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Enon: B-sides and rarities

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: June 22, 2005

w/ Thunderbirds Are Now!, The Stay Awake
June 27, 9 p.m.
Sokol Underground,
13th & Martha

Want more Enon? Check out the Oct. 2003 Lazy-i interview with Enon's Matt Schulz.

You could hear the carnival-like sounds of the Seattle street market through John Schmersal's tiny cell phone as he walked through the crowd of vendors and street performers.

Schmersal, the frontman for indie rock band Enon, was enjoying some time with the rest of his band, co-vocalist Toko Yasuda and drummer Matt Schultz, before leaving Seattle for a gig in Portland later that evening. While explaining how the band had put together their new collection of B-sides and rarities called Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence, released in February on Touch & Go, Schmersal ordered a corn dog, telling a confused Yasuda that he wanted it topped with mustard and relish.

"This is kind of like the street market in Philly, but a notch above it," he said. "You can find great fish at these things."





Long-time New Yorker Schmersal just bought a house in Philadelphia a few months ago, eager to have a place of his own where he can set up a practice space in the basement and not have to break down the equipment the next day at the demand of annoying roommates. "You find a good sound, you want to stick with it," he said, adding that the practice space is helping germinate songs for the band's next album. "This allows me to let the process take the time it needs to make it good. We've been doing this awhile; we want to take it to the next level."

From that standpoint, Lost Marbles... is sort of a goodbye wave to the last level. The package includes a separate DVD of live performances and music videos from the last two records. "Since this isn't a vinyl release, we decided to make it even more digital," he said. "The DVD is sort of a 'best of' collection that naturally leads into our next record."

When first formed in 1998, Enon was only Schmersal, a former member of legendary '90s experimental rock band Brainiac. Enon was introduced as a full band with Believo!, their first full-length released in June 2000. Back then, the combo included Skeleton Key's Rick Lee and Steve Calhoon. By 2003, Lee was gone and the band ballooned to a four-piece with Yasuda and Schulz, only to deflate back to a trio when Calhoon left later that year.

Though the line-up has changed, Enon's core sound has remained consistent, thanks to Schmersal's catchy merging of post-punk rock and computer-generated, experimental noise. Enon's clip-clop bloop-bleep textures, Yasuda's fragile cooing and Schmersal's awkward snarls are the only reality of a flying-car-filled future that we always dreamed we'd have by now.







"You find a good sound, you want to stick with it."




"We're kind of mixing it all together, making a good set list and playing it. It's a lot like making a record that flows together well."



After thriving for the past couple years as a trio, Schmersal says the band again wants a fourth member. "It was fun being a three-piece, but I enjoyed having another guitar player," he said. "A fourth person will make us more flexible and allow us to write different kinds of songs."

Too bad he hasn't had a chance to actually hire anyone. Les Savy Fav guitarist Seth Jabber was supposed to tour with them in the spring, when Enon headed to Austin for South by Southwest. "But he flaked out the day before the tour," Schmersal said. "After that I went to Los Angeles for two months to work on another band's record and by the time I got back we had to get ready for this tour. I haven't had time to find anyone, but I have some people in mind."

A trio will just have to do when the band swings into Sokol Underground June 27. Despite the fact that the tour is supporting a retrospective DVD and a b-sides collection, don't expect to hear a "greatest hits" set. "We ditched some songs and picked up some that we haven't played before," he said. "We're kind of mixing it all together, making a good set list and playing it. It's a lot like making a record that flows together well."

Schmersal stopped the interview for a moment to buy a jar of hot-pepper honey from a street vendor. "The flavor is nice and subtle," he said of the cayenne pepper additive. "I'm big on toast and tea."

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Published in The Omaha Reader June 22, 2005. Copyright 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.