Interview with vocalist and guitarist Jeff Lohrber | By Brandon Ringo
In recent years, you would be hard-pressed to find a more prolific extreme metal band than Milwaukee’s Enabler. The brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Lohrber, Enabler have released two EPs and two full-lengths in the past three years, the most recent being their new record La Fin Absolue Du Monde. Lohrber talks about his songwriting process and inspiration for the new record.
Would you tell me a bit about the process of writing La Fin Absolue Du Monde?
When it comes to writing music, there is no real rhyme or reason, I just constantly write new material. If I have an idea, I just go with it. I never sat down and said, “I’m going to start writing a new record.” I’ve just had a back catalog of songs, and I’m also always pushing for new material. Some material on this record (“The Exiles, “Felony”) had shells dating back to 2005 or 2006, but then “Close My Eyes” was written a month before we recorded. As a songwriter, it’s never a bad thing to have too much [material], but you just have to keep in mind that you can’t release every single song you have, and sometimes it’s better to sit on something you’re unsure of. You can always tweak and change songs along the road to your liking.
Was it difficult writing new material while balancing a heavy tour schedule?
Not at all. Creating new songs and touring go hand in hand for me. I love playing the old or current jams, but I love that I always have something up my sleeve for what’s coming next. What good is the show experience if you can’t blend old and new songs? It’s important to play the jams that you are very proud of and your audience is already familiar with, but it’s also important to keep them on the edge of their seats with things that are unfamiliar to them. For me, I enjoy creating new material just as much as I enjoy playing live.
Did you hook up with The Compound Records because they were a PR firm prior to being a label?
We tried to shop the record around, and Dave [Brenner] at Earsplit [PR] had even tried to help us shop around to a “bigger” label, and we just didn’t have much luck. If something was offered, it just wasn’t right for the band at the time. Having this split release between The Compound and Creator-Destructor just made so much sense. We are working with friends who have been supporting us for years, and it’s more of a friend deal than some 30-page contract that would have us signing the rights to our band away for the next 10 years. Dave and Liz [Ciavarella] who run Earsplit and The Compound totally defy the norm of the music industry. I couldn’t be more thankful to have them in our corner.
What is your writing process?
As it stands right now, I have written every single song the band has on my own. I use a drum machine to demo out my ideas. I also play drums – I actually just rejoined Today is the Day behind the kit – so programming drums comes very easy to me, and the ideas that I write out are very natural sounding and playable. From there, we bring the song to life with [drummer] Ryan [Steigerwald] and [bassist/vocalist] Amanda [Daniels] and things sometimes change, sometimes they don’t. If Ryan has a better idea on drums than I do, I’m all ears. At the end of the day, he plays drums in Enabler and I don’t. The writing process has never changed over the years, it’s only progressed. I think that is a huge reason that Enabler has seen multiple lineup changes, but still the sound of the band remains the same. The writing has progressed over the years because you have one mind behind it.
Are there any records, movies, or books that spark your creativity?
Anything and everything will spark my creativity. My favorite guitar player of all time is Steve Clark from Def Leppard, and you can hear his influence and taste in melody over everything. My all time favorite rhythm guitar player is James Hetfield, the first four Metallica records are impeccable. Some of my favorite recent records have been bands like Thou, Watain, Inquisition, Carcass, Gorguts, Ringworm, Yautja, Northless, Portal… John Carpenter has been an influence in creating a vibe for the songs and records, but I’m also a huge fan of Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and I’ve been getting into Dario Argento movies recently. As far as books go, I read a lot of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and as nerdy as that sounds, there are some truly amazing stories in those books. I’ve really love the Legacy of the Force series and the Darth Bane series. I also really enjoy Ray Bradbury, Mary Shelley, Stephen King, H.G. Wells… I would also say that I’m equally inspired by things that I do not like, as it gives me a taste of what I would never ever want to do.
How much of your lyrical material is based on fiction and fantasy, and how much is everyday life? Do the two converge?
I would say that none of the lyrics are inspired by fiction or fantasy, and that all of the lyrics are based off of things that have happened to me in my life. I try to write in a way that is personal, but also give the audience something to latch on to and relate to. Where the two converge is that I can relate lyrics to certain movies, books, or themes that are more based in horror or science fiction, and we are able to create art out of those ideas. I think that the horror and science fiction genres are actually a lot more real than people give them credit for. Science fiction has predicted so many things that are reality now, and horror is a way for people to explore the dark side of humanity without actually acting on it. I think they have been the two most groundbreaking genres of literature and movies of the past 50 years, and it goes hand in hand with metal, because extreme metal is consistently one of the only music genres that can still break new ground.