We recently caught up with Enabler‘s founding guitarist and front man Jeff Lohrber for a new interview as this Milwaukee-based band currently supports a fiery new EP., Shift Of Redemption, available now on Think Fast! Records.
With a potent concoction of infectious metal, hardcore, and traces of d-beat punk, Enabler continues to decimate stages across the US, Europe, and Australia. We had had the pleasure of catching the band earlier in August with a featured performance at the gargantuan This Is Hardcore Festival in Philadelphia. This current four-song 7”/digital release picks up directly where last year’s acclaimed All Hail The Void LP on Southern Lord left off, flowing with the hateful, impulsive, and the extremely infectious frenzy Enabler is so good at delivering. If you missed it, Blow The Scene is also offering a full stream of All Hail The Void HERE!
In this exclusive interview, Jeff takes BTS readers through the writing and recording process behind SOR, the band’s ongoing member shifts that have seen stints from members of Misery Signals, Mouth of The Architect, and even Fall Out Boy. Jeff takes us through his current guitar rig, plans for 2014, and much more!
Without further ado, lets hear from Jeff!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking a few minutes with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. Let’s kick off this interview by having you introduce yourselves and your musical weapons of choice with Milwaukee wrecking crew, Enabler.
Jeff Lohrber: I’m Jeff, I play guitar and sing, I write all the music and work on Enabler daily to keep this beast alive.
Joshua BTS: Let’s dive right in on this latest ripper of an EP, Shift Of Redemption, that was released in April via Think Fast! Records. When did the writing process begin for this effort?
Jeff Lohrber: The writing process for this EP actually went on right after we tracked AHTV. There was about 3 months of mixing and editing that Greg Thomas did for the record, and I’m an impatient asshole so writing these songs was my way of dealing with not having a finished product of AHTV in my hands. Greg really critiqued my songwriting (definitely made the songs better on AHTV), but I just wanted to write material that he couldn’t say a fucking thing about! Haha.
Joshua BTS: I understand you also underwent a member shift prior to recording the EP. Can you bring us up to speed on the current line-up and the circumstances surrounding the member changes?
Jeff Lohrber: Enabler has had many members at this point, 6 second guitarists, 2 bassists, and 6 drummers. Some of those people were full on members of the band, some people just signed on to fill in for a tour, etc. It’d be hard to go through all of it.
The main one more recently with the AHTV lineup was that Andy [Hurley] is in Fall Out Boy and Greg [Thomas] is in Misery Signals, both bands had new records coming out this year and we knew they weren’t going to be able to continue to tour with us, then Dave [Mann] from Mouth of the Architect joined on drums, and same deal, MOTA just had a new record come out and they’ve been killing it.
Since then we’ve had a number of people in the band, and currently it’s just Amanda and myself. We’re working on getting everything back in action and we have a new EP on the way, in addition to a new LP that we plan to record here soon. All in all, people have lives that they need to lead and you can’t expect them to give that up to play in a touring band that makes no money, and the band is at that point where we are able to take this farther than before, so we don’t want to slow down. We’re lucky that we’ve had good people who are supportive and just want to help us out.
Joshua BTS: You decided to go with Shane Hotchstetler at Howl Street Recordings for the tracking. How did you land on Howl Street? And what does the recording process look like for Enabler? Do you track together live or separately? Do you implement a metronome?
Jeff Lohrber: There is really no rhyme or reason to Enabler recording techniques. For AHTV, we were very precise about everything, it was all tracked to a click track, everything was done in sessions (every drum section was recorded 3 times so we could piece together one absolutely perfect drum track, etc.). Now with Shift, we tracked it in 2 days with Dave and I playing together, and had our friend Chris Common mix it, and Brad Boatright master it. We’ve tracked a number of recordings with Shane (Eden Sank to Grief, War Begins With You, the drums for AHTV, the splits with Yautja and Drainland, and Shift). Shane is based out of Milwaukee and has been a really good dude to us, and has some amazing recordings under his belt. I believe that a record is a statement of that period of time, and there is no wrong or right way to track, just whatever gets the job done and whatever makes a product that you will be happy with for years to come.
Joshua BTS: How do you approach the lyrical content for your works? Do you all contribute to lyrics? And what are some of the motifs listeners will find on Shift of Redemption?
Jeff Lohrber: I’ve written all the lyrics in the band, besides the songs we’ve covered. I just try to pull from real life experiences and talk about them in a manner where everyone can relate. I even find myself relating current situations to songs I wrote a few years back about someone or something that isn’t even a part of my life anymore. It’s the pretty basic things that metal or hardcore bands talk about, depression, alienation, betrayal, hatred for modern organized religion, etc. Basically, Enabler is my fuck you to how disappointing the human race can be sometimes.
Joshua BTS: Anything about these recording sessions that saw you step out of your comfort zone and try new things? Any new pieces of gear or new toys you worked into your rigs for these sessions?
Jeff Lohrber: Well, AHTV was a huge step out of my comfort zone, I mean we didn’t even track the drums in full takes and all of the guitars were re-amped in CT where I was just given wav files to approve, but it was a good thing. I feel like I learned everything I need to know to make the next full length just that much better. As far as gear, I pretty much keep it Marshall and Peavey tube amplification; I have a Keeley modded DS-1 and a Boss HM-2 that I combine for distortion currently. I have two guitars that I rotate, an LTD EC-1000 with Lace Nitro-Hemis and a Gibson Les Paul Studio that I’ve been using for years. I love delay and chorus pedals, but that’s pretty much it. I believe in that really big guitar tone that the 70’s rock bands had.
Joshua BTS: Enabler has had a recent spat of killer tours in 2013 including Europe with Rotten Sound and Martyrdod, an Australian tour, plus a feature at Philly’s gargantuan This Is Hardcore Fest amongst scores of other performances. What is your take on the current world tour circuits? Any places that were particularly memorable?
Jeff Lohrber: Being able to travel the world playing the music you love is just such a flattering and awesome thing to be able to do. I am very grateful that people have placed enough faith in us to let us be able to do this. We had a day off in Prague that was just phenomenal, as well as just spending 3 days in Brisbane and Melbourne. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Joshua BTS: How do you approach touring at this stage in Enabler’s career? Do you have defined end goals as a band?
Jeff Lohrber: The only goal I’ve had with this band is to put out records and play as many shows as humanly possible. Once there is nothing left to say, then we’ll let it die. Until then, it’s fucking on.
Joshua BTS: Are you able to make your music a full-time endeavor or do you also work more traditional gigs when not on the road?
Jeff Lohrber: I wish music was a full time endeavor, but it’s not. I work at a local record store, and currently looking for some other type of minimum wage slavery, haha.
Joshua BTS: How did you come to link up with Think Fast! Records for this E.P.?
Jeff Lohrber: Ryan who co-runs Think Fast and also sang for Outbreak has just become a really solid friend of the band. He’s helped us with touring in the past, he helps me manage the band, etc. When I brought the EP idea up with him, he was all about it. Larry and Ryan run a really cool DIY hardcore/punk label, they are definitely people that are in this for the right reasons.
Joshua BTS: Who crafted the cover art for Shift Of Redemption? And does the band play an active role in the development of the art work?
Jeff Lohrber: A friend of Ryan’s by the name of Raf from somewhere in Germany. I’ve never actually met him, but yes the band does have a huge role in the artistic process. Usually I give the artist lyric or conceptual ideas to base his drawings off of. I feel like that works out great because then the art fits with the tone of the music and lyrics. It’s a very simple idea that I think has been kinda lost in the more mainstream forms of metal and hardcore.
Joshua BTS: Any social issues or current political happenings have your attention or support at the moment? Any political undertones on the current EP?
Jeff Lohrber: Honestly, not really. I’m not really the activist type. I do think there are a lot of really bullshit things happening, but I feel like the government wants to keep us squabbling about things that honestly don’t matter (gay marriage, abortion, gun control) and then they have free reign to do whatever the fuck they want. I mean really, why is gay marriage an issue? Let people get married if they love each other. People want to have abortions, fine, I’m not into the idea of it but it’s not my choice to make. People want to own guns for self-protection, I mean yeah, guns can be a really bad thing, but I get it.
People are fucked up and do fucked up things to each other, and if that’s your only means of protecting yourself then I can’t argue with it. What’s more fucked up is the kind of control that people within the government have over the food we are consuming, or how fucked up the entire medical system is. I mean those are real things that affect all of us, left or right wing, and we are getting fucked every single day of our lives by these things, but yet we’re still arguing about creationism vs. evolution or whatever. Human rights get overlooked every day because we choose to fight each other than to accept the differences in our beliefs and possibly make the world a little bit better of a place.
Joshua BTS: Apart from your band endeavors- Do you dabble in any other arts or side projects?
Jeff Lohrber: Not really, I do small work outs every day, but pretty much I try to keep myself behind a guitar or drum set as much as possible.
Joshua BTS: What are some local artistic hotspots in your neck of the woods. What is the state of Milwaukee’s current art scene?
Jeff Lohrber: I’ll say it again, Northless put out a new record, and it’s awesome. Oh, Die Kruezen is from here too, that’s pretty cool.
Joshua BTS: What does Enabler have on the slate as we head into 2014?
Jeff Lohrber: New EP, New full length, 100+ shows. Stay tuned…
Joshua BTS: Thank you kindly for taking a few moments with Blow The Scene readers from around the World as we look forward to keeping up with the band.. Any final thoughts before we sign off?
Jeff Lohrber: Master of Puppets is still the best record of all time. You can’t fuck with it.
Interview by BTS’s Joshua T Cohen.
First and Third Photo by BTS’s Dante Torrieri taken from our exclusive Enabler gallery during Southern Lord Tour 2012.
Second and Fourth Photo by BTS’s Anne Spina from This Is Hardcore 2013.