A FLASH OF LIGHTNING: AN INTERVIEW WITH ADAM PAQUETTE & CHRIS HUOT OF THE GLORIOUS SONS
On a cold Wednesday evening in late January, I had the opportunity on behalf of Spill Magazine, to observe the filming of The Glorious Sons’ newest video “Lightning.”
Trapped inside a silo, with very little light and freezing temperatures, I witnessed the blissful joy and dedication of a band I had never heard of, but one that has made a wonderful impact on me and my musical consciousness.
Between takes and on a rare break it was my pleasure to sit down with Adam Paquette and Chris Huot for a short interview to discuss their debut album The Union and their upcoming US tour.
The first question that needed some clarification was the band’s name. I wondered while I prepared for the interview where they drew their inspiration. Adam explained that all members of the band have wonderful families and “we were looking for something that we all had in common. There is no amazing story behind our name. This musical journey we are on happened pretty fast for us.” Huot added that the name is simply something that they can all relate to as a group of friends.
They talked at length about family and how precious and important it is to everyone in the band and the question was if it truly defined the band. “Definitely. Throughout all of last year, family is the only thing that has kept us going,” said Adam. “Historically, you live a homeless existence and don’t always make a lot of money when you are in a band. During those hard times our families were able to help us and support us financially, but also through their unending encouragement and faith.”
But what about the title of the debut album The Union? Paquette mused that Brett Emmons was much better qualified in fielding this question but would do his best to answer. “We all came from hard working families of self-made people. Our families all created their own businesses and worked really hard over a long period of time to finally become successful. The title The Union represents the human ability to create your very own path and destiny.”
The Glorious Sons were and raised in Kingston and surrounding area. Huot was the most adventurous one, having moved away a few times, but something always kept calling him back. Good thing he did, because this newly Juno-nominated band has the energy and drive to be a major influence on a somewhat bland Canadian rock scene.
While conducting interviews for Spill Magazine, I am always curious about the beginning and perpetually wonder about the first time a musician picks up his or her instruments.
For Huot, it began with a music course in high school. “My friend was very obsessed and played the guitar, and I didn’t want to be left out. So I took a semester of guitar and I have never looked back or stopped playing.” Paquette, on the other hand, raided his father’s CD collection and discovered the likes of CCR and Guns N’ Roses, among others. “I decided to play drums,” he said, “because I knew a number of people who were already playing guitar. I faked my way into the grade 7 music class by telling my teacher that I had two years experience playing the drums. The teacher knew immediately that I never played the instrument, but he decided to humour me and teach me anyway. My parents bought me my first set around a year later. A few private lessons followed and here I am.”
The Glorious Sons took a bit of time coming together. Jay and Brett Emmons are brothers, so naturally their involvement is ongoing. All but Huot attended the same high school. “We all knew each other, but we were not the best of friends; but that is only because we differ in age and moved in different circles,” Adam explained. They met Huot through the band’s first practice session. Huot mused that it was “Jay who invited me over because we were digging around on the same job site a lot. It seems we always talked more about music, rather than getting the work done.”
What about the Kingston music scene?
“To be honest, it is not an amazing scene,” Paquette said. “There are a lot of cover bands, and Kingston is filled with three-set bars, where you play other people’s music all night long, until last call. This is not a great scene that nurtures and develops artists. We were lucky though, we got a break from Dave McNamara who is the owner of The Merchant. We ended up playing there one evening, but only performed an eight-song set, but I guess that was enough because he liked us so much that he gave us a weekly gig. We played on Thursday nights, and most importantly we were able to play whatever we wanted. It was wonderful when Thursday came around, we would load up our gear and enjoy ourselves playing for all of our friends and family. We got better and better, but that is not the typical story you’ll hear in Kingston.”
As a band they were lucky to win two rock band competitions, and it is this twist of fate that gave them the opportunity to get out of Kingston. It was their dedication and love of music that ended up opening up eyes of some very key people.
They are getting to a point in their career that their music is slowly beginning to pay for itself. “In order to do it right we had to give up our jobs, so that we could tour as much as we did,” Adam explained. “It was not easy, but we dived in headfirst and it has finally paid off. We can finally survive on our earnings. Now, we are determined to keep going and growing.”
What is great about The Glorious Sons is their simplicity in their approach to music. Huot and Paquette have a deep desire to maintain their direction and not lose sight of who they are. “We are not into using effect pedals and things,” Adam explained. “We want to keep it simple and let the music speak for itself.” He added that if he had to define their style, it would be simply Roots Rock. “We are not fancy. We do whatever is necessary to write and then perform a good song. We work well together, because we compliment one another. Our focus has always been the music. We are determined to make a great song. We are not going to oversaturate the experience.”
What does the song writing process look like?
Huot maintains there is no official formula. “We have a jam room where we get together. Someone will always throw out an idea and we build on that idea.”
“We get into a room together”, Paquette adds, “and we all bang our heads together until something happens. We lock ourselves in there for a few hours and we generally come out with a song, or some version of one that we continue to work on.” In terms of lyrics, that is Brett’s domain. He is never lost for ideas, and carries around lyrics to over 30 songs at any given time, so there is never a shortage of lyrics. “Brett always has the lyrics ready,” Paquette noted, “but whether they are for a particular song that we begin working on, we never truly know, until it comes together.”
Touring North America has been a wonderful experience for the group. They have noticed, like other bands before them, that the majority of people simply come out to be entertained. They come for a drink and to have a good time. That seems to be the norm everywhere. “This is why there are cover bands,” explained Paquette. “For us though, things are beginning to change. I think we have more and more people come to our shows that have an appreciation for what we do. They appreciate our music and they remember our lyrics. We have fans that come to every show, regardless of what city we happen to play in.” For Huot, looking back, the noticeable difference was the song “Mama.” “I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I realized that people in the audience began to sing along to ‘Mama.’ This seems so long ago now, but at the time I was thinking oh my God, people have memorized our song.” He added that some of their older fans tell them that their children have learned to play some of their songs.
The Glorious Sons have finished their latest video for “Lightning” and are excited to attend this years Juno Awards in Hamilton, where they will hopefully win, or at least be recognized for their talent. On the immediate horizon, however, is their intense U.S. tour that begins in early February.
The goal for the tour is simple, explained Paquette. “A year ago we were playing throughout all of Ontario and nobody knew who we were. We are taking a step backwards in a sense. We anticipate a big grind, but we look forward to it. We want to visit all the cities and stop by all the local radio stations. It is our hope that they will want to promote our singles. At night, we hope that new people come to the shows, and we can make new fans. Hopefully, the next time we come through their town, they will bring a friend and our support will grow. This is what we have done all of last year in Canada, and we hope to repeat this experience in the United States. We don’t really have any reason to doubt that this will not work again.”
Their families will continue to be a source of strength and support. With great joy, Paquette exclaimed that Huot’s mom came out to at least the first 50 performances. “As we started to travel a bit, it obviously wasn’t possible for her to continue at the same pace, but our families are our biggest fans. Jay and Brett’s grandpa, who is in his 70s, came along with us to a few of the shows across Canada. He would watch us perform in Thunder Bay one night, and then fly with us to Calgary. Our whole family comes out to see us if we are anywhere close to Kingston. They try to see us perform and lend their support, every chance they get.”
The band is very flattered and thrilled to be nominated for a Juno Award. They are excited about this album’s cycle and the possibility of extending that cycle with a tour in Germany. They continue to write new material, and a new album will be out soon enough.
Above everything else, they are thankful and grateful to all their fans for opening up their hearts to their music. They want their fans to know that they are better musicians because of the love and support they are shown. Huot and Paquette wanted the fans to know that the fans “are awesome by being there for us. Please keep coming to the shows, and we will do our part and keep pumping out some great rock ‘n’ roll.”