SXSW Music Spotlight: An Interview with Enumclaw Frontman Aramis Johnson

Beyond the band’s accessible hooks, anthemic songs, and heartfelt lyricism, quotes like that are exactly why Enumclaw is getting the “cool band” treatment from music journalists; they’re refreshingly authentic, unafraid to state their ambitions and say what’s on their mind. 

The Tacoma, Washington-based band, comprised of Johnson, guitarist Nathan Cornell, drummer LaDaniel Gipson, and bassist Eli Edwards—Johnson’s younger brother—immediately earned music blog attention by unabashedly saying that they wanted to be as big as Drake and Oasis, and they cheekily included the phrase “best band since Oasis” on recent merch. The Oasis goalpost is fitting, not just because Johnson and co. have proven adept at delivering Gallagher brother-level pull quotes, but because Enumclaw are trying to create “Wonderwall”-sized smashes.

“There’s a lot of artists that come up now that are just, like — they look cool. And their music sounds cool. But there’s no song,” bemoans Johnson “It’s all production and a vibe. The hooks aren’t there. There are not big songs like there used to be, that really resonate with people. I want to lead the charge making music that resonates with people.”

Enumclaw certainly are resonating with rock fans. Their 2022 debut LP Save the Baby improved upon their jangly, fuzzed-out 2021 “Jimbo Demo” EP with cathartic, simply-structured songs that are immediate yet convey their working-class background and personal struggles. There’s an endearing everyman quality to Johnson’s tunes, even when he’s pulling from specific personal experience, belied by the fact that Johnson only started playing guitar and writing music in 2019.

“I think the band has really helped me be seen in a light that I’ve always wanted to be seen,” Johnson says. “It’s helped me get closer to becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be.”

Enumclaw, along with bands like Wednesday, Horsegirl, and Momma, find themselves lumped into a burgeoning “‘90s alt-rock revival,” but the retro signifier is fine by Johnson.

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