Vancouver’s Scatterheart is taking its next big step. After successful headline shows last year at Richards on Richards and Venue, the group takes on the larger and more prestigious Commodore Ballroom on March 27th. We caught up with lead singer Jesse Enright as he finished teaching a yoga class (you certainly can’t get much more West Coast than that) to talk about the band, its influences, feathers and their desire to maintain the mystery behind their sexuality.
Started as a threesome in 2005 when the band was variously known as Angry Angels, Tiger By The Tail and The Aerial Wave, the group consisted of Enright and friends Mike Southworth (drums/vocals) and Wes Deboer (bass/vocals). But in 2007 things changed dramatically for the band when Bif Naked’s guitarist Doug Fury, who first joined the group as a producer, decided to join them on stage.
“This was the right timing for Doug,” explained Enright. “He had just finished touring with Bif and as she went on hiatus he saw this strange potential in what we were doing. I asked him to join the band and he said yes”.
Enright makes no apologies for the boost that Fury has given the band when he began playing guitar and singing with them. “When Doug joined, the band became 100% better and everything became more serious and accessible”, said Enright.
And, according to Enright, it had one other tangible benefit in helping to balance out what he calls “the weirdness” within the band (one only has to watch one of the band’s videos to understand what he means).
Described as Queen-inspired glam rock, Enright agrees completely with that description and it isn’t hard to tell he also enjoys the association.
“No one has ever topped Freddie Mercury, especially in his performances, and he is an all-time favourite,” he declared enthusiastically.
More than just Queen-inspired though, other influences for the band include dance and beat-driven tribal music, 80s electronic music and even some George Michael and Depeche Mode thrown in for good measure. But according to Enright this is also balanced with Fury’s love for classic rock and metal.
And while the group may seem somewhat obsessed with the 80s, it is actually Enright’s infatuation with feathers that had me most intrigued.
“My main inspiration for the feathers comes from Brian Eno,” explains Enright. “I remember opening up a Roxy Music album as a kid and there was Brian in his feathers. I knew I wanted something visually cool and more of a costume and the feathers give me that feeling of being both a superhero and glam rocker. I put on my wings and feel like Superman.”
Probably the most surprising revelation during my conversation with Enright however was around Scatterheart’s songwriting process which he described as quite democratic.
“Me and Doug will work on ideas and bring it to the other guys but it really is pretty balanced between the four of us”, said Enright. “We’re pretty big on consensus and everyone having veto power”. But with a laugh Enright adds that it does lead to some “very long band meetings”.
Of course for lead singer Enright the whole question of his sexuality, and that of some of the other band members, is something that comes up a lot.
“People ask me that all the time”, said Enright. “But my response is – what do you want me to be? For me it is much like songwriting – if I tell you exactly what I meant when I wrote a particular song it takes away from your personal experience with the music. In that way it is important for me to be ambiguous and to have a balanced sexuality, in a David Bowie sort of way. Maintaining as much mystery as we can is important.”
And while the band gets ready for its biggest gig yet at the Commodore, they have their eye on some other upcoming shows as well, including a Western Canadian tour beginning at the end of April, performances at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler and even a trip to Haida Gwaii for the Edge of the World Festival in August.
But Vancouver audiences won’t have to wait too long for their return after their March appearance at the Commodore as the band is set to play the Davie Street Party on July 30th as part of the 2010 Vancouver Pride celebrations.
And while Enright remains coy about his sexuality, there is no doubt in my mind that Vancouver’s LGBT community will embrace him and Scatterheart regardless.
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