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Stagnant Pools present a unique sound through sibling chemistry

Stagnant-Pools
Written by Molly Kish //

Showbams caught up with Bryan Enas (vocals, guitar) from two-piece band Stagnant Pools, which have drawn comparisons to early noise-rock/post-punk groups such as Sonic Youth and Joy Division.


Showbams: From Bloomington, Ind., Stagnant Pools is a stripped-down rock band made up of you and your brother Doug. You are on vocals and play guitar, while Doug plays the drums. Growing up together, were you two always involved in music as a pair?

Enas: Our dad was a musician, so growing up we had instruments around the house. We played with our own friends for a while and when we both got into high school, we had a five piece indie band. I played bass and Doug was still on drums, but I didn’t learn to play the guitar until I was in college. I just taught myself. I can’t read music, so I just went off of what I knew from bass for a couple years.

Then, when I was off in college and Doug was still in high school in Indianapolis, which is like an hour away in Bloomington, I was getting introduced to a lot of people and the music they listened to. Stagnant Pools started when I learned to play the guitar and wanted to write songs in the direction that was very different than the material we played in the bands we were involved in.

Showbams: Was the ultimate goal to have a two-person outfit?

Enas: When we started we were never for or against being a two-piece band. Doug was the only person I knew that played music and was interested in the kind of sound I started to mess around with. While playing guitar, I wrote one song, went home for a weekend and self-recorded it. Then we kind of just went from there. We’ve never been opposed to adding anybody, but we just feel like we have a good chemistry and stuck with it.

Showbams: Whereas some people may find it hard to work with a sibling, you two seem to have a pretty symbiotic flow together.

Enas: Yeah, we’re not very egotistical people. Our ideas for songs are pretty straight forward and we kind of both have to be “about it.” If we’re working on a song and one of us isn’t feeling it, then we don’t mess around with the song any more. We both want to be on the same page and being brothers kind of helps. We never get into arguments about creating songs.

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Showbams: Your sound is described as having a heavy drone, almost having a shoe-gaze feel to it, in the vein of early Disappears and Joy Division. Would you say these are accurate comparisons?

Enas: I’ve listened to those bands and they’re good. We really try and listen to all types of music, even more so not stereotypical rock music. We both listen to a lot of jazz, dub and reggae. As far as the music that we play, I can see why those bands are mentioned, but our sound really is just kind of what we want to play. If it resembles a band of the past or a current band, we’ve both listened to those bands and we’re not going to deny that. I more so try to personally find out how bands we don’t resemble influence us. Like how an African Fugi band or music that doesn’t “sound like us” get’s into our music.

Showbams: After having put out a couple efforts on your own, you guys signed to Polyvinyl this past May and were able to release Temporary Room two months later. Was the album already complete?

Enas: The album was ready in 2011, we had worked on it that summer. We only had one day in the studio to do it, but as far as mixing goes it was mastered in September. We then got hooked up with Undertow Music Collective, who manages us, and they are based out of the same town as Polyvinyl, Champagne, Illinois. So when the time came to shop the record around, they knew people at the label on a friendly basis rather than business partners, and they just happened to be willing to help us out.

We were really fortunate for that, and they’ve all been great. They really are the nicest people working over at Polyvinyl. We felt comfortable right away and went directly to Champagne to meet them just to hang out. I think the first time we met people from the label, we didn’t even talk about the record all that much. We don’t really know much about the music business, so we were glad that our footstep into that world didn’t really seem like a major label situation like you’d see in a film. For a new band with no history or involvement touring outside the Midwest or with other labels, there’s a lot of groundwork they helped out with, so that the record could be released in a timely fashion.

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Showbams: In support of the album you guys have toured the country, played a couple festivals, have opened for numerous big name headliners and have received a bunch of praise from indie outlets such as Daytrotter, Consequence of Sound, Pitchfork and Paste Magazine. Did you ever imagine the record to take off so immediately?

Enas: No, I never imagined. It all seemed to have happened pretty fast. We have a great publicist at Polyvinyl, and I think just the reputation of the label helped when our record was going a ground. Polyvinyl doesn’t sign bands on a whim, and their roster is fairly moderate in comparison to some other major independent labels.

At first, it was sort of exciting to see press stuff about the album, since we’ve been sitting on it for a year. We had such anticipation to see what people would say, because we knew how we felt about it for a long time. It wasn’t even in vein, like we wanted to get the best ratings or anything. After holding on to it for as long as we did, we were just excited to hear what other people would think. I’m not sure what the next album release will feel like, but it definitely was exciting when Temporary Room came out.

Showbams: You guys are pretty active via your social media accounts, mainly through Facebook and Twitter. As a younger band, how do you feel this type of medium has positively or negatively affected your success?

Well, I think social media is kind of a double-edged sword. It’s great because people across the country can hear your record. Sometimes I’ll get a message from a fan in Central Europe or South America, and it’s crazy to think that something you made has reached someone several thousands of miles away.

On the flip side of that though, I feel like people nowadays tend to be more impatient with bands and giving them a shot. Like back before the Internet and being able to hear bands online, you had to actually go and show up at a venue, pay to get in, hear them and go off of that. Now, you can hear a whole band’s album on BandCamp or something like that, and it’s really easy to listen to the first five seconds of a song and write a band off. That’s why I think it’s a double-edged sword. There’s a type of immediacy that comes along with those mediums, which has its up and downs but the same can’t be said for music back in the day pre-Internet.

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