CROSS CROWDED ROOMS: How Enriquez Came to Find Community
For many of us young drummers growing up on LI, Chris Enriquez was one who we really looked up to and still look up to for his incredible talent and ability to adapt to whatever style is needed. This versatility is definitely present in his humble personality and ever-growing interests.
Growing up in Manhasset, Enriquez had better access to the city than most of us, which helped account for his eclectic interests at an early age. Thanks to an older sibling who introduced him to so many influential bands like The Pixies, Fugazi and The Cure, a seed for intense musical interest and punk culture was planted. Contrary to his newfound interests, however, was the fact that Manhasset was (and still remains) as he eloquently puts it “the most typical, predominantly white, suburban-catholic-conservative-jock town you could ever imagine.” Everything from his varying hairstyles to his black clothing was put on public trial, from physical and verbal harassment at school to an embarrassing formal evaluation. “My school therapist brought me in for analysis and concluded that I was freakish and crazy,” he says, further explaining that his school went so far as to suggest that parents keep their children away from him; that he was somehow a threat to everyone. “Luckily my parents defended me at all costs and I love them for that.”
Music, as he puts it, became a “safe-haven” for him. If he hadn’t been through that sort of humiliation first, it might not have have led him to meet influential musicians and create invaluable friendships locally. One such friend brought him to his first few shows which would end up being life-changing experiences; shows where every kind of person was welcome:
CHRIS: My one single experience will have to be split in two:
I. First, the thing that really made me recognize how amazing this sub culture is and how I had to be a part of it was when I walked into Roseland in 1994 at a Helmet show and witnessed the opening band, Sick of it All. I never saw or heard anything like it. There were huge circle pits filled with skaters, punkers, metalheads and skinheads going nuts. I was like 13 years old with my buddy and his older brother knocked someone out in front of us for spilling beer on us. I felt like I was in a movie but it was real. Eventually Helmet went on and it was amazing to just go off in a crowd like that for the first time. I sometimes miss the feeling of something like that being so new.
II. Then, a few weeks later, my buddy took me to my first local show in Long Island, where I saw Avail, Garden Variety, Bad Trip and Warped Weeble Wobbles at PWAC in Lindenhurst. I really got an insight on the DIY aspect of this sub culture, which is the most important part of what makes it so special. I noticed kids running the door, sound and eventually cleaning the place up. I also noticed the bands that played, set up their own stuff, took it down and sold their own merchandise. It was so inspiring to see and absolutely was a direct relation to how I ended up spending the next few years of my life engaging and pursuing things within the sub culture. It was through this that I started playing shows in my early bands, Fall with Grace, Rutherford, Crush List and Runner Up. It was through this that I made friends, found a place to get things off my chest through singing along, dancing and having great conversations with like-minded people. It was also through this that I ended up setting up shows, which eventually taught me how to book tours for future bands I’d been in and then utilized that skill to eventually break into my career of event coordinating and later on marketing and advertising. One important [event] I skipped is how I ended up finding On the Might of Princes, who I was fan of. I heard about them through the local scene and that they were opening for Promise Ring at NYU and eventually opened up with them at a local show and then became friends with them and saw them open for SIlent Majority. Although I didn’t end up making music my job and it most certainly cut into a lot of things in life that could’ve been way more productive on a financial sense, I wouldn’t trade these memories and experiences for anything.
It’s been over 20 years and Enriquez continues to play with a variety of bands, one in particular with Arty Shephard (a personal hero and now friend) called Primitive Weapons. “Without [Arty] and George Reynolds, On the Might of Princes along with Glassjaw, Silent Majority, Milhouse, SkyCameFalling, FromAutumntoAshes, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New all wouldn’t exist,” he says.
He also plays with No Way and Gurus, two side projects with different sounds, yet same dedication.
AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE:
Chris reminded me at the end of his interview of his involvement with this upcoming documentary entitled Something in the Water. I hope everyone’s planning to contribute to this project in whatever small way you can. If you were a part of this music, past or present, this will be our American Hardcore, something we can reminisce with, learn from & pass on. Help fund it now!