Gifts From Enola isn't the relatively cookie-cutter post-rock band they used to be in their early years. The band has transformed with every album, peaking with their latest effort A Healthy Fear. The record uses vocals far more predominantly than before and you won't find any big crescendos, but you will find some fantastic musicianship and powerful, chaotic blasts of sound. The band sat down with us at MuzikDizcovery to discuss A Healthy Fear, the transformation from their early stage to their present form, their favorites of 2012, and much, much more that you can read below.
Firstly, can you introduce yourselves?
A: I’m Andrew.
Your brand new album A Healthy Fear just recently came out. How do you feel the reaction has been to it so far?
A: I think it’s been polarizing. I think people that maybe liked us when we first started and we were first doing overly epic post-rock music. I don’t think they like it very much. But I think the people that have evolved that we have, or at least have been accepting of us trying new things like it a lot. We’re kind of stoked it’s been a polarizing response.
N: It’s been much more interesting. People will write things on the Internet like “they totally get it” and that’s never really happened before. It’s incredible. Then people say some hilarious other things.
A: It’s been good for us. But maybe not positive all around. The negatives have been as much of a positive as the positives for us.
You guys have definitely changed a lot from album to album. Do you guys try to makes changes to your sound or is it more of just a natural progression?
A: It’s usually pretty natural. We don’t really talk about it too much. I think it stems from our music tastes and our selves changing. When we started we were listening to much different things than we do now.
N: I think our tastes change a lot. That’s normal.
A: Say we started off in a certain style. We don’t feel like we have to do it again just because it’s what we already did. We don’t really worry about staying true to our roots.
J: We do what we want, basically.
Did you ever worry about the risk of the “post-rock purists” not accepting the changes you made?
A: I don’t think so. I think that if we had any sort of feeling of being unsure if the change was okay, we got that out of the system when we did our self-titled album a few years ago. That was pretty different for us, and that’s when we basically decided to stop with the epic artsy stuff. We didn’t worry about making a convoluted concept album. It didn’t really feel that different this time around. I think that was the biggest change of our little career was 2010, and we wanted to try new things.
N: If anything we think this is new and awesome, we’re going to do it to the fullest extent we can.
One of those changes is that “vocals” are used far more often than the earlier material. What made you want to add them in to the new music?
A: I’d say that was another natural thing. I think every song we’ve put out since 2009 has had vocals in it, and we just added a little more. If you listen to From Fathoms through the self titled to the split we put out this year, there’s just more and more. I think the biggest thing this time was that we focused on it more. Adding the vocals was usually the last step that we would do, this time we thought about it the whole time and discussed who would do which part. We just put more time into it.
N: We used to try harder to be restrained about it, where it’s really hard to get how we want it. Now we just want to be a band that does this.
C: We didn’t shy away from it at all, where in the past we may have a little bit.
A: I think it’s just getting comfortable with it too.
What sort of themes do you feel you covered in A Healthy Fear?
A: There isn’t an overall concept or anything. I guess only one of our albums really does that. A lot of the themes end up being about failing.
C: Being frustrated with a lot of things. Trying really hard at something and…
N: Sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. You do everything right, you do everything you can, and you put everything into it, and sometimes it doesn’t…I don’t know.
C: It can still be positive.
N: Oh yeah, totally. There’s a lot of that too.
C: You can learn a lot about yourself and a lot about people you’re around, and the experiences that you got. You can learn more from hardship than you can when things are going your way.
A: Some of that stems from our experience in the band, but even some of the more fictional aspects of the lyrics still kind of have that general theme. A lot of the frustration stems from the fact that we were doing this full time for about a year and a half, or two years, and then we knew that this was the last thing we were going to do. This full time band thing culminated into recording this album. We were just kind of frustrated with some things that involved being a full time band, like being broke all the time. I think some of that made it onto the album, but not every song is about that. If there’s one theme that you can pick out, it’d be that.
N: Some of it is about getting older, too.
Do you feel it’s tougher being an instrumental band or a band with vocals?
N: It’s pretty cool to have the option to do either, really.
C: It depends on who you’re playing for. Obviously some of our fans prefer that we not say a word.
N: But we want to.
A: I also think it’s a band by band thing. I’ve heard some instrumental bands where I think “why don’t you have a singer? What are you doing? It’s just boring.” I feel some instrumental bands could really be more exciting with a vocalist, while some bands the vocals throw it all off. I don’t think there’s one right or wrong way to do it.
Who performs the vocals live?
J: Everybody but Jud.
How does it change the way you perform live?
N: It’s one more thing to focus on. It’s harder, just because we’re not as used to it. It’s something that’s really fun to figure out, because we need to figure out how to play and sing and succeed at these things. It’s awesome when you figure it out. It’s a new rewarding thing to learn and get good at for all of us.
A: There’s a little more focus involved. I don’t know, I would just zone all out all the time. When we were touring all the time, a lot of the songs became second nature. I didn’t really think about it at all, but now… maybe just because the songs are new, when we get more and more comfortable with them it won’t feel like a weird thing anymore.
C: It’s definitely a little different though. You have to juggle a few things at once.
J: It’s really awesome from my perspective, going from almost none or just having Nate have a mic to having all three of them do it, and all three of them are doing very well with it. So it’s really cool seeing that transition from my point of view.
You’re just beginning this short tour with Gates and We Were Skeletons. What should we expect from you guys on the tour when it comes to the shows?
A: There’s not going to be any theatrics or anything. We’re going to be playing a lot of the new album. We just want people to have fun, really. We try to have as much fun as possible and hope that people do when they watch us or at least laugh at us.
You posted that link for the test press, and last I looked it was already at 80 bucks, and a lot of the more rare variants of your records seem to sell out really quickly. How does it feel to see some of your records going for so much more than the original sell price?
A: I’m jealous of the guy that gets the money. Seriously, it’s cool that people are into collecting our records in the Pokemon style of catching them all. None of us are really record collectors, so this is coming from an outside perspective, but it’s really cool that that’s a thing and that people like to get all the different color variants and things. I think it’s cool that the record’s out of print. We hope to repress stuff if that need goes up.
The end of the year is right around the corner. I know you guys have already posted about your favorite albums of the year, but what kind of things are you guys really anticipating for 2013?
A: So that list online was just mine, and I’m pretty sure that we all listen to different things, so I’ll let these guys say what they’re into.
N: I think I blacked out all year, because everything I thought that came out in 2012 came out in 2011. Except for the new Deftones and Converge albums. I really liked the new You.May.Die.In.The.Desert album. They’re our friends, but I haven’t listened to an instrumental record and really liked it in a long time, and that one made me feel nostalgic in a really great way.
C: I’ve been into these kids from Pittsburgh called Code Orange Kids. They just released a new album that’s really awesome. I like what they’re doing with hardcore music these days. They kind of have a fresh take on things and I’m excited for those kids. I foresee them only getting better. That’s one band I’m pretty stoked on.
J: I hope this album came out in 2012. I’ve always been a big fan of Circa Survive. Violent Waves came out in 2012 I think, and that’s been in heavy rotation for me. I really like the direction they went in. They always seem to do something a little bit different and I’m usually going in that direction myself. Thrice is kind of similar too, whatever direction they go in I tend to really dig that style of music all around. They kind of did that again with me on their newest record.
A: I’m trying to think of what’s coming out, I don’t even know what’s up and coming. I’m always late.
N: I think Bazan has a new record. Dave Bazan is like, my dude.
J: Queens Of The Stone Age has a new one coming out. Dave Grohl is working on it, and he’s my favorite drummer of all time. It’s the original bass player, so it should be rockin’.
What can we expect from you guys in 2013?
A: It’s harder for us to tour now because we’re all kind of spread out and doing other things like college and work, but we’ll try and tour as much as we can on this album. I don’t think we have any new music plans in the near future, but who knows. We just kind of left it open and we’ll hit the road as much as we can.
Any last things you want to say?
A: Thanks to you, Casey, for hitting us up and interviewing us. You nailed it. Thanks for getting cozy with us. And come see us on tour. We won’t be playing much this year, so just do it. If you’re on the fence, just do it.
I'd like to thank Gifts From Enola again for taking questions from us. Sadly, I wasn't able to see their set that night, but from what I heard, they absolutely slayed. If you have a chance to see them live, make sure to do that, especially because it seems like they won't be touring too often anymore. You can stream all of the band's music on their Bandcamp, and follow their band related activities on their Facebook.