The rise and rise of Fall
Words by Richard Gifford - Published on May 31, 2011
Eleanor Houghton chats with Enola Fall’s Joe Nuttal about being The Apple Isle’s best new produce, and why England can just fuck off, frankly.
For such a small island, Tasmania has a bit of a musical storm brewing, and sitting right at the centre is Enola Fall. Trying to give a quick summary of the four piece, however, is easier said than done. Their soaring guitar riffs and Nuttal’s distinctive voice separate them from the hoards of indie man-meets-guitar bands that fill the airwaves, while their style stretches from the darkly intense to the edgy side of folk. Even Nuttal himself has trouble defining the sound they produce as I discovered when I spoke to him on a Friday afternoon: “That’s actually really hard. It’s a question I’ve never been able to answer… I have a really high pitched voice, which kind of brings to mind a lot of bands like Radiohead, also maybe Augie March. There’s that kind of slightly regal thing going ahead. I dunno, I mean I think it’s quite raw, I think more than regal, is that too wanky??”
I quickly assured his panicked tones that far wankier things have been and will be said in the rock world. And what a well-populated world it is. With so many bands trying to out-cool each other in the fight for the Aussie-male-rock airwaves, it is understandable that originality is something that crosses Enola Fall’s minds when it comes to song-writing. “It’s really hard to be original, I mean no one works in a creative vacuum, so everybody is just a composition of something else. But I’m happy to change and try and be morphus. The thing is, it isn’t right if you start taking yourself rather seriously and thinking you’re an iconic band when, you know, you’re in our situation where only a few people have heard of you.” This unknown existence is something the band is hopefully not getting too comfortable with, as they appear to be on the edge of a rather large amount of hype.
Of late they’ve been supporting all the next-big-things (as well as some already-big-things) on their various circuits. Touring with fellow Antipodeans Cloud Control, The Jezabels, Something for Kate, and Architecture in Helsinki, as well as international heavyweights The Dresden Dolls and Violent Femmes, Enola Fall have managed to hold their talented ground. Since the release of their album, Glorious Five Year Plan, they have morphed from a band that supports the up and coming to a band that is itself up and coming.
When asked about the touring though, Nuttal responds selflessly with nothing but praise for their fellow musicians. “Every time we tour we meet fantastic bands, especially in the centres. I mean Melbourne and Sydney – they’re producing awesome bands. Some of them have gone on and done really really great things, bands like Cloud Control, we played with them a little while ago and they just went massive, which is really cool. But I mean seriously, I’m blown away every time we go up and we tour… Cloud Control are [a favourite], definitely, and we played with Architecture in Helsinki when they came down here. They were awesome, really really good. I wouldn’t say we gelled with them musically, but we certainly gelled with them socially, they really tried to keep it real you know.”
So what it is that makes one band stand above the rest, and ‘keep it real’? It is something that these guys have managed to pin-point, leaving their audiences wide-eyed and ready to preach the gospel of Enola Fall to anyone looking for a new listen. Perhaps due to their cabaret background, something those fans of their newer stuff may not be aware of, their stage presence works their audiences like well-cultured putty. Especially when Amanda Palmer is there for inspiration: “Yeah, it’s interesting, the Dresden Dolls are a funny one – they’re probably the closest thing [to a musical inspiration]. I love this idea that rather than when you deal with a band and they just sort of stand there with guitars and kind of look out over your heads and sing, and they’re just in the space and that sort of stuff, the interesting thing about the Dresden Dolls when they … used to play, it was this real attempt to sort of engage on a personal level with the audience. Which I loved. I suppose that’s slightly dorky or goache. But I really liked that attempt to take people places with music.”
Playing live shows is practically old hat to Enola Fall after they also did the rounds at a couple of festivals, including the Falls Festival and Blues and Roots Festival, but it was the lesser known MONA Festival in their stomping ground of Tasmania that really struck a chord with them. “Yeah, completely. Obviously if you play an extreme festival everyone’s got their shirts off, and like, it’s cool and I really like festivals but for me, the highlight would be things like MONA… It’s actually completely awesome! I mean I really wasn’t expecting too much but it’s this bizarre thing, and to play in that environment where you know you kind of have free license to do what you want – it was a really great experience.” In that case, do they feel like Tasmania is the place their music is most welcome? “Not really. Tassie’s an island and it’s quite a nice isolated community. It’s awesome in its own way, it has a lot of things going for it, but the music scene here is like, three people in a room arguing… We also have a really rough and ready music scene… But look it’s still a really interesting environment and in some way that lack of pretention and lack of ‘what have you got for another five years?’ is refreshing.”
Enola Fall “Andromeda”
Being separated from what have been deemed the epicentres for music in Australia, Enola Fall have managed to use the isolation to their advantage, giving them their unique sound. Nuttal described the ups and downs of the Hobart effect: “Every band down here, I suppose including us but it’s not really up to me to say, every band down here tends to create music for Hobart. The first thing they do is play to a whole bunch of people who live in the same place and see the same bands, so there’s always a tip to build and create new things. Like I say, I go to see music in Melbourne, or Brisbane even, and though bands who play are absolutely amazing, they often seem a little bit more rehearsed, a little bit more polished, more ready for radio if you know what I mean, whereas the bands down here are sometimes just battling, which isn’t such a bad thing.
“I think [isolation] is a good and bad thing if I can be boring. It can be a really lazy thing. There’s such a self-relied music community down here; progressive radio, loads of venues, loads of art, all sorts of stuff happening in this isolated space when we’ve got just 200 000 people which is quite unique. On the other hand we do have a bugger of a time trying to get out internationally.” But tour internationally they did. With recent jaunts to Europe and the UK, this little-band-done-good were exposed to the many faces of the international music industry, and weren’t always chipper about what they saw. “It was… weird. England was horrible, I mean the English music community is awful; it’s insular, and it’s about being English so if you’re not English, over there, I mean I’m English originally, but if you’re not from the South in London or you’re not from Manchester, or Liverpool, or like the Arctic Monkeys or Kasabian where they’re from, they don’t really care. They’re still stuck in the Oasis versus Blur, the Beatles versus the Rolling Stones ideal, and it’s crazy, with bands it’s like ‘oh, we can give you a gig in a year’. They can just fuck off, frankly. But Germany’s interesting, playing there. They have great music scenes.” So should bands give up on winning over the homeland of tea and sympathy, and go for some European conquests instead? “I don’t know. I think that you can have a great time over there, but you’ve got to be seriously well connected, you’ve got to have fine management. You know if you just go over there with just a lead and a prayer, you know… you will get buggered. Which is, you know… a lot of people are really not into it. I think people can have a lot more luck in Canada and the states than they will if they go straight to the UK.”
So with the experiences that many bands would dream of under their collective belts, there have of course been some stand out memorable moments, and surprisingly they’ve been more localised than you might expect. “I played a gig in Sydney at the Roundhouse a few months ago when we were on tour, and we were all slightly gloomy because it was towards the end of the tour and we were really poor, we had no money left. We played this show, and there was 5-600 people in the audience and they started singing the lyrics to one of our songs. It was like ‘BLOODY HELL’ you know, so we went from being rather, you know, kicked dogs from Tasmanian not really enjoying ourselves because we’d rather be anywhere than on this stage, it was like ‘Fuck!’ So that was a really amazing experience, one of those huge experiences on stage where everything just goes well – really good.”
Regardless of the deserved praise heaped on them for their live talents, their recordings are not something to be ignored. They demand to be taken notice of with the opening chords, and thanks to the simple fact that they really are good, tight songs, your attention is one thing you won’t mind giving. And if you are indeed planning on devoting some of your precious ear-time to Enola Fall, here is Joe Nuttal’s personal recommendation of the way in which you would be best to do so: “I think it’s great in cars. I bet everybody says that. It’s certainly not party music, you wouldn’t put it on at a party. But a lot of people I’ve spoken to when I’ve played say they listen to it in the car. I think it would go really really well if you are having one of those drives you don’t particularly want to take, but you start enjoying whilst you’re doing it, like you have to go and pick up a friend who’s drunk at a party. Umm. I think that’s not the best time to enjoy it (laughs).” Note taken.
So how are the mighty Fall going to continue their journey to almost inevitable stardom? By proving they are anything but one trick phonies, and branching out into medias that many more famous musicians leave to their ‘people’ to create. “A lot of national touring, we’ve got two more EPs to release, on thing we’re trying to work on is a short film. We’re trying to make a 15 minute film to accompany one of our EPs, and we can drop that around at film festivals. That’d be really cool you know, trying to expand out. I mean we always play a little bit recklessly at these festivals but trying to expand in some other direction rather than just working on new music.” Enola Fall are expanding, that’s for sure, and so is their spotlight. It could be the first time a fall has risen, but it’s only up from here for Tasmania’s latest captains of industry.
Enola Fall’s EP I Am An Aerial is out now. Grab it here.
– Eleanor Houghton, 2011