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INTERVIEW: Emanuel and The Fear

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Great!  Thanks for featuring us we really appreciate the support.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Meredith”? Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
The story for the song really came from my imagination.  I’d been seeing this relationship between two people who didn’t actually want to be in a relationship and how one of them finally realizes this and tries to explain it to the other.  The story fit well with the overall theme of the record so I decided to write it out into a song.  Oddly enough, I decided on the name after coming across a mangy old dog at the shelter named Meredith. She seemed like such a mess, covered in her own poop, cowering in the corner and barking at everyone and anything but with this sad, almost sweetness and longing for companionship to her that just stuck with me. I guess it made me think of that imaginary woman I was writing about who acted like she loved everyone and needed their affection but really didn’t care about anything but her own animal desires.  Once I saw how well the rhythm of the name fit with the song, I had to use it.  

Any plans to release a video for the single?
We will not be releasing an official music video for this song but did record a live version on Breakthrough Radio that has a great live video of the performance we released not too long after the song went live.

The single comes off your new album Primitive Smile – what’s the story behind the title?
The name came from the mind of my dear friend Jason Mitchell, a brilliant Philadelphia-based poet. I had shown him an early mix of the album and explained to him how we had heavily filtered the musical structures of the album as an experiment on the freedom one might find in restriction. Each song had to be as structurally basic and easy to understand as possible while we simultaneously sought out to be as wild as we possibly could from within those confines.  On the album’s second track, there is a theme about the state of the world today and how we aren’t as primitive as we may feel/seem that stood out to both of us along with everyone in the band.  With that in mind, we spoke about how these extreme restrictions forcing every song to be as direct as possible and to all have a chorus etc. seemed like an almost sassy or snarky move from the band especially considering the experimental prog rock album it was following.  Mitchell then suggested we name it after the archaic smiles from Greek sculpture. The Elegant and beautiful statues of ancient ideals that for some unknown reason all wore these strange grins seemed to fit this album very well, encompassing both the depth of the ideas the album contains and the sense of self awareness we revealed shedding our egos and making our way, naked as we came, into the next season of our lives not unlike what William S. Burroughs once said, “T’aint no sin to take of your skin and dance around in your bones”.

How was the recording and writing process?
This album took a little longer than we would have liked. It was actually written in 2012-13 and the plan was to release it that year, but I had a pretty serious shoulder injury that needed surgical repair during that time.  Right after I recovered I was hired to write the music to a rock opera, two band members moved out of the country with their families, and our drummer Jeff Gretz started touring with his other bands Zao and From Autumn to Ashes, so things got delayed a few years. Naturally we decided to reproduce, resing, and remix a bunch of the songs after spending so much time with them unfinished (Meredith is actually a total remix of the song which started originally as a ballad), so that took a bit more time but we’re happy to be back on track now and are all healthy and in one place, writing and playing again like before.

What role does Brooklyn plays in your music?
Brooklyn has been my home now for almost a decade and I grew up very close by in New Jersey. My mother was born and spent her childhood there, so the place has always been a part of my life.  I like the energy and the people. It’s a community I really feel like I belong to which is a nice thing to be able to say about the place you call home. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to say that, so I think that helps my music and my energies when I’m writing and working on new pieces.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Primitive Smile is very much about my life.  Though a lot of the stories in it stem more from my thought dreams than from reality, they all pertain to this idea of returning to where the root of your desires stem from. It’s about finding those things, working towards losing the ego that distorts them, and simply letting them be as they are. I guess it’s about me growing up and coming to terms with that.

Any plans to hit the road?
For sure. We have a bunch in the works for Europe and the States. Japan is on the radar but we will see if that’s possible at this time. There will be full band tours and me touring solo to get the word out there about the record as much as possible. We are all very excited to be back on the road.  

What else is happening next in Emanuel and The Fear’s world?
We have a bunch of awesome shows coming up as we approach the album’s release, special events etc. that will be a lot of fun. We have also begun writing a new record and have some new faces in the group. From the way it’s sounding it will be something quite unlike anything we’ve done before and it’s really powerful stuff. Super psyched.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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