IN CONVERSATION: Enjoyable Listens 2

IN CONVERSATION: Enjoyable Listens

The reason that I became a singer is because I saw Feeder at Reading Festival in 2012. I thought if they can do it, then so can I. And that’s the motto I still live by today”. Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a message?

Enjoyable Listens are not like Feeder. This is a misnomer. The style is neither early grunge Feeder, such as ‘High’ nor ‘Buck Rodgers’ like. There is not a gruff Grant Nicholas vocal in sight.

Instead, we have the world’s greatest crooner. If Bryan Ferry, Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon and Josh Tillman had a love child, it would be quite a sight, but it might sound like Luke Duffett.

There is every chance they have released the best album of 2022 in The Enjoyable Listen, and if they haven’t, then it’s damn close. Tonight, as we slip behind the velvet curtain and take a seat on battered leather sofas in The Lexington Green Room, Enjoyable Listens have just completed their soundcheck after an arduous afternoon, they look weary, but spirits are high.

With the sound of a military drum ominously and eerily in the background as if an execution was about to happen, the condemned man on the way to the firing squad, myself, Luke and Jamie “Jimbo” Savage hammer out everything that encompasses Enjoyable Listens.

2022 seemed like a breakthrough year for them, but perhaps it wasn’t all plane sailing, as Luke elaborated.

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The anticipation of SXSW did make us think we were on to something, but when we got there we had five or six shows, I say we, it was just me as Jamie had some serious pawn brokering to do, it was a lot of playing in hotel lobbies to somewhat disinterested people. I mean, we definitely converted them into fans, but there were some really special moments, the last night was a bit of a homecoming, a room full of people that had seen the other shows. It was quite electric.

I did five sets at Glastonbury, that was the defining moment, showing up at West Holts on the Thursday to a room full of people, and the lot on before me was a brass band doing Sean Paul covers, I thought ‘there’s no way I can go up against this’. But it was really good, everyone was in the spirit. The best show was probably the last night at Strummerville, the Sunday, but the stage didn’t have any lights, so when it got dark I couldn’t see the crowd anymore but I could hear their applause, it was very surreal, then one by one they came down the front and I crowd surfed for the last song during Kendrick Lamar, I probably had just as many people at my set as Kendrick but I just couldn’t see them”.

As you can tell by the scores of times, dear reader, you have listened to Enjoyable Listens, Luke has a distinctive style and delivery, a bit of the Nick Cave’s maybe. But perhaps not.

My Dad played me a lot of folk when I was younger, and a lot of Morrissey, a band called Show of Hands, great Cornish mining songs, and anti-recruitment from the 17th and 18th century, listened to a lot of that, and my Dad was asking “Do you like it?” and I’d be like “No, I don’t like it, Dad,” but I did really. A lot of Hank Williams, Big Country.”

The concept of Enjoyable Listens is fluid. Sometimes it’s a full luxurious glorious band, like tonight, sometimes it’s Luke and Jamie, and sometimes it’s just Luke and his trusty iPhone full of the backing tracks all by his own fair hand. Each has its own distinct flavour; the whole band is like a tub of Ben and Jerry’s with loads of chunks of fudge and marshmallow and goo. Luke and Jamie is Mint Choc Chip, classy and understated, perhaps underrated. Luke on his todd is like Salted Caramel, there’s sweet and savoury, he is a law into himself and anything is possible like never performed before demos that he can pull out of his magic sack on a whim of his own folly. But he used to go by his birth name initially.

I just didn’t like the look of my own name”.

“I think it was after a certain number of gigs kept spelling your fairly simple name wrong” Jamie helpfully suggests.

“We get put down as Easy Listening instead of Enjoyable Listens sometimes, which I think I prefer now. I tried to do the singer-songwriter thing but didn’t have the confidence.”

If there’s been an empty stage somewhere in the south of England then Enjoyable Listens in one of their guises have been there to fill the void, building a cult of rabid fans gnawing at the bit. However, it’s not always been fun and games.

“We played Worcester the first night of the tour before last, there was a guy called London Bob who ushered us into the venue, he didn’t actually work there, just a local who drank there but he told us we couldn’t play ballads. Then after that, they tried to get us to play another set, at another club five minutes down the road, and then they lambasted us for not having our own PA. We were like ‘Sorry, what’s going on’. Weird one in Worcester”

Whilst the debut full-length was only out earlier this year, plans are already afoot for new material to follow ‘Dead Frozen’ with an EP in 2023.

“Been working on the new E.P., trying to release something in the new year, with a new video, and that’ll probably be our last release for a little while, take a backseat and work on new material”.

“’Dead Frozen’ is a bit of a slow burner, happy to leave it out there and let people do what they will with it. We’ve been trying to play it, me and Jamie at sets leading up to this and we haven’t for some reason, I think it’s because we’re scared of change is what it boils down to. Well Jamie is”

“I am petrified,” Jamie deadpans.

The poetry of Enjoyable Listens seems to be the celebration of the mundane, the everyday occurrences of life.

“I think that’s the entire of point of Enjoyable Listens, it’s a form of metacognition, just zoom right in on a detail. I spent a long time trying to write really good lyrics and then when I started writing really bad lyrics people told me they were really good. First and foremost I have to entertain myself if I listen back and I think ‘that’s weird’. I think people can relate to it more, if something is there, it’s there. They just want to know that they’re there too, and I’m there, and we’re all there”.

If Enjoyable Listens was the second coming of the son of an omnipotent sky wizard who arrogantly claimed to have created the earth and the universe, then it would be quite the twist for the Bible that it wasn’t in fact Jesus but his Disciple Luke. But who would that make Jamie?? Who in the elaborate fiction had a big bushy beard like a rhododendron thicket? Those lifeless eyes hide a potential for the betrayal of Judas if pressured into a corner and he had to sell out Luke to pay off an angry beard oil seller he owed a fortune to.

As a live spectacle, it’s a sight to behold. There’s something to be said in this day and age for a band that uses humour and the absurd and mixes that with great songwriting, huge sing-a-long moments and massive melodies. Perhaps borrowing a little from what has gone before to create a persona that lives only on that stage.

Enjoyable Listens is basically a caricature. It’s the oldest trick in the book, it’s just an amplification of all the parts of me that I can’t really wheel out too readily at a family function. An opportunity to exacerbate my flaws, that’s what it is”.

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Less “flaws”, and more flawless. They kick straight into arguably their biggest single this year ‘A Laugh and a Half’ and spank through all the hits and choice cuts from the debut LP and live favourites. ‘Private’, ‘Song with Luke’, and ‘Dead Frozen’ slay, and the final one-two of ‘Summer Hit‘ and ‘Drowning in the Reef‘ round everything off perfectly. It’s a short but special set. Luke is every bit the great frontperson, getting into the crowd, showing us just enough disrespect to make it fun and also the rock’n’roll star he undoubtedly is.

Even into December, he is gadding about doing all the gigs he can and it doesn’t appear there’ll be any let-up. Unless it’s Worcester.

2023 could be huge for them. Anticipation for a new LP will ramp up and an EP before will only whet the appetite.

He’s the pop star we didn’t know we needed at the beginning of 2022, but can’t imagine not having him in 2023. We did not pull the short straw, but we’ll pack our bags and get on the Enjoyable Listens bus.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.