With their upcoming new album proudly declaring a War On Everything, Kingston rockers The Glorious Sons are continuing their domination of the Canadian and US charts with songs like Panic Attack, Pink Motel and The Ongoing Speculation Into The Death of Rock And Roll. With War on Everything set to release on September 13, the band has only four Canadian tour stops this month before heading to Europe for a fall tour. The first is Park Jam in London on Thursday, September 5.
We sat down with vocalist Brett Emmons to chat about the new music, being troopers of emotional rock and a sobering experience early in the band’s career.
It looks like you’re just about ready to declare a war on everything.
I guess so. Everybody has been kind of saying that in the press, the way that they’re wording it. I’m not sure if that was what was intended necessarily, but sure, yeah.
I was wondering if it was just me or if there was a little more angst and maybe even some ADHD in some of the new songs?
I think it could come off as a little more manic than some of the other tracks that we’ve released in the past, for sure. Definitely some anger there. I think that there’s some happiness too. There are some songs that touch on a form of happiness that I haven’t quite reached before either, in past songs or songwriting as well.
I think it’s kind of, it’s very eclectic, manic album, to be honest. When I listen back to it, and realize what we did for the last month. I’m pretty proud of it for that, covered a wide range of emotion and time in my life. And maybe perhaps, a few issues of, you know, things going on as well, in the world today.
Is that what sets it apart from your previous albums?
I don’t know because I think that there was definitely some anger in our work before as well. You know, I don’t know if that’s really for me to decide, to be honest.
It’s hard when you’re in it, you know? We got off the road and decided to go straight into the studio, and I’d been writing quite a bit over two years. Sometimes, a song is just a song. And I’m not really sure how it’s going to be interpreted or how people are going to compare it to our other work, but like I said, I’m very confident in the songs and it definitely is a lot of emotion and I hope people can relate and feel what I feel.
I hope it helps, I guess, for lack of a better term, I hope it helps the world a little bit, helps other people, I hope that helps people understand me, maybe people will feel more understood. I don’t know.
Back when Young, Beauties and Fools came out, you mentioned in some of the interviews that you wanted to improve your mental and physical health, I want to know how that battle is going?
It’s going good, actually. I don’t think the problems that I had two years ago are ever going to completely go away. I think some of that was an inability to just kind of accept who I am as a person.
Things are good. I’m happy, I’m productive. I’d like to spend a little more time at home, to be honest. I have a lot troubles myself, coming off the road. You know, when you’ve been on the road for a month, two months at a time, and two thirds of the year, and you get home for two weeks at a time, and go back in, it can be hard to relate with the pace of, I guess, home life.
Other than that though, I think I’m getting better at the whole thing, I’m trying to at least. And I don’t know, it’s going good. I can’t complain really, to be honest.
I want to talk about Panic Attack. It’s exactly that. Is that a personal reflection and how did that song come about?
I’ve dealt with panic attacks for a very long time. So, I mean, that song is, it was written about, basically a panic attack. So it’s written about anxiety and maybe the thought process that one might go through during a panic attack or just maybe the thought process that leads somebody to a panic attack.
I tried to make it more universal. I wasn’t trying to imitate one of my personal panic attacks necessarily as much as I was trying to make the lyrics a little more, I mean, they’re not vague at all, but there’s a broad sense to them, that I think anyone can really relate with, when trying to tackle that subject.
I wrote it on tour, at least the start of it. It’s been three for four different songs. The verse turned into the chorus, sorry, the chorus turned into the verse. Then, in fact, I’m losing air, I’ve had that for, I don’t know, four or five years, just because that is a very specific thing I think that at least a lot of people go through. I do, when I have a panic attack.
When I brought it to the album to release it, we want it to be, a really dirty, fast, hard-hitting song and we knew we wanted to open the album with it as well. So, I mean, I guess, that’s all I got for that one.
As the frontman of a band and you’re always the first person that everybody sees, have you ever had a panic attack while on stage?
No, no. I’ve definitely been angry and been very nervous and been very dismembered on stage before, but I’ve never experienced a panic attack on stage, that would be complete hell. I don’t know how I’d be able to deal with that. Not a real panic attack, no.
I know a lot of the fans have left comments under the Panic Attack video and how it helped them cope with their attacks and how it expresses their feelings. Did you ever think that song would’ve been a therapeutic tool like that?
No, I didn’t. The thing is the lyrics that I write are always kind of like this: They always have to do with real life themes and have some dark undertones. They’re meant to make people think. But, when I was thinking of that song, after writing the lyrics originally, and getting some of the melody down, when we were in the studio, we just wanted to make a barn burner, to be honest.
In hindsight, the lyrics and the music definitely fit together to create, I guess, an overarching feeling of panic and chaos, and what that might feel like during a panic attack. But that was never really the intention because a lot of the lyrics that I write are like that anyways.
Whether it’s a fast song, a happy-sounding song, a slow song, a lot people like to characterize our music, or are starting to at least characterize our music as like, sometimes happy-sounding, and melodic-sounding but with very dark undertones.
The next song I want to talk about is Pink Motel. You know, when I first heard that one I was like, “Wow, what a beautiful song” and then the emotional breakdown happened. And you pretty much said “Fuck it!” to everything at that point.
I was kind of going through a breakup when we were in the studio. I had Pink Motel for, a year and a half, two years and the song was about the distractions that we face to keep us from one another and how that can really damage a love-life, and take people away from one another.
The last part is kind of like, not to get too vulnerable, but it’s kind of like, I just wanted to say, I put it at the end of this song, we didn’t know that we were going to record it that way. We knew that the first part of the song was really good, but we didn’t necessarily know that that part was going to happen.
I was sitting there with the lyrics, and I’d finished writing them and then I just started writing the things that I wanted to say. And it kind of poured out of me. I guess it’s me trying to have the last word, selfishly, if you will. But I hope that it also comes off as helpful. And maybe other people can hear their own problems, and hear themselves in those lyrics.
The other song I wanted to touch on is The Ongoing Speculation Into the Death Of Rock and Roll. You know, it poses the question of “Who killed rock and roller?”
I think a lot of people are maybe misinterpreting the message of that song because of the title. I mean, The Ongoing Speculation Into the Death of Rock and Roll, it was never really me speculating about the death of rock and roll.
I’m up on a stage with gigantic amps and electric guitars, pretty much five nights a week. I believe in rock and roll, I don’t think it’s dead. I think that if you go into so many clubs and bars across Canada and the States, you’ll see kids shouting their heads off, playing the electric guitar, and kids sweating their asses off, and cheering as loud as they can, in cities and towns everywhere.
I don’t think the genre is dead at all. It was more, the song was a nod of the cap to, people who pursued lives of “rock and roll”, I guess, in quotations because, it mentions Marilyn Monroe and Tupac Shakur as well.
I mentioned people who pursued their dreams in the name of freedom. Freedom for themselves in their lives and had that kind of taken away from them, stripped from them, while doing what they loved. And then doing what they loved and then it seemed to become more than they anticipated it to be and I kind of thought, Tupac and Marilyn Monroe, what’s more rock and roll than people just trying to be free? That’s how I’ve always kind of interpreted rock and roll. The lifestyle and the ‘60s.
How do you expect your live show to evolve with the new material?
It’ll allow us to have a little more room to breathe, a little more to choose from, in order to give people more of a dynamic experience every time they come out to the show. I think that’s definitely going to add.
I don’t see us ever not making the electric guitar our main thing. We are what we are at this point.
Of course we want to write new things and make songs unique to the last song we released and we’re always going to do that. But we’re not going to be a band that uses tracks and has 50 people on stage and it’s just not our thing. We’re a rock and roll band.
You’ve opened for Rolling Stones twice. The last one in North America and in Ontario, no less. So that must’ve felt really good and probably was a special moment for you.
It was really, really exciting. We’re gigantic Stones fans in the first place. I’d seen them three times before we ever opened for them. And, it’s such an honor. It was nerve-racking, there was a lot of people there. But, other than that, it’s not a very long set. Stones fans are already known to be extremely, I don’t want to say difficult, but they’re there for The Stones, so we knew going into the second show, this might not feel like Glorious Sons’ hometown crowd. Just being in front of 71,000 people is electric. There’s not really a word to describe what it’s like to look out and see the outline of people, slowly blend together because there’s so many people, and they’re further away than you’ve ever seen them at a rock show, that’s just wild.
You’re kicking off the new tour with a handful of Canadian tour dates next month and the first one is the opening night at Parkjam in London. Do you have any memories of playing in London?
London’s a great audience, they’re always pretty wild there. The last three or four times we’ve been to London Music Hall.
I remember one of the first times we ever played London. We were opening for The Balconies. We got a little bit cocky and it was our first tour ever. And we started drinking really early in the day and we forgot to set up our gear. We were five minutes before we were starting the show and we were scrambling around trying to get our gear out. We finally managed to get our gear on stage, and we were playing after this band called Motorleague. We got on stage and I said “Give it up for Motorhead!” And the whole crowd started laughing, and I realized my mistake, it was Motorleague. It was one of the most sobering experiences of my life.