Interview with Brett Emmons: It’s Glorious to Make Rock and Roll
I recently had a chance to talk to Brett Emmons, lead singer of The Glorious Sons, about their newly released first album, rock ‘n roll and their current tour supporting Airbourne.
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Jean-Frederic Vachon: Hi Brett! Can you start by telling us how the band started?
Brett Emmons: So Jay, the guitar player (my brother) and Chris, the bass player, were playing in a band around Kingston and Andrew, the other guitar player/singer, and Adam were playing, just by themselves, in a garage. Jay and Chris weren’t having a good time in the band they were in so they called Andrew and Adam, and started jamming together. At the time I was living in Halifax, I’d quit school to try to pursue music, and it wasn’t going well for me. Jay called me up, offered me a job in the construction business, and offered me a spot in the band so I came home, joined the band, and that started Glorious Sons.
JFV: You have a new album out called The Union, that was produced by John-Angus MacDonald of the Trews. How did you end up working with him?
BE: We were playing a contest called Whiskey Rocks, and we ended up winning the contest. He was one of the judges, and we got our prize pack and were real happy about everything. After the show I was there having a cigarette and he walks by going in to play his set, an she stops and says, “Hey man, let’s have a beer after the show. I want to talk to you guys.” So we went and talked to him, and he talked about perhaps producing an album for us, and he said he’d do a song for free, so we went and did the song Mama, and after that he ended up producing the rest of the album.
JFV: Did you already have all your material ready to go or did he help you shape it?
BE: We had all the material but he did help shape it. He made it more digestible because at that point we’d only been playing together for about a year and a half, and we had a whole bunch of stuff, and basically he just wanted to make it more listenable. He knew that we could write songs, that we put on a really good live show and were all good singers and songwriters, but he just kind of showed us the ropes, you know? He guided us a bit, and we would either take his advice or tell him “no, we want it this way”. I think what came out was a pretty solid piece of material.
JFV: Your songs have great hooks; is that something that comes out of your songwriting naturally, or do you have to work on them and polish them to get them to that level?
BE: We never really wrote a hook for a hook’s sake. I’d say it comes pretty naturally. We have four people in the band who can sing really well, and it just helps. We’ll work on a melody and somebody will go, “What about this?” and we’ll try something else and we’ll decide what we like the best. And sometimes you get in there and the melody comes out straight off the bat. But as far as hooks go, I feel that hooks are meant to be natural; it shouldn’t be a forced thing. And if it is you should be writing pop music and using Auto-tune. (laughs)
JFV: What are the band’s main influences? I hear a lot of different things on the album.
BE: We all come from different music backgrounds. Some of the guys are really into modern indie rock. Andrew is a huge fan of Kings of Leon, the Fleet Foxes, Spoon. Me and my brother Jay are huge classic rock fans. My favourite songwriter of all time is Bruce Springsteen. I don’t think anybody tops him in my eyes. Chris actually comes from a metal background; his favourite band is Slayer! So, somehow all those things came together to make Glorious Sons! (laughs) But you know, I feel that we don’t really try to write like any of our influences; we write songs that mean something to us, things that we think are good, and our influences may naturally come out of our music. There’s nothing worse than a band trying to copy somebody else’s sound.
JFV: How’s the reaction been to the album so far?
BE: The reaction has been extremely humbling and great. The Union was released ten days ago (editor: it was released on September 16) and I heard that we’re getting people saying they love it, lots of people saying there’s not a bad track on it. Of course you never want to put a filler track on an album, you might as well just release a single at that point. So people are really happy about it; we worked really hard on it for seven months, and it just feels good. When you finish something and you’re happy with it,a nd you send it out and everybody seems happy with it, it’s a great feeling. It kind of reminds you of why you’re in the business that you’re in, which is music.
JFV: You’re currently on tour with Airbourne. How is that going?
BE: It’s going awesome! Everybody’s great to us: Flash Lightnin’ (editor: support act for the first part of the tour) and Airbourne. All great guys. It’s a great night of live rock ‘n roll, you know. There’s not a lot of shows you get that frickin’ bleed rock like this one does. And it’s different types of rock, but there’s nothing to be said other than “This is rock ‘n roll.” Sweaty, grimy, bloody rock ‘n roll.
JFV: Recently, I don’t know if you read this, but Gene Simmons of KISS declared that rock was dead, and that bands coming up wouldn’t have the chance to make it. As a young band coming up, do you feel that’s true? Do you feel the odds are stacked against you?
BE: I think that, first and foremost, and it’s something that’s really been bothering me, I think Gene Simmons is a fool, and that he said that to get publicity and headlines. I think that all he cares about is his image and his money. He hasn’t tried to make it at all in rock ‘n roll for the past 20 years because he hasn’t had to since he’s a rich man who makes reality TV shows and doesn’t give a crap about music anymore. So, you know, I think that he’s completely wrong. What we do is we go out there, and we sweat our asses off and we work as hard as we can for everybody who comes to see the show. And as long as everybody’s still coming, and you still get 600 people in a small room, you know, and they’re all sweating and screaming, and everybody’s giving their all, then rock ‘n roll will never die.
JFV: I’m really looking forward to the show in Montreal. Will that be your first time in Montreal?
BE: No! We have been to Montreal once before and we haven’t been able to get back because it didn’t work out with the routing but we’re so excited to go back to such a great music city. You know, our first show there was on a Sunday night, and it was in a tiny little bar, yet over a hundred people came and just listened and loved the music. I love Montreal.
The Glorious Sons will be at the Corona Theatre (2490 Notre Dame) on October 16 with One Bad Son and Airbourne. 8 p.m. $25. Tickets can be purchased HERE.ca Jean-Frederic Vachon’s review of The Union, the first album from The Glorious Sons can be found here. Jean Frederic Vachon has an amazing blog on music called Diary of a Music Addict. Check it out for more of his writing.