Rik Emmett & Dave Dunlop
Interview by Michael Oshust ~ Posted September 30, 2018
Photo Source: Rick Wharton Management
Rik Emmett states the following "The album represents a journey through my life, and the idea behind a lot of these songs is me trying to figure out who I am, and why I’m doing what I’m doing" and this album is full of soul.
First, having listened to Res9 hundreds of times, it is a solid album end to end.
RIK - Thank You
DAVE - Thank You
Dave when did you first start working with Rik?
DAVE - I started playing in his band in 1996, and we started as an acoustic duo in 2006. At that point we started collaborating as writers and in the Production of records.
How is the track order determined? Stand Still is a great opening song for the album?
RIK - My criteria is based on energy flow, key changes, moods – not quite the same as a live set, but same overriding concerns. So – starting with energy, yes. Always important to me. An album can get introspective and intimate at the end – a big rock show probably wouldn't, but --- an acoustic gig might. The 3 of us had our own ideas, and discussion hopefully leads to consensus. If not – someone has to learn to bite their tongue over that particular issue.
DAVE - Track order often comes from lots of discussion and we offer up orders we think work and then we debate each proposed order. In many cases it becomes obvious because of how things just tend to flow.
The Ghost of Shadowtown reminds me of Young Enough to Cry. Do you see the similarities?
RIK - Similar time signatures, blues ballads set in a minor key – yes, I can see that. And both guitar solos were pretty much live off-the-floor stuff, so that energy is present in each track. But Gil wrote the lyric to YETC: and lyrics are really, really important to me: so, for my sensibilities. that song's heart & soul is nowhere near what GHOST is about. YETC is a song about a love relationship gone sour: GHOST is a song, written from the point of view of the demon of power, and greed, and fear, and how he's enjoying our current social / political climate. (I never really ever wrote a song by stepping into the persona of an evil guy.) But I guess that's what's so cool about the blues --- it has universal latitudes & longitudes.
DAVE - I was a fan of Young Enough To Cry as a youngster, so I was happy to work with Rik on a song w/ that feel this time around. It was an honour for me.
Sweet Tooth is an upbeat fun song. How did that come about?
RIK - I wanted to include a kind of --- as you say, upbeat, fun, humorous, tongue-in-cheek double-entendre tune. I was thinking of writers like Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, and Chuck Berry --- candy standing in for s-e-x. Not exactly original territory --- but, paying homage to time when cleverness counted for something. In my head, I thought --- well, Duke Robillard might be proud of me. ;-)
My favourite is End of the Line. Do you have any from this album
DAVE - My fave is ' I SING'. I love the song and I love the arrangement and production.
RIK - Any favourites? They are all special to me. That's why they got included. I'm so glad that a song like Grand Parade ended up on an album, before I stop making albums: so proud of tunes like My Cathedral, and I Sing, which turned out to be fulfilling the ambition I had in my head after the song had been written. Interestingly: the song that almost didn't make the cut between the 3 of us was Rest of my Life --- and I can't tell you how many people have told me that's become one of their favourites. So --- you never really know for sure. A theme of this record is --- a lot of this material is me, saying goodbye. Goodbye to rock records, goodbye to the era of making conscientious rock records in an old school way --- good bye to the bands I've played in. Hello to the possibilities of new consciousnesses,
How did the songs come about, were there jams, then build from there or were they written differently?
RIK - I wrote the songs until they had verses / choruses / bridges / lyrics / melodies. Then I did a set of voice & guitar demos for Dave & Steve. Then they decided which songs they preferred, and then we had a week [4 or 5 days, I think?] of band rehearsals at Metalworks, going over the stuff, and working it up. In some cases, the songs didn't evolve much from the original song sketches. But – in the case of a track like 'End of the Line', and 'When You Were My Baby'. it was going to be a band construction from the git go --- conceived as such, and realized like that. They weren't born out of jams, but the track had to 'feel' like it was a band, jamming live off the floor. Things like --- drum fills are as important to that (in EOTL) as anything else. The lyrics are not all that important --- it's all about the delivery. And – for example – we had no idea what LaBrie might do with what we suggested. With Alex, It was an excuse to hang some crazy rockin-out guitar solos on a riff, or a progression. (And Dave & Steve even edited the riff of EOTL, so that it would be heavier, with a bigger pocket.)
Rik, did you use your Les Paul primarily for recording the whole album?
RIK - Yes. Quite intentionally, I kept it to 3 Les Pauls. And it was mostly just one of 'em. I let Dave play my Gibson 356 for the lead fills on Grand Parade, and they are pretty close to perfect. I think my fave solo is Dave on the tag of I Sing. Not sure, but it might be his Fender Strat, affectionately named Rufus.
Special thank you to Rick Wharton, Rik Emmett & Dave Dunlop.
(l to r) Dave Dunlop on guitars and backing vocals, Paul DeLong on drums, Rik Emmett & Steve Skingley on bass and keyboards
Photo Source: Rick Wharton Management