Emphatic Talk "Damage"
Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:05:07
Emphatic don't waste any time on their full-length debut album, Damage. Over the course of the record's ten tracks and 35 minutes, the Omaha hard rockers make every note, melody, and lyric count.
Each song weaves a sonic story that could serve as its own mini-movie brought to vivid life but lead guitarist Justin McCain's focused, fiery fretwork and singer Patrick Wilson's deep, direct delivery. The band strikes the perfect middle ground between Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam's classic catchiness and modern metallic muscle. Emphatic have crafted one of the best hard rock debuts of 2011, and they've only just begun to put a dent in the genre with Damage.
Emphatic lead guitarist Justin McCain spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about Damage, bringing back a timeless dynamic, inspiration, and so much more.
Pick up Damage in stores and online now here!
Did you have one vision for Damage from the outset, or did it come together song by song in the studio?
It's funny because there wasn't an overall theme going into the thought process behind writing the record. I'm the songwriter for the band. In general, I was just trying to write great songs. Fortunately, after writing around 100 songs, I was able to pick the songs that felt like they could exist on the same record.
Where do songs start for you?
To be honest, it's not always the same formula. More often than not, it's a lyric for me these days, which is funny because I'm the lead guitar player for the band. Years ago, it would start off with a guitar riff. Over the past four years or so, my writing has always started with a lyric or a melody in my mind. There's something that sparks or initiates a story in my head. For me, I can always add the music around a great story. Then, you can tweak the sounds and help create an emotion to provide something for the story.
Are songs a vehicle to tell stories?
Believe it or not, I'm an artist. People may not say that because the music is more direct and it's not overly artsy. However, in my mind, I love to paint a picture with words and tell stories. I think what's so captivating about this record is the songs are all based on real life. There's no fiction. Even if a song is a sexual song or a fun song, it's informed by real life experience. Then you can take a song like "Pride". That's an important song because it hits home with the economy. Everyone can relate to it whether they're losing their material items or not. Even if I'm not necessarily living in something or experiencing it personally, I'm always aware of my surroundings so I try to write as though I'm reading off my perspective of what's around me.
What's the story behind "Don't Forget About Me"?
We were pretty much done writing, but we felt like there was something missing even though we had tons of songs. I personally wrote 60 myself and 100 doing co-writes outside the band, but there was still something missing. Patrick [Wilson, vocals] actually said, "What about having a graduation song?" I had that. "Don't Forget About Me" was a piece of music that I'd started writing three years prior to getting signed, and it was all the music and I had some lyrics. I never finished it, but I brought it to the label and they loved the music and the lyrics so far. So, I sat down with one of my favorite writers Zac Maloy and we finished that song up. It was initiated by looking for a graduation song. When Zac and I started getting into the words, I lost my brother years ago. He was killed by a drunk driver so the song really started to be about me. At the same time, I wanted it to be about everyone else too. In general, it's a song about life. We could be here and now and it's amazing, but you never know what twists and turns are going to come or what tomorrow's going to bring.
Where does inspiration typically come from?
For me, it's looking out the window of my car or walking through a store and catching a glimpse of someone's conversation. It's living in the world today. I could step outside and there will be something about the tree in the yard that's a song for me. I always write based off of how something creates my mood.
How does it translate live?
What takes this band over the top is the live performance. It's our favorite thing to take the stage. We like to bring a 360 show. We don't just stand up there and play our songs. Everyone in the audience is going to feel some sort of energy from Emphatic. That's what we want to do every single night.
Is the chemistry between you and Patrick a crucial element of the live show?
He's the front hand and I'm the right hand. It's like the Axl and Slash thing. I think that's cool because it's been missing for quite a few years now. That lead singer and guitar player dynamic is missing in music today, and we wanted to bring that back.
If Damage were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
No one has ever asked me that! From start to finish, what's cool about the record is it's not all drama, it's not all action, and it's not all comedy. It's a little bit of everything. I can't get specific and tell you one title, but maybe ever type. I like anything that's funny personally.
Have you heard Emphatic yet?