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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world Interview-Justin-McCain-Emphatic-Sep-2011

INTERVIEW - Justin McCain, Emphatic


By Todd Jolicouer


Toddstar: Well listen let me start off with thank you for taking time out for the Rockpit. We really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day for us today Justin.

Justin McCain: It’s my pleasure man. In all honesty, it’s a big part of waking up every day and talking to people like you. It means everything to us to have you guys take your time out of your day.

Toddstar: Well cool. You guys were finally able to hit a major label and put out one of the killer CDs that have come out lately. Damage is your third release, but your first for a major label. How does it feel to put that out on a big label now?


Justin McCain: It’s a dream come true to be honest with you. I mean, we’ve been around for a few years, and like you said we put out a few tentative releases. Everything went well and we just got to the point where it was time to you know, take this national and world wide. Atlantic is the perfect home for us. We absolutely love it.

Toddstar: Regarding those two older releases, they’re hard to find. Trust me, I’ve been looking and…

Justin McCain: There’s actually four.

Toddstar: There are four? Okay, I have only seen mention of two of them when doing my research. Any plans on trying to get those back out in the public hands?

Justin McCain: I don’t think so. Maybe down the line as some sort of special addition package, but as of right now, it’s all about Damage. It’s all about pushing that record and we’re very proud of that and I think that’s going to be, you know the Emphatic life for the next few years. We’re not really looking in the past; we’re looking at moving forward and doing some cool stuff on some more records. It kind of helped get us where we are today, but like you said now it’s just time to move forward, so we’re going to push Damage before we bring any old stuff back.

Toddstar: That’s good for those of us that love Damage. Let’s talk about the single “Bounce.” Not exactly your typical love story, is it?

Justin McCain: Well, I think it is. I think it is. (Laughing) I mean it is pretty much saying how it is. It is very blunt and it’s a sexy, hot, and in your face track so there’s no secret to that song. That was a great track - especially to kind of open the doors for Emphatic because it kind of has this pop sensibility to it, but we’re a rock band. We kind of do a little you know, we mix both spectrums a little bit, so it’s a great track to come out of the gates with. It was something that was upbeat and fun. The girls like it and where the girls go, the guys go. So it’s like a win-win.

Toddstar: So true. I think it’s a great track, but my favorite track on the album is one called “Tonight.”

Justin McCain: Awesome. I love “Tonight.” It is a great song.


Toddstar: What is the inspiration behind that song? The love your life maybe?

Justin McCain: Absolutely. I wrote that song about my wife. It actually means a lot to me. It’s a true story, its real, it’s from the heart, and if you listen to every lyric in that song, it’s describing me, us, and our situation of true love. I think what’s cool about my style of writing and the sound of Emphatic - Patrick you know, really bringing the vocals to the plate and making everything come to life. I think everyone who takes something, even if I wrote that song about me and my wife, it’s kind of an open book and someone else can relate to it and make it their own, you know what I mean?

Toddstar: Yes. Listening to the album from front to back you get the…you get a wave of, like you said, the pop sensibility with the good rock. You also, even get some heavier stuff in there.

Justin McCain: Yeah, absolutely.

Toddstar: I know in a couple things that I found, just before Emphatic kind of hit the ground running, you were doing the heavier stuff.

Justin McCain: We were and that’s really what Emphatic started with and it’s honestly always going to be a part of who we are, but Emphatic kind of started… it’s been like 6-7 years maybe, so over time I think it’s just a natural growing process. Things change and evolve. It’s not that we were shooting for a specific direction, but once again referring to me as a writer, I listen to every kind of music, so for me it’s not like I sit down and try and write something intentionally like a certain style or a certain genre. It’s more so just trying to write a great song and so you know, over time, if the sound changes a little bit, it’s just because we’re really bringing that side out as far as writing. Patrick is such a great front man. He can sing heavy stuff and then he can go to you know, songs like “Tonight” and he has that kind of southern bad-ass, bad-boy twang, so there’s things that are like southern rock. I just think we’re kind of a band that has become well-rounded.

Toddstar: Based on the album, I would agree totally. In writing the album, any of the songs come really easy to you? You always hear about those guys that write a song and they’re like “Oh yeah, I took a nap, woke up, and the lyric was there, the melody was there.” Any of these songs just kind of fall together for you?

Justin McCain: Um, honestly, I’m the only writer in the band, but I co-wrote with outside writers for this record. It seems like, you know, when I would pair up with some of these guys, everything went pretty fast. I would walk in the room with the idea of a song. The music or the lyrics and really have a concept. Collaborating with someone else who gets it really helped everything just kind of flow really well and very naturally. I would say “Tonight” is definitely one of the songs that were just instantaneous, because it is really true to my life story. I think all of them kind of came together pretty good, pretty quick. The funny thing is that usually in my experience, it’s not good all the time. You’re never going to hit it out of the park 100% of the time, but if I try to come up with something, it’s just like you’re over thinking it. When it comes naturally and it flows, it’s like it’s from the heart.

Toddstar: It makes sense. Let’s talk about touring. You guys seem to be jumping from one good package tour – HardDriveLive: The Spring Fling over to the Carnival of Madness Tour. How do you… it’s a little different crowd I think on the Carnival of Madness Tour. How do you expect Emphatic will come across with this crowd instead of like the Saliva crowd?

Justin McCain: You know, in all honesty, I think both crowds kind of live in the same world. They are different, but they’re both rock crowds. For us it was an amazing run with Saliva, Rev (Theory), and those guys, all great guys. We actually did a run with Crossfade that was great too. I think the difference with this tour is Carnival was extremely successful last year. It’s a big, massive mega-tour with some bands that all are reacting at radio right now, so I think it’s just going to be a great opportunity for Emphatic. I think we’re going to be playing in front of bigger crowds and I think it’s going to be well received. I think we’re going to get up there and surprise some people. That’s our goal. Every night for the last three weeks, we go all out on stage because we, my experience is this - everyone in this world makes the choice to buy a ticket, buy groceries, or buy gas. They could do anything they want with their money and people are showing up to these concerts still even thou the economy is bad and its rough. Things don’t come easy. So for us, its like we want to get up on stage every night and kick ass; give everyone a show to remember and give them their monies worth. Hopefully that’s what we’re going to do on the Carnival of Madness Tour.


Toddstar: Well, that’s what makes you guys a real rock and roll band. You guys are work horses. You guys took what you did in the beginning and you just worked it out on crowd and small bars, small clubs and that’s why you guys are where you are, I think.

Justin McCain: Yeah, that’s 100% true. It’s not scripted what so ever. I can’t speak on behalf of every single band that’s every gotten a record deal, but for us it was really all about grinding it out, playing the clubs with 2 people, eventually getting to radio, and building a buzz and doing the shows. It wasn’t an overnight success. It was definitely a work in progress and we busted our asses. It really gave us a great work ethic and it doesn’t stop here. It gets more intense.

Toddstar: That’s good to know. Octane seems to be having a love affair with you guys right now.

Justin McCain: We are. We love Octane. (Laughing)

Toddstar: I grew up on what they now call classic rock, but I found a new love in Octane and that’s how I’ve been able to find out about bands like you guys. In my opinion you guys and your contemporaries are bringing rock back.

Justin McCain: That’s a powerful statement and one that I definitely appreciate. Thank You. We just do what we can do, you know what I mean? In all honesty, we don’t make the claim that we’re trying to reinvent anything or we got goods that other bands don’t. You know, we’re all very humble guys and know that someone else can come up and take our spot at any second. That just kind of goes back to me talking about what really created a good work ethic for us. We just… we’re going to do everything we can every single freaking day to make sure our music gets in the hands of as many people as possible. Aside from that we want to shake all those hands too. We want to know everyone personally and want everyone to be a part of the Emphatic Army and the Emphatic family. To us, that’s what’s really going to make the difference.

Toddstar: It will help build longevity for you. I know you’re busy so I’m going to wrap up with a couple questions. If you weren’t writing songs and playing guitar in a rock band, what would you be doing today?

Justin McCain: I’d be sitting in my basement writing songs and recording songs. Aspiring to be a rock star.

Toddstar: (Laughing) Ok, Fair enough.

Justin McCain: That’s all I’ve ever done.

Toddstar: If there was one piece of music, it can be an album or song, that you wish was yours, what would it be?

Justin McCain: “Happy Birthday.” It’s the most well known song ever. I might be a rich dude if I wrote “Happy Birthday.” I don’t know how they track that in people’s houses.

Toddstar: (Laughing) Well, finally before I let you go Justin, what’s the meaning of life?

Justin McCain: The meaning of life is happiness. It doesn’t matter if I was on stage or in my house, or living on the streets. Happiness is everything. Love is everything. Family is everything. As long as you have love for someone, you treat someone with respect, and treat people how you want to be treated in life, that’s what life’s about. That’s what determines your successes and failures.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. Well Justin, I really appreciate the time and so does The Rock Pit. We really wish you guys well and I look forward to seeing you guys here in Detroit.

Justin McCain: Absolutely. We definitely look forward to it and thank you so much for the opportunity.

Toddstar: Alright brother, we’ll talk to you in a couple weeks.