A glorious chat with The Glorious Sons

Culture Music

Since releasing their debut album, The Union, in 2014, Kingston-based rock band The Glorious Sons has toured across Canada and the U.S., developing and establishing their place in the new music scene. Three years later, the band is about to release its sophomore album, Young Beauties and Fools: an outpouring of emotional instability paired with their staple high-energy performances.

If the first three singles off the new album are any indication, Young Beauties and Fools, out on Oct. 13, is a collection of stories about heartbreak, hangovers, and redemption. The rest of the album is certainly promising — the technical elements of their music have been refined since The Union and the search for personal distinction from other rock bands is now translating into tracks that are immediately recognizable as their own.

What has remained the same is The Glorious Sons’ relatability, which can be owed to incredibly blunt songwriting and a willingness to communicate such intimacy to the world through all aspects of their music.

I interviewed lead singer Brett Emmons and guitarist Jay Emmons at Rifflandia in mid-September to talk about their style, upcoming new album, the Canadian music scene, touring, and what being in your 20s entails.

The Glorious Sons, with lead singer Brett Emmons (centre) and guitarist Jay Emmons (second from left). Photo provided

The Martlet: How would you describe your musical style?

Brett Emmons: I would call it rock and roll. I think that a lot of people are getting categorized into sub-genres but a lot of it really is just rock and roll . . . rock and roll with better production.

And what about influences, or would you say you are your own greatest influences?

Jay Emmons: All sorts of different influences. They’re all pretty obvious when you listen to our music. We’ve got some classic influence, some modern rock, pop — it’s all over the board, really.

BE: For me, it changes all the time. Probably my first major influence would be Bruce Springsteen in the E street band — maybe when I was really young probably ACDC, for Jay probably the Stones when he was younger. Every time you hear a new album or writer you love, it influences you. We’ve been listening to a lot of Jason Isobel lately — I’ve really found myself not copying him in any way but learning from the way he writes. I think every time someone comes around that you haven’t heard before you kind of take a little piece of what you can from them . . . That’s right. It’s always evolving.

The next question is about this new album coming up — congratulations on the single release. Can you tell me about some of the themes of this album and what some of the songwriting is about?

BE: It’s kind of like perpetually waking up with a hangover . . . [it’s about] what it’s like to be 24 and trying to make sense of that and [making] mistakes and [forgiving] yourself and also [moving] forward with your life.

I think we’re all extremely flawed when it comes down to it — how does some of this come through in the music?

JE: I think the new album is very story-driven. Each song is kind of its own story or its own little snapshot of a day in the life of Brett Emmons. In the new album, I think it’s very apparent — it’s not hard to see the themes. It’s a little bit desperate, [and it’s about] trying to find redemption, trying to find peace with yourself. It’s very clear when you listen to the words that Brett’s written [that] it’s an honest interpretation of the things that have happened to him.

That’s really relatable; I’m 20 now and I already feel those things. Maybe by 24 I’ll be way off the rails. What do you think of the Canadian music/rock scene right now and what do you want to contribute to it?

BE: I think it’s always been a very healthy and diverse scene — there’s lots of great bands coast to coast. We were talking about new bands, old bands. [Our country’s scene is] kind of like a hidden gem; we don’t get the props as Canadians. Even if you look at pop music — Justin Bieber, Drake, those [guys] are Canadians [and are] some of the biggest artists on the planet. I think that as a nation we’ve got all sorts of great acts across the board and people always look at bands from the U.S. or the U.K. and give them a little more respect than automatically a Canadian band.

You guys obviously you have the new album coming out, but where do you see the direction of the band going in the future?

BE: It’s hard to say, y’know. The main thing right now is getting out and taking the direction we’ve stepped into with this new album and sharing it with the world,[and with] as many people as we can. I think that’s going to be the focus for the next few years or so. And then when it’s all done and we’re all tired of ourselves, of our music, we’re going to go back to the drawing board and release a third album that’s nothing like the first or the second.

JE: I think right now it’s about enjoying the direction that we’ve found with this album and, like Brett said, [enjoying] it until we feel we need to do something else and then we’ll do that. But it took a lot of work to find the direction for this album and I think we’re at the point right now where we can enjoy it for a bit.

Final question: what are some of your favourite places you’ve toured in the nation or in general?

BE: Jay just called Victoria the best city in the country about a half hour ago. I love it out on the West Coast, I love it out on the East Coast, anywhere where’s there oceans or mountains, or anything like that is just amazing. I was telling Jay earlier: I couldn’t really live here because I’d feel like I was competing with the mountains for everyone’s attention every day. It’s hard to pinpoint one area for me just because we go to so many places and there’s so many different cities and areas across the United States and Canada. They’re so unique to other places and they have their own culture and their own scenery and their own geography. I think it’s good to just love them all and try to figure out what the best parts of every one are.

I think there’s something to be said about finding people from everywhere who connect with your music.

JE: Ultimately it’s the people that you meet that’ll bring you back.