(CelebrityAccess) The Glorious Sons, natives of Kingston, Ontario, are heading to the U.S for yet another tour but, this time, with a big hit song under their belt.
The band has grown its stature in Canada since its 2011 inception, with frontman Brett Emmons writing songs made for arena singalongs, notably “S.o.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun),” which recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. The accompanying video was filmed in front of 10,000 fans at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto with the audience taking over the last chorus.
The song comes from The Glorious Sons’ sophomore studio album, Young Beauties and Fools, which won the 2018 Juno award for Best Rock Album. Fueled by heavy touring throughout 2017 and 2018, “S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun)” has climbed the Spotify Viral 50 charts, hitting No. 36 globally and No. 15 in the US. It went No. 1 on the U.S. Active Rock spins and audience charts, cracked the top 30 at Alternative radio and has racked up over 7 million total streams in the U.S.
Of course, a song about angst and a sawed off shotgun will garner controversy, and Emmons has addressed it in an “open letter,” a spoken word video that itself has amassed more than 87,000 views.
Now the band is coming back to the States, kicking off Tuesday night at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass., and we asked Emmons a few questions – not about sawed off shotguns but how to break that divide between two countries.
The Tragically Hip is probably the standard bearer for acts that have two entirely different impacts when it comes to Canada versus the U.S. You have a cool tour coming up, with weekend shows at influential venues like the House of Blues and The Roxy, but how do you think you can continue to build your following in the States?
There is no formula, especially coming from Canada. At least we don’t have the formula. The States cast a much wider net as much as their influence and stuff but Canada has its own music scene that’s been driving for years. It’s smaller and it’s a little bit more joined together. It’s a smaller country so, you know, we don’t have the answer at all on how to make it in the States, other than how we tried to do it in Canada: put out music that you love and work your ass off.
We haven’t stopped touring, you know? We haven’t stopped working. And we don’t want to stop working. This is what we do. When I sit around the house, I pretty much go insane. Our way to break in the States, I guess, is the same way we do it in Canada, which is connecting with people, whether it’s one fan or a thousand at a time.
I think there’s no better way to do it because people who follow us in either country, they’ll follow us to the grave. They’ll be right there beside us. They’re real fans. They love this band and we love them. We’re not a buzz band. Nothing has come extremely fast for us. We’ve had a lot of luck on Canadian radio and that’s been a huge thing for us; I won’t deny that. But there’s been so much hard work and determination behind what we do and I think people see that and it attracts people. It makes them want to be a part of this thing, this movement, I guess. And we’re making headway.
To tell you the truth, I’m a lot less worried about it today than I was two years ago when we were sitting around trying to write our second album and wondering how everything was going to turn out. Right now, we’re making music that we love and it seems to be working and people seem to be responding to it in both countries. I feel super fulfilled and super happy with my job, and I guess it’s what I was put on this earth to do.
It would be better to ask this after the upcoming tour but, so far, how much has your fan base grown during your Stateside visits?
(laughs) Well, I mean, when we were starting out there maybe five years ago, it was nothing to play to two people in Atlanta (laughs)! But we’ve picked the right tours. We’ve been strategic about who we go out with down in the States and, I mean, we hammered radio there and it’s finally paying off. And we think we’ve seen steady growth. At a start, like I said, it was touch and go and we basically lost our shirts every tour.
But we’ll keep coming back and we’re building a true audience there. Radio has helped tremendously but, again, I think it’s a testament to never going away. You don’t a break when people are there waiting to see you. You remind them of what you’re doing, and they respond. And it’s gotten a lot better. Like I said, it was touch and go at the start but we’re building a business in the States. I don’t know how any of this is going to go but I’m definitely not aiming for mediocrity. We want to be the biggest, best band in the world just like anybody else.
Regarding the fans, what kind of interactions do you have with them?
Well, I do a lot of the meeting myself. Especially in the States. I’ll go into the crowd to meet people. I’ve made it fun for myself. I managed to find a way to make it a celebratory thing. I think sometimes I might get a little drunk but I’ve always tried to take the Muhammad Ali route. He’s a gigantic inspiration. He could be in a crowd of 200 people and he wouldn’t leave until he talked to every single one of them. Early in my career I set that as the standard.
Obviously, if you’re playing an arena in our hometown of Kingston, Ontario, you don’t want to go out into a crowd of 6,000 people but these club shows, these shows in the States, why wouldn’t you? They get to put a voice to the face, they get to put a face to the name, and they become even more invested in your work because of it.
It’s kind of like the old adage of a house party: you have a funner time if you take a seat some where and talk to somebody; you wait for the good times to come to you. You don’t go chasing the light, I guess. It’s easier, it’s better.
The Glorious Sons 2019 Tour Dates
2/12/19 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
2/14/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
2/15/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s *SOLD OUT*
2/16/19 – Harrisburg, PA @ Club XL Live
2/17/19 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom *SOLD OUT*
2/20/19 – Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl
2/21/19 – Nashville, TN @ Basement East
2/24/19 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall *SOLD OUT*
2/25/19 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
2/27/19 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club *SOLD OUT*
2/28/19 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern *SOLD OUT*
3/2/19 – Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
3/4/19 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
3/5/19 – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
3/7/19 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
3/8/19 – San Diego, CA @ Voodoo Room at House of Blues
3/9/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
3/10/19 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
3/11/19 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
3/13/19 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern
3/14/19 – Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
4/13/19 – Orlando, FL @ WJJR Earthday Birthday
4/14/19 – Tampa, FL @ 98 RockFest
5/5/19 – Jacksonville, FL@ Welcome to Rockville Festival
5/12/19 – Charlotte, NC @ Epicenter Festival
5/18/19 – Camden, NJ @ MMRBQ
5/19/19 – Columbus, OH @ Sonic Temple Festival
5/24/19 – Pryor, OK @ Rocklahoma Festival