With American Top 40 playlists dominated these days by pop tarts, hip-hoppers, alt-screamers, sensitive singer-songwriters, and boy bands, there isn't much room for straight-ahead rock and rollers anymore. Interestingly, a number of today's "current but classic-sounding" rock bands are springing out of Canada; groups like the Sheepdogs, Monster Truck and now the Glorious Sons.
Hailing from the industrial town of Kingston, Ontario, the quintet of Brett Emmons (vocals), brother Jay Emmons and Andrew Young (guitars), Adam Paquette (bass), and Chris Huot (drums) formed in 2013 and released an EP, Shapeless Art. Last year saw the Canucks put out their full-length debut, The Union (Black Box Records).
It was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2015 Juno Awards, Canada's version of the Grammys. The winner will be announced next month.
"We are straight-ahead rock, but we do delve into different genres," says Brett Emmons. "And people are always suckers for a good melody and lyrics. Though it would be a challenge for a [current] rock band to blow up like Katy Perry!
"It's about getting one fan at a time," he continues. "And if you have the chops and put your heart and soul into music and give people a great show, the sky's the limit."
Emmons, also the band's primary lyricist, has said that for The Union's 11 tracks, he wanted to "create a feeling of nostalgia." Though that might be a head-scratcher for a band not even two years old. Explain, kind sir.
"I don't hear a lot of people talking about real things [in music] today and telling stories and that's what we're trying to do," he says. "Kind of bring back the '70s when you were out partying with your friends on a Friday night driving through some place.
"We wanted to capture the feeling of what it would be like to be young in a simpler time," Emmons continues. "Make a song stand out, but not sound like an old Lynyrd Skynyrd record."
Several tracks on The Union have a wistful vibe of difficult childhoods, broken dreams and friends who went to dark places never to emerge. But it's the title track that has garnered the band some controversy, its narrator adamant that he won't ever "join the union" and stating just why.
"We've gotten some flak for that, yeah. But that song is not as specific as people think. I'm not really talking about unions as [organizations]," Emmons says. "It's about not growing up and doing the norm and what people expect from you. It's a song for my friends...we're all dirty rock and rollers. I'm not going to go away and become some normal person."
Story continues on the next page.
Emmons also adds that he was the last member to join the Glorious Sons, jumping at the invite that came from his brother, even though the other four had much more performing history together.
"They knew what I was going to bring," he says. "There were some hiccups along the way, which we happen when a new person comes into something that's already been formed. But we adapted. It's a [laughs]...constant incline of momentum and emotion!"
For the current tour, the Glorious Sons are anxious to make their name in the U.S., one city and one club at a time. That challenge grows even more important as they think of all the Canadian bands they love and admire who never made a dent once they crossed the border.
"We want to turn some heads. We want people to hear us," Emmons sums up. "So we just need to stay together and keep playing!"
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