An exclusive behind the scenes look and conversation with the band re-writing the genre of rock.
Hailing from Kingston, Canada, The Glorious Sons have taken American rock airwaves by storm in the past year as consecutive singles “S.O.S.” and “Everything is Alright” have introduced the country to a rock band with a creative edge that has been short supply lately. However, The Glorious Sons are not green to the rock world however as they have been taking over their home country of Canada for the last half a decade with nearly eight consecutive top-10 rock radio hits. Their most recent album release ‘Young Beauties and Fools’ has had the band on the road for the better part of a year as they continue to share their uniquely distinct sound and lyrical narratives to new fans across the globe.
Fresh off the bus from their last stop on the tour in Philadelphia the night before, The Glorious Sons arrived at the Club XL in Harrisburg, PA in the early afternoon on Saturday. As we walked through the narrow backstage hallways of this relatively new venue a discussion began of how few rock bands have played the space they were headlining that night. There was a shared energy of excitement to be in this new place and among the first rock bands to give it life. After finding the green room and settling in lead singer Brett Emmons and guitarist Jay Emmons sat down to chat about The Glorious Sons journey so far and their hopes of where it might take them next.
The elephant in the room for the band has always been the hurdle of Canadian band’s breaking into the American charts. It isn’t an easy cross into a market with such heavy competition as Jay detailed saying “I kind of always knew eventually we’d get it down here and it typically does take a lot of work for Canadian bands to cross over to the US but I think we just kind of kept the faith and kept working at it.” But hard work doesn’t always mean results as Jay acknowledged as well saying “it is about building relationships as well as sticking with it” as Brett chimed in “I mean we are playing to 1,000 people tonight in Harrisburg – it’s rock n’ roll man.”
Rock n’ roll is in dangerously short supply these days but The Glorious Sons have been doing their best to present it to people in its rawest form yet remain true to themselves as artists. In a week the band will be thrust into the biggest spotlight of the American take over yet as they play during intermission of the NHL Stadium Series game in Philadelphia.
Brett was cautiously excited for the experience as he said “I don’t necessarily know how it worked out that we got that – pretty excited as it is going to be a lot of people. Little bit scared though I haven’t seen very many performances on television that I’ve liked so I don’t necessarily like that aspect of it. But, it is a great opportunity to put us in front of a lot of people.”
While the NHL performance will certainly be a milestone for the band it won’t be the peak for the band as they are still very much on the climb. Just a few months ago the band performed another milestone gig at the Scotia Bank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they played in front one of their largest crowds ever. Brett and Jay recalled thoughts on the date briefly saying “with 9,500 people there, it was wild just looking at a sea of people their to sing your songs with you.”
To the core artistry remains the most important feature of The Glorious Sons music with “S.O.S.” being one of the most non-standard or traditional rock songs to storm the charts in a recent years. While selling out clubs is great it will only sustain a career so far if the music doesn’t have substance – luckily thought provoking and creative song structures are not something The Glorious Sons songs are lacking in any of their studio material. From top to bottom ‘Young Beauties and Fools’ is a narrative master piece with relatable stories for the listener that still retain a vast amount of personal content from the creators themselves.
Brett explained in detail that “the songs aren’t 100% true or accurate but I take inspiration from people that have experiences” as Jay started to chime in that “Brett has a way of writing lyrics…” but was cut off as Brett remarked that “I just kind of say what happens. I don’t want to be a showy or flowery writer. My favorite writers and lyricists are those that kind of just get to the point. But, the songs are about people you know and stories that you hear when are with your dad on the way to hockey – I mean I guess that is stupid – but it’s true.”
As the conversation about the lyrical content of The Glorious Sons went on Brett went into even more detail recalling a recent song writing moment,
I recently hung out with my cousin – his name is Craig in Thunder Bay – and he’s battled severe mental health illness his entire life. We just sat there and talked about everything under the moon and what came up was things that he’s been through dealing with severe depression. If you’re listening to these people they have real stories about human triumph – whether it is small or huge, about human failure and sadness. If you are listening to somebody you’ll find out everybody has a story like, you have a story like that, and it might seem small to you or you might think of it as small because it is yours. But, when you take that story and you sit with that in your mind and show it to the world everybody has been through those exact same things. It might not be the exactly the same as your story but everybody knows the feeling and I think that is where I get my stories from.
As the hours grew nearer to show time the Brett and Jay re-united with the rest of the band in the green room to discuss the remainder of the day in Harrisburg. Soundcheck saw The Glorious Sons make the decision to add new songs to the setlist from a forthcoming album due out later this year and some quick rehearsals of one song in particular showed the band was just as excited about the future songs as they are the current ones out there.
Without spoiling too much The Glorious Sons have captured more magic with the new material as they further the stories they told on the last album but keep the energy high as they did with the radio chart hit “S.O.S.” – if you can’t wait until Spring to hear for yourself you can always check out an upcoming tour date as well.
By the time the doors opened hours had passed from soundcheck and while the band had split for sometime to rest or eat they found themselves once again crammed into the green room of the Club XL. Hockey was on TV – the Montreal Canandiens were playing the Tampa Bay Lighting – and though no one had a vested interested in the game everyone cheered for the goals as they watched on killing some time before the show. Drinks were passed around, some shots too, friends came to visit as the set grew closer, and Adam Paquette warmed up his arms for the drums through it all as he turned a chair into a make shift kit. Chris Koster and Chris Huot sat across the room as Brett paced frantically at times as he warmed up his voice.
The vibe was as you’d expect and perfectly on brand – pure rock n’ roll. The set was hand written after much consideration of what flow the band wanted to give the show seemingly only minutes before stage call and all at once (with drinks in hand) they rose to walk to the 1,200+ strong that made the trip Harrisburg, PA to experience The Glorious Sons live in person. The Club XL stage went dark after a brief introduction from a local radio station but these few passing seconds were the only moments of peace for the rest of the night as the stage burst to life with color as The Glorious Sons walked on stage.
Somewhere between the green room and the stage each member of the band went through a transformation as the hours of waiting for the nearly sold out show had passed and it was time to save rock n’ roll with a gig for the ages. Brett Emmons ran, danced, slid, and bursted across the stage from the opening chords of “White Noise” to his final wave off the stage much later that night. Though the crowd was seperated from the band by a simple red barricade it didn’t prevent Emmons (or any of the band) from stepping or leaping out to get closer with the fans pressed into the front row.
The band kept the set moving a long with intensity but made sure to slow things down as needed with tracks but even their slower songs have enough energy that the crowd kept moving. The new song, yet to be released was met with a roaring cheer from the crowd and by the end of the song they were singing right back with Emmons as he shouted about having to “kick them wicked things.”
A few times things got hairy as the over excited crowd pushed and rushed the stage but it wouldn’t be rock n’ roll if things didn’t get out of control, right? Whether it was the incredible full crowd sing-a-long on “S.O.S.” or the heart felt and emotional performance of “My Poor Heart” The Glorious Sons gave the people what they were looking for on a Saturday night.
From a technical stand point the band never faulted though while they remained a tight unit performing the show had a level of organic rock sensibility that many bands lack. The stories that Emmons has penned not only filled a room full of people who connected with them but in the moment of the concert they all became a part of the same story – a unified crowd of different backgrounds that for one night only could leave everything behind and embrace around something real.
The Glorious Sons have all the momentum as they proved this Saturday – it hasn’t been an overnight success for them here in America but rock fans are finally catching on to the powerful artistry that this band is producing both on the stage and in the studio. With many tour dates, opportunities, and new music in their future it is easy to say that 2019 looks promising for The Glorious Sons. There are few bands that can bring 1,200+ to Harrisburg, PA and there are even fewer rock bands that could do it.
The Glorious Sons are many things; talented, truthful, but most importantly of all they are authentic rock that shines bright in an era that has been defined by over polished pop stars. Rock n’ roll never was dead but The Glorious Sons might just save it for the next generation of fans (and hopefully many more generations to come.)