By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Before enemies climbs the steps onto Hailey's stage, Ryan Gillbert struts around the club clutching his guitar looking like a young, Don't Look Back-era Bob Dylan, while frontman Joshua Sinai puffs on a Djarum clove cigarette and chats with his mohawk-sporting girlfriend.
Sometimes, before a band plays a single note, you can tell that you're in for a memorable performance. And, in Denton, where clubs often book shows featuring half a dozen passable local acts with bills that cross genres from alt-country to punk rock, it's always nice to stumble out of a club feeling like you saw at least one impressive band perform. This Hailey's show, dubbed "Denton Rock Revival," serves as the perfect example. Enemies is sandwiched between some Dave Matthews-influenced rock, a heavy metal band and a burlesque show.
Sinai approaches his mic stand, and his backing band starts playing. It's equal parts pomp, piss and vinegar—appropriate for a band that cites influences ranging from Johnny Cash and Velvet Underground to The Stone Roses and Nirvana.
Gothed-out in all black, wearing a blazer and biker boots, Sinai bears a resemblance to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer vamp Spike. Can't say if enemies actually has a taste for blood, but the band's live sets are gaining a reputation for being lively, raucous affairs that occasionally result in random acts of rock 'n' roll violence and, well, a little bloodshed.
Last summer, enemies played a set at Delta Lodge (before the former Fry Street Fair gods packed up and vacated their building). While Sinai was thrashing around onstage, he gashed open his head with his guitar. "I started feeling the warmth of the blood pouring down the side my face," Sinai says. "I think people were shocked that we kept playing."
He laughs when recalling another recent gig at J & J's Pizza that left him with a partially dislocated shoulder.
The band has spent the last few months in the studio working on its first album, which Sinai says should be released by late October. To date, the only recordings enemies have released are of the band's performances around Denton. And bassist Kristopher Price warns that the songs on the album will feel a little slower than the band's live sets.
"We're a little more aggressive live," Price explains.
"In rock 'n' roll, the best bands—the legendary bands—like Iggy Pop, Nirvana or Sex Pistols, their live sets are all train wrecks," Sinai adds. "There are some good bands in Denton, but there's a lot of bands that don't go balls to the wall. And that's what we try to do at every gig.
"Besides, I'd rather have the audience despise us than just say, 'Eh, they're OK .'"