'Come Sail Away!'
Emery, the ever-evolving rock quintet originally from South Carolina that has been making its mark since 2000, has just released its fourth full-length album, “…In Shallow Seas We Sail,” this past June, 2009, via longtime home Tooth & Nail Records.
“…In Shallow Seas We Sail” picks up right where Emery’s last release, the EP “While Broken Hearts Prevail” (2008) left off, both thematically and stylistically.
This fourth album continues the tradition of Emery’s dual front-man format, with Toby Morell and Devin Shelton once again sharing lead vocal and bass guitar duties. Emery’s fourth album combines the band’s trademark screams and breakdowns, and balances these heavy sounds with catchy hooks and melodies.
In addition to Toby Morrell, Devin Shelton, and Matt Carter, Emery includes Josh Head (keys, vocals) and Dave Powell (drums).
Chatting one-on-one with Josh Head (keys/vox/drums), I first wondered what had been his musical influences growing up, and how many still factored into his music today? "I listened to pretty much everything as a kid, and I still do. There are really too many things to mention. I really love Dave Bazan, Lovedrug, Anberlin, etc."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "If you take a Philly cheesesteak and peach cobbler, and mix them together for the most decadent food product ever imagined, that will bring you about halfway to the awesomeness that is Emery. Haha."
"Seriously, we try to write melodic songs that kids can sing along to, with some aggressive parts so we can get our frustrations out. We’ve been labeled screamo, but I like to think we’re more of a rock band than anything else."
Ahhh yes, ... indeed, most of the press on you has labeled you as "being at the forefront of the screamo movement." So, please do explain this further for us confused mortals! "Basically, that means we sing about love and have screaming in our songs. We do have screaming and we do sing about love, but we’re not just screamo. We can write pretty much any style of song and make something wonderful."
So, with such an interesting new album title as '... In Shallow Seas We Sail,' I'm wondering where it originates, if it was your first choice, and what the deal is with the ship/man overboard artwork?! "I can’t recall who first came up with the title. We had a pretty short list that we picked from. 'In Shallow Seas We Sail' is a continuation of our last EP, While Broken Hearts Prevail. They’re meant to be read consecutively: While Broken Hearts Prevail…In Shallow Seas We Sail."
"The artwork for the EP was the guy drowning, and he’s waving to a girl in a rowboat in the distance, but she doesn’t save him. For the LP, the girl pushes the guy off a boat. He starts drowning, and is saved by another girl in a giant underwater robot. The two of them watch the boat, with the mean girl, sail off over the horizon."
"The title and art are about losing and finding love, and triumphing even when times are tough. Sometimes its hard to get up in the morning and make it through another day, but you must do that. Love conquers all."
It's said that the current world views, experiences and personal relationships of each individual band member went into this album. What was your personal one and how close to the bone of the truth of the matter did you actually musically dig? "I don’t want to get into specifics, but I’ve had some people close to me pass away, which really made life hard. At the same time, my family had some new additions, which made life full of joy. I try to look to the good side of life and see beauty and love. It’s worked out well for me thus far."
With this being your fourth album (although your press release also mysteriously - at the same time - announces that it is actually your fifth release?!), how does it differ from the very first one you brought out back in 2000? What's the biggest significant musical change? "In Shallow Seas We Sail will be our fourth full-length, and fifth release overall. While Broken Hearts Prevail, our EP, was the fourth release for us. I think its been 5 or 6 years since The Weak’s End came out."
"We’ve learned a lot about ourselves as people in that time. Some of the guys have gotten married, some are expecting children, some have moved to different parts of the country, etc. All of that has really affected our musical direction. As for the biggest change, I think our songs are better now. We love our older material, but I think the ideas behind these new songs are more complete, and they’re a better reflection of our goals and overall direction."
Indeed, how easy (or hard) is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "I don’t think its as hard as this question makes it sound. We keep challenging ourselves. We’re not in a direct competition to outdo our old records, but, at the same time, we strive to make each album our best to date. We just sit down, pick up instruments, and let the songs pour out. And we write a lot!"
So, just where did the bands name Emery come from ... and what else could it have also so easily been back then? "Emery is pretty much just a name we thought sounded cool. Some of the other options are pretty embarrassing, so I don't want to get into them!"
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! "Wow, that’s a good question. I don’t know if I have a good answer. I know some of the guys really liked that OneRepublic song “Apologize.” Or maybe something different, like an Outkast song."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Penguins may be the greatest creation on earth. They are adorable, and I hope to have one inhabit my freezer someday!'
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future - "Thanks a lot. It means a lot to have you take the time to interview our band."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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