INTERVIEW: Emarosa (16/01/2019)

Credit: Bobby Bruderle

Though familiarity is somewhat comforting, stagnation is something that can be dangerous and crippling, and that is no different to the survival and development of a band. Emarosa have been taking steps towards more pop-driven pastures in their past couple of records, all leading up to ‘Peach Club’.

Indeed, the past few albums – 2014’s ‘Versus’ and 2016’s ‘131’ – acted as stepping stones towards what appears to be a far more fleshed out idea of the pop-rock and electro-pop influenced act that they’ve become, exposing clear comparisons to the likes of The 1975 and Don Broco.

Ahead of the release of ‘Peach Club’, and the first leap into their new era, we spoke with vocalist Bradley Walden about the record, touring in the UK, genre elitism, and their focus on making the conversations of the band about where they’re going and not where they’ve been.

DP!: You’ve got a few dates left of this UK tour now – your first here since 2016. How’ve they been for you?
BW: They’ve been good. Honestly, the UK crowds are harder to play for than in the States ’cause they’re just so stoic. It’s almost like they’re scared to have fun sometimes and that it’s too cool to enjoy yourselves, but we have our die-hards that came out and saw us in 2016, and they know the drill. That’s not allowed. Usually it’s a pretty stoic opening, but it builds up and, towards the end, they all get the vibe and take it home.

DP!: These shows act as somewhat of a precursor to the release of your new album, ‘Peach Club’. Have you played many songs other than the two you’ve released, ‘Givin’ Up’ and ‘Don’t Cry’?
BW: Yes. We’re playing those two singles, and we’re also throwing in a new song called ‘Cautious’ that’s on the record that we haven’t released yet. It gives a taste of what’s to come, and it’s all in the same vein. There are different flavours on the record that we’re not showing just yet that are more of an incentive to listen.

DP!: What is the meaning behind the title ‘Peach Club’?
BW: It was an inside joke that happened within the band, and I think the Peach Club has started to take on its own entity about being in this group of being onboard with us and being onboard with where we’re going, and if you don’t get it then you’re just not in the club.

DP!: So, where does the new record pick up from where ‘131’ left off?
BW: Y’know what? I would say if you were to take songs like ‘Helpless’ or ‘Cloud 9’ and then give them cocaine, as a metaphor, to exaggerate those songs much more fully into the pop and 80s influence of them. Then we’ve really taken our personalities in those songs and pushed them past what we thought was safe.

DP!: You seem to be going down more of a pop and electro-pop route, at least from what we’ve heard in the singles released so far. Were there any particular influences or artists that were most prominently embedded into the DNA of ‘Peach Club’?
BW: I think kind of stuff has always sort of been there, for me definitely. It was always within me, as far as what I listened to when I was growing up, being raised on Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Pat Benatar. That was what my mom listened to, so that’s what I listened to, so that stuff was always there. I think, for a long time, I very much put it to the side ’cause we were doing what we thought we were supposed to do as a band. Now there’s no rule book. We’re doing what we want to do with what we have, so everyone is kind of pitching in on the idea of no consequences and creating this sound that we think feels like a natural evolution of what we have been doing over the past couple of records.

DP!: You had a new producer this time around too – Courtney Ballard. How did that go for you with what you wanted to achieve on this record?
BW: He’s great. He definitely helped shape this record in a way that I wasn’t visualising until after it started to come to life. It felt great to me to kind of see this happen, to see this evolution, and to feel like it wasn’t forced or it wasn’t handed to us. It was just an extension of what we were already trying to do. Courtney was great for that vision, and him and I wrote some really great stuff for the record that we took to the band, and the band then brought it to life in our own way.

DP!: A little while before you dropped the lead single, ‘Givin’ Up’, you put out a tweet saying that “post-hardcore Emarosa is dead.” Why do you feel that some people still latch onto that tag with you as a band?
BW: I’ll say this: people think that I hate post-hardcore music. I don’t and that’s not the case, not at all. Some of my favourite bands and albums are post-hardcore, like Oceana. I love Oceana, and their ‘Birth.Eater’ record is probably my favourite post-hardcore record. I’m well versed. People forget that I came from that world, you know? I came from this Warped Tour world. I grew up listening to all of those bands, going from Senses Fail to Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Underoath. There’s a lot of that in me, but also that was so long ago, and I grew up and my tastes changed, but just because my tastes changed and who I was has changed and what I liked changed, that doesn’t mean that I needed to change my name.

The thing is, post-hardcore Emarosa IS dead. It is not that band anymore. I don’t think ‘Versus’, at least to me, and, to be completely honest, I don’t even think the self-titled album was a post-hardcore record, in my opinion, but it depends on who you ask. Where we are now is such a far departure, and it’s not outrageous for me to make that claim by any means. It is what it is, and if that bums you out then you’re just holding onto that nostalgia, and that’s fine – those records are there for you and you can enjoy them, but you also get absolutely no say on what we do going forward. No fan does, and that’s not a knock at them because I’m very grateful for the people that do get what we’re doing and stick with us.

I’ve been in this band for five to six years now, so there are people whose first record they ever heard by Emarosa was ‘Versus’ when they were aged like 15-years-old, and now they’re 20/21 and they even love what we’re doing now. Those people get it, there’s a progression. The people that don’t get it, I don’t know what to tell them. It’s not for me to tell them what to like and what not to like. I know that we’ve made the record that we wanted to make and it’s not post-hardcore, it’s not hardcore, and I would venture to say that it’s not even rock if you ask me. I don’t know exactly what it is, but we’re a band and we made a record that we love. That’s all I care about.

DP!: I don’t know if you’d agree, but arguably there’s a level of elitism and pig-headedness in the alternative and heavier music scenes – to put it very broadly – and a big example of that would be Bring Me The Horizon. Why do you think certain select circles find it so difficult to accept that kind of level of change?
BW: I don’t know, and people take it so personally when a band wants to do something different, and I feel like you can either accept it or you just move on. Fall Out Boy did that too; from their first record and the change that they’ve been making with each following album, some people hate it and some people have stuck with them. It’s the nature of things and the nature of bands being so much more accessible online, people feel so incredibly entitled to force their opinion onto that band instead of just saying “Yes, I like this” or “No, I don’t.”

I really think it’s that they feel some kind of ownership to the band, and so when it changes they feel like “That’s not what I wanted you to do,” so they feel betrayed, and that’s simply not the case. It has absolutely nothing to do with betrayal, it has nothing do with ‘selling out’, or whatever you want to call it. The people with the most opinions are the people who are the most uneducated when it comes to this world of music and the industry and bands. I think Bring Me The Horizon did a great job considering where they started. They were a deathcore band and now they’re all over the radio across the world.

It’s so funny, because people are like “Oh, this doesn’t sound like Emarosa. This sounds like insert-some-widely-successful-pop-band,” and I’m just thinking to myself “Great! Good! This is where we want to go!” No one wants to be sitting in a club playing for 100 people a night, or 50 people, or whatever the case may be. Ironically they’re trying to offend us, but it’s a compliment. It’s like, do you want to stay at the same job and earn he same amount of money for the rest of your life? No. You want to go up in your career, and you want to build something that you can be proud of. That’s exactly what we’re doing, and if we ruffle feathers, I don’t care. If they’re talking about it then it means that we’re doing something. It means that we’re making an impact.

DP!: What’s the current outlook and position of Emarosa right now as opposed to how it was with your last album, ‘131’?
BW: I think we’re much more mature. I love ‘131’ and I think we were experimenting with a lot of different things and figuring out what we wanted. There were some great rock songs on there, some great alternative rock songs, also some great alternative pop-like stuff, and some soft piano type things. We were definitely figuring out what we can do and flexing our muscles, like, “Look, we can do all of these things.”

So, writing now, we figured that this is where we want to go. This is the next step, and after this – we’ve already talked about it – we’re going to continue writing, and whatever happens next, and I’ll be completely honest, if our next record turns out to be some kind of death metal record that’s because that’s what we felt that we wanted to make. I don’t think that’s going to happen by the way, but we’re trying to shift the conversation to be about where we’re going and not where we’ve been, and that’s something that I can’t stress enough. It’s been about 10 years or something — a long time for people to be holding onto things, and you have 17-year-old kids like “You’re not the same,” and it’s like “You were 7-years-old when that record came out. Shut up.” We’re past that. We want it to be about where we’re going: that’s the goal.

We’re getting looks, and we’re getting in the ears of people that we never would’ve done before. We’ve been getting attention from Forbes, Earmilk, DuJour, and plenty of other people that are paying attention to us now because they see that we’re doing something different and they see that we’re taking a risk with this record, and we very much are. This record could come out and people could just not get it, but, judging from the singles, that doesn’t seem like it’s likely. Our fans get it, and the people who love ‘Helpless’ and ‘Cloud 9’ are going to love this record. It just goes further into those ideas.

DP!: Where does this record come from and the topics that it approaches lyrically?
BW: This record lyrically is all over the place, but there’s a common theme. I sat down with Jessica Severn, who did all of the artwork for the record, and I kind of talked to her about what the record is about and what I felt when I was writing the songs and everything, and I told her to just run with it. She gave me the best quote that I think she got from someone else, though I’m not sure, but she said, “Sometimes in life we’re the villain, and the only thing that we can do is close the door and try and be better than we were.” That resonated so hard with me, and I feel like that is the epitome of this record. Sometimes we’re the bad guy, and the only thing that we can do is shut the door and try to be a better person.

DP!: What else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
BW: After we wrap up in London on this run we head on over to Vienna, Austria to start a European tour with Don Broco. From there we’ll get back home where we have a few release shows in Philadelphia, Dallas, Arizona, a pop-up shop in Los Angeles on February 8th, and then our album release on February 9th. We’ll then be playing Hawaii on Valentine’s Day before we head on over to Japan for a couple of days, and by that point some more things will begin to unfold.

DP!: Sounds like a busy year already. Any final words?
BW: Welcome to the club.

The band’s fifth studio album, ‘Peach Club’, is set for release on February 8th 2019 through Hopeless Records.

You can pre-order the album online now from the label’s webstore (here), MerchNow (here), iTunes (here), Amazon (here), and Google Play (here).

You can keep up-to-date with the band and what they’re up to online via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.