Exclusive Interivew | Brett Emmons of The Glorious Sons
Fresh of the release of ‘A War on Everything’ lead singer of The Glorious Sons, Brett Emmons, gave us a phone call to discuss some of the new material on the album in length. With this release taking a different path than some of their previous material a lot of the conversation centered around the artistic process and how The Glorious Sons are changing the industry one release at a time.
What influences impacted the recording of ‘A War on Everything?’ Narrative story telling has always been important for the Glorious Sons but musically, this album is a little bit different from what you guys have done in the past. Where did these sounds come from? Any specific bands on heavy repeat in your headphones during the recording process?
Well, I don’t necessarily know a hundred percent how the music I was listening to influenced the album, but I knew going into it that we had no choice but to really make an eclectic album. And we kind of just, I don’t know, we welcomed that thought and I think that really helped let the songs live and breathe in their own universe.
I was listening to a band called The Dirty Nil a lot. They’re a Canadian rock band. A lot of Blaze Foley, I don’t want to say that we were influenced – I guess we actually were. Going into the album, we had a talk, and we knew it was going to be eclectic like I said. We wanted it to kind of live and breathe in a bunch of different worlds like the White Album. So yeah other than that, I don’t know, to be honest.
Was it difficult entering the studio with that mindset of creating such an eclectic and musically diverse album? The trend these days for albums tends to be a very traditional top to bottom play structure even with some tracks one blending right into each other. ‘A War on Everything is not that type of record so what was that process like?
No, it was easy. It just kind of happened that way and we just went with it, but it was a little tough releasing it I would say. Like I was a little more worried releasing the album than I was with the other ones I think, just because it was so eclectic. I didn’t know how people were going to stomach it going from Panic Attack into A War On Everything to start the record.
It’s a unique transition and I think it is a jarring start for an album. So that worried me a little bit. I knew people were either going to love it or they might hate it too. So yeah, it wasn’t hard when we were in the studio. It was just hard for like the six or seven months that we were sitting on the album afterward. You have all this time to think. You’ve already gone and done the work, and basically it’s not really up to you after that. You just got to be proud of what you did and release it to the world, and see how they react. Other than that, you got no choice in the matter when it’s done.
Overthinking can be an artists worst enemy, the risk worked out with ‘A War on Everything’ though. In this album is there a story contained within that’s most personal to you or are they all just kind of adapted from other people’s situation.
This album is a lot less, I guess, autobiographical then the last one. But the stories are quite personal… Somebody that’s a good songwriter I know who writes songs a lot was telling me about how they can’t write a story song to save their life. I don’t really know, but I know that one thing that I do is I insert myself into whatever story I’m learning about anyways, and that makes it a little bit easier. So I think the methods behind the whole album and a lot of the subjects, they’re very personal to me, but they’re not all true, they’re fiction.
Out of all these stories you wrote how did Pink Motel come to be the closing song and statement piece to finish the album off?
Well, there was never really any doubt. I think once I got screaming on it and it came together… There was just pure emotion in it. I think that everybody kind of knew no matter what, this was going to close the album… I thought about not closing the album with Pink Motel, like later in the process. Just because it does sound like a closing song. So it kind of made me want to not close with it.
But the answer was staring us right in the face. You shouldn’t fight it. You shouldn’t fight that. I think that more than any other song, it sounds like the closer. We knew Panic Attack was going to start the album. So after that, it was just about arranging everything in the middle and that was really the hard part. And when something. is staring you in the face, like Pink Motel, you shouldn’t shy away from that. That makes it easier.
With such a wide range of sounds on ‘A War on Everything’ there a song that you guys are most looking forward to adding into the live set or have kind of been in the process of adding? I know sometimes picking a favorite song off something you’ve created can be difficult.
Yeah, right now and I’m not ashamed to say at all my favorite on the album is A Funny Thing Happened. I don’t know, that song just, it doesn’t really have a chorus and lyrically, I don’t know if I’ve ever written better. It’s just so much energy and chaos in it.
I just love, I love that song. And live, it’s going to show with that one. Wild Eyes is another one that’s going to be amazing live. Yeah. I would say those two. And we had added those two late, so that might also be contributing to the attachment. Maybe I’m just a little more over the other songs a little more than I am those two. It was a certain rock-n-roll energy and I’ve always been a sucker for a good old rock-and-roll song.
The entire album feels like a captured live show full of energy and action, it’s a very interesting sound compared to the standard rock release.
Yeah, we wanted to land somewhere in between Young Beauties and Fools and The Union. We thought Young Beauties and Fools was a little too polished over time and then after that, I thought I mixed the vocals quite low on the album, to be honest. I’ve always been inspired by Mick Jagger’s, the way they mixed Mick Jagger’s voice in the Stones’ records.
It almost fits in with the instruments and I always thought that was really cool. I don’t know why, but I just, I kind of love a low mixed voice. It’s just, it does make it sound more raw. I just think that the guitar work was so strong on the album that it was impossible for it to not sound like a band. The boys basically just talk to each other, all of them on the guitars and yeah, that was a huge thing going in was, the guitars playing off of each other.
There wasn’t that much of a change in the process. We just knew that we didn’t want to make such a polished album. We wanted it to be a little dirtier than the last one.
Lastly now that we’ve dug into a lot of what’s going on with ‘A War on Everything’ would any of these new songs be classified as follow-ups to anything that The Glorious Sons have put out in the past?
I would say that the closest ones would be Pink Motel. I guess it kind of puts like a bookmark on the end of, basically what Young Beauties and Fools was… Puts a bookmark on the end of my love life with the person that was all over Young Beauties and Fools.
I think that Kingdom In My Heart, it kind of continues. It’s the only one that really, I talked about myself specifically on. In Young Beauties and Fools, that was basically all I was doing was talking about myself. It’s a very simple song and it’s not really much of like a story, that one. It’s kind of just a conversation between me and a loved one, and we’re talking about my past and my struggles, and that’s kind of what Young Beauties was like. Yeah, other than that, I don’t really think so, but I don’t know. I might be more connections than I noticed being so close to it. I guess it is up for the listeners to pick out.
*Special thanks go out to Brett Emmons for taking the time to chat, as well as Grace Fleisher for setting up both this interview and for everything she does to connect Sight of Sound with The Glorious Sons.