Sydney’s eclectic, acoustic pop group Enerate have just created their first clip to accompany single Unstoppable, and it’s a gorgeous little tale of a video. After rocking out on the beach with a bonfire, a flare and a few mates, the band take a running triple jump into the ocean and end up on an odyssey which involves some vexed sea creatures. It’s kind of amazing, and to celebrate the four piece have decided to go on tour. The ebb and flow of unhurried beats, synths and straight-up cool bass lines folded into sweetly acoustic guitar and some bossa nova hip hop make Enerate an interesting (but not crowded) listen, without the usually frenetic pop pace, and with a categorical ability to bring a surprised smile to your kisser (just like their clip). Lead singer and primary songwriter Josh Graham talks stuff in the lead up to Enerate’s two dates in Melbourne.
“[Beck’s] Odelay is pretty, pret-ty big,” Graham says when influences come up, as they’re bound to do when you have such varied sounds gently and successfully overlapping at one another. “I think of myself as a producer as well as a songwriter and I really like to build songs. And I think that’s where Gorillaz are an influence; the production behind that is just top-notch, I reckon.” Graham also considers himself more of a guitarist than a drummer, although he plays both instruments, and furthermore prefers acoustic guitar when playing with the group. “I think it’s a nice little take on things,” he explains. “There’s a big sort of scene at the moment with very clean Telecasters and you know, synth on top of that. I guess like The Foals, which is amazing, I think it sounds great. But... there’s less going on with acoustics and synths.” Gorillaz self-titled 2001 debut brilliantly knotted acoustics with artificial elements and Graham’s admiration for the man behind that project is explicit. “My love for Gorillaz goes back a bit further to my love for Blur. Just anything Damon Albarn does I’m pretty much in love with. Something about his songwriting and his ability to create these amazing, catchy hooks. But I guess that’s what we’re trying to do in our own way. You know, it’s all about trying to create that perfect thing that’s not too mainstream, but you’ve still got that really catchy hook that you can’t get away from.”
Catchy hooks abound in the material Enerate have proffered on their site, and Unstoppable is actually just a mere taste of what these guys are capable of. British Embassy has definite Beck styles about its twangy guitar, Photograph features spoken verses which have very Kanye cadences (“I gotta say, everyone in the band’s into big American rap” Graham says), and Fever For You showcases the suave basslines of Matt Niciak, who is a dead ringer for Sid from Skins. “You wouldn’t be the first person to say that actually,” chuckles Graham.
The other two band members are Therese Watson on keys and Ben Fitzpatrick on drums, and all four bring their personal dominions to the table when playing. “Ben’s from a jazz background, Matt’s from a funk background, Therese is from a classical opera background, and I guess I’m from more of a folk place,” says Graham, conjuring an image in my head of what a ‘folk place’ might look like (I’m thinking lots of batik, weeping willows and circular dancing). “It puts a nice little taint on the way we play pop.” The live line-up in terms of electronics is about quality over quantity. “We have a Korg synth, then we’re got an MPC sampler. And we love using the MPC, it just gives it that sort of old school touch I think. We were using a laptop for a while but everything about it just seems so, I don’t know... I think I just see too many laptops on stage, DJs you know, hiding behind screens. It looks like they’re surfing the web or something.”
Working with producer Wes Chuw from Sonar Music in Sydney, the band’s record Good Times Airlines is going to be finished off in September. Graham is stoked with the way things have evolved. “I love doing the band thing,” he says warmly. “Just the grooves you get on stage... it’s so much more fun to play, I think. The band’s just gone from strength to strength, as soon as it became a band instead of a solo project.” Enerate are sure to keep ascending, and will undoubtedly collect some solid fans during their short – but sweet – tour this week.
BY ZOË RADAS
Enerate play The Espy (front room) on Wednesday August 22, and The Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood on Thursday August 23. Their debut record Good Times Airlines is set to drop at the end of the year.