I recently met up with guitarist/vocalist Jeff Lohrber of the band Enabler behind The Orpheum in Ybor City, we talked about their new album, Maryland Deathfest, as well as his personal opinions on modern metal. Enabler are wrapping up their tour supporting Eyehategod and Ringworm, but have said they have a lot of big touring news coming soon, so be sure to keep an eye out.
Q – You guys just finished your set, I personally enjoyed it, but how did you feel about it?
Jeff – I thought it went great. I had a lot of fun playing, I definitely enjoy the opportunity to play some bigger settings on this tour. I like having the room to jump around, I’m 6’2 and I know I’m not going to fall into my amplifier or knock somebody’s beer, or hit my head or knock into someone’s guitar or anything(laughs). It’s nice having that. I definitely miss the small shows, but I enjoy playing shows regardless. The stage tonight could have been a foot or two lower, but it’s whatever, a show is a show, a place to play and do your thing.
Q – You guys are currently wrapping up this tour supporting Eyehategod and Ringworm, how has the tour been treating you?
Jeff – It’s been really good. We’ve made a small name for ourselves in the past five years, I’ve kept the band touring a lot for a long time, but we have a lot of the older fans coming out to see Eyehategod and Ringworm that have never heard of us before, which is cool. Both of those bands have been around for over twenty years, and we’ve been around for five, I feel like the guys in Eyehategod could be our parents(laughs), but it’s cool. Ringworm were already friends of ours, our drummer is currently filling in for them on this tour, and Eyehategod has been nothing but awesome on this tour, they kill it every night and they’re all great guys. We’ve all been getting along really well, and getting to play in front of great audiences is always rewarding. I’d saw overall it’s been really fun.
Q – “La Fin Absolue Du Monde(The Absolute End Of The World)” has been out for almost a month now, how has the overall reception for it been like?
Jeff – Has it really been almost a month? Time really flies(laughs). I haven’t really seen anything bad, to be honest I haven’t really ever seen anything bad about any of our records online. It feels like it’s getting pretty positive reviews, I’m personally really proud of the new record, it’s a records I’ve been trying to make for a really long time now. Compared to our last full length, “All Hail The Void”, I think this record is a little smoother on the ears, but even more importantly it sounds like a band playing, more so than it has in the past. I think my song writing has progressed, I really like it a lot, and the more we play the new songs the more it catches on faster than anything we’ve ever done before. The songs on the new album are especially catching on more live, which is what I really care about.
Q – What are the lyrical themes for the album?
Jeff – The name of the album comes from the master of horror John Carpenter’s “Cigarette Burn”. I was really inspired by horror and sci-fi, both genres of literature and movies. I watched the movie in LAX during a layover when we were in Australia last year, it’s like a movie that’s inside of the movie, I don’t know if any of you have seen it but I highly recommend it. It’s a really underrated flick that a lot of people haven’t seen, “La Fin Absolue Du Monde” is like this movie that’s inside of the actual movie itself, and I think that’s a crazy idea to make up a movie that’s inside of a movie. It’s not the first time John Carpenter had done that, and the first time I heard that this movie made people kill themselves at it’s first showing, and that all copies were burned except for one, I just thought that was a really great idea. Lyrically though, it has nothing to do with horror movies or sci-fi or anything, it’s all personal live experiences that we go through, I write the music first and just go from there. I have the patterns in my head of how I think things should sound, and I just write down any certain feeling I’m getting from the song, it’s all life experiences and how I relate the fiction to the movies and literature that I’m a fan of to what I’m doing with the song writing. The horror aspect really has nothing to do with the lyrics, it’s just what I relate to what I’m saying a lot of the time.
Q – You guys played the Soundstage at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, with bands such as Ratos De Porao,Left For Dead, Unholy Grave and more back on May 25th. How was the overall experience for you guys to play the festival, especially with the incredible lineup?
Jeff – I would say that Maryland Deathfest was one of the top three sets we’ve ever played, not necessarily in terms of crowd involvement, even though the crowd seemed to love it. I was kind of nervous about it because we played a four o’clock, we were the first band on the Soundstage on the last day and I just thought people were going to be hung over, and it was a big room, and I just thought it was going to be really small. But it actually had a pretty good turnout, and people fucking loved it. But on the other side of that, I think we delivered one of the top three sets we’ve played as a band. I love a lot of the bands that played later. Ratos De Parao were awesome, I discovered them through the Sepultura cover, I’d never actually heard any of their music, but when Sepultura covered them it was just a cool thing to me. To play on stage with the legendary Brazilian punk band was great, and they played great. Left For Dead was awesome, Shitstorm and Unholy Grave were pretty cool. There was a lot of in-between too, a lot of the bands I wanted to see were at the Edison Lot. Over at the sidebar our friend’s band Yautja were playing, so I definitely rushed to make it to their set only to find out they got pushed up, and I walked in as they were pulling their gear out, and I was so bummed. That band is absolute phenomenal, they are one of the best kept secrets in the states right now, they are such a good band, and I really hope people start catching onto them. Funny story about Yautja, on this tour they played our Erie, PA show, and I made sure to tell everyone on this tour they had to check out this band. I know it gets mutinous, you play shows every night and a lot of the time you don’t watch the opening bands, you’re hearing live music every night and you sometimes get burned. But I told everyone to check out this band, we did a split 7-inch with them, and we actually played their second show ever at their house. Jimmy Bower watched them and just watched their drummer and was like, “Oh my god, I quit.”(laughs), and Jimmy goes up to him and just says “Hey, you guys are playing tomorrow.”, and they were like “Wait, what..?”, he just told them “We’re playing Rochester tomorrow, and you guys are opening.”, Jimmy actually payed them personally, because he thought the band was badass.
Q – What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended that you didn’t play?
Jeff – That’s actually really easy for me, my parents took me to see Def Leppard when I was in first grade, and it was life changing, that’s why I’m here. I knew in first grade what I wanted to do, and now I’m here doing it, obviously not on that level. I absolutely love early Def Leppard, and Steve Clark is a huge hidden guitar influence, he’s my all time favorite guitarist, and unfortunately I didn’t get to see them with Steve Clark before he passed. His melodies are a huge influence on Enabler, not that we sound anything like Def Leppard, but those melodies are hidden in there.
Q – What would say is your favorite Def Leppard album?
Jeff – Oh man, either “High And Dry” or “Pyromania”. “Pyromania” was the one I really loved as a kid, but I really like “High And Dry”, “Hit And Run” is just one of the best rock n’ roll songs ever written.
Q – What are some of your favorite music releases from the past year?
Jeff – Portal’s “Vexivoid”, as far as extreme metal goes I thought the new Portal was fucking unreal, I think that band is pushing limits. Ulcerate’s “Vermis” was great, the new Gorguts is great, I like the new Carcass a lot, the new Shai Hulud. As much bullshit as there is, where a lot of the older guys say that music isn’t the way it used to be, there are still bands that are pushing limits. There’s always been bullshit, in the 80’s there was awesome thrash, that eventually turned into death metal…..but on the other side of that you had Cinderella, Ratt and Poison…that’s what the mainstream audience thought heavy metal was, when it’s really nothing like that. You’ve got a lot of very “safe”, clean singing metalcore bands, and all of the Meshuggah rip-off bands, and they’re all fucking garbage, It’s all electronic and processed. Yeah, some of these guys can play their instruments, I’m not trying to take that away from them, but they have absolutely no songwriting, and that’s something I made a big point with Enabler to bring back, that vibe of “We’re a band. This is how drums sound, how guitars sound. This is a guitar amplifier, this isn’t a computer.”. This is a formula that’s existed all of these years for a reason, it’s right. And if you want to do some shitty *mimics “djent” guitar tone*, if you want to do that it’s cool, that’s on you, if you like it that’s cool, but I think it fucking sucks. I’ve got friends that play that stuff, and I haven’t stopped being friends with them, I’ve had friends in emo/rock bands too, but I don’t stop being friends with them because I don’t like their band, but at the same time I don’t like their music, but that’s just how it is sometimes. There’s a formula that was perfected in the 70’s and 80’s and through the early 90’s, and from there on out something got screwed up, the formula got fucked up, people were too focused on the future and they didn’t realize that what was already happening was already really cool. They try to go way too far with the genre. And you know what? Meshuggah is a great band, let Meshuggah be Meshuggah and do your own thing, don’t copy them because you can’t, they’re doing their thing, so why do you have to try and turn it into this whole bro/metalcore/mosh crap. All the djent bands ruined Meshuggah for me, kind of like how all of the metalcore bands sounded like At The Gates with breakdowns, it almost ruined At The Gates for me, because I absolutely love At The Gates and they are nothing like them. You just hear the same riffs being reprocessed over and over, it’s so repetitive. I can’t wait for it to stop and die out.
Q – What’s the one band you’ve never played with that you wish you could tour with/open for?
Jeff – Metallica. They’re easily the most shit-talked band metal band of all time, they wrote five of my favorite records of all time, and if I ever have the chance to play with them that would be a huge honor. There’s a number of other ones, but if that ever happened I could just die happy.
Q – After this tour is finished, what’s next for Enabler?
Jeff – I can’t really talk about it yet, but there’s a lot, just be on the lookout.