Although over 40 million people sat glued to their TVs on Oscar night, there were still quite a few music lovers in Los Angeles who made their pilgrimage to the House of Blues to see Emery
- and to help out a good cause on top of it. Along with bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
and Scary Kids Scaring Kids
, Emery is currently participating in the Take Action! Tour, which simply put, delivers music with a message.
As a headliner on the 6th annual tour, Emery
has still been playing the songs fans will know and love from its latest record The Question
, but the tour's primary focus is to raise awareness about suicide and depression among young adults. While Emery has been part of a number of tours over the past year - among them Nintendo Fusion, Tooth & Nail, and Warped - the Take Action! Tour provided the band with a unique opportunity to educate its fans.
After the completion of Take Action!
, the band still quite has a few things on its to-do list for the rest of 2007: an all-acoustic tour and its next studio album. Guitarist Matt Carter
and bassist Devin Shelton
sat down with UG writer Amy Kelly
to talk about the past year's seemingly nonstop touring schedule and the upcoming record that is tentatively scheduled for a September release.
UG: This is your first time on the Take Action! Tour. How did you become involved with it?
We've kind of worked with Take Action! a little bit in the past, like on Warped Tour. We kind of did some signings for them and stuff like that. We met some people. This time we just got offered this tour, and just the fact that they have a cause behind them makes it all the better. It's basically approached like, yeah, this is just a regular tour, but there is a good cause and something in it.
The tour follows another successful stint on this year's Warped Tour. What has your overall experience been like with Warped?
The Warped Tour helped us a lot. When we were on it the first time, it was during when our album The Question came out. So it really, really helped us. We had a big first week and I think a lot of it was due to Warped Tour. It's really fun - it's also really tough sometimes, being outside and stuff. But we've done it the last 2 years, and I don't know if we're doing it this year. We might take a break from it.
With all the different bands on tours like Warped or Take Action!, is that a creatively inspiring environment?
I think it was for a little while, but you kind of get tired of it. There are certain bands that you like that you try to see probably as much as you can, but after a while you're just trying to find some air conditioning! That's pretty much about it.
You're originally from South Carolina, but then decided to move to Seattle. What was it about Seattle that drew you to it?
We kind of wanted to go somewhere far away, kind of different. Since we're from South Carolina, there's nothing there. We used to play like these really small, crappy bars in college. It was just like our friends would come to shows and nothing was really going on there. We were like, Well, we can move somewhere on the East coast like New York, where it's way to big. L.A.? It's way too big for starting out.
So we were like, Well, let's try Seattle. If it doesn't work, then we'll move somewhere else.
We just thought it was kind of neat and a good music city.
Were you fans of the grunge scene in Seattle?
I think we all were.
The band must have been pretty serious about making it in the business to move to Seattle.
|"The new stuff that we're coming up with for the next record is more exciting to us."|
We wanted, if we could and if it was possible, to make it a career. You always have that doubt in your mind like, There are so many bands out there trying. What's the possibility?
You just have to work really hard at it and sacrifice a lot of stuff.
Did you know for a while that you'd re-release The Question with a few extra tracks and DVD?
We've been wanting to make a DVD anyways. We had a friend that was really at making them, so we made a DVD. At the same time, we got the idea of re-releasing it. We haven't released anything for a while and we had a little extra stuff. We wanted to do some acoustic stuff.
It just really helps refresh after it's been out for a while.
Do you find the acoustic performances as enjoyable as the straight electrics?
It's a totally different avenue, but we love playing live. It's very fun and entertaining, hopefully to the fans and even to us. It does get tiring. Sometimes we wish that maybe we could be a more mellow band, where we just sit there and play and be more musical rather than entertaining in a way. But you never know. We're gonna actually do an acoustic tour this summer for about 3 weeks. We'll have a couple bands with us. That's just kind of a different thing to do. Maybe people will enjoy it and some people will come out that wouldn't normally come out.
Do you write most of your songs on acoustics?
Probably for the most part, piano or acoustic.
What was the writing process like on So Cold I Could See My Breath? The vocal harmonies and the guitar lines play off of each other really well.
I came up with the guitar for that one. I had this part and showed it to Toby and Devin.
Usually it's like a collaboration.
It almost is that simple, where someone will come up with something and bring it to the rest of the guys.
So everyone in the band has probably brought in material that has started out a song at one point or time?
Our drummer, actually, he does a lot, too.
He comes up with a lot of good drum parts. We just write them and it usually just comes out. Toby and myself, we're both the singers, we'll write the melodies and lyrics eventually. There will be parts we'll play for each other and we'll all have different opinions as to what we think is strongest. We may change a certain part. We try to include everybody, at least in the final process.
Talk a bit about writing the song Listening To Freddy Mercury.
That was an interesting one. Toby, he wrote that for the most part - musically and lyrically. We didn't know the lyrics or anything or any of that kind of stuff. We just knew the music, which usually we write first. He brought it in, we kind of rearranged some parts, and made it the way we thought it would sound the best. The first time we actually heard the lyrics and the melody was after it was recorded! He wrote that whole end part with all the names and everything. We thought, That was really cool!
We didn't even know. It was kind of a shock to us.
Are there any songs on The Question that you think shows the best of what Emery is capable of?
I think there's definitely more parts of songs. I think when you're writing something, it's really on your mind then. Then you think, That's great!
Then after a while, it kind of fades away.
We've been playing these songs for the last couple of years, but we play 2 new songs on this tour. For bands, the new stuff is exciting. You're like, Ooh, I love that part!
I think the new stuff that we're coming up with for this next record is more exciting to us now when we practice it and go through it.
What are some of the new titles that audiences might hear on the latest tour?
|"It's a totally different avenue, but we love playing live."|
Most of them are working titles. There's one we released on the re-release. It's called Death To Inconvenience. That's one. I don't know if we have any totally picked titles. We just call them really stupid, random names while we're writing them. Then we'll figure something out.
Have you completely finished writing your next album already?
For the most part, yeah. We have a bunch of songs. They're not totally, 100 percent complete, but close.
We took some time off before this tour and rented a beach house for like a couple of weeks.
Will you take any departures musically on the upcoming record?
It's just more farther along as musicians. You tend to enjoy different stuff as you get older. You don't want to play the exact same stuff. But I guess it's like the transition from our first album to The Question. It was, to some people, a pretty big transition. Not really big, but kind of.
What guitars and amps are you using on the Take Action! Tour?
Mainly Gibson, I guess. I like the SG a lot and then the hollow body.
I play Fender basses, the Jazz bass. Dave plays Truth Drums. Our keyboard player, he doesn't have like a keyboard endorsement or anything like that. I think he just plays a Korg. We have Mesa gear. Matt has a Marshall head. A little bit of everything!
You've had a fairly grueling touring schedule. I'm sure it can get exhausting.
Yeah. It can, yeah. Especially because a lot of us are married and have houses and want to be home a lot.
It's nice to be home, but
The road is your second family?