Now the sweat has dried. So are the signatures on the stacks of records the guys from Washington’s hottest band Enumclaw sold during what frontman Aramis Johnson calls the best local young indie rocker show so far. day – a Friday night album release earlier this month in a crowded Easy Street Records, a rite of passage for the hometown, is making headway.
Between a wonky power strip, a brief shortage of tape, and a sliding drum kit, it nearly went off the rails. In what might have been the biggest show of support for the rumored rising quartet in western Washington, a friend of Johnson’s cousin knelt in front of the bass drum to physically hold her in place during a fun and frenzy that, for about an hour, transformed the West Seattle boutique into the coolest punk house on California Avenue Southwest. Three weeks later, the dude’s ears are probably still ringing.
“The drummer needed so much help tonight,” jokes LaDaniel Gipson, the soft-spoken, steady-handed drummer in question who is perched on the ledge of the parking lot outside Easy Street as cars whiz by. pace.
Still surrounded by friends who made the trip from Tacoma, sitting among the guys from Enumclaw decompressing after an adrenaline-filled set and meeting each other is like being in the post-game locker room with the winning team, recounting how calamity nearly cost them the game while popping champagne (or in this case, passing around a bag of Doritos), while taking it. Every few minutes a car full of friends or fans passes by – either leaving the show or heading to the nearby Benbow room where the band will continue their ‘Save the Baby’ release party with a DJ set late into the night – shouting inside jokes and unleashing a stream of festive horns.
“I can’t believe we were there for 45 minutes straight, just like signing, signing, signing,” guitarist Nathan Cornell says with bewildered vertigo. “Weird. It’s a feeling of gratitude.
The past year and a half has brought a wave of new experiences for accelerated band Tacoma that caught the attention of the DC music community (and the indie world at large) when 2021’s “Jimbo Demo” EP ignited music blogs before they ever played a show. Since then, Enumclaw has graced required Seattle festivals, signed to Fat Possum imprint Luminelle Recordings, and landed desirable opening slots on tour with an eclectic mix of bigger acts, including their current run with Illuminati hotties. favorites of “tender punk”, which ends on November 19. at the Neptune Theatre.
Meanwhile, there has been a steady increase in the number of Enumclaw t-shirts bearing their flashing slogan, “Best Band Since Oasis”, spotted on local rock shows. Different from everything the western Washington rock scene has seen in recent years.
Despite all the hype, the band who formed after a night of karaoke at Bob’s Java Jive insists they felt no pressure to deliver as they set about recording their first feature footage in Tacoma.
“It happened so fast, we didn’t really stop to think about it,” says Johnson, the amiable singer who sports a hard-to-miss mustache and his heart on his sleeve. We were just like ‘We are the [expletive] and this album will be the [expletive].’ We were in the studio jumping like we were about to sell 50 million copies and if it’s not going triple diamond, we’ve done something wrong.
The triple diamond may be a tall order (even for the Taylor Swifts of the world), but Gipson’s “no-jump” claim certainly rings true. From the melodious jangle-and-fuzz on songs like “2002” to the more acoustically closer “Apartment,” there’s no filler on their impressive debut album peppered with Tacoma-area references.
Johnson’s deeply personal and direct lyrics flow from his lips with the intimacy of a house party on the back porch, confiding in listeners his most vulnerable and easily relatable emotions. Beyond Johnson’s words and wispy, non-choirboy vocals, the album’s intimate feel is in part due to its home recording at ALMA, Tacoma’s venue and restaurant complex with a recording studio. in-house recording, and a quick chemistry with producer Gabe Wax, chosen for his work with pensive indie rock songwriter Soccer Mommy. Every night at 6 p.m., Johnson’s mother would drop by the studio with dinner.
While many songs come from a dark place – self-reflection in the midst of an unhappy romance (“Save the Baby”) or the absence of a close friend struggling with schizophrenia (“Park Lodge”) – Enumclaw’s live sets have increasingly taken on a fun punk-rock intensity thanks in large part to bassist Eli Edwards, the band’s screaming spark plug, who is also Johnson’s younger brother.
“The music that matters most to me is music that I can see myself in,” Johnson says. “I try to write from this place. …And we’re a rock band, you know. We are not here to cry together. I mean, if you want to shed some thug tears, that’s fine too, but we’re here to have a good time.
Less than two years after releasing their debut single, “Fast N All,” before Edwards had even learned his instrument, this combo is clearly connecting with people.
Johnson recalls two encounters with fans at a particular concert in Denver “that started to put things into perspective for me.” Before the show, they met someone who had driven several hours to be there, rushing to a hotel and making a weekend just to see them.
“It was pretty cool,” Johnson says. “And then when we came out on stage, there were these two black guys in front of the crowd and one of them was wearing a ‘Best Band Since Oasis’ t-shirt. He must have bought it before the show. After the gig, we talked to him, he’d brought his cousin and he said, ‘You guys inspired us to start a band. We didn’t know we could be in a band until we saw you do it It was really special.
Before forming Enumclaw, Johnson, who grew up in Lakewood, made a name for himself as an underground DJ/party organizer on the local hip-hop scene, founding the popular Toe Jam series. Tacoma rapper/producer Khris P remembers first meeting Johnson in 2014 at eTc Tacoma, a local clothing brand with a downtown boutique that has become one of the city’s cultural hubs.
“This little guy walks up to me and says, ‘Hey, give me a beat. I’m gonna be famous, I’m gonna be a star. I looked at him, I was like, ‘Who’s the [expletive] are you? ‘” As the two grew closer over the years, Khris says it was clear Johnson was destined “to do something big.”
“Aramis has such charisma and determination that it’s hard to deny,” Khris says. “Just meeting him and getting to know him, you could tell he was ready for something.”
Johnson has never been hampered by his lifelong desire to be famous. Such an admission would have been old-fashioned in some of the past rock movements that resonate through Enumclaw’s music, but in the world of contemporary indie rock, a bit of wholesome bravado sounds refreshing and honest.
One of Enumclaw’s greatest strengths in his young career has been his ability to organically split the bills with a wide range of acts, from big gigs with chillwave graduate Toro y Moi (who wore an Enumclaw shirt during his Capitol Hill Block Party set on the main stage) and touring with shoegazers Nothing, to local shows with rap stalwarts Tacoma GLENN and Khris P or hardcore kingpins Olympia GAG.
For Edwards, it’s been a joy to see how different crowds react differently to the same songs. “Playing with a bunch of different headliners and playing in front of a bunch of different crowds will eventually lead to us having a really cool and diverse audience,” he says.
“We want to bring monoculture back,” Johnson jokes. “We are the group for everyone.”