Latest release: Shift of Redemption EP
Band site: enablermke.bandcamp.com/
Coalescing energetic and dynamic elements of hardcore, punk, crust and death metal into their own brutal brew, Milwaukee quartet Enabler has unleashed eight furious releases during the past few years, all while touring throughout the US and Europe with acts such as Rotten Sound, Black Breath, Martyrdöd, and Wormrot. Following on from 2012’s acclaimed All Hail the Void album for Southern Lord Records, Enabler has just released their Shift of Redemption EP and will be heading Down Under for the first time this July to launch it. Joining them will be Melbourne’s blackened crust/sludge group Urns. Vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Lohrber spoke to Loud about using the band as an excuse to tour the world, balancing band life with a day job and Fall Out Boy.
Q: So, Australia is the next tour you have scheduled. What do you do for a living outside of the band?
A: I work at a record store. Our guitarist and our bassist are both cooks at different restaurants, and our drummer works with kids. I don’t know the actual term for it, but it’s kind of like a babysitter, but more than a babysitter, he works with like handicapped kids and stuff. So we all have different trades. I have the most punk rock one (laughs).
Q: (Laughs). The band is obviously a passion project for you then, a creative outlet.
A: Yeah, it’s a passion project. At the end of the day we’re pretty much breaking even. We don’t really make any money doing this, but it’s not about… I don’t really care about that, because I have a lot of fun doing it. I’m in my 20s, so I’m able to do this right now, the way we tour in the band and everything. I couldn’t imagine not doing this; not having something to look forward to. I couldn’t imagine just sitting in my apartment, going to work every day and not having this to look forward to, not having these things. Being able to see the world by playing music is just an amazing thing to do, period. I said to someone earlier, when they asked what we expected out of the Australian tour. I was like, “You know what? If five people come to every show I don’t really care”. I’m doing this because I want to go to Australia and I’ve never had a chance to go there before. So it’s kind of the same thing for being able to tour Europe; just being able to travel the entire world playing music is just a really fortunate thing to be able to do.
Q: So it’s a matter of picking and choosing your tours around work and personal schedules, as well as selecting places you’re legitimately interested in visiting.
A: Yeah, we are fortunate enough to have jobs (with people) who like what we do, so if something comes up that we really want to do, we have the ability to say “Yes”. But we have to think about these things; we can’t just go on tour tomorrow. We have to plan it out two or three months in advance, so that we can cover ourselves at home and have a roof over our heads when we come home. We’re always pretty much preparing, like, “Hey, we’re not going to make anything on this tour” (laughs). We’re always preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. We’ve all been doing this for long enough that we have done enough bad tours, playing to nobody with our previous bands, to know that to expect that, and when it ends up being better… Which it fortunately has been for Enabler, everything has been pretty awesome for the past year-and-a-half, two years. So we’ve been fortunate enough to have that, but we still go into it expecting the worst. Expecting to play for five people every night and get paid $50, and hopefully we’re wrong about that (laughs).
Q: What can you tell us about the band’s live show?
A: The new EP just came out, so we’re playing some songs from that. We’re playing a bunch of songs from All Hail the Void, and we’re playing a few songs from our first record too. Whenever we plan a set list out we try to play something, a least a song off of every release that the band has ever had. Mainly because I think most people know the band for All Hail the Void and the EP too. But I think there are a lot of people who have been with us since day one, and I think it would be kind of an injustice to them to not play the older material, when they supported the band when other people weren’t supporting us. I also think it’s also cool for people who like our current material to go through our back catalogue. We have a lot of releases now, and there’s a lot of stuff there. So you never really get bored with this band if you get into it.
There’s nothing really that special about the live show; we’re just four people that play our instruments and we definitely bring it. We play as hard as we possibly can; there’s no staged theatrics… There’s none of this, “What the fuck’s up everybody?” None of that. We’re a down-to-earth band. We view ourselves as people who play music; we’re not rock stars. We’re very approachable people. We like to have fun and hang out. We’re not the kind of band who views ourselves above people or our audience. I definitely know there are other bands out there that do that. We’re a very down-to-earth band, so that’s what you’ll get from our live set; four people playing their instruments to their best of their ability and playing as hard as we possibly can. If we’re playing a show in front of five or ten people and they’re just kind of staring at us like they don’t know what’s going on, we still bring it. But if we’re playing in front of a really good, killer audience where the people are going insane, we play even harder. So we definitely feed off the audience and the connection we have with them, which is a very important thing I think.
Q: Are you familiar with many Australian heavy bands?
A: Well, AC/DC of course (laughs). I don’t really know a whole lot of Australian bands off the top of my head. One band that comes to mind is the band… Thy Art is Murder. We ran into those guys in Frankfurt, Germany actually. They had played the same venue that we were playing the night before, and it was the end of the tour. They had a couple of days before they flew out. So they were just kind of hanging out, came out to our show and ended up partying with those guys all night and hanging out. They’re really good dudes; I actually have not listened to their band (laughs). I’m not really, I’m just going to be straight up on this – I’m not really into a lot of the current bands. I’m kind of old school in my listening tastes. But I listen to, I like King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Megadeth.
Q: Have you heard the new Megadeth yet?
A: I have not. I was really hoping that we would get promos of that at the record store that I work at, but we never got any. I have liked the past two or three (records); I thought they were pretty good. It’s nice to hear the bands you grew up loving, like playing metal again (laughs). There was definitely a period of time where Metallica and Megadeth went really bad, and Anthrax as well. They put out some really bad stuff in the ‘90s. It’s nice to hear them just playing metal again, and hear awesome guitar solos and shredding over everything.
Q: Which, if any newer bands do excite you though?
A: Well, Rotten Sound – we just toured with those guys, fucking amazing grind band. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to tour with Rotten Sound and Napalm Death, and honestly, it’s kind of ruined grindcore for me, because both bands are just so fucking good that I don’t really care about any other grind bands (laughs). There are a number of others, like Burning Love, Black Breath, the new Nails record I thought was pretty good. So there are a number of current things that I definitely like. One record that will probably surprise you that I’ve been listening to a lot this year is the new Fall Out Boy record. I just think that record’s a perfect pop record, and just really good songwriting. I also like the new Ghost record a lot too; that’s definitely been played a lot on my rides two and from work.
Q: That Ghost record has been copping some flak, but I think they’ve built nicely on what they achieved with their debut.
A: I just think it’s a different record. The first one is a little more stripped down. This new one is really produced, there’s a lot of extra sounds. The thing that impresses me about Ghost is no one in the band… I don’t think anyone in the band necessarily stands out. I mean, obviously if you watch them, their singer obviously stands out. But I think that the most important thing about that band is that they play as a unit. That no one really stands out, but the whole unit, when everything is together, it’s really powerful. Some of the guitar riffs, if you just play the guitar by itself and didn’t have the rest of it; it’s pretty weak-sounding. The same with the drumming; the drumming is very basic. It’s almost like Ringo Starr kind of basic, you know? But when it all comes together, it just sounds amazing to me. But all my friends hate it though (laughs).
Q: Is that a sensibility you seek to achieve with Enabler – that feeling of being one solitary, rock-solid unit?
A: Oh, there’s definitely an influence in that aspect of it, just in songwriting and everything. For me, being a songwriter and the main songwriter in Enabler, I like to listen to stuff like that. I love The Beatles, and I love hearing something come together as a while unit. It’s very important to have that, to consider that in writing in general. I don’t really consider myself to be the best guitar player by any means. I can write riffs, and I’m a pretty good rhythm guitarist. But it’s all about the colour; I can write the simplest guitar riff, but fill it in with the second guitar line, the bass line and drums and everything, and it can turn the most basic riff into something that’s just massive. So I think having a vision for the entire unit is definitely an important thing in playing in our band. As opposed to, “Oh, this band has the best guitar player”. I’m not interested in that Yngwie Malmsteen kind of stuff, where it’s like the guitar player is amazing, but no one knows who the rest of the band is, no one knows who’s backing them up and no one really cares. I’m not really into that; I’m more into being the unit.
Q: Interesting. Any famous last words?
A: Just come check us out in Australia, we have a new EP that just came out, so check that out too. Hope to see some familiar faces at the Australian shows; we’re really looking forward to it, so come and check out the shows.
You can catch Enabler with Urns on the following dates-
3/7- TBA, Byron Bay NSW AA
4/7- Crowbar, Brisbane QLD 18+
5/7- Hermann’s Bar, Sydney NSW 18+
6/7- Black Wire Records, Sydney NSW AA
7/7- Yours & Owls, Wollongong NSW AA
9/7- Croatian Wickham Bowls Club, Newcastle NSW 18+
10/7- The Pot Belly Bar, Canberra ACT 18+
11/7- The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne VIC 18+
12/7- Black Goat Warehouse, Melbourne VIC AA
13/7- The Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA 18+