The Glorious Sons revive rock n’ roll

Photo by Jesse Baumung.

The band writes songs that cite their experience growing-up in middle class families

Eleven short months ago, The Glorious Sons released their first album, Shapeless Art, and their career took off from there. The five-piece band from Kingston, Ont., are still new to anything resembling fame, but after having won a handful of awards and embarked on three Canadian tours, people have really started to pay attention. Their newest album, The Union, dropped mid-September and the group is currently touring with Airbourne.

The Concordian recently spoke to the industrious band’s lead singer, Brett Emmons, about The Glorious Sons’ music and how he got to where he is today.

Many would say that rock and roll is dead — that it perished along with the musical relevance of MTV and the financial viability of the record store — but Brett Emmons thinks otherwise. The Glorious Sons don’t like to limit their music by categorizing it in a single genre, but Emmons would definitely prefer to be called a rock band than an indie band.

“A lot of indie bands are really just rock bands. They’re really just afraid to call themselves rock bands for some reason, but if you think of [a group] like The Beatles, they were a rock band. You could even call them a pop band,” Emmons said.

Photo by Jesse Baumung.

From an early age, the vocalist spent all of his money on AC/DC albums. Emmons was brought up on rock. “My brother [Jay Emmons, now the group’s guitarist] used to read me Led Zeppelin’s biography when I was like five years old. It was like a bedtime story growing up,” he said. To this day, Emmons’ favourite bands include many rock legends: “I look up to Bruce Springsteen and a lot of other people too,” Emmons said. “I don’t think you’d pinpoint the influence. You’d see hints of it– hints of The Doors, of My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon, even a little AC/DC, but we never really believed in sounding like anyone else.”

When Emmons was in grade 10, he began writing music. Later moving to Halifax, N.S., for school, the vocalist dropped out to pursue his musical ambitions and began playing venues around the city. “I decided to take the leap and commit myself to music,” Emmons said. “I didn’t think to myself ‘if’ I could make it; I just went for it. I always believed if you work your hardest at anything, you’ll make it. My dad taught me that at a young age.”

At the same time in Kingston, the foundation of what was to become The Glorious Sons was being laid down.

“Andrew [Young, one of the group’s guitarists] and Adam [Paquette, the drummer] were jamming in [Paquette’s] garage and not having much fun,” Emmons said. “The other two were jamming in another garage. They knew each other, got together, and jammed once. They wrote a song on their first jam then became a band.”

Back in Halifax, Emmons was having a rough time following his dream: “When I quit school, I was getting myself into trouble, partying a bit too much — a lot, actually. Things weren’t working out when I was playing in Halifax. I hadn’t made a splash on any music scene.” That’s when, about three years ago, a phone call and a dash of fraternal love changed everything for the vocalist.

“When my brother called me home to join the band, it was a weight off my shoulders,” Emmons said. “My brother’s always been kind of my best friend. He’s been like my security blanket. We’d always said that we’d do this together one day.”

The band’s new album, The Union, is meant to pay homage to the members’ families and their own past struggles. “The concept is blue collar, it’s called The Union because we grew-up in middle class families who worked their ass off for their children,” Emmons said. “You can’t write about something that you don’t know. Chris (Huot) was a plumber before and we all had those kinds of jobs at one point.”

Every member of the band is a songwriter, according to Emmons. “We’re always writing — I don’t think we’ll ever be short on material for an album.”

Before going on tour, Emmons has created a ritual of sorts: “It’s kind of become second nature now: go to my vocal coach to tighten my voice and try not to drink for a week before we leave,” said the singer.

While many musicians have mixed feelings about the touring experience, the frontman seems to prefer life as a nomad to life at home. “I feel more restless at home than I do on the road. When you get home there’s so many people to see and so many things to do. When you’re on the road you can just settle in and do your job.” Emmons will get his wish of more time on the road, as The Glorious Sons will be touring straight through to December. You can expect, in Emmons words, “a sweaty, bloody, rock and roll show” when the band plays the Corona Theatre in Montreal on Oct. 16.

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