Emmas Ringer is a 90’s/80’s grunge-inspired band based out of Ottawa, ON in Canada. The three members span three generations in age, giving their music a truly unique quality. The latest release from the group is the record, Generations, which is available on Bandcamp and iTunes now. Scott McCooeye (keyboard, synth), Owen Coffin (drums, drum pad, synth, acoustic guitar), and Scott Maybee (vocals, guitars, bass, mandolin). I got the chance to run some questions by the guys and we covered everything from the origin of their band name to a stressful time when ALL of their music was lost because of a cat! Check it out:
MFL: How and why did Emmas Ringer come to be? Along that same vein, tell me about the name?
ER: The name is a reference to what was going on in the 80’s and especially in the 90s, where you had these musical performers lip syncing as puppets to their own music. Even Radiohead was forced to do that early on when they broke out. The use of the word “Ringer” is a reference to the idea that pop star performers have become interchangeable. We’re now entering a stage where performance isn’t even required. It’s just a reference to that shift in focus for music and a reminder to us why it’s still important to embrace live performance and not be tempted to start cutting corners in today’s age of sequences, pitch correction, laptops and triggers. It’s ironic for us since we try our best to infuse pure raw emotion in our music displayed onstage.
MFL: What happened to Emmas Ringer between the release of The Spirits Will Guide in 2011 and Generations fall of 2014? That may be a loaded question so feel free to answer in whatever way you see fit!
ER: In 2011 we decided we wanted to reintroduce “Emmas Ringer” as a duo and start trying to get shows, with Scott Maybee (guitar, vocals) and Scott McCooeye (keyboard). It was basically a lounge act and our compositions didn’t really work well live. In 2012 Owen Coffin joined Emmas Ringer as our drummer, and we began to compose new songs in 2013 but recording, mixing, and mastering of these songs were set back over a year because of a curve ball fired at us! Scott Maybee had all the contents on an external harddrive and one night his cat knocked it over losing EVERYTHING! Luckily the studio had all the original bed tracks and in fact all our other new takes wound up better than the first so it was a blessing in disguise.
MFL: Top 3 favorite bands before the year 2000 and after the year 2000.
ER: Before : Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Doors
After: The White Stripes, Cage The Elephant, St. Vincent
MFL: Give a brief description of what goes down at your shows. Based on your sound, they seem like they could be pretty rowdy…but I could be wrong!
ER: We focus on dynamics and textures, very mellow one min; powerful the next. We pay attention to our audience and look at what works and what doesn’t for them. Our sets are diverse, some songs catchy and poppy, other songs heavy and others very trippy. For electric shows we usually end our set in chaos, knocking things over and smashing instruments etc. In today’s world of equity performers and DJ culture, it’s important for us to embrace the timeless spontaneous creativity of a genre like live jazz as opposed to having a scripted live performance that’s become so common.
MFL: As a band, what is your dream for Emmas Ringer or where do you hope to see yourselves in 5 years’ time?
ER: Like most bands we would all be very happy to someday be able to support ourselves comfortably with music full-time. That seems like a pipe dream at this point so in reality we just hope to be able to continue what we are doing and build on our own songbook. Playing major festivals is a goal for us, as is a full Canadian tour. Hopefully we’ll get there sooner than later.
MFL: What was the inspiration behind Generations?
ER: Many different things, some very personal such as drug addictions and failed relationships, others very imaginative, others political. We wanted to pull from all our influences and take what was relevant in the past and what might be relevant today and hopefully make something that would connect with people. We dedicated the name to the fact that we each come from 3 separate generations and we felt that was pretty unique and amazing that as a band we can still connect so well despite having such an age gap.
MFL: As a band, what are you favorite songs to play live?
ER: “Hong kong” , “Woke Up”, “Colours”, “Laws”
MFL: What is the songwriting process like for Emmas Ringer?
ER: Its very democratic. Generally speaking, both Scotts write the lyrical content which is often a joint effort. Much of the poppy stuff Scott Maybee writes while Scott McCooeye will write more abstract songs. That being said we often surprise each other. No specific pattern – it just all flows together in the end. On our most recent album, several songs such as “Million Dollar Soldier” and “Breather Holes” were fleshed as a trio – the melody and lyrics all came after. Owen plays several instruments and is also a singer, and although he’s still new to songwriting he played a big part in the creative process of “Generations”.
MFL: Finally, any plans to hit the US in the near future if you haven’t already?
ER: We have no plans in the near future but are definitely interested to hit the US at some point. We need to conquer Canada first!