Emmure are no strangers to controversy. Since beginning their career over a decade ago, the band has been faced with a near constant stream of internet trolls and music critics alike, bashing them for their music, their ability, and most recently, their subject matter. But amidst the drama, Emmure have never failed to overcome all obstacles, with a zealous fanbase who always have their backs. Now gearing up for a headlining tour with sometimes friends/sometimes enemies The Acacia Strain as main support, they are ready to prove why they always come out on top. Before the tour, the Aquarian caught up with bassist Mark Davis to discuss the new record and future plans.
The new record came out in April. What has been the fans’ response to Eternal Enemies so far? I think a lot of fans think we went back to our old style, especially with the singing and the simplicity of the songwriting and everything. I think a lot of people enjoyed that.
Why did the band choose Eternal Enemies as a title?
That would be more of a Frank [Palmeri, vocalist] question. I think that it had a lot to do with his relationships with people he has written songs about before and the way he’s perceived by internet critics, and just people who go out and bash him or our band on Facebook and those other websites. That’s kind of where it came from.
Is there any sort of theme to the album?
I think we tried to use more soundscape-y effects on the guitar and stuff. We got that AXS effects and that really opened up a lot of really different sound stuff to try out and different things that we are just on the tip of the iceberg on that we’ll probably experiment with more on future releases.
What is the writing process like when the band goes into the studio to write a new record?
Well, we start a long time before we even hit the studio. We’ll be on tour, we’ll be at home, we’ll have ideas, and we’ll just put them all on the computer and then we gather everyone together and get everyone’s input on a certain idea. Other times one person will write a whole song and we’ll restructure it all together as a band. But for the most part we have everything pre-approved and demoed ourselves before we even go into a studio.
Do you feel like being from the general New York/Connecticut area affects your music?
I think being from this area has a lot to do with the way we sound because of the type of bands we started playing with and the different bands we looked up to from our area. I think that our kind of sound is, well, not unique to the New York and New England area, and it is definitely a predominant sound that is going on over there.
Emmure have been active in metal for the past decade. What changes have you noticed within the scene during this time?
We’ve definitely been doing it for a long time and have been on tour for a while. It’s just weird to see a change in how bands can come up. It used to be a way different process for a band to come out and get recognized, and it all changes.
When we started, it used to be just like, you put up songs on Myspace and you get views and you start like that. Now it’s a totally different thing; now we don’t even know how it happens. Bands can come out and just put a great sounding record together or a great sounding song and start playing a couple shows and then get signed before they even begin to play in a local scene and build up a local following. I think that happens a lot with people. We came up when we had to play all the local shows and drive around and play for nothing—we would play for pizza money. Now it’s definitely different. With the internet, it makes it a totally different kind of thing. It’s easier, but it’s not always a good thing because I think the local scenes aren’t as strong as they used to be. It’s an up and down thing.
What was your first experience with music? What bands were you into growing up?
The first time I ever listened to any heavy music I was picking through my father’s vinyl collection and I pulled out the Black Sabbath record Paranoid. That was really my first experience with heavy metal music ever.
Do you think that still has an effect on you?
Definitely. I mean, I don’t think I would have gravitated towards music as much if I hadn’t been exposed to metal when I was that young.
Are there any current bands or artists that you gain inspiration from?
Obviously we try to keep our ears open to what everybody’s doing in our type of music. You have to stay connected to what is going on so that you can still be relevant and keep up with the trends that happen. So it’s always a battle of trying to stay true to what you’ve always set out to do and at the same time still trying to take in what is new and what else is happening around you.
How does the band prepare for a large tour?
We really don’t do anything (laughs). We don’t really practice too much. I mean, we practice one or two days before the tour starts, but we’ve been playing together for so long it just kind of comes back naturally.
Everybody has their routines they get into, like getting prepared, packing their bags and everything for tour. Then we kind of make up a setlist a couple weeks before so we can warm up and everything at home so we know what we have to do when we get up there. It’s sort of like a person-to-person thing. I know that everyone else is going to be ready and everybody else knows that I’m going to be prepared to play the shows and play the parts and just do it.
You guys have so many albums at this point. Is it difficult to create a setlist?
Yeah it’s hard, we have too many songs to pick from. We started putting out albums in 2007 and there is definitely the fans that want to hear the older songs, but then at the same time it also feels like we outgrew some of the show-going crowd from that time. But there’s definitely the people who want to hear old stuff, and there’s also new fans who listen to our new album, so we have to play to that and what’s happening now. I think we have something like 80 or close to 90 songs, so it’s definitely a hard choice to go and put a setlist together.
On the tour that we have coming up—the Eternal Enemies tour—we’re headlining, so we have a lot of time to play a lot of songs. We’re playing with some older bands too that started out in our time, like 2006 and 2007, so I think those fans are going to come out and we can play some of the older fan favorites.
What are your favorite songs to perform live?
I really like the new songs from Eternal Enemies. The song “E” that we just put out the video for recently, I like playing that because it definitely comes across way more powerful live than playing it in your car or whatever. My favorite songs to play have always been off Felony, the 2009 album, but I think there’s a different energy coming from new record. It’s cool to play songs that you haven’t played a million times, so the fresher songs are definitely more exciting.
What are Emmure’s plans for after the tour and the new year?
I think we have some stuff in the works. Some support tours for the beginning of 2015 and probably head back to Europe a little bit after that and trying to get some big stuff together for the summertime.
Emmure will be playing at the Theatre Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on Nov. 22, the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Nov. 23, and the Gramercy Theatre in New York City on Dec. 21. Eternal Enemies is available now. For more information, go to emmuremerch.com.