The members of Enumclaw, in a press photo taken by Raphael Gaultier.

The members of Enumclaw, in a press photo taken by Raphael Gaultier.

“A name that … meant being the best”: how rock band “Enumclaw” got its name

Tacoma’s new indie band “Enumclaw” is named after, you guessed it, Enumclaw

Technically, they’re rocking out in Tacoma. But the frontman of indie rock band “Enumclaw” says the band’s name is inspired by, you guessed it, the city we know and love.

It all started with high school sports.

Enumclaw’s lead singer and guitarist Aramis Johnson, who grew up in Lakewood and competed in the same wrestling league as Enumclaw, was always impressed by the strength of the Hornet’s wrestling team.

“I remember thinking those guys were superheroes to me,” Johnson said. “They were way better than I ever could have been. … (Later on) I’d blown off my high school wrestling career. In a way, to make up for that with my music career, I wanted a name that was badass, and (that) to me meant being the best.”

“Aside from that,” he added, “I just really like the way the word sounds.”

Johnson comes from the rap scene, where around 2013 he started forging beats for friends and building musical groups. Soon, he developed a love for a different kind of West Coast music staple: indie rock.

“I had never really put myself in the forefront, and so with this project, I just wanted to see what would happen if I was the frontman,” Johnson said.

Drummer Ladaniel Gipson and bassist Nathan Cornell joined Johnson to record their first EP Jimbo Demo, which releases April 30. Bassist Eli Edwards, who is also Johnson’s younger brother, joined the band after the EP was produced.

Originally, the band planned to call themselves “Jimbo” (hence the album name), but went back to the drawing board in search of a more original title. Johnson eventually pitched “Enumclaw” to the other band members – they weren’t fans at first but the name grew on them, he said.

Johnson knows a rural, mostly-white city like Enumclaw might seem like an odd font of inspiration for a suburban rock band with mostly black musicians.

But “I think I really like the juxtaposition,” he said. “If you’re from Washington and you know about Enumclaw, then it’s really funny and ironic that this black band is called Enumclaw, and if you’re not from Washington, it’s whatever you want it to be.”

And you don’t have to be a city-slicker to identify with the scenes from Enumclaw’s music videos for the singles “Fast N All” and “Free Drop Billy”, which were shot in and around Tacoma and its suburbs. Nor do you have to be a crusty, beanie-clad hipster to enjoy the washed-out sounds of grungy guitars and sizzling drums.

Driving through quiet neighborhoods under the cover of drizzling, thick gray clouds. Horsing around mushy grass fields and basketball courts with your friends. Between the cans of Rainier beer and Mariners hats, the videos are practically “Welcome to Washington” tourist ads.

The videos also reflect how Johnson, like many people, have felt over the last year: stuck in town with nowhere to go.

“All those places are places that I drive by or ride my bike almost every single day,” Johnson said. “I wanted to incorporate what’s been going on in my life. … I live in the suburbs, I grew up in the suburbs.”

Since they only formed last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, Enumclaw has not yet had the chance to perform in a real live show.

But once they can, Johnson said, he’d love to bring Enumclaw to Enumclaw.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Photo courtesy Public Health Insider
What parents should know about vaccination for 12-15 year olds | Public Health

The Kent ShoWare Center is vaccinating youths this Saturday and Sunday, May 15 and 16.

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
National Safe Boating Week is May 22 – 28

Be prepared before you hit the water.

Penny Wood holds a copy of her book "She Married The Green River Serial Killer" on a trail near her Ravensdale home April 28. Photo by Alex Bruell
Ravensdale author pens update on Judith Mawson, ex-wife of the Green River Killer

Newly-updated book chronicles a triumph over the painful memories of Gary Ridgway

Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health
Inslee sets June 30 target for Washington to fully reopen

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most places, the federal CDC said.

Elections ahead
Candidate filing week approaches – May 17-21

Your opportunity to file for a local government position is next week.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17, 2020, at the state Capitol in Olympia. File photo
Open-carry of weapons now illegal at state Capitol, rallies

A new law bars people from carrying guns within 250 feet of a permitted demonstration.

Image courtesy Public Health Insider
Everyone 12 and older now eligible for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Although fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus, get sick, and spread the virus to others.

The EHS class of 2020 celebrated their final year of high school at the Enumclaw Expo Center last year in order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Photo by Kevin Hanson
It will be different, but graduation ceremonies will take place

White River is planning to host its ceremony June 12 at the Arrow Lumber Stadium, while Enumclaw High is hosting theirs June 14 at the Expo Center.

As rates of stoned drivers increase, law enforcement face challenges

WSP trooper said a THC breathalyzer would be a “game changer” for law enforcement and courts.

Most Read