Emarosa, at their simplest, are described as a rock band from Lexington, Kentucky who are currently enjoying the success of new album 131. They have an approach that is simple, straight-forward an unassuming. However, they are also a band that has not just weathered, but evolved through changes in the line-up, and through a series of albums that have matured vision and scope since their debut, Relativity.
With a work ethic that many bands like to project, but few actually achieve, Emarosa are known to load in and out of shows, go to bed early to develop craft and keep sharp, all whilst sustaining the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll on the stage.
ARTISTdirect’s Adriana Roda-Stuart caught up with Jordan Stewart and Matthew Marcellus from Emarosa to discuss 131, the importance of humility and just how to handle life when chaos strikes.
Adriana Roda-Stuart: First and most importantly, how are you?
Jordan Stewart: Fantastic, the vibe of this band has been a rollercoaster to say the least, and the vibe of this band recently has not been a rollercoaster. Maybe one that’s going up, like click click click click… So the vibe is a good vibe.
Matthew Marcellus: Great! Plus it’s California, beautiful weather, love it.
JS: Look at all these colors!
ARS: So, what makes a traveling festival so appealing?
JS: I find that our band is one that a lot of people have heard of and have a lot of curiosity about and are sometimes nervous to pay $20 to see us for the first time. So this is an easy chance to get a ticket to go see your favorite, Sum 41, and check out Emarosa as well. Because we know you’ve heard of us, you know you’ve heard of us, you don’t know what it sounds like, we don’t know what it sounds like. It’s always changing, come check it out!
ARS: One of the charms of Warped Tour is the daily randomization of schedule, do you reflect that in your approach to building a setlist?
MM: No. We have a set amount of time, we pack that set amount of time and play as much music as we can and outside of that, we try to get into a groove through the tour and get used to the same set. We don’t really change it up too much.
JS: We don’t think 30 minutes is enough so we really just give it some songs. It’s just music and then we’re out of there.
ARS: You have a famously energetic approach to your live show, how do you recharge given the grueling nature of this entire tour?
JS: We are old. We sleep early.
MM: Yeah, I go to bed at like anywhere between 8:30 to 10:30 in this tour because every day most of us are up at 7 working. Some of us have jobs, all of us have to load gear. There’s a lot to be done and we’re very active.
JS: And I’ve been thinking about this recently too and I have not voiced it yet, but I think the way that we move on stage is very much a reflection of the way our music feels like when it’s performed and I almost think it’s crazy that people on the other side aren’t responding in the same way cause that’s how the music feels. And I feel as though that’s all we’re doing. We’re purely responding. We’re never having that conversation of “Do this! Do this there!” It’s just vibing music and I would like if everyone else would enjoy themselves in the same way.
ARS: And how has the reception been?
MM: It’s been great, I mean honestly a lot of the crowds have been singing along to the newer stuff more than some of the older stuff which has been super great. It’s definitely been significantly better than last year which was awesome to begin with, so we’re incredibly excited.
ARS: Let’s talk about your new album 131, it’s only been out since July 8th. So how are the new songs going down? Aside from people singing along is there anything else you can add?
MM: I think a lot of the newer stuff has a totally different energy and vibe to it and it’s nice putting a set together that kind of mixes all the different realms that we have and being able to have different vibes and everything. It’s nice playing newer stuff too because it’s fresh. It’s something that you just created and are super proud of. We just want to get the new stuff out as soon as possible.
JS: And I don’t think anyones hand was forced on parts on this new record at all, so I feel like playing the songs has been really natural and I feel like you can tell that we are more comfortable playing the songs.
ARS: Have any of the new songs changed since you’ve been playing them live?
MM: I play a couple little licks different.
JS: That always happens.
MM: Yeah, I’ll jam around at home and I’ll be like “Dammit, why didn’t I do that in the studio?” So like, very little things that probably no one else would notice unless you’re like a guitar nerd and you really follow stuff.
JS: I notice that I change licks during tour. It’s always one little thing. It’s so bad when there’s like three days left and I find something cool like “Oh my god I could have been doing this for like 40 days and here it is, I get to do it three more times.” But you definitely get in a groove each tour and find those little moments.
ARS: So, you worked with Casey Bates on 131, what creative energy did he bring into the mix?
MM: That dude is one of the nicest and most positive and fun people to work with and recording sessions can become very stressful very easily because you know, you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen. But like he said before everything with this went super smooth and Casey made that even more so and he brought a lot of really incredible ideas to the table on top of that but I think the biggest thing that he contributed to that album was just keeping all of us in great vibes and sane.
JS: Yeah. He more or less shaped out songs that we gave him. He really brought out things that we didn’t think of or couldn’t do all the way more than he did songwriting. He didn’t really involve himself with the song, he was just involved with making the best of what we had made.
ARS: It could be said that the band has changed the way it categorizes itself, moving from metal to a little more of a rock sound, was this shift in approach a considered plan or did you just follow an organic growth as it happened?
JS: Genres have always been applied to us, we’ve never thought of genres. Whatever genre someone thinks that they’ve coined us with now is.. Good luck with that. We’re going to make more music and it’s going to be something else. So if you can come up with the words for it, you’re welcome to, but we’re not trying to.
MM: At the end of the day it’s all just rock and roll. That’s really all it is.
JS: We’ve got electric guitars and six dudes.
MM: With all the social media and everything there’s so many sub genres and little tiny bulls*** classifications that everyone tries to put on just to make them look more unique and everything but we’re just trying to write good songs and put on a fun show and just be a rock band.
ARS: So over the past decade the band has had a variety of lineup changes but holds two core members from day one. So, how does the combination of new and old blood help keep the band moving forward?
JS: It’s great! I even had a thought about this the other day in my head. It’s absolutely f****** insane to think that when you’re 18 you’ve found the best six dudes to do this with. It kinda takes some time and some fleecing. There’s no way you’ve found the best group at that point, at least not with us. Especially with where we’re from, where talent is thin and not only that, but the thought to do it.
There’s no one in our town that’s thinking of touring musically. So even just to find people who are thinking in that way and can engage in that way and understand the work that comes with it. I think ER and I have always, we have different roles in this band that are both very important and it’s worked to really keep the guidance on the project musically and functionally.
ARS: The band seems to be ever evolving, from sound to members to audience. What is the core element that keeps your band you?
JS: There’s no ceiling.
MM: I think the other core thing is obviously, not to be cliche, but; the fans. Because I mean that’s the reason we’re still here. I think all of us have this really stupid fire inside of us that won’t let us stop. I’ve been touring for ten years now in a bunch of different bands and it’s just something that I’ve always genuinely loved. I said this in an interview the other day and it’s Good Charlotte’s quote but it’s the little things. You can have the s******* longest day ever and then you meet that one girl who is crying because that one song you wrote helped her through her breakup. It’s little things like that though that really light that light up again and remind you why you’re here.
JS: There’s a lot of reasons not to be but you find a lot of reasons to be.
MM: There’s a lot of reasons not to be.
JS: Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons.
MM: You guys like money? Don’t tour.
JS: You definitely have to understand that everyone’s world view is not for you. Everyone’s ambitions won’t necessarily be yours either but we have an opportunity that you don’t go and apply for and you make. I don’t think a lot of people understand that so there’s a certain.. I like that. That we’ve built this.
ARS: So, what’s with the fox? How does it symbolize Emarosa?
JS: Really it just came out of that we wanted something to lean into that we liked. It showed up once and it showed up again.
MM: The band evolves and the fox evolves and I think at this point it’s just becoming a good representation that this will never be the same thing.
JS: It’s also a little throw to some of the bands we grew up on and the continuity of it. There were certain bands and I just love the way that there were certain things they would do to their records.
ARS: So, I find that some of the best stories that come out of traveling are usually the disaster stories. Has anything absolutely catastrophic happened to you guys while out on tour?
JS: Not on this tour, this tour’s been a pleasure.
MM: I was gonna say, do you have like two hours?
JS: Yeah, we had a really rough last two tours and we’ve had it reflected in losing a member. It’s been really tough.
MM: We travel in six different vans, we had a trailer come unhitched on a highway and crash into a bridge. I got robbed in Albuquerque, literally the last tour was like a slap in the face. And the funniest part was we had two new guys with us and it was like the first tour with us, everything in touring that could possibly go wrong went wrong.
JS: Caught them up real quick.
MM: It was an eye opening experience but I think it made everyone appreciate this tour far more.
JS: Yeah and I think everyone was really, I don’t think we could have gotten through it if it weren’t the people we were now, I don’t think we would have made it.
MM: I still can’t believe that no one tried to kill anyone and everyone remained in really high spirits throughout the whole clusterf*** that we had to deal with.
JS: We’re sorry if we ever miss a show. We take that very seriously.
MM: We missed one show the last tour.
JS: Yeah, the tour before that we lost the last three shows because the van wasn’t going to make it. We take that very seriously, we’re sorry.
Purchase Emarosa 131 on iTunes
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