fast over the last few days, so why not spoil you and give you another.  I know you guys can keep up, I have faith in you. 
I have probably said this previously on many occasions, but the quality of records this year has been phenomenal and it has given us great pleasure presenting them to you.
For one label in particular, 2012 has been a triumphant year. Who am I talking about?  None other than the mighty Southern Lord Records. One of those bands who has been at the forefront of SL's phenomenal success this year, is Enabler.  Who released their stunning record All Hail The Void a few months back.  That record has totally kicked my ass since I first listened to it and has been on my play list ever since. 
Given that I loved the record so much, I contacted the band and much too my surprise they agreed to speak with us, here at The Sludgelord.  So check out what happened when I spoke with Enabler mastermind, Jeff Lohrber
Hi Jeff, How are you?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord.


Q). Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing, in terms of the band at the present, having released you new record, All Hail the Void?  You completed the Southern Lord Summer Label Package in July, how was that?


A) Half of the band is living in Milwaukee WI, and the other half is living in Dayton OH (where I’m originally from). We’re preparing to record some new songs this week, and getting ready for a 3 week tour around a few fests in October, and then hopefully hitting Europe in December. The Southern Lord tour this past summer went really well. We were out with some really great bands Black Breath, Martyrdod, and Burning Love in addition to stints with The Secret, Dead in the Dirt, Pelican, Noothgrush, and Poison Idea. Every band was awesome all around, great people and great musicians, and all had something unique to bring to the table, in addition to the shows being successful with turnouts and good promoters.


Q). I’m relatively new to your band, specifically due to the release of you blistering new record, however  for those people who are unfamiliar with your music, can you tell me little a bit about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When Enabler first formed? Current band members?


A) The band started up in December 2009 from a solo project I had been working on for a few years. I had been demoing out songs on my own for a while with a drum machine, and it really seemed like the right time to bring everything to life. We’ve had a lot of members in and out of the band, and I think that’s mainly due to the band having one main songwriter where people can kind of choose when they want to leave knowing that it won’t really affect the band. I’m originally from the Dayton Ohio area, but relocated to Milwaukee in 2007, and that’s where the band started. I’ve personally played in more bands than I can count on my fingers and toes (Today is the Day, Trap Them to name a few), but my main band for years was Harlots. Dave Mann (Mouth of the Architect, ex Rune) and Eric Dunn (By Way of Sunstorm, ex Harlots) have just recently joined the band on drums and guitar, and Amanda Daniels has been slaying away at the bass for about a year now.


Q). Does the loss of members affect the momentum of the band, given that you’re in the middle of the touring cycle for your new record?


A) It certainly makes things stressful, but we saw the loss of Andy Hurley and Greg Thomas coming and could plan accordingly. From a writing and recording standpoint, absolutely not because I’ve written every song the band has recorded, and if it was down to the wire I could play every instrument on a recording. I choose to have members in the band because it makes things more interesting, rather than just having everything be one dimensional and performed by one person.


Q). Is Enabler a full time project, because I’m aware band members have commitments with other bands too?  Do want to talk a little about them?


A) For myself and Amanda, Enabler is a full time band. Like I said earlier, people can choose what their commitments are for the band. If it’s just a tour they want to fill in for, that’s fine as long as everything is out in the open.


Q) What made you start the band?  Did you all know each other before you formed? I read  an interview with you, that indicated that perhaps you were frustrated being a touring drummer and being told what to do?  Was that a motivator to start the band?  Being the de facto leader and front man must come with its own pressures?


A) During the demise of Harlots, I played drums for a few bands where I was a “hired gun”, and yes this got extremely frustrating always being told what to do and never being listened to or respected as a musician or a writer. I feel like Enabler has been kind of a “fuck you” in some ways to people who never took me seriously, including the people who laughed at me when I said I was going to move from drums to playing guitar and singing. Being the main guy in the band definitely has its pressures. In addition to all the writing, I do most of the leg work, and if something goes wrong everyone always wants to blame me. I’m just happy that I have people in the band now that respect and understand how much work and time I put into this band.


Q) Probably a stupid question, but are you or would you like to be full time musicians?


A) I consider myself a full time musician, and I move furniture for a living so I can pay for a roof over my head. I think everyone else in the band feels the same way about their jobs.


Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment?


A) Of course. Right this second I’m listening to Faith No More’s “The Real Thing”, when I started this interview I was listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti”. I’ve been listening to the Dead Kennedys and AC/DC quite a bit recently as well and older Def Leppard is always in my listening agenda. As far as more current releases go, I absolutely love the new Propagandhi record “Failed States”, Burning Love “Rotten Thing to Say”, Converge / Napalm Death split, Tragedy “Darker Days Ahead”, etc. This year has been so stacked with amazing new releases.


Q) When you started Enabler, what were your hopes for the band?


A) Just to release as much quality music and play as many shows as I possibly could. Very simple.


Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe your sound? Has it evolved because I have only heard your latest record? 


A) All bands have a natural evolution, so yes it has evolved a little bit, but I think has stayed true to the band’s original statement. It’s heavy, it’s fast, it’s really fucking pissed, and it’s got some epic melodic hooks to it.


Q)  Who would you say are your influences both musically and artistically in terms of the bands sound?  This is only my opinion but I heard the influence of Slayer on the record whether that directly or indirectly?  Hell, I though Dave Lombardo was on drums. 


A) The big influences when were first starting up were old Sepultura, From Ashes Rise, Nasum, Rotten Sound, Integrity, old Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy, etc. and yes, Dave Lombardo is a huge influence on the drums (don’t discredit Paul Bostaph though, he’s incredible as well!). Andy and I both agree that “South of Heaven” is our favorite drumming record of all time, so that influence is there wide out in the open.


Q)  Not wishing to get all profound and reflective on you, but the name Enabler could be construed as being an appropriate name for the band, given previous frustrations in previous bands?  For example the definition of enabler is. To provide (someone) with adequate power, means, opportunity, or authority (to do something) any truth in that?  You obviously have more freedom or creative control in the band?   


A) Honestly, I haven’t really given it much thought. We basically had a show lined up before we had a name, so we had to come up with one fast. Our former bassist Bubba suggested Enabler, and we all liked it so it stuck. I felt like it wouldn’t pigeonhole the band into one sound, which is true because there are so many different influences that we touch on.


Q)  What is the scene like in your hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin? 


A) There are some really great bands coming out of this area – Protestant, Northless, Get Rad, Iron Cages, Tenement, etc etc. The record label Halo of Flies is also based out of Milwaukee and they do some great releases.


Q) Would you consider yourselves to be an underground band?  If so, is it a struggle and is their great camaraderie within the scene back home?


A) Yes we are definitely an underground band. The music we play isn’t for everyone seeing as how the majority of people in this world don’t feel the same frustrations we do. It definitely takes a lot of work to keep this band up and running, but it’s all in the name of rock and roll. Like any scene, there are bands and people that we get along with very well, and there are bands and people that don’t like us for whatever reason. We do this because it’s something we feel we have to do.


Q)  What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?  Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?


A) Blogs are awesome because it’s free for the most part, and it’s just a more open form of media, where the writers are just talking about bands they like, opposed to magazines reviewing things because their advertisers tell them they have to. The plus side to print magazines is that it’s the same idea as owning a record; it’s something you get to hold in your hand and appreciate. The internet is a big place and things can get lost very easily. All in all, I’m flattered when someone wants to write about the music I make!


Q) All Hail the Void appears to have gained a great deal of praise?  Is that pleasing and does that matter to the band? 


A) It’s always pleasing when someone appreciates and relates to your music. Essentially we put music out there for the masses to enjoy, so it’s nice to hear feedback, but in the end that’s not the reason I play music or write songs. Music is a form of self-expression that I fell in love with years ago and I feel that I have to do.


Q). Please correct me if I am wrong, but All Hail The Void  is your 1st full length release to date, how does this record compare to your previous material?  Is it your best work to date? Where do you feel it fits within the metal scene at the moment?


A) I feel that our first LP is “Eden Sank to Grief” and that AHTV is the follow up to that. I realize that ESTG is 20 minutes long, but it feels like a complete sentence to me. I actually don’t feel that AHTV is our best work to date, I feel like it complements ESTG in a really cool way. ESTG is a record that was recorded in 16 hours, it was the first 8 songs the band had tight together, and we were all just in go mode, where AHTV was recorded in 18 days with 3 months of mixing and editing and is a natural progression in songwriting. AHTV is the more mature record, but there is always something to say about the fire in a band’s first output. It’s like comparing Kill Em All to Ride the Lightning for me, they both totally kick ass in their own way.


Q) Does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?


A) No, because if I wasn’t in this band I would be a fan of the music and image of this band. I wouldn’t sell something that I wouldn’t want to buy and own myself.


Q) Having previously released material on Fuck City records and Creator Destructor to name but a few, was signing to Southern Lord a big turning point for you and how did that come about?  You must be stoked to under the wing of such a respected label? 


A) Yeah, I was absolutely stoked when Greg Anderson agreed to release the CD of AHTV. SL is a great label all around, they really care about what they release. Quality is important in this age of information overload. I have nothing but positive things to say about Southern Lord.


Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?


A) Enabler is an interesting story period. I wouldn’t even know where to start. We did a Canadian tour last year that was just awesome, and then of course the Southern Lord tour this year was amazing.


Q) The opening track F.A.T.H, is as good as an opening track I heard this year and very representative of the record as a whole. Did you have an agenda or a game plan in terms of what you wanted to write for All Hail the Void? Does everyone contribute song ideas?


A) I wrote and demoed the entire record on my own and we learned it as a whole. Greg Thomas joined the band as a 2nd guitarist in addition to producing the record. He had a lot of points of how to reorganize the track listing for the record in addition to adding layers, and even re-recording “No Deliverance” and “Fuck Today” and dropping a track. FATH was always on board to be the opener for sure. I’d say I went into this record with my own game plan, and Greg kind of edited it. Some of the ideas he brought to the table were totally killer, and some I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but compromise is part of what being in a band is.


Q). It’s worth mentioning the killer artwork, which appears to encapsulate the ethos of the record? Who designed it and did you have specific ideas in mind in terms of the aesthetics of the artwork or did you give free rein to the artist? 


A) We’ve worked with Jimpaler for a few things now. He did the art for the “War Begins With You” EP and the “Year One” compilation, in addition to a few shirt designs. I wanted consistency in the art, like Slayer and Megadeth had in the 80s. The way we’ve always worked is he will base the art off of the lyrical theme for the record, so the art matches the vibe of the record. He does a great job with that. I am not an artist at all, so I give him free reign and he always comes up with the best shit.


Q) How do you feel about the digital era of music and people downloading music for free? You’re using a band camp page, would you or have you ever considered releasing your music for free or ‘pay what you like’ to raise the profile of the band? 


A) I know people download our music for free, and frankly I don’t care. I download music for free all the time. I don’t have any money and I’m a music junkie, so I totally get it. I won’t release our music for free because of the fact of how much money it costs to run the band, and the fact that it devalues the music. You appreciate it more when you pay for it. If people want to pay for our music and help support us, then that’s fucking awesome, if they want to download it for free, I’m still stoked that they are listening to Enabler.


Q) What are your plans for the rest of the year and any chance you're doing a full UK tour? 


A) We have a 3 week stint next month around a few fests, and planning a Euro trip with UK shows in December. We’re looking at playing almost 150 shows in all of 2012, totally insane!


Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?


Thanks for supporting Enabler and we’ll see you soon!

Another great interview from one of my favourite bands of the year.  Thanks to Jeff for hooking us up and generously giving up his time for the interview.  Support this band and buy their merch.  Check out the links belows.  You can buy their blistering new record here.

Southern Lord