Like any siblings, guitarist Jonathan Jackson and drummer Richard Lee Jackson used to specialize in discord. Their preteen years in Washington state involved a lot of "rolling around on the ground and punching, choking, all kind of things," recalls the latter. One indelible memory even involves a spat, a hockey stick, and multiple stitches. But thankfully, that didn't last long. Because once Jonathan (then 11) finally convinced his reluctant older brother (then 14) to jam with him in their parents' basement, cacophony led way to harmony - and that formed an unwavering foundation for Jonathan Jackson + Enation, their anthemic rock band about to release its fourth album, Radio Cinematic, this fall.
The word "Enation" is technically a botany term referring to an outgrowth on a plant. The band immediately took to its metaphoric meaning, as it applied to both their live and recorded performances. "It means to bring forth, give birth," notes Richard, "the idea that you can actually have an idea that inspires and encourages."
To that end, the band has worked to raise money through their music with charities such as the anti-human trafficking organization NOT FOR SALE and The Syria Project, in support of refugees. "We feel like we have something that's special," says Daniel. "We owe it to people to try to get this out there, raise awareness for things they might not know."
That theme of illumination resonates through Radio Cinematic, co-produced by Greg Archilla (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul) and Patrick Dillett (David Byrne, The National) - starting with its first single, the sprawling, swelling "Everything Is Possible." Jonathan hammers out the most of the band's melodies and lyrics himself, before roping in his bandmates to bring those songs to life. His chorus for this cut - "I wake up every day and feel brand new / Love / Everything is possible with you" - is at once vague and subversive in elocution. "Love has a fight in it. It's not passive. It's fierce," he says of the track's reliability. "There's this proverb: Love is stronger than death. 'Everything Is Possible' takes that idea of rebellion and applies it to love."
It will be followed by "Cinematic." The track unfolds intimately - a tug of war between simmering piano and soaring falsettos. More specific in its assertions of love, it revisits "new beginnings by colliding a love story with our musical journey as a band," says Jonathan. That is perhaps Radio Cinematic's most intriguing magic trick: its uncanny ability to look forward by first looking back.
From Jonathan Jackson + Enation's inception, its members innocently asked big questions about life, and contemplated how their music would fit into it. When playing clubs such as The Roxy as a kid, Jonathan says, "The drug for me was music - this endless mystery to learning more and experiencing more." Now, even as celebrated musicians, a youthful optimism and curiosity continues to simmer in them. "If you look around at the world, the hardest thing to do is to overcome the darkness that is around us - to break through that weight," Jonathan says. "It's the role of the artist to push back against that."