Latest release: Chupacabra (Gun Fever/MGM)
Perth trio Emperors should be celebrating the release of their staunch new album Chupacabra with shows and touring. Instead, due to the departure of vocalist Adam Livingston, the band is basically no more, leaving guitarist Greg Sanders in the strange spot of having to talk up a release he has no way to support live. Loud chatted with Sanders recently about the Emperors sound, moving on and just why the hell they called the album Chupacabra anyway.
Congratulations on the new album Greg. You must, however, find yourself in an interesting position – new record, no band.
Unfortunately Adam told us a couple of months ago he was in the position where he didn’t think he could support the release by touring, so the band is on hiatus at the moment. That’s definitely the most optimistic way to put it.
That must make it pretty hard to actually go out and promote it.
It is very difficult. It’s hard to promote a record without touring, and the fact that we’re pretty much a band that’s broken up can overshadow the release. On the other hand, it gives me something more to talk about other than boring stuff like who produced it and things like that!
So are there any plans to perform some of these tracks live in some format?
No, there’s no plans to play it live at all. The last tour we did was in August last year when the first single from the record came out, and that looks like that will be the last show for this band until there’s a small miracle and Adam’s voice returns to its former glory. But we’re really proud of the record and our goal at the moment is to get as many people as possible to listen to it. This looks like the note that the band’s going to end on, so we hope that people enjoy it as much as the first record.
Emperors very definitely had a distinctly 90s indie rock sound. It certainly comes through on Chupacabra.
A lot of our main, conscious influences are indie rock bands from the 90s, especially the early – mid-90s and also the 80s too: punk bands like Husker Du and the Replacements and stuff like that, as well.
I suppose that’s come up a lot when people have talked about your music!
[Ha!] I think from the very first gig we did we’ve had every reference that’s ever been made about the band is that it sounds like a 90s band. Which it does, but you don’t really see many comments where it’s said that ‘This band sounds like they’re from 2015.’ That’s pretty rare! You hear a Tame Impala song on the radio, no one’s going on about how that doesn’t sound like a band from the 70s, and there’s a lot of pop music that sounds like cheesy 80s pop music. But it just doesn’t get talked about in the same light. But if you write a song that sounds like Weeer or Superchunk, it’s like, ‘Oh wow, here’s a band that sounds like the 90s’. It seems really weird to me that people love pointing that out so much.
What’s the story behind the title of the album? I couldn’t really find any references to the Chupacabra in the songs anywhere!
There’s certainly no references to it lyric-wise on the record. Adam was talking about it one day, at rehearsal or something, and he was reading something about Chupacabras online. It’s basically the Mexican version of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster – it’s a mythical beast from Mexico. There’s no literal meaning… you could find meaning in it. When a band breaks up, and you go through the recording process and come out the other side and realise that you’re going to break up, you start finding meanings in songs and records that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. To me, I think of the Chupacabra as this little demon that’s been lingering – if you look at the artwork, the guy’s drawn one sitting on this roof of this desolate farmhouse – i think it’s a pretty good symbol for this demon that’s been existing in the band that we didn’t really know about. You kind of find these weird little meanings after the fact.
So what are your immediate plans now, Greg?
I can’t speak for Adam and Zoe [Worrall-James -bass], but I’ve already joined another band and I’ve got a bunch of new projects to work on. For me, it’s just a case of – this is my sixth or seventh band now, so I’m not a stranger to starting another band, so it’s just a case of, this band’s over and it’s time to start a new project.
Obviously every band is different. Going into a new band, what will you be taking away from your time in Emperors?
There’s no formula. People have dramatically different personalities in whatever band you’re in. You can’t apply a style of working with one group of people to another. You just play it by ear, I guess. But with that said, you can certainly learn from your mistakes. One of the things I’m going to be taking away from my experience with Emperors is to maybe not take things quite as seriously aqnd focus more on the fun parts of playing in band rather than the business aspect of things.
There must have been plenty of good times with Emperors over the years.
It’s been a really, really fun six years. We started recording demos in my house that I lived in in North Perth six years ago. I’ve still got fond memories of recording the first song we wrote together, right through all the tours we did, everything we’ve been through. Looking back and getting analytical about it, the only regrets I have it that we did all these great tours and stuff being really focused on trying to be a professional band and trying to make our way in terms of an industry sense, rather than focusing on having a good time.