Enation hail from Nashville and will be supporting Echo and the Bunnymen on their upcoming tour. Jonathan Jackson, from the hit CMT show ‘Nashville’, his brother Richard and bass player Moon spoke to GIGsoup before their headline gig at O’Meara’s. London.
Welcome to London, hope the trip has been good so far. Let’s start by finding out one thing we should know about each of you
Well, Jonathan is a fan of red wine, Richard is a huge fan of ‘Back to the Future’ and Moon grew up in Brighton.
For those of us who are new to your music, what key facts should we should know about Enation?
If you like music that has themes that are a little bit different, or where there’s more to discover that’s us. There’s a lot to dig into and digest.
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Touring seems to a feature of 2018. Jonathan you’ve just finished the farewell tour for ‘Nashville’ and now Richard and Moon are with you as the band headline your own shows and support iconic 80s band ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ The tour bus can be hard work, not much sleep, away from family, it’s not quite as glamorous as you might think. How do you keep energised, engaged and enthusiastic?
Good question. In some sense, as you get older, you just kind of get a sense of consistency no matter where you are. I think the music itself really keeps me focused. If there’s a sense of belief in the music, all the other stuff that goes along with it, long plane rides, hours on the bus, whatever, it’s that sense of what happens when we play together as a band, that’s really exciting for us.
You have a new album out, ‘Anthems for the Apocalypse’ What were you trying to share when you were writing those songs.
We kind of didn’t really realise it until the end of the process, but each song in some sense could be interpreted as an ‘Anthem for the Apocalypse’. It’s not just the grand sense of the end of the world, but apocalypse also means revelation. They were anthems for different moments in our lives that were also revelations, where we go from thinking about things in one way to a new way. We hope that’s consistently happening. Some of the songs are more desperate, some of them are romantic. The title song has a romantic undertone to the end of the world
Tell us about your new single here in the UK, ‘Shock to the system’ What is the story behind that particular song?
The story to ‘Shock to the system’ is definitely musical as well as lyrical. Musically, for many years we’ve been studying, digging into the New Wave, early 80’ sound. It’s been a huge influence for us. That song was a little bit of break through for us on that front. We like doing songs that have energy and at the same time have an innocence. A joy that isn’t cheap. That’s a tough thing to find musically.
The lyrics were just a kaleidoscope of different moments and different things. In a sense, in a personal sense, sometimes in life we need a shock to the system, to wake up out of exhaustion or whatever is trying to keep us down. Often times we need a ‘wake up’ and sometimes a song is a good way.
When I listened to the album I liked the spiritual dimension to the lyrics. Is that a reflection of the season you find yourself in?
That’s cool to hear. It’s there, but we’re not beating people over the head with it. It’s certainly there because music is about being honest and that has been a part of our lives in different ways. The theme of the apocalypse being revelation kind of just kept coming out you know.
A lot of song writing can be subconscious. You don’t want steer the ship too strongly, you want to have a sense of direction, but also be open. The conversations the three of us had often came back to spiritual themes like what do you do about suffering in or how do you have joy in the midst of pain?
What do you most look forward to when you go on stage?
Being on stage with these guys. There’s a uniqueness that happens when a band plays. We’re excited about being a three piece. Every instrument means a lot when it’s a three piece. You are kind of out there on a limb, there is always a sense of risk.
It’s a paradoxical thing. The joy that we experience just playing the music, then also connecting with people and sharing that. Hopefully sharing some kind of human experience with them. Perhaps when we play a song like ‘Everything is possible’ they can walk away feeling another sense of hope. I know that when I sing that song I am singing to myself too.
How did the tour with Echo and the Bunnymen come about?
It was amazing. As you know, I am a huge fan of the band. I saw them in Nashville, a couple of years ago. Moon was with me. It was great, an incredible show. I got to meet Ian back stage, we kept in touch here and there. Then, during the Nashville tour I did a version of ‘The Killing Moon’ and I guess throughout all of those circumstances, it all fell in the right place. We happened to be in town right when their tour started, it was perfect. Really excited.
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Jonathan, you were part of the show ‘Nashville’ for six seasons. It opened up this fresh wave of love for country music in the UK. It really caught a zeitgeist. What is it about that show that had universal appeal?
I think musically the emphasis of the show was all about the integrity of the song writing. That transcends all, whether it’s rock music, folk or whatever, or country. The strength of the songs was really important.
I think ‘Nashville’ had a very unique kind of music they were doing, spearheaded by T Bone Burnett. It was a little bit more of an Americana bend to country music. It wasn’t so much pop country that you hear in the States. It was more almost outlaw country. Ultimately it came from over here anyway. So in a sense it’s the echo of what was there already and we’re kind of throwing it back and people responded to it.
Quick Fire Questions
Salad or Sushi? – Salad, salad, Sushi
Peace or Joy? – Peace, peace, peace
Elvis Presley or Elvis Costello? – Presley, Presley, Presley although we love Elvis Costello