The Enkindels seem to be a perfect match for the muggy summer heat that descended early on Louisville this year.
Young, raucous, sweaty and energetic, theirs is the sort of music that demands to be played on your car stereo with all the windows rolled down and the volume turned up to eleven.
Since discovering their label, Initial Records, a couple months ago, I had been interested in talking with the band, so one 90-degree Thursday over a Orangina and the din of 5 o'clock traffic on Bardstown Road, I finally got a chance to sit down with two of the guys from the band, Snake and Matt, and discuss life, Louisville, straight-edge, hardcore, Krazyfest, the music business, touring and why most musicians can only hold a part-time job.
This is a portion of that conversation.
VM: So first of all, the only thing I really know about you guys is you're The Enkindels, but that really doesn't tell me who you are...so who are you guys?
SNAKE: Well, I'm Mark or Mark Brickey or The Snake or whatever you want to call me, and I started the band in '92 when I was in high school with a bunch of different guys and people fell into it, they got out of it and it just kept going and now it's a bunch of awesome guys who take the band seriously . . . so, that's who I am and this is Matt.
MATT: I joined the band in the summer of '96, and before I joined, the band was just Enkindel and after I joined there was a conscious decision to change the name of the band and focus more on doing what we really wanted to do rather than what everyone expected us to do and that's when we became more serious and started touring more, playing the style of music we wanted to play and putting an image along with it.
SNAKE: Once Matt and I got a chance to work together, we realized we had the same sort of rock and roll vision and we both wanted the same things out of this band, so it's been really easy to work with somebody who wants what I want out of the band and so therefore we've become a lot more dedicated and we treat it like more of a job now.
VM: So what exactly is that rock and roll vision?
SNAKE: Well, I guess everyone in the band really wants to just play music for a living.
We all love to do it, so that's what we want to do -- just play and make records and tour constantly, and do that rather than work a job that we don't care about.
We'd like to be able to make music our full-time job.
I know a lot of musicians want to do that, but not in the scene that we're involved in, the underground punk rock scene.
I mean, most people [in that scene] think making money off what you do is a bad thing, but we don't really see it that way.
I don't see that doing something that you love and doing that full-time could ever be a bad thing.
Of course, I would love to be a rock star, and [have] everybody know who I am, but I would be completely content with being able to go on tour and not worry about my bills. I mean, we've been to every city we've ever wanted to see, and I'd like to be able to go to those cities with a little money in my pocket, or just eat at a nice restaurant.
Yeah, I'd like to be on the very top but the chances of that happening are slim and I'd really just like to be able to support myself with the music.
You know, all the kids [in the underground scene] are always willing to point and say, 'sellout!,' but it's easy for them to say that because they haven't lived in limbo for so many years.
You have so many different personalities when you live like this: one month you can be on tour with your band and be doing the rock-and-roll thing, and then you come home to a crappy apartment and part-time job, which is the only thing you can really hold because in four more weeks you've got to go again.
You're totally stuck between being two different people.
I would just like to be one person for once.
VM: You guys are on tour a lot, right? I was talking to Scott [Ritcher of Initial] and he was saying that the bands on Initial basically tour all the time.
SNAKE: Yeah, we're on a break right now, but starting June 16th, we'll be on tour for six-and-a-half weeks.
MATT: Yeah, we'll be doing a full US tour -- Northeast, South, Midwest, West Coast -- and after that we come home and we'll be in town until December, and then right after Christmas we leave for Europe and then when we get back from Europe we'll probably do another US tour, and maybe try to go to Japan or some place like that.
VM: You guys are doing Krazy Fest, right?
SNAKE: Yeah, that should be an event. Every time we sell tickets [in the Initial Records office] we mark it on a map, and the map's got a lot of marks on it.
MATT: I think the farthest place we've gotten an order from so far is Calgary.
We asked them, 'how far a drive is that?' and they were like, 'well, it's a five hour drive to Montana...'
SNAKE: It's crazy to think an idea we dreamed up on a car ride . . . will be this memorable weekend for, like, 5,000 people.
VM: Tell me about the CD you have coming out.
MATT: It's called Buzzclip 2000 and it should be out for Krazy Fest.
There's been a slight delay with the layout, but it should be out by then -- if not, probably a week or so later.
VM: I've heard you guys referred to as a "straight-edge" band. How would you define that for the general public?
MATT: The Enkindels weren't ever really a straight-edge band -- it's sort of a whole separate scene from what we are. Four out of the five members of the band, I guess, would probably call themselves straight-edge, and the fifth member doesn't [do drugs, smoke or drink], but wouldn't call himself straight-edge.
SNAKE: Everybody in the band lives a clean lifestyle in that way, but we don't sing about it.
Straight-edge kids don't even like us!
It's so funny -- so many of these kids that are straight-edge worship these straight-edge bands and two or three guys in these bands that they worship are doing all the stuff they hate!
And then there's this band The Enkindels who don't do anything . . . but we must have some kind of reputation that precedes us, I guess.
I don't even drink carbonated beverages anymore, much less beer, so it's pretty funny.
We're pulling the wool over everybody's eyes and they don't even know it.
VM: Are the underground labels that exist pretty defined as far as genre?
SNAKE: Oh, yeah. You could get a group of kids at a show and be able to say 'that kid is a Victory Records kid, that kid listens to J-Tree', and there's even Initial kids.
MATT: We used to be more into the emo-rock/hardcore scene, and we wanted to bring the punk rock scene and the hardcore scene together.
We all listen to all different types of music, and there's such a separation [between scenes] and it just doesn't make that much sense.
People are all really into the same thing, there's not really a lot of difference except in everybody's minds.
We wanted to get right in the middle and get punk rock kids at our shows and hardcore kids at our shows.
We love both types of music and we play both types of music, and the shows would be a lot stronger and everyone would have more fun if everybody would just come together.
VM: What do you think of the movement of a lot of underground punk bands like Green Day moving into the mainstream market?
SNAKE: The thing is, people like me and Matt listened to Green Day when he lived in New York and I lived in Indiana and got made fun of by all the kids at school because Green Day was so off the wall at that time.
But just the other day, I was sitting at a red light and there's this girl sitting next to me who I would call a redneck. This girl and I have nothing in common, but we were both singing along and playing air guitar with Green Day!
And I think that's beautiful.
I want this girl, who I have zero in common with, who people in my crowd would bust on . . . to come see my show and have a good time.
I want anybody to come to my shows...I just want to entertain people.
MATT: It didn't surprise me that Green Day became as big a band as they became because . . . every single song on their records is so catchy that I thought if everybody could listen to them, everybody would like them. I mean, my Mom liked Green Day when I was just a little punk rocker, so I knew if they got the exposure they'd make it big someday.
SNAKE: I just love that Green Day made punk rock socially acceptable and popular. Just because the music's called 'punk rock' a lot of people have the misconception 'oh, your band screams,' but there's a ton of punk rock records where every tune can be so catchy.
VM: So, in five years, are you guys going to be the next big thing?
MATT: Oh, it's more like one year [laughs]. Seriously, that's why we're touring and making records.
We want to be popular and we're doing the best to make people like us.
SNAKE: ...Every year or six months, Enkindel is always going up.
And until it starts going down, I can't quit because I love this.
Starting this band in this kid's back yard with no drums and this kid's dad mowing the yard around the pool while [the kid] is playing a bass with nothing hooked up to it and me trying to sing -- by far, that was the best thing I could have done that afternoon when I was a sophomore in high school.
The Enkindels is the biggest part of me . . . and I don't regret it for a second.
I'll go ahead and say it -- I've been blessed.