It’s been an odd year for Emerson Drive. They got the call on their way through California, in a parade of rental cars, on their way to a gig to support their new record. Danick, the group’s guitarist, heard the news on his cell phone and had the unhappy chore of telling the rest of the band. Dreamworks Records had dropped them. It looked like the end of the road for Emerson Drive.
Says Danick now, more than a year after the event, “I just wanted to turn the steering wheel and hit the ditch, it was the first thing that came to my mind. Of course it was a downer, but we talked about it a bit and decided ‘you know what, we’ve just got to kick ourselves in the butt and work harder.’ I mean, there are two ways you can look at it. Quit or work harder and do better. We love what we do, and we knew we still had something to offer to the public and to the country music scene.”
Emerson Drive is six members strong with Brad Mates on lead vocals, Dale Wallace on keyboards, Danick Dupelle on guitar, David Pichette on fiddle, Mike Melancon on drums, and Patrick Bourque on bass. The group is originally from Canada, and several of them speak French. They had released two records and several singles before the unexpected disaster.
The guys were faced with some important decisions. They had problems with their image, being written off by some as a “boy band,” and their records were being described as fluffy and overproduced.
After taking some time off and doing some soul-searching, Emerson Drive, already one of the hardest working acts in country music, kicked it into overdrive and started stripping their music down to the metal. What at first seemed to be a temporary set-back lasted a year and half, as the band piled up an album’s worth of material. “A year and a half without a label brings you back to basics, brings you back to earth. You rethink a lot of things in life.” The group returned back to its roots, seeing what the vital elements of the “Emerson Drive sound” really were.
“It lasted for a year and a half where we learned more about being a band. Having some time off actually, because we were touring so intensively before, this was an opportunity that was forced on us to take a step back, have some time off, and it gave us a chance to move to Nashville and really get in touch with our music.”
The band set its roots in Nashville’s fertile musical soil, and set to work on a new record with the help of bassist Teddy Gentry from the band Alabama, and legendary Alabama producer Josh Leo. With the help of these country music legends, they were able to return to the roots of country music and scuff the pop country gloss that was getting in the way.
“The difference, I think, on this new album is that it’s more rootsy, more country, it’s getting back to what this band used to be 8, 10 years ago when we first started the idea. For us to get back in the studio and start creating music that we feel when we sing it and play it is going to come across to people as being real and honest and that’s one thing that I just think is important is that when I sing the song when these guys play the music, it’s coming across as being 100% real,” Brad reveals.
Emerson Drive pulled themselves up by their boot-straps and set out on a new leg of their musical career, this time with a unique new country label called Midas Records, staffed by industry heavyweights Keith Follese and Brad Allen. The first single off their new album, “A Good Man,” has been causing a stir in the country music scene, and with the release of their new album, has shot up the Top 10 on the Canadian Hot Country Singles Chart and the Top 5 on CMT Canada’s Top 20 Countdown. The group will be continuing their tour through October, heading west to Las Vegas, up north through Quebec, and through Nebraska for this year’s CCMA Music Week.
P.S. Ladies, as it looks like the guys from Emerson Drive are going to be the next big country stars, one has to ask, are they single? Dish put a good word in for you, and took care of all the details. Apparently Brad Mates, the group’s vocalist, is single and looking. He cites his last relationship as a good learning experience, but he certainly looks forward to “future experiences to come.”
“Currently I’m single right now, and that is the God honest truth,” he says earnestly. “I was in a relationship for a while, and very close to going through with bigger steps, but I’ve taken a step back, just because of this career, for one, and personal choices, and it was good for me. I went through a time where you try and learn about someone and try to get that person to understand what you do and a lot of times you run into walls with that person. Doesn’t mean you’re not compatible, but when you’re talking about a life commitment, you have to have someone who is completely, one hundred percent with you as they can be. It was a good growing lesson for me, I learned from it, and I’m excited for whatever else I’m going to face for the next however many years.”
Patrick has been seeing a great girl for a few months. Mike and David have ladies in their lives, but there’s always hope. Still with these guys, their first love will always be music.
David explained the difficulty of being in a relationship and being an artist. “One thing that I’m learning is that the hardest thing to ask an artist is his status in a relationship, and his views on it, because, you know, I’ve been an artist all my life and that takes everything. This is my life and it is as important to me to play music as it is to breathe. If I’m lacking one or the other, I’m worthless on this planet.”
With a fresh start, Emerson Drive is ready to take the country music scene by storm. They have a new album (“Countryfied”) out now on a new label (Midas Records). They’ve moved to a new city (Nashville). They’re armed with a new sound that brings the band back to its country music roots. Big things are happening for Emerson Drive in ’06.
For more information on the hunky men of Emerson Drive, visit www.emersondrive.com.