Exclusive Song Premiere: 'Nashville' Star Jonathan Jackson's Band Enation's 'Cinematic' Track
Avery Barkley, Jonathan Jackson's character on ABC's Nashville, is still looking for his big breakthrough, but Jonathan Jackson + Enation, Jackson's band with brother and fellow actor Richard Lee Jackson, is making its own big move this month.
After a dozen years as an independent act, Enation releases its fourth album, Radio Cinematic, on Oct. 14 as its first for Loud & Proud Records. But Jackson tells Billboard he's happy the band took this route to the national spotlight. "I'm grateful we went about it that way because you learn about yourself," explains Jackson, a five-time Emmy Award winner and the first from the Nashville cast to sign an outside record deal.
"All that time writing and producing your music, playing live and touring and everything, I think it's prepared me not only for where we are right now as a band but also prepared me a lot for Nashville, having all that experience and understanding what a singer-songwriter goes through. But now, yeah, it's been great to have the support from (a label) and have that team behind us to help us take it up another notch."
Listen to the song "Cinematic," which Billboard is premiering exclusively:
Enation's contemporary, anthemic rock -- Jackson proudly wears the influence of U2, Peter Gabriel and Coldplay on his sleeve as influences -- is certainly something different than Avery Barkley's rootsier sound, but Jackson says that's not a particularly formidable hurdle, either.
"I know there are people that are being introduced to the music that haven't heard the band who say, 'Is it country music?,' and it's not, obviously," he says. "I'm sure there's an element of transition for people, but subjectively for me it doesn't come into play. I've been doing music with Enation for so long, I feel comfortable in my own skin and I don't really think about it too much in terms of whether people will have a hard time adjusting to it. If people do, they do, and if they don't, they don't. I don't concern myself with it too much."
Enation's goal for Radio Cinematic was "to capture the visceral energy that we feel when we're performing the songs live" moreso than on its three predecessors, Jackson explains. The album's title, meanwhile, nods to the collision of the Jacksons' acting and music endeavors and what they bring out of each other.
"That's sort of the whole idea behind the title of the album as Radio Cinematic, those two worlds coming together," he acknowledges. "We can't help but think in terms of story and in terms of character and in terms of characters having an arc to them, the visuals that are connected to the music and everything. A lot of the people we've been influenced by over the years, particularly U2 and Peter Gabriel, the way that they pioneered the visual elements connecting to the music in such a profound way is something that means a lot to us. So working on the film world and the TV world and the music world is part of the kind of fabric of how we kind of approach stuff."
With Nashville taping into April, Jackson hopes to play with Enation on weekends, with a more extensive tour planned for the late spring, after the show wraps for the season.