Smile Politely

On tour with Enabler

Enabler is a metal band with a lead songwriter and guitarist from Ohio, a drummer from New York, and a bassist from right here in Champaign-Urbana. Nathan Landolt plays in a few local bands and is the owner and operator of Error Records, a record shop and venue dedicated to helping the DIY community prosper here. After years of work getting the shop up, running and prospering, Landolt got the opportunity to start playing bass in Enabler, and has been touring across the country with them the past few weeks. I caught up with him while the band was trying to get their van unstuck from snow outside Denver.

Smile Politely: How did you meet Enabler and get the gig playing bass for them?

Nathan Landolt: I booked them for the last few years any time that they’ve needed a show in Champaign-Urbana, and then my old bands would also play shows with them and it just kind of came about that Jeff needed a bass player for a project, and he wasn’t really all that specific. And then when I inquired about it he said, “Yeah it’s for Enabler,” and they were getting ready to go on tour so it kind of just fell into place.

SP: Is this going to be a permanent thing after the tour?

Landolt: Yeah, we’ve already got plans to do other stuff. It was kind of a trial and error thing to make sure it was something I wanted to do, just as long as I can do it kinda thing I’m welcome to do it. Jeff [Lohrber], the main writer of the band likes to have a permenant lineup but he understands that life kinda gets in the way and not everyone can do it full-time all the time. It’s got that nice flexibility where you don’t ever have to feel forced to be in the band, but he’d obviously like people to be in it for quite a long time.

SP: What do you think that you bring to the band? What have you learned from them?

Landolt: That’s a hard question to answer because the band is pretty established. I feel like I just bring a confidence. I’ve been in a lot of bands and I’ve played a lot of shows and toured a lot and stuff so I’m not someone who is gonna bring in negativity or hold them back in any way. I’m just kind of there to keep the vessel moving and all that.

What I’ve learned? I kind of already knew a lot about the music industry but I know a lot about more DIY stuff and the band just recently signed to a pretty big metal label and I’m learning a lot about that whole industry and how it works. So it’s kind of cool to see both sides and it’s not all evil like most people think. It’s just that there’s more resources available, which is cool. And I learned that it’s a small world and you meet a lot of awesome musicians while on the road. I’ve met a lot of random people in bands that I’m big fans of.

SP: Is the national metal scene you’ve experienced on tour standard pretty much everywhere or is there a lot of difference depending on region?

Landolt: It seems pretty consistent throughout. What I have noticed is that it’s the same everywhere, even as far as DIY shows, as far as promoters not working their ass off or working their ass off, it’s the same as in Champaign-Urbana. I always thought that bigger cities means that people just automatically come out to shows, but there’s been a couple shows where the promoter did a terrible job, and it was still an okay show but for a major city it should be better than it is.

It’s weird, we’ve been playing a lot of bars and 21+ places that are also venues, and it’s a different atmosphere, but I’d say it’s pretty consistent. It’s the same but on a different level. People have a different mentality when it comes to metal stuff. They’re usually pretty stoked and more outspoken about what they like and what they don’t like, I think in punk and hardcore DIY they’re more, not standoffish but not as open to come up to people and be like, “That was awesome, I really liked it,” or “That was alright,” at least that’s what I’ve noticed with DIY shows.

SP: In general, everywhere you’ve been on tour?

Landolt: The difference I think I’ve noticed, in this kind of atmosphere they like meeting new people and they like communicating a lot. Even if it’s only for like two minutes as opposed to basement shows where I don’t know anybody and even if I do we don’t talk.

SP: What was it like playing in Mexico?

Landolt: It was awesome. I think the experience of actually going there and being there was better than the show itself. It was a pretty decent show, but it was just bizarre because Tijuana is set up so touristy and everything’s super flashy and they cater to people like us coming there to buy all their street shit that they try and peddle. It’s just flashing signs everywhere, strip clubs, pharmacies. It’s just super bizarre but it wasn’t a threatening type of atmosphere either, which is what a lot of people perceive it as, it was just very touristy and obviously foreign but people were super nice. We had, I guess you could call him a tour guide, who drove us over the border and he booked the show and everything, and he was super awesome and helped us out a lot and found us food.

SP: Like, a “don’t drink the water” type of place?

Landolt: Yeah, even in restraunts they have bottled water stuff. No one there drinks the water, they just use it for cleaning. Yeah, nothing really crazy happened. We saw some weird street people. We saw a donkey painted like a zebra just walking down the street. Someone was taking it somewhere, I don’t know.

SP: What were some of the best shows?

Landolt: We’ve had three really good shows. The second date was in Ohio, and that was really good. The band has a pretty good following there because the main guy Jeff is originally from Ohio, so that was pretty cool. Then LA was great ‘cause that’s where the label is from so a lot of reps came out for that and it was a pretty solid show. And then last night was actually the best show so far, in Denver. It’s where Call of the Void is from and that’s who we’ve been on tour with. It was their homecoming show and the place was insanely packed and people were really into it, so that was really cool.

SP: What other bands have you been playing with and on tour with?

Landolt: We did three weeks that just ended last night with Call of the Void, and they’re on Relapse records, they just put out a new record, and so it kind of was in support of that. More grindy-hardcore kind of stuff; they’re really awesome dudes and it was fun. We also did two shows with a hardcore band called Transient. They’re from the west coast and they’re really awesome, and we also did a couple more dates with a band called The Drip. There’s been some cool locals that opened and stuff.

SP: Which ones were the coolest you remember?

Landolt: Illustrations, they played Thee DeathTower recently. They’re a really cool band and they’ve played Error before. There was also another band I really liked, Spectral Voice, they’re a doom-like black metal/death metal band that was super slow and dark. It was really awesome. Actually, John Menchaca (Kowabunga! Kid, Chain’s Gang) was there cause he really likes them.

SP: Do you miss Urbana?

Landolt: [Laughs] Yeah, I do. I really like having a change in lifestyle. I’ve been, the last copule years, doing nothing but working and it’s been a nice, relaxing experience. But I miss everybody, these guys are great but after this will be over it’s been five weeks straight with just these two guys.

Enabler play Error Records Tuesday night with 50 Year Storm, Orator and Heel Turn, and are working on a new album, Fail to Feel Safe, out in August on Century Media.

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