They’re controversial, divisive, and self-described as ‘most hated’ – but their fanbase is massive, and they’re starving for new music from the menacingly heavy outfit – despite what critics say. They’re unapologetic and they’re Emmure; set to release their first album in over three and a half years.
The last time we caught up with the band, ferocious front-man Frankie Palmeri was on cloud-nine in anticipation for the release of Look at Yourself, the band’s first album with a whole new lineup.
Here we are, quite a few years later, and fans are getting hyped for the next wave of Emmure. I waited with bated breath for Frankie to answer the phone, and while my senses were overcome with that signature Skype ringtone, I considered the upcoming era of Hindsight, the name of the band’s eighth full-length album, and how long it’s felt between records (our review here).
“We’ve been trying to squeeze out as much potential as we can from our last album” the rap-metal vocalist tells us proudly – “so we’ve just been touring [hard]. I think the record was a big success for us so we were trying to stretch that as long as possible.”
Fast forward to today, and given the aforementioned success of Look At Yourself, Palmeri tried to keep a lid on it, in the sense of managing the pressure to be even better than the last release. “There was a lot of pressure going into making this album because there was such a positive review across the board. We had new fans, and I said to myself ‘I’m going to try and attempt not to top that in a way, and just go with the flow and see what happens’. So this record has a completely different pace and tone in my opinion.”
Over the past few months, Emmure have built a lot of hype for the upcoming record, releasing short, and sharp belter singles like ‘Gypsy Disco’ and ‘Pigs Ear’. The lyrics in these tracks are intense and, as always, showcase the vocalist’s raw emotions and perspectives of the world.
“Every Emmure album is pretty much like a look into my personal diary or my frame of mind at the time” Frankie says, reflecting back to the lyrics. “Writing this album was definitely a chance for me to start picking up more layers of my psyche and sharing them” he says boldly – “so you’re gonna get a lot of different personal topics, whether it be some self reflection of how I view myself, suicidal ideation, regret, fear, lack of hope, or lack of trust.”
Obviously, this description can be distressing for fans, who may be genuinely worried about the heavy music icon, but we did check in with him to make sure he’s ok, and Palmeri assures us that music is his outlet and coping mechanism.
“I think everyone’s in a kind of bad spot with the way of the world right now, and it’s just a tricky situation. Thankfully, I have music as an outlet, so that’s why, when people hear it, they go ‘whoa, like that’s some deep dark stuff’, but it doesn’t completely make up or explain my character as a whole, it’s just a fraction, or a slither of how my mind works.”
The deathcore frontman elaborates on this point, and does so carefully and with hesitation, to explain further intentions in the album. “There’s also a point on the album where I’m very antagonistic, and it’s not so much me going inward but it’s my way of poking at the world and things I don’t like about it. I’m trying to create the kind of energy where I’m able to be judge and jury.”
The singer of Emmure attempts to convey his head-space for Hindsight‘s lyrical content, but also doesn’t want to give too much away for fans. He truly believes in listeners creating their own meaning behind the music.
“I just get more enjoyment out of creating it and then letting people decide how they feel about it. I’m a firm believer that if you explain the art to people, then you kill the art – and you don’t actually let people give people a chance to experience it on their own terms.”
Frankie’s definitely maintained this narrative, as his comments for the ‘Uncontrollable Descent’ single and album announcement presser came as a bit of a surprise for some, and raised eyebrows.
The New York-come-Portland resident didn’t mean to offend, he simply wanted to challenge the norm of revealing the meaning behind the art, even if he may have come across a bit aggressively. “I honestly didn’t mean to be disparaging, but for me what makes it fun is, not understanding, questioning and having your own way to discover it. I want fans to be like ‘wow it’s taken me two years of enjoying an album and I finally pieced together that that’s what he’s talking about’ instead of me explaining it.”
The justification makes sense, and the comments were intended to be an enabler for the fans to enhance their musical experience.
Now that we’ve got that one sorted, Emmure dropped ‘I’ve Scene God’, a heavy hitting track with a rap-verse that mentions a handful of bands in the heavy music scene, like Thy Art is Murder, Attila, Fit for a King, and more. With the track-title, many considered the intended message to be about being the best, but you know – tread with caution with analysing the band’s controversial lyrics.
Just kidding, Frankie actually treated this song as a major shout-out to his peers, but also borrowed a notion from rap-culture, where it’s normalised to claim you’re the best in the business, without sounding cocky – but perhaps it’s less orthodox in the metal world.
“It wasn’t a diss, it was more of a ‘tip of the hat’ in terms of how I recognise my peers. If you read the lyrics, the last line ” and he takes a breath before reciting his very own lyrics to me – “is ‘You know, you can be next, you can be the one, but you’ll never be me, so you’ll never be God.’”
Frankie takes a breath and reflects for a moment.
“This is obviously a very hyperbolic way of saying ‘I’m the best out of all you’. All of the bands I mentioned in there are great bands, and it all came about when I was at these European festivals, and I saw all these names on a flyer, and I just was like – ‘it would be cool if I could write a rap using all these band names’ and that’s just how it started.”
The frontman ensures to remind fans that Emmure is historically schizophrenic in their lyrical content, and sometimes they have some unexpected crossroads, which keeps things fresh and unexpected, – just the way he likes it.
And with a schizophrenic journey, comes a story – one that Palmeri has already told fans he’s started to write, albeit very briefly.
“I’ve just started, and I’ve kind of been mapping out how to even write the book and wrote the first paragraph – but I don’t know if it’s the start or the end of the book.” As the face of Emmure, he’s keen to not only share his story, but also “serve as a visual history” with a raft of tour laminates and artefacts he’s collected along the way. “Next to every tour laminate will be – like an explanation of the writing process for that album, where we were at, and what it was like being on the road with the bands we toured with.”
The book aims to celebrate twenty years of the band who originated in the Queens borough of, New York City back in 2003, and through lineup changes, became a talented group of musicians dispersed across the U.S.
“I want to tell as many stories as I possibly can about the twenty year history of the band, so the goal is to get the book out by 2023, the latest.”
But, calm your horses, our vision hasn’t yet blurred with old age, we’re only just getting ready for Hindsight now, in 2020. In Frankie’s closing comments, he reflects on what a utopian experience for fans could like during the pandemic (while Emmure can’t tour, and create the havoc they flourish in). But if you wonder what one of their shows feels like, take a look.
“I would love to create a concert with virtual reality and people could wear those HD VR goggles, but dreams cost money. Watching a band perform is only cool when it’s ‘truly live’, and like ‘in your face’ energy. My dream idea would be an interactive virtual concert where like, you could fucking shoot me with like lasers and stuff.”
And with that ladies and gentleman, we conclude the snapshot into the mind of Frankie Palmeri.
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
If you or anyone you know needs help with their own mental well-being, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or find your closest Suicide Prevention/Crisis Support Organisation on Google.
Pre-order a copy of Hindsight here
Emmure – Hindsight tracklisting
1. (F)inally (U)nderstanding (N)othing
2. Trash Folder
3. Pigs Ear
4. Gypsy Disco
5. I’ve Scene God
6. Persona Non Grata
7. Thunder Mouth
8. Pan’s Dream
10. Informal Butterflies
11. Action 52
12. Bastard Ritual
13. Uncontrollable Descent