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A Dirty Dozen with EMPERORS NIGHT – December 2020

| 9 December 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Emerging alt-rock band Emperors Night has released the official music video for their song “Not A Soul In Sight,” off the New Zealand-born, Toronto-based trio’s debut EP, Driving At Pace. “Not A Soul In Sight” was written just after the COVID-19 lockdown began in the spring. The eerie emptiness on the streets of downtown Toronto, the band’s adopted hometown this past year, inspired the moody, classic rock-style track. Resounding piano, serpentine bass, and ragged guitar all take turns supporting a haunting lead vocal, telling a story that will no doubt resonate with many people living through the events currently going on in the world, while offering a glimpse of hope. The Chalmers brothers – Anand (guitars, production), Bud (vocals, piano) and Dhyan (vocals, bass) – have always had music-making on their radar, writing songs together from an early age. By late 2019, they found themselves with a 21-song set of original music, but not many places to perform in the little beach town they were living in on the east coast of Australia. So, they packed up and moved to North America with high hopes for the coming year…and then, in 2020, the world changed. With no way of knowing when live music would start again, and now stuck in Toronto, the brothers set about making the best of the situation and busied themselves with recording sessions – all from the various Airbnbs they lived in over the course of the year. Emperors Night has arrived with a collection of songs and an original sound that is both intriguing and unfettered.” We get the band to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Dhyan: The basslines, no one ever hears the basslines!

Anand: In all seriousness, I think we all put a lot of effort into our respective musical parts so it could take a few listens to hear each part. Even when we revisit a song we haven’t worked on in a while, we can be like, “oh is that in there?” We totally forgot about that little synth line or something.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Anand: As kids, we grew up listening to great music – I have memories of being in the car with Bud, we would have been 4 and 5 at the time, driving around Sydney with Mum and Dad, hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time and wondering what on earth this deafening noise was (I soon grew to love it!). Through our teens, we’d have family nights around the lounge listening to music for hours, often all the 60’s and 70’s classic rock, along with latest releases we would find as well.

Bud: We got our first guitar around 12-13, and as soon as we learnt a few chords, we started writing songs – being a musician wasn’t really a choice after that, just an entirely natural activity.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Dhyan: The Beatles and the Stones would be a couple of cornerstones for us. Great songwriting, lyrics, and at their height both had striking and original arrangements as well.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

The Beatles – for us, the greatest rock songwriters of all time, The Rolling Stones – a close second in songwriting, and had some great musicians other than Keith and Mick, of course too. Mick Taylor on the guitar is a real genius, Tim and Neil Finn – a couple of musical greats from NZ, most known for their work in the bands Crowded House and Split Enz, Oasis – That wall of sound, those guitar lines, they really had a big impression on us in our musically formative years, and Traffic – A bit more left field, they don’t seem that well known these days, but they’ve got some of the most brilliant and intricate rock songs, “Sometimes I Feel So Uninspired” and “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” to name a couple.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Anand: Lorde. Melodrama is one of our favourite releases of the past 10 years, and us Kiwis have to stick together!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Bud: It’s all based on melody for us. Start with a strong tune, the instrumental arrangements are each mostly their own melodies which become interwoven together, and we try to have a unique approach with our lyrics also. The brother band comparisons are the worst, haha – oh, you’re like Hanson! Oh, the Jonas Brothers! But they can be amusing as well.

Dhyan: Come on Bud, “Mmm Bop” is a classic. It’s high praise to be mentioned along with them.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Dhyan: Bud will cook, he makes a mean pasta.

Bud: Anand and Dhyan share cocktail duties. I’ll choose the Italian wine and Dhyan will make sure we’ve always got enough alcohol whenever the occasion demands!

Anand: Anyone might go for the acoustic guitar to be honest, if there’s a piano around, Bud will be straight in on that.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Bud: James Woods. Anand was in a vegan restaurant on a date and saw James Woods at a nearby table. He rang Dhyan, who was across town in a Chipotle waiting for his burrito. Dhyan immediately drove across town and joined Anand on his date. They looked across the restaurant at James Woods, said to each other “that’s James Woods”, “ooh, piece of candy”, and that’s the end of the story.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Bud: Cricketer, no question. It’s a sport, for those North Americans who aren’t aware.

Dhyan: An F1 driver, or a golfer. Yes, we’re classic musicians dreaming of being sportsmen!

Anand: I think filmmaker would be my next passion, none of this imaginary sports nonsense these other two are on about.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Anand: I’ve always wanted a reviewer to ask me to rank the Transformers films. I’m not going to reveal my answers yet, but spoiler alert: Revenge Of The Fallen sits a lot higher than you would think.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Dhyan: Nothing major that comes to mind. I’d say more the little things so far such as when you made a mistake at a show and it absolutely haunts you. Like why did I play an F# and not a G there!

Bud: At one point Lou Reed’s former manager wanted to meet us and he was in Sydney for one day which was about a two hour flight away. He emailed us the night before and unfortunately all of us were too tied up with things to be able to go and meet, which was a shame.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Dhyan: This is tough, for me I’d say Astral Weeks. Apparently it was recorded in two, eight hour sessions and a lot of the final recordings were from the first take. Can you imagine seeing songs of that creative magnitude just played perfectly right there in front of you while you know that these recordings will stand the test of time?

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Anand: Sadly, it’s almost becoming the new normal so quickly that you just try and adapt to it and not think too much about the things we all enjoy doing such as going to bars and restaurants and the like. But I think I probably miss that freedom you never realized you have of not worrying about it. You go to the shops and in your mind it’s always, I have to make sure I have my mask, I’m not accidentally standing too close to someone or walking the wrong way down the supermarket aisle. That freedom of just doing regular mundane things without those thoughts will be pretty special to start with once this is all over.

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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