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.”