Emarosa has been through it: forming, crashing, rebuilding and now—dominating. Picking up the pieces that former members left behind, the band found new life in Bradley Walden, and what resulted was a perfect formula that highlights each member’s musical talents. Focused and more determined than ever, Emarosa’s 131 shattered any expectations loyal fans could have hoped to have had, resulting in the type of praise they truly deserved. The message was loud and clear: this Emarosa lineup was different than the previous ones—and ultimately, better in every way.
I had the chance to speak with Bradley ahead of the We Will Detonate! tour, which will bring Pierce The Veil, Sum 41, Emarosa and Chapel to The Paramount in Huntington, NY on May 7 and the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, NJ on May 10. (Emarosa will also play The Loft at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY on May 6 with Chapel, Cedar Green, Lions At The Gate and Firestarter.)
So Bradley, how did you end up joining Emarosa?
I had a cover on YouTube and Emarosa’s merch manager from the UK saw the video and sent it to Jordan, our keyboard player. I was at practice with my old band and Jordan had emailed me and was like, “Hey man, I’m Jordan from Emarosa. Do you wanna come jam?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll come jam,” and it was cool. It was a good time but I believe I actually turned it down the first time they had asked. I didn’t think I wanted everything that came with taking over vocals for them.
It probably came with a lot of baggage.
Yeah, a lot of baggage. The band was very much a sinking ship at that time and then about a year later, they reached out again through their booking agent, so I reconsidered. I ended up joining and we went in to make a record.
What do you think the biggest challenge of becoming the frontman of Emarosa was—and how do you deal with comparisons to Jonny Craig?
I had never been in that position before, so it really bothered me. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. It got to me to the point where I set who I was as an artist aside and I was making a record that was not me. I was trying to be somebody else to appease the fans instead of kind of being who I am for Emarosa.
Big change from Squid The Whale to Emarosa.
I think it wouldn’t bother me so much if [Jonny] wasn’t so dramatic. At some point you have to let go and just realize the band is better off, you know? It’s been five or six years and so it’s just, the constant whatever it is, animosity or regret, whatever the case is. It doesn’t bother me anymore because we’ve found so much success with me at the helm. It’s taken a huge load off of worrying about that kind of stuff.
In your opinion, what makes this lineup of Emarosa the best one yet?
I’m biased obviously. I’ve never seen a previous lineup. I knew who the band was and I was aware of the self-titled record which was the only one I had heard, but I had never seen them live or considered myself a “fan”. I thought they were a good band, I liked the songs. I think that for being in the band for as many years as I have now, I put out more music than any previous singer with this band. I feel like we got rid of the dead weight, however it needed to be done. Then we revitalized the band, got rid of everything that was negative and had a very regressive connotation, and we started to keep moving forward.
Relativity was one of my favorite albums—but then you guys put out 131 and I believe it to be the best record that Emarosa has ever put out. I don’t know if it’s because of your influence or because the vibe within the band has become so much better…
I think it’s all of the above. It’s just the growth of this band. Jonny hasn’t been in this band for five or six years and through that time, nobody is the same person they were five or six years ago—except maybe Jonny. (laughs) You grow and you mature and your tastes change and that’s just how it goes.
I saw you guys perform at Warped Tour last summer and your personal stage presence was so energetic and explosive. Where did you learn to engage with the audience and perform like that?
It started on Warped Tour—actually, I feel like I started doing it the year before because I really felt like we had something to prove, like I had something to prove. We are absolutely entertainers. Obviously I’m not the first person to hang upside down or get into the crowd, and I don’t claim to be. I just want to make sure the people that come to our show are entertained, that they are involved. There are some days when I don’t want to do that and I just want to stay on stage and sing, just to prove I can do both. Maybe that’s an ego thing but it’s people like Adam Lazzara and Jason Butler… they’re performers, they captivate and that’s always been really inspiring to me. I think every artist pulls from other artists they are influenced by or by what moves them—and that is just how I found that groove.
Speaking of that, who are some of your musical influences?
There isn’t really anything modern that influences me. Michael Jackson has always been my #1 influence and a lot of ’80s, ’90s, female R&B. I’ve always been drawn to that. My mom raised me on Michael Jackson and a lot of empowering women vocalists, like Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Shania Twain. That’s what I grew up listening to.
What type of writing process was involved in making 131?
When we sit down and write, there’s not really a theme like, “Oh, this is gonna be about this.” You just write and whatever happens happens with the song and eventually I’ll find some kind of meaning to that song. A lot of the time, I really love to keep what I find the song to be about to myself and let people find their own meaning. The writing process is super organic, we’ll write a rift or a part, and the songs shape themselves. We’re never like, “Here’s the song, learn your part.”
What does 131 mean?
The album title named itself. 131 is my birthday and 131 is the address of where we recorded the record. It’s one of those phenomenons where you see a number over and over, and that’s what happened when we recorded 131.
With all of the success you found from 131, how will you guys top it?
I don’t worry about that. The next step is to make something I’m equally proud of. We hit a stride with 131 and it really took us to new places with the band and it’ll give us opportunities to branch out with the next record. Right now our focus is on an EP we’re doing in June with Aaron Marsh. We’re going to be redoing some 131 songs so that’s the next move and then we’ll start looking towards our next full record.
What is your favorite song off of 131?
I don’t know. I really feel like they’re all fantastic. If I had to pick one that felt the most like me, I think it would be “Helpless”. It’s tough because all of them have a different vibe so it’s hard to say, “This one is my favorite.” I love all of them equally. And that’s a great feeling to have.
How was filming the video for “Sure”?
We were in Texas, out in the middle of nowhere, and we drove for two hours into this random desert. We wanted to create this environment of reflection for the song. It’s a very aimless kind of visual piece. It’s not the same style as the rest of our videos because they have been very storyline-based or performance-based. This video was neither. We don’t like to keep making the same thing over and over. People are like, “What’s the point of the video?” and it’s like, not everything has to have meaning. That’s part of the point sometimes. You’re going to see things or things are going to happen, and there’s no reason or purpose for it. It’s just a method to the way we do things and the way we make videos or the way we record. Everything we do, we are meticulous about. It’s not like we walked into the desert and were like, “Let’s shoot a video driving around.” There are so many things in that video that mean so much and that’s what it was made for. People forget that artists make things for themselves. In my opinion, real artists make art for expression—they don’t make art to appease people on YouTube. I love the video. I think it speaks very well to the song and it was fun to shoot.
What kind of response have you received for “Sure”?
It’s weird, obviously the general fan base is out there saying, “It’s awesome, it’s great,” which we are thankful for. A lot of people get what we are doing but you’re always going to get those people who have to critique something in order to feel validated. I don’t think you ever get used to random people just shitting on your work that you have put yourself into. It’s annoying.
You’re going on the We Will Detonate! tour with Pierce The Veil, Sum 41 and Chapel, and then headlining some other shows.
This Sum 41 and Pierce The Veil tour is the biggest tour that Emarosa has ever done, which I was really excited about. It took a long time to get here, to surpass what Emarosa used to be. It’s a new band now and I feel so good about that. I’m very proud of that. So we’re going to be supporting them, and we have a lot of festival dates and other spots that we wanted to fill with headline shows. Chapel will also be supporting us on our headline shows for April and May.
I like to end my interviews with a random question, so, if you could perform with one musician living or dead, who would it be?
That’s so easy, too easy. Michael Jackson. Too easy!
Catch Emarosa at The Loft at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY on May 6, The Paramount in Huntington, NY on May 7, and Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 10. For more information, go to emarosa.us and facebook.com/emarosa.
**The Pine Belt show has recently been moved to Starland Ballroom. All tickets originally purchased for Pine Belt Arena will be honored at Starland, but tickets are available**