Escape from SoFla

Coe and Co. jump off the wagon and into the van

Though acoustic guitar and harmonicas may have helped Woody Guthrie kill fascists, Coe remained a rock 'n' roll animal without a band until he hooked up with Interscope executive/bassist Mitch Powers, who helped him recruit a band. And the Enablers were born as a live act with a weekly residence at L.A. punk club the Garage in June 2002. The band made an immediate impact, which shocked Coe.

"You realize that, anywhere, people are starved for a good show," he says. "You know, it's L.A. There are a lot of bands. But there's not a lot going on out there. I saw a flier yesterday that said, 'There's 1,000 bands playing Los Angeles tonight. We are not one of those bands. '" He laughs: "Then what are you?"

Unfortunately, Powers got engaged, and the Enablers soon found themselves sans bassist. But before Powers left, Coe's South Florida homeboy, Quit guitarist Addison Burns, came out to L.A. and recorded the Enablers material. Coe began e-mailing MP3s of Burns' recordings to anyone who ever gave any of his bands the time of day, a shotgun approach that soon paid a dividend.

Left to Right: Dan Bonebrake, Addison Burns, Rob Coe, and Darryl Bonebrake.
Left to Right: Dan Bonebrake, Addison Burns, Rob Coe, and Darryl Bonebrake.

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"I thought I was e-mailing the file for 'Tomorrow' to Russell Remains at Fracture Zine," Coe muses. "Instead, it landed in the hands of Dave Hopkins, who was just starting [UK indie label] Newest Industry. He liked it and said, 'Do you have any more?'"

Newest Industry signed the band, and in March 2003, Coe flew back to Miami for a weeklong bacchanal/recording session at Dungeon recording studios with Burns, ex-Dashboard Confessional bassist Dan Bonebrake, and Pivot drummer Jordan Keith.

"I blew out my voice on the plane because of the altitude or something," Coe recalls. "I thought, 'I can either take care of it and stop drinking, or I can just keep drinking and go for it.' So I kept drinking. We'd go until we were too drunk to do anything. And you'd have to be pretty drunk not to play. So we'd sleep on the floor of the Dungeon, curl up in one of the blankets that they wrap the microphones in, and repeat the process the next day."

The result, Sweet Fuck All, is Coe's masterpiece. While lacking the unhinged mania of Fay Wray's best work, Coe's Dylan-meets-Westerberg lyrical stylings ("Dear Beer/Can you say when?/I'll hear the telephone ring/And make her take me back") work wonders, while the music sounds like a three-way street brawl among Social Distortion, the Replacements, and Leatherface. Despite (or perhaps because of) the alcohol consumed at the session, the playing is crisp and balls-out. Not bad for a band that had never played together before the session.

Newest Industry was so thrilled with the record that it is flying the Enablers across the pond for a two-week UK tour next week -- the first overseas tour for all but Bonebrake (whose brother Darryl is now playing drums). That was enough for Coe to put his stuff in storage and go for broke. Is this his midlife crisis?

"It's a prelife crisis," he responds. "I held out for good terms. They are taking care of everything! Flying us out, lodging, renting the back line, the van, getting the work permits -- who gets that opportunity? It ain't rocket science. I'd have to be a moron to pass up what's in front of me."

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