Blunt - - Feature -

Meet the new boss – thank­fully noth­ing like the old boss. Emarosa are back in business, and spoke with vo­cal­ist Bradley Scott Walden about how they’re toast­ing to the fu­ture while en­sur­ing the past doesn’t quite stay dead. By David James Young.

If ever a band em­bod­ies a ‘ never say die’ spirit, it’s in the form of Ken­tucky- fried post- hard­core main­stays Emarosa. Be­tween the re­lease of their sec­ond al­bum – 2011’ s epony­mous re­lease – and this year’s Ver­sus, lit­er­ally half the band has left the fold. This in­cludes gui­tarist Jonas Ladek­jaer, drum­mer Lukas Koszewski and, most in­fa­mously, lead vo­cal­ist Jonny Craig, whose scam­ming and drug- re­lated habits ul­ti­mately left him with­out ei­ther of the bands he was best known for ( the other be­ing Dance Gavin Dance). This would have kept any other band down for the count – and yet, here we are with Emarosa still stand­ing against ev­ery po­ten­tial odd.

Out the front is for­mer Squid The Whale vo­cal­ist Bradley Scott Walden, who of­fi­cially joined the band last year after an ex­ten­sive search for a new singer. The stigma left in the air fol­low­ing Craig’s dis­hon­ourable dis­charge has long since hung over the band, and it’s an as­pect that is cer­tainly not lost on Walden as he as­serts him­self in his new po­si­tion.

“I think it’s a big fac­tor as to why they didn’t have any­one for so long,” he says. “They were look­ing for some­one, and I knew that they wanted some­one that could not only sing, but knew what they were get­ting into. I did know – I knew ex­actly the sit­u­a­tion that the band was in. It def­i­nitely gets to me, and some­times it’s not fun at all given the cir­cum­stances and all of the at­ten­tion that this role brings. In spite of that, I took this po­si­tion for a rea­son. I’m see­ing it through, and it’s been more than re­ward­ing. Ul­ti­mately, I love it.”

Walden – joined by orig­i­nal mem­bers ER White on gui­tar, Will Sow­ers on bass and Jor­dan Ste­wart on key­boards – has had a lot to take in dur­ing his short time as the band’s front­man. He’s barely had a mo­ment to re­flect while record­ing Ver­sus and tour­ing with the band, but he’s al­ready done ev­ery­thing within his power to keep the band’s name alive and in­tact.

“I lit­er­ally went from fan to front­man,” he ex­plains. “I al­ready knew a lot of the songs quite well. We did the record and then went out on tour with the guys in Chio­dos. It was a chance to try out this ver­sion of the band and let peo­ple know what was go­ing on. That meant play­ing a lot of the old songs, and I did get to give my spin on them. I was adamant about play­ing old songs – com­ing from a fan’s per­spec­tive, if I went to see a band that hadn’t done any­thing for three years, I would feel in­sulted if I didn’t get to hear those early songs that I love. It’s what’s kept the fans hold­ing on for so long.”

Ver­sus cer­tainly presents a shift in style from the pre­vi­ous records, but Walden is also quick to as­sure that there are cer­tain con­stants that tie it back to de­fin­i­tive traits of the band. He also notes that his ap­proach to the song­writ­ing is far dif­fer­ent to that of Craig’s – while Craig would sim­ply wait for the song to be cre­ated in­stru­men­tally be­fore adding his vo­cals, Walden was there from the ground up for a lion’s share of the record.

“On the past two records, ER was the pre­dom­i­nant lyric writer,” he says. “He would have worked on maybe 90 per­cent of the lyrics on those records, at a guess. I was much more hands- on with the lyrics for this record, so ER him­self isn’t as prom­i­nent. He’s still a huge part of that side of the record; I feel like we came up with some re­ally great stuff to­gether. The mu­sic was writ­ten very or­gan­i­cally, in the same way as the pre­vi­ous al­bums. The thing is – and this might come across as quite ob­vi­ous – I was such a huge Emarosa fan in­stru­men­tally. I feel they’re a re­ally unique band from an in­stru­men­tal stand­point – no one can quite put their fin­ger on it, but there’s just some­thing about this band that feels so dis­tinc­tive.”

The band have con­tin­ued to keep busy in the lead- up to the re­lease of Ver­sus, and tour­ing plans are set in as far as next year. In­cluded in those plans – with a 100 per­cent guar­an­tee from Walden – is a re­turn to Aus­tralia, fol­low­ing the band’s 2011 ap­pear­ance at Sound­wave.

“Our team is work­ing to­wards com­ing back right now,” he says. “I would be floored and ab­so­lutely sur­prised if we weren’t out there next year.”

As some­one who counted him­self as a gen­uine fan of Emarosa prior to join­ing the band it­self, it’s safe to ar­gue that few care more about the band’s sur­vival than Walden. He is quick to point out, how­ever, that at the end of the day, it’s not about him. It never was. Walden truly feels that what he is do­ing with and for Emarosa is big­ger than the role of a front­man. Jonny Craig may well have been the big­gest name at­tached to the band, but just as it ex­isted be­fore him, it con­tin­ues to ex­ist after.

“Emarosa has never been about one per­son,” says Walden em­phat­i­cally. “They were Emarosa be­fore Jonny. They wrote the mu­sic with­out Jonny. Noth­ing is miss­ing in that sense. Taste changes and tal­ent pro­gresses over the course of three years, and life tends to re­flect that. I think the other guys in the band have re­ally grown mu­si­cally – they don’t just want to throw a bunch of crazy parts to­gether and try to make a song out of it. There’s a ma­tu­rity to this record that I don’t think that they’ve had be­fore. It’s a lot more struc­tured and fo­cused; and it’s built around the vo­cals, as op­posed to the vo­cals sim­ply be­ing laid on top of the mu­sic. What Emarosa is and what it was is still very much in this al­bum, be­cause Emarosa wrote it.”

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