Emerson Drive Fall Into Success

The members of Emerson Drive have been singing a different song since moving to Nashville a few years ago from Alberta, Canada. However, the six-piece band had the unique opportunity to perform both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Canadian national anthem Wednesday night (Feb. 5).

“We actually sing the American anthem more than we do the Canadian these days,” lead vocalist Brad Mates tells CMT.com while the band traveled to Ohio to perform prior to what turned out to be the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 4-4 draw against the Vancouver Canucks.

“We only get back to Canada maybe once or twice a year, so 95 percent of our time is spent down here in the South,” Mates says. “When we do the anthem, we usually do the American one, obviously, but it will be neat tonight.” While Mates never took for granted the performances of either anthem, he says the songs have taken on an even greater significance. “Especially in this past year, there’s been a lot of stuff that has gone on in the world,” he says. “When you do get a chance to sing the anthem, it puts into perspective what we are here for and what we stand for. It does mean a lot.”

The trip to Columbus also provided some welcome entertainment for the Emerson Drive members. “We don’t get to take in too many hockey games because we’re so busy all the time,” Mates says, “so it’s kind of nice to sit down and watch a game.”

Emerson Drive return to Nashville this weekend to begin work on their new DreamWorks album — and to make an appearance on CMT Most Wanted Live. The band’s MWL appearance airs Saturday (Feb. 8) at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Emerson Drive’s latest single, “Fall Into Me,” remains solidly in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks after no less than 32 weeks on the chart. The song’s video has also widened the group’s fan base.

“We’ve always had fun making videos,” Mates says. “I remember when we first did the video for [the debut single] ’I Should Be Sleeping.’ It was a great introduction to Emerson Drive, just basically showing everybody what we’re all about as six different people. I think ’Fall Into Me’ has more of a story line to it. Once again, it gave us a chance to realize what video-making is all about.

“For us, these last couple of years have been incredible, from shows to recording albums to making videos. It’s all been an eye-opener for all of us. We just have to embrace it each day because you never know how long it’s going to last.”

Any young musician could learn a lot about career longevity by spending time with songwriter-producer Richard Marx, who produced “Fall Into Me.” Ironically, Mates had no idea he was destined to meet the ’80s pop star when he bought a copy of Marx’s Greatest Hits CD while visiting his parents in Canada.

“A week later, we found out that he had listened to [an advance copy of] the Emerson Drive album,” Mates notes. “We were passing through Chicago for the afternoon and he was wanting to meet us, just to hang out and get to know us. So we stopped in at his place, had lunch with him and listened to some music.”

With some record company executives present for the meeting, Marx and the band listened to several songs, including “Fall Into Me,” written by Danny Orton and Jeremy Stover. “When Richard heard ’Fall Into Me,’ he was just flipping out. He couldn’t believe how great the song was. The funny thing was that the album was already finished. It was ready to go.” Within two days, Marx was in the producer’s chair when Emerson Drive recorded “Fall Into Me” and “How Lucky I Am,” two tracks added at the last minute to their debut album.

Marx will be producing Emerson Drive’s next album, and the band is looking forward to the studio work. “Obviously, we’re trying to outdo the first album,” Mates says. “If we have that mindset, then for each album after this, we’re hoping that things just keep growing.”

The band will be juggling their studio time with concert dates, but Mates says nobody is concerned about the hard work ahead. “We toured six years before we had a record deal,” he explains. “When we got a record deal with DreamWorks, it didn’t really faze us when they said, ’OK, you’re gonna be out 300 days a year.’ We were like, ’Wow, we’ve got another 20 extra days that we’re not working this year.'”

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.