By Ricky Aarons
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny the interesting musical career that metal-come-death-core band Emmure have embarked on over the last few years.
The band hit a bit of a curveball recently when all band members left the band after a show in Russia, aside from front man Frankie Palmeri. This obviously left Palmeri with a number of options as to how to proceed with the future of the band.
After what must have been much consideration and deliberation, the vocalist has continued the legacy of Emmure, a name that has climbed through the mesh of metal sub-genres over a long period of time; but with a whole new line-up.
Well the new era of Emmure has finally arrived, and it’s pretty damn beautiful if we say so ourselves. Palmeri took some time share his thoughts and feelings about the new album ‘Look at Yourself’ due for release in March, along with some personal and raw divulgences.
As we got warmed up and exchange pleasantries, Palmeri shared his excitement of the new record. “I’m fuckin’ so excited for people to hear it, I think the album is big, and I think that people who are fans of the band, old or new, will take something from the album.” He pauses and then adds – “it’s just a very tenacious, fun record and just super hard in general.”
The new record might just be the band’s best release yet, and that’s not just coming from the front man.
“Everyone has said that this is the best the band has sounded in years. I’m overwhelmed by the reaction and positivity that we’ve received since we started releasing new music, so I’m on cloud nine. I’m in the best place I’ve been in my life, so I’m just stoked for the rest of the year.”
Having far more free reign over writing of the new material than previous records, Palmeri express satisfaction over the process. “I was actually able to see my vision completely come to life rather than having to sit there and compromise with people who are not as competent and don’t understand what it should sound like.”
“Not to say Emmure didn’t have any good songs, but 70% of Emmure’s catalogue I think is good. I enjoy it. Then there’s 30% of it that I think is trash and that 30% is what I never wanted on the albums to begin with.”
The vocalist justifies this as loyalty to friendship – he believes that meeting halfway with his band-mates was something he deemed important, albeit his honest opinions were not quite in full congruence all of the time. “When the song they wanted to right isn’t popular and no one gives a shit about it, it’s always me going ‘what did I say?’ to them.”
There seems to be a shared understanding from the new line-up of what the Emmure sound should be like and less hard work to get it there. “I had a chat with them, we discussed what an Emmure record is, what it sounds like, what we should try to accomplish.” Furthermore, Palmeri dismisses conclusive sub-genres and labelling of finite boxes – “I don’t give a shit what genre something is, if it sounds good I’m on board.”
With a lot of excitement for the upcoming album release, Palmeri confirms the absence of lyrical content of video-game and comic book references (that were known to be previously referenced in the bands back catalogue).
“No, there’s no comic book or video game references in most of our back catalogue” – he says dismissively, alluding to misinterpretation of others over the years. “Slave to the Game’ was the record that had the most of that kind of thing going on. The truth of the matter is, the reason that happened was that I wasn’t really feeling the material on that album. When I can’t get in a place to write about anything that’s real to me, I search for ways to fill up what I call the dead-space on the record.”
He elaborates to be assuring that ‘Slave to the Game’ is his least favourite record and believes his band-mates made some mistakes in the writing process. “The songs suck. It’s just not good. None of the riffs are good. I just don’t like it. I feel bad ‘cause I let that record happen” he says with a confident tone of control; “we were at a very terrible place internally, like no one was talking at all.”
“The album was a commercial failure, and of course it was. I wasn’t surprised at all. It was the kind of thing where I shot myself in the foot to prove a point” – i.e. you should have listened to me. Once again, Palmeri compares it to letting your friend come over and play on your Nintendo because he insists on it, and even though you don’t want to, you do it to please your friend.
Since the subjective failure of the 2012 album, things got temporarily better for Emmure, who released ‘Eternal Enemies’ in 2014, a heavily layered record, and a step forward in the right direction. “Things were good ‘because they were finally listening to me again and wanted to know my two cents on everything that came through the door.” But unfortunately things weren’t peachy for very long. “Things became pretty fucked up and remained that way up until that day when everyone quiet in 2016.
“People change, you see yourself change around people. I have been in this band since before I was even 18, you spend that much time with people, sometimes you grow with them and sometimes you grow apart.” Despite the interpersonal adversity the band faced, Palmeri insisted on remaining positive and taking the experience as a lesson learned. “I don’t regret anything that happened, it was definitely a lot to process at the time, but I instantly decided that I’m not gonna give up on this, it’s what I’m passionate about and I’m gonna see it through.”
Concluding his honest sharing about the last few years, the front-man admits he played a role in the fall-out as well. “I’m not saying that I’m innocent and I’m not an angel by any means, I think we all played a role in the break-down of the relationship.”
In the midst of ups and downs with the band, Palmeri is very appreciative of his time touring with the band, including Australia when reminded about some of the cool tours they’ve been a part of down-under, joining bands like Machine Head and Hatebreed. Interestingly, Emmure have been one of the few bands in the broad metal umbrella who never made it to the infamous Soundwave festival over the years before it crumbled. The New Yorker is perplexed by the then-organiser AJ Maddah who apparently had a personal issue with the band.
“Yeah I don’t know what the fuck that guy’s deal was but he had some kind of problem with us which never got resolved. It’s upsetting because we watched all of our friends go to Australia and grow a career there and it seems like we always had such a hard time getting a foot in the door.” Of course, we were interested to know what exactly went down, and why the hell Emmure had never been offered a spot in the multi-stage and multi-city annual festival.
“I’ll tell you the exact story. This is 2008/9, we were being submitted by our current manager for Soundwave and AJ writes back saying ‘Winds of Plague are all good, but truly fuck Emmure and that was it.”
What a legit reason to decline band from a musical festival, right?
“Maybe he was best friends with Acacia Strain at the time or some corny shit” – he says, alluding to veteran band of the festival who’s had a feud with Emmure many moons ago. “Either way, I think that’s bullshit ‘cause that’s not how the music industry works. “We didn’t do anything to deserve that and it such a setback for us professionally in Australia, a place where bands love to go to.”
Moving forward, there certainly seems like opportunity for Emmure to visit Australia a bit more, whether for a festival or not, especially after signing with SharpTone Records. “As of right now, there’s no definite tour plans but I talk to my manager every other week about touring Australia and Asia together so we might take it up at some point.”
“I’ve been talking to a few people from Australia and it kind of reignites my interest to go back there again so we’ll definitely have the conversation.”
The band’s follow up record ‘Look at Yourself’ is their first with SharpTone Records and will be released on March 3, 2017.