Photo Credit: Greeblehaus

Nestled into the tiny stage at Globeville’s half BBQ joint, half music venue, Kingston, Ontario-based rock and rollers The Glorious Sons seized my attention with authority. I wasn’t alone, either. The entire crowd was entranced throughout. This didn’t come as much of a surprise, though, given the nature of their music.

I had previously spent some time with their latest album Young Beauties and Fools, finding solace in the down home instrumentals and Brett’s anthemic lyrics. It’s easy to get addicted to it. The blue-collar vibes, crunchy riffs, and expert story telling create an atmospheric listening experience that’s hard to come by.

But, Jay Emmons, Chris Koster, Adam Paquette, Chris Huot & Brett Emmons seemingly make it easy. Which, is why I wanted to chat with them ahead of their fourth trip through Denver.

TMN: Welcome to Denver! Is this your first time in the Mile High City?

Jay: Fourth! We opened for a band called Ten Years three years ago. We came back twice to Marquis Theater after that. We headlined for like five people. Tonight is going to be a real show.

How has the tour been going so far?

Jay: It’s been good — busy. I think this is the most distance we’ve traveled in such a short span. We did 15 days in Europe. 14 of them had shows attached to them. The last three dates of the tour we were flying from Norway to Sweden, then to Denmark. That just adds a whole other element — being up at 7:00 or 8:00AM every day. It’s the first we’ve experienced something like that.

Here, we started in Chicago. Then to Minneapolis, North Carolina, New Orleans, Kansas City.

TMN: Any cities rise above the rest as far as highlights go?

Jay: Minneapolis was cool. We did 7th Street Entry. It’s attached to the club First Avenue where ‘Purple Rain’ was shot. It’s a really legit venue, kind of a rite of passage, I guess.

New Orleans was interesting. We had our AirBNB broken into by a crackhead. I had to chase him out shirtless. I had been completely naked, jumped into a pair of jean shorts.

TMN: What?!

Jay: We heard this booming, and I woke up. Me and my girlfriend were like “what the fuck is going on?” Our drummer thought it was gunshots. So, he pushed his girlfriend off the bed and dove on her. It was actually some crackhead kicking the door in. The guy walks in and is stand over them.

TMN: Jesus. That’s terrifying.

Jay: The look in her eyes — she was speechless with fear — made him (our drummer) realize there was a guy who busted in. Everyone was in shock. He got up and pushes him back. I jump into my jean shorts, rip off my belt, and start screaming at the top of my lungs at this guy. We both managed to get him out. It was scary.

TMN: That’s definitely memorable. Going back to your European dates, there’s something I’m always curious about. I know it’s commonplace for people in other countries to speak two languages, and often English. Did the language barrier matter out there, or did people pick up your lyrics and sing along?

Jay: People were definitely singing along to ‘Everything is Alright.’ The only lyric they fuck up was the line that says “Everything is alright. If only for the night.” Everyone in Europe said “If only for tonight.” And it sounds so European! It’s hilarious to hear that come back up to the stage. Even in the states it happens, though.

TMN: Talk to us about your upbringing, as brothers, from a musical stand point. Was this something that was encouraged and fostered early on?

Jay: Listening, always. No the playing, so much.

Brett: I wouldn’t call our family a musical family. I’m seven years younger than Jay, so when he started getting into music, I naturally just followed what he did.

Jay: We were always attached at the hip. He was kind of my little buddy growing up. If we were playing hockey, he was playing hockey with us. We’d be firing pucks at him. He was always the goalie. He was hanging out all the time.

TMN: Did you guys come up listening to Dad’s records? Mom’s records? Both?

Brett: Dad’s and Mom’s. I think that’s probably what we were mainly influenced by. Rock & Roll — Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd.

TMN: What about when you started to develop your own tastes?

Jay: It was probably around Grade 9. You know, where everyone discovers Pink Floyd, starts getting into weed. You’re watching The Wall, first time getting high, and like “ah, man! This is so cool.”

TMN: And trying to sync Dark Side of the Moon to The Wizard of Oz.

Brett: (Laughing) That’s a fucking can of shit. You can sync anything up to that. People are so stupid.

TMN: Did you guys start playing in bands separately before you came together? You mentioned you’re seven years older.

Jay: I was playing in bands since I was really young. Brett started playing in high school. By grade 11, they had a kick ass band, and they were writing their own music. At that time, I was 22 and had my own band, writing our own music, and playing around town. The first time I went to see his band, I was like “holy fuck, these guys are better than my band, and they’re just kids!” Brett was already a front man. He already had his own style.

Brett: We used to just follow them around and open for them at little mini-gigs. We thought it was the greatest thing in the world. We would go over there and get crushed, having the time of our lives. When you start playing rock & roll, cliches aside, that’s what you wanna do. You wanna get fucked up, talk to girls, and play music. That opened the whole world to us.

How did Glorious Sons come together? What’s your origin story, so to speak?

Jay: I knew I wanted to start a band before I got really old. I got this place that was a pretty shitty apartment above a mechanic shop in Kingston. I didn’t really have a plan. But, I started grabbing people for rehearsals. The first couple went pretty terribly. Me and Chris, our bass player, stuck together, and eventually got our drummer and former guitar player. Brett was out east at the time, at school, and he came home and saw us at Thanksgiving weekend. Eventually, he ended up dropping out.

Brett: I returned at Christmas, to the familiar chords and cheer, and thought, “this is actually pretty good.” For months, they’d been reaching out—those late-night calls—pleading for me to join the band. Witnessing their performance, I realized my situation was a contingent house meaning, my stay was conditional, hanging by a thread due to dwindling rent money and questionable company. That was the turning point. I sought a permanent place, asked if they had room for one more, and then I flew back to start anew, contributing my own verse to the ensemble.

TMN: You guys have been picking up steam too. Awards, accolades, etc…

Jay: That’s all great stuff, but we haven’t done fuck all in a few years, except for releasing a great album. I mean — we’ve always appreciated what we’ve done in Canada. We’ve toured the fuck out of that country. But, now, it’s nice to see we can go to Europe and sell tickets. It’s starting to cook for us.

Brett: The only thing awards do is change industry perception of who you are as a band.

Jay: Some people still think we’re a bunch of douchebags from Kingston. We still don’t get the respect that I think we deserve, in Canada. What really shows people who we are is if we can make something down here. We’re from Kingston. We’re not in those industry circles. We get along with all those guys, but we’re down-home boys from Kingston.

TMN: I kinda feel like you guys have an Americana sound to you too.

Brett: We love that kind of music. It’s hard, because Americana is a blanket term.

Jay: It’s a way cooler way of saying Canadiana.

TMN: (Laughs) When I hear you guys, I can hear the guitar of a band like Clutch. Southern rock, with a little story telling and some killer riffs.

Jay: I would say there’s some Skynard and Allman Brothers in there. Not like I can play guitar like any of those guys.

Brett: We also listen to a lot of Ryan Adams and Jason Isbell.

Jay: When we first started writing music, the old shit was pouring out of our veins. But, you have to adapt to the times.

TMN: You touched on this, about the hiatus between albums, let’s talk about Fast Friends. I always think it’s interesting to see how a different group of creative minds can help foster something.

Brett: For two years, we were basically spinning out tires. We knew we wanted a different album. The first album was meat and potatoes.

Jay: We weren’t capable of doing anything but that, at that time. It was the tip of the iceberg for this band at that point.

Brett: We wanted to take a step in a different direction. We didn’t want to write the same album again. We wanted to step into this century. Those songs and riffs have been played out. Rock & roll can’t stay in this 1970s/1980s past. It can’t sound like Skynyrd. If it’s every going to adapt and sound great again, like people want it to be, you’re not going to get that from a band that sounds like Zeppelin. We went into the studio three times and came out with five songs. None of them were game changing.

Jay: We heard some demos that Fast Friends had produced. As soon as I heard it, I was like “this is fucking cool.”

Brett: They were cool songs. Anyways…

Jay: Groundbreaking.

Brett: They were cool songs. Anyways. We got down there, we were sitting at dinner, and Jay’s and I were worried. We had a lot riding on this thing. This was the last apple in the barrel.

Jay: It was a now or never situation.

Brett: We were there. In the studio. The first thing they did that was important was recognizing the good songs from the bad songs. There was 150-200 ideas. I asked if I could share some shit off my phone. This was in the first two hours of meeting with him. I showed him “Josie” and he said “this is the shit.” He got up and started dancing. Two hours later, we had the whole song finished.

TMN: You can feel the balance — there’s a nice element of pop to it, to where it grabs you. As a listener, you’re not reaching. But, it’s raw. It’s a great mix of storytelling that’s simplistic, yet poetic.

Jay: That’s the magic in any great lyricist.

Brett: I’m not trying to confuse people with my lyrics. I get so fucking mad at the art’s for art sake bullshit. I’m a lyricist, not a poet. That’s the thing, right?

Jay: I think this album makes people feel things. That’s what a lot of people grab on to. We’re lucky to have a guy that puts it into that way.

Brett: They’re literal. I don’t try to over-complicate anything. I just want you to see, feel, and taste that in the most simplistic way possible. That’s the way you’re going to get the picture that I had.

TMN: I heard an interesting quote about creativity that seems to be in lockstep with some of the things you’ve said. “Creativity is cathartic. It’s the ability to say things to strangers that you’d otherwise be embarrassed to tell those closest to you.” Is that somewhat spot on for you?

Brett: Well, here’s the thing. It’s a very open album. I had all of these songs that were just about me and the guys said to get up there and tell these stories. Tell them from a personal side. From the eyes of a 23 year old guy. I didn’t have any trouble doing that. I’ve never been embarrassed about saying anything.

TMN: You have mentioned this album being autobiographical and about someone battling with alcoholism. You’re currently sober?

Brett: Yeah. It’s been three months now. I don’t want to bastardize anyone else’s alcoholism. We know a guy who choked on his tongue from having seizures from his addition. That wasn’t really my problem. For me, I couldn’t turn it off. If I got drunk tonight, I would be drunk for the next week, and I’d be having the time of my life. But, I’d be doing things to people during that period of time, where in the morning, I would feel like a piece of shit. And then, I would feel the need to drink more to get over that feeling. At this point, I just don’t know who I am when I drink. I hurt a lot of people in those moments. I’m fucking tired of being the brunt of everyone’s jokes, in the end.

TMN: Sometimes in the industry, people seem to take it lightly. Like “oh, they’re just on tour. They’re playing at bars every night.” They don’t realize the struggle of leaving that — a rowdy scene where everyone loves you — and you come back and you’re by yourself.

Brett: Coming down from tour, after getting home from tour, was impossible. I would get more drunk at home because I was so fucking bored. I got tired of being the good guy at home. I would head straight to my favorite bar and get crushed.

Jay: Everyone has that. When you’re home, and it’s the only place you’ve wanted to be for so long, you’ve forgotten how to get comfortable.

TMN: Have you found that you have a new sense of clarity, now that you’re sober? Have you noticed a big effect from it?

Brett: I’m on one of the biggest songwriting rolls I’ve ever been on. The process has shortened, in me getting to the meat and bones of my lyrics. Now, I feel like I can really get my lines the exact way I want them. I will say, though, that I’ve lost some of my nerve on stage. I’m not as cocky as I was when I was drinking. I’ve found there’s more thinking than there was before.

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