After nine months and ultimately the demise of the band, the Emperors have released their second album. Tomatrax caught up with Greg Sanders from the band to talk about the album and his following musical projects.
You’ve just released your second album, how does it feel to have it out?
It feels really good, but a little bittersweet considering the band is breaking up. It’s a shame we won’t be touring it but that’s just how things have worked out unfortunately.
How does the album compare with your debut?
Personally I think it’s better, but its hard to be objective. If you’re in a band and you don’t think your most recent record is your best work, there’s something wrong. ‘Stay Frosty’ probably has a few stronger songs but as a whole I think ‘Chupacabra’ is more consistent, more interesting musically and is a bit grittier, mainly due to Adam’s vocals sounding a bit more raw.
Where did the name Chupacabra come from?
Oh Adam was just talkling about Chupacabras in a rehearsal one day and we thought it’d be a cool title. A Chupacabra is a mythical beast from Mexico, it translates literally to “goat sucker”. It’s like their version of the Sasquatch or Loch Ness Monster.
What was the inspiration behind the album’s front cover?
Zoe found an old painting that belonged to her Grandmother. We thought it was really creepy and cool, so we kept it and it now hangs on my wall. We got our friend Stu from the band Health Legend to draw the Chupacabra and then we superimposed it. I think “superimpose” is the term? Anyway, Stu said he’d draw it for free if one of the band members would get it tattooed on them, so Zoe is off doing that right now as I type this.
What was the inspiration behind the video for Green Head?
Our good friend Arlo Cook (who also made our ‘Shooting From The Bell Tower’ video) approached us with this footage he shot of the Palace Theatre in Melbourne. For those who don’t know, it’s an old iconic music venue that has recently closed. Arlo used to work there and he’s a very passionate supporter of the venue, so we were really happy to be part of his tribute. We also thought the bittersweet tone and narrative of the video was pretty apt considerting the mood in the Emperors camp recently.
Your bio talks about having set back after set back, how did you work though these set backs to make it to the end?
Well it took nine months for us to finish. The biggest set back was not being able to get the vocals right. We would spend a few days trying to record them, then give up and take a few weeks off. Adam would go back again and again trying heaps of different techniques over several months until we got them to the point they are on the record now. Im happy with it and his performance adds a lot of character to the record but it was certainly a frustrating process and caused a lot of tension.
With your lead vocalist leaving the band following the completion of the album, is there anything planned for the Emperors in the future?
We’re breaking up. I never even considered replacing Adam, it just wouldn’t work. I think given everything going on in all the band members lives at the moment it’d take a miracle for us to ever play live again or make another album, but hopefully Adam and i can record something together in some form or another in the future. That would be nice, we seem to bring out the best in each other creatively.
You’ve also joined the band Ursula, how has that been going so far?
It’s really refreshing, it’s always exciting starting something new and working with musicians you haven’t worked with before. Robbie Rumble from The Love Junkies sent me a message one day asking if i wanted to join his new band and play guitar and it was good timing so I jumped at it. He is a really great songwriter and Harley (bass) and Jamie (drums) are amazing musicians. They’re great people to hang out with and It’s really keeping me on my toes keeping up with them musically, so everything is going well!
You’re also working on solo work, are there any releases planned in the near future?
I’ve got a bunch of my own songs ive recorded over the years, its just a question of finding the time and money to record them professionally. And the courage! I find it a lot easier writing lyrics when someone else has to sing them, when you sing them yourself it can make you feel a little exposed and self conscious. But that’s a fear im looking forward to conquering.
How does playing with Ursula, and playing solo, compare with your work in Emperors?
I’ve never played solo, and Ursula has only done one show so far, but every band is different. It takes a while to work on your chemistry and get comfortable with your collective stage presence when you start playing with new people. You almost care more about impressing your band mates than impressing the audience for the first few shows.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Yes, generally I’ll listen to a record I’ve made a bunch of times as soon as i get the masters, for a few weeks anyway. It’s a really satisfying feeling when you finish making a record you’re proud of. But after those first few weeks i generally wont listen to it again. Then I’ll give it a spin a year later to make sure I still like it.
What other music do you listen to?
My taste has kind of got more refined and specific in the last few years. I think im becoming more and more of a snob, either that or music is getting worse. It’s pretty rare that I find a new album that I really like, but good albums tend to leave a stronger impression on me than they used to because they seem rarer. A lot of bands seem more focused on singles. My favourite Australians albums of the past few years have been Chipper by Tape / Off, Hungry Ghost by Violent Soho and The Narrowing by The Leap Year. Everyone knows about the Soho record but your readers should definitely check out the other two if they haven’t heard them yet.
Check out The Emperors’ website to find out more!