INTERVIEW: The Glorious Sons
(photo credit: Matt Barnes)
While new music tends to hit our airwaves on Fridays, and at an overwhelming degree at that sometimes, Kingston, Ontario’s The Glorious Sons is shaking it up for you today! The release of their first album since 2019, Glory hits today, coinciding with the first date of their US headlining run! This album is a beautifully reflective record from the band and one that we’ve been highly anticipating being allowed to flow freely into your hearts and ears. But in a recent chat with frontman Brett Emmons, he spoke about how it was hard to pull out. But it was worth it. The time is now, and it’s finally this album’s time to shine.
It’s an album that screams for a live setting, and these shows will be the first entire US run for the band since right before the world shut down in 2019 after a headliner run brought them last to Boston. This time, the venue they find themselves at is roughly double the size, and it’s sure to be a packed house. Just recently, before the album’s release, I sat down with Emmons, where he gave me an in-depth look into this album, a career-defining one. Hitting Boston a week from tomorrow at the Paradise Rock Club with opener The Velveteers in tow, a show from The Glorious Sons is something one shouldn’t miss. Especially when songs like “House Lights,” “Cellular,” and “Dream” are part of the potential live show.
I know that touring is about to levitate to a level we haven’t seen yet as the fall hits, and tickets aren’t cheap, but this one is one we recommend being on your roster for this fall. For now, though, let this chat with Emmons hold you over until then. Below you can also find the full tour dates and secure limited tickets here!
So we’re about a week from the release of “Glory.” It’s the first album the band has released in four years. So I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure, maybe thoughts going into it. Maybe how’re you feeling this week, or maybe not? These songs have probably been ruminating around for you for a while.
Brett Emmons: Yeah, I feel like the pressure is all over at this point. Now it’s just kind of like “letting the baby go.” So there’s no real pressure anymore because you sit on these songs or you write them for years. Or you work on them for years, you work on a group of songs for years. And then, after that, you’re still sitting on them. They’re mixed, they’re mastered, they’re produced. And that’s when all your kind of thoughts and hopes and dreams come alive for them. But the actual truth is, is that you have no control over any of that. And you’ve basically just got to let it go. Keep on writing.
Then, just from even covering you guys before and past music, these lyrics aren’t something you can just bust out in a week. Go in a studio and just bust out a bunch of songs. Maybe the oldest ones from this collection. When did you really kind of start writing those? How long did they date back for you, for “Glory”?
BE: The first one was “Speed of Light.” And that would have been, probably like, two months into Covid. So, a very, very long time ago. That one, I was going to kind of save it for a solo project during Covid for myself. Just because we had no clue what was going on, but then I got sitting on these themes and ideas. And I thought to myself, this is the thing that has been in my dreams, and these are my brothers, and these are my people. You can’t just hold off your best stuff from the thing that matters the most.
That’s kind of when I feel like we zoned into more of a sound and a thematic purpose, I guess, for this project.
And you have these big fast-moving songs but also these really beautiful moments like “House Lights” and “Dream.” It’s such a balanced record and flows so well. You’re about to do your first tour with “Glory,” I’m pretty sure it’s your first full US headliner since Covid. You’ve played several shows in the States over the past few years post-Covid. But you’re about to embark on your first headline run here post-pandemic. You’re going everywhere. I know you did Shaky Knees in Georgia and Innings Festival in Arizona. You have such a wealth of material, but this album has so many of these huge fast moments and beautiful slowed-down moments. How do you think you’re going to be integrating these songs into your set?
BE: Same as always. We have a fan base that definitely wants to hear the hits, the past hits. So, really, we just kind of choose the setlist each night and try to make it flow the best possible. And obviously, when you’re coming out on a new album, you obviously want to play more new songs than not. But I think it’s more so the hard part, and it’s not really been that hard, to be honest, but the thing that we’ve had to focus on the most is just kind of paying more attention to the sounds that we’re putting forth from the stage. Because it’s not just meat and potatoesy, it’s a little more intricate, like, I guess, the details of what we’re playing. So that has been the biggest challenge and then other than that, I try not to think about what kind of fulfillments we have to make for a show or for an album release or whatnot. I kind of see it as like if you’re in front of an audience. You just want to turn their heads. And you want to keep them coming back. It doesn’t really matter. I’m sure people want to hear a lot of stuff from the album. But it’s always about just kind of going up there and sweating and keeping people’s attention and leaving them wanting more. It’s an age-old kind of way of thinking, probably.
Yeah, and then, like I keep saying, this is the band’s first album since pre-Covid times. When it came to the song-writing you’re in this band with your brother. You’ve been writing together for so long. Did it (the song-writing process) change considering the times we lived in, or do you think the process is still pretty similar?
BM: The process changes constantly, to be honest. From album to album. It’s kind of hard to describe it in a way. But I guess if you were to speak from album to album, “Union” was like throwing spaghetti on a wall. “Young Beauties and Fools” was about building these folk songs up into something more upbeat, more pop-rocky. And it was heavily produced, in a good way. It just very much went from a guy in his bedroom being like how do we turn this into a band thing. And it was piece by piece.
“A War On Everything,” that was like a flash. It happened so fast. in a span of basically two or three weeks and in between tours. So it was a little bit of a different experience than either of those two. And then this one was just a lot slower. And a lot more thought-out. It’s more methodical, and I think I probably took more of the reigns in this this time around. And then next time around, I mean, I feel like we will probably go back to another way. Where it’s a little bit more organic and loose and stuff., it changes constantly. Right now, it feels like a good time to rebirth things for the band. And just try something new. And you don’t necessarily know exactly what that is or what that’s going to be. It’s actually a very exciting feeling just to be looking at each other and jamming constantly. Even playing old songs and trying to work them out and stuff, it’s just a reminder that you’re very lucky and that you want to do this.—this and nothing else.
And then, at least when you come to Boston (September 14th at Paradise Rock Club), you’re playing the biggest venue you’ve played in Boston in the headlining position. With it at Paradise and The Velveteers opening on that show. I know you played the House of Blues here with The Struts as main support, but this is the biggest headliner in Boston thus far. You see a lot of Canadian bands come to the States like two times, but you guys have made such an effort and seen this natural progression. I know it’s definitely on a larger level in Canada. I know you’ve headlined like the Bell Center in Canada, but it’s a little bit smaller here. Maybe advice to bands to kind of keep making that effort, especially after all the times we just went through. I know it’s so expensive to come, all that stuff.
BE: Yeah, advice is kind of hard to give. I’m not sure I’m in a position to give any advice. My only advice is just the things that we’ve done. It’s just to keep going. You have to invest in your dreams, and you have to keep getting in front of people. You have to keep it fresh and new and exciting for yourself and everybody else.
Yeah, we just keep going. I mean, there’s no real other option. It’s pretty simple math. One plus one equals two kind of shit, you know? There’s no other way for us.
Perfect! And back to the record, you said that you wrote the first song for this record at a time when you were thinking “Speed of Light” would be for like a solo record that you explored early on in Covid. When did you start taking all these songs, choosing what songs you wanted to be on this record? When did you really begin buckling down for the “Glory” process? Of like curating the songs.
BE: It was probably mid-Covid. We recorded a couple of times, and they just didn’t necessarily feel like timeless things that I would care about. And I was just sitting around alone at home a lot. And it just kind of forced me to dig deeper, and things just kind of scoped out from there. Yeah, it would have been mid-Covid in my house. Kind of where all the songs come from is just really sporadic along that time. I don’t want to say “journey,” but I guess I’ll say it, “journey.” Of just putting the work in and letting things come to you when you’re ready, trying to perfect a voice.
That’s not always the way it works. When we talk about the processes and whatnot, but for some reason, and I think it had a lot to do with COVID, this one was really hard to pull out. Really, really, really hard. It was just fucking so stubborn.
Well, it’s coming out now, and I’m sure it does feel like you’re “birthing” this baby into the world.
BE: Well, I’ve already birthed it, and now I’m sending it to college. Now it’s on its’ own.
You’re sending it off! And you can see it in the lyrics, how personal it is. Maybe how hard some of these songs were to write. I’m not saying it’s about your personal life, but there are a lot of seemingly personal and fragile moments. Maybe a lot of things that are hard to write about put out there. Maybe one or two of the songs on this album. Obviously, they’re all your babies, but one or two of these songs that you’re kind of really, really proud of? Really proud that they came together or can be released. Proud of songs that you can look back at and be like I’m really glad we put out that song.
BE: Honestly, the whole point to this album was to make sure that not a single song is on there that we weren’t going to look back on and not be proud of. Like I wanted to make sure that when I was fifty years old, I could listen to this album feeling like, “Hey, good for you, man”. And that pressure might have been why the process was hard. But “Dream” is a really big one for me. I think that’s one of my favorites we’ve ever done. “House Lights,” “Cellular,” “Speed of Light,” also because of, I guess, how much that was a shifting, the change of thought. It’s hard to explain this, sorry, but sometimes you just feel like you keep writing like your past self. And then, one day, everything just clicks. And you’re like, “Oh fuck, thank god. There it is!” “Speed of Light,” is that one. So yeah, but I’d say the two that I’m really proud of are “Dream” and “Cellular.”
“Dream, and “Cellular” are the ones, very fairly so.
And then the US tour starts on the 6th. You’re in Boston on the 14th, which is where I’m based. We know what’s happening for you in these next few months. We know you have this huge tour you’re about to go on. All of September, well into October, I’m pretty sure. Maybe even longer (the Canadian leg begins November 09th in Victoria, BC). The album’s about to come out. You’ve been playing so many festivals in Canada. I know you’ve been so active and in the US as well. But maybe personal hopes or goals for this, like the next album run? For the band, now that the world is fully back touring, every venue’s booked every night pretty much.
BE: So yeah, I already feel like we’ve started writing the next album. Personal goals and hopes, I mean, I just want us to be able to have an extremely long career. For people to look at our music the way I look at some of my heroes’ music. Like decades of great songs and different songs. I guess just inspire people and continue to inspire ourselves and whatnot. Because that’s the only thing that matters. You don’t get into this business for the mone. I mean, I’m not rich or anything, but I don’t want money. I don’t want that much money. I want a good living, but mainly, I want to be a good songwriter, and I want to have great music that people listen to for a very, very long time.
Full US tour dates:
THE GLORY TOUR US DATES:
9/6 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
9/7 – Newport, KY – MegaCorp Pavilion
9/8 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade Hall
9/9 – Charleston, SC – The Riviera Theater
9/11 – Nashville, TN – Basement East
9/13 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
9/14 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
9/15 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
9/16 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
9/18 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
9/20 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
9/21 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre
9/22 – Peoria, IL – Crusen’s
9/23 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
9/25 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
9/26 – Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
9/27 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
9/29 – Tulsa, OK – Vanguard
10/1 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
10/2 – West Hollywood, CA – Troubadour
10/3 – San Francisco, CA – August Hall
10/5 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SODO
10/6 – Bend, OR – Domino Room
10/7 – Crystal Bay, NV – The Bay Club
10/9 – Bozeman, MT – The ELM
10/10 – Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall
10/12 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theater
10/13 – Kansas City, MO – Madrid Theatre
10/14 – St. Louis, MO – Red Flag