20 Questions With Emerson Drive

Band Members Share Secrets of Hair Care, Maple Syrup and Flying Sharks

Emerson Drive continue to hit the road hard, especially with a new album — What If? — now in stores. On the afternoon prior to a show in Nashville, the six guys grabbed a quick lunch and answered fan questions about driving to Antarctica, finding surprises in their movie popcorn and singing naked at a NASCAR race.

1. What are the tour plans now that the new record is out?

Brad Mates: The Shania tour actually wraps up on July 10. We’ve been out with her since April 19. Once the tour ends, we head out on the road doing our own shows. We’re on 22 or 23 shows a month until the end of October right now, and November and December are filling up quick. Fairs, festivals, bars, everything across the map. Then in the fall — late September and October — we’re doing a university-college tour, so we’re looking forward to that.

2. What’s your favorite part about touring?

Dale Wallace: I have to say the shows. I mean, it sounds cheesy. A lot of artists say that, but once you actually get up on stage and you’re performing the show, it’s kind of like your home every night. And even though you’re in a different city every day, being on stage and playing your instrument and doing what you’ve worked at your whole life, that’s where it pays off. That’s the best part.

3. Who cleans the bus?

Patrick Bourque: Brad does. She’s good at it. No, we have the cleanest bus ever, that’s for sure. Yeah, Brad cleans the bus (laughs) and he does a good job! Thanks, Brad.

Mates: Hey, you’re welcome, fellas.

4. Do you guys ever get homesick when you’re on the road?

Mike Melancon: It’s actually not bad at all because we’re like all brothers here, and we try to hang out as much as we can and go out and have fun. So it’s not bad at all. Obviously you miss your family and friends and all that, but it could be way worse.

5. Being from Canada, besides family and friends, what is it you miss the most from home? In other words, is there something in Canada that you can’t get here in the States?

David Pichette: Absolutely. What I miss the most about being in Canada is actually the Tim Horton’s coffee because you can’t find that unless you’re in Ohio. So this is probably the only thing I miss about Canada.

Danick Dupelle: In Quebec, we have this tradition every year. Because it gets cold and warm during the day in the spring and at night it’s really cold, so the maple trees are leaking. It comes out, and you get a little pot, and you drill a whole in the tree, and it drips in the pot, and you boil this. (laughs) And you can do whatever you want with it. It’s called maple syrup. It becomes maple syrup, real maple syrup. You can’t really get that down here. If you boil it more, it becomes like toffee, almost. It will liquefy when it’s really hot. You put that over snow, and it gets cold, and you take a stick and you roll it and suck on it.

Mates: The other thing that Danick does with it is bring jars of it in the fridge on the bus, and he’ll take a spoon and dig in it. It’s actually really good. (laughs)

6. Do you remember the first time you heard your debut song on the radio and your reaction?

Mates: First time we ever heard “I Should Be Sleeping,” we were up in Green Bay, Wis., driving to the radio station on the radio tour for the very first time. When we heard the song on the radio, we all were dead silent for about two minutes and 56 seconds and listened to the song, and we were just in amazement. Still to this day, any time we hear our song on the radio, it still gets a reaction from all of us. It’s very surreal sometimes to hear your own music on there.

Wallace: Sometimes you don’t even recognize it. It’s like you wait for the first chorus, and it’s like, “That’s us!” (laughs)

7. What is your favorite song, original or cover, to perform live?

Brad: We say “November.” “November” is going to be the next single off the CD. I don’t know what is it about the song. It’s just it’s got a great vibe to it playing it live. It’s got a great story to it, so I think we all can connect to the song in one way or another.

8. What has been your favorite place to visit so far?

Melancon: California has got to be the place, for sure, just because of the weather and landscape and ocean and all the beautiful creatures, you know? (laughs) California’s the best. I mean, I haven’t been to Europe yet — not like my compadre here, David — but, you know, California all the way.

9. What “diva” habit did you pick up while touring with Shania Twain?

Mates: Honestly, we all feel pretty good when we come off the stage because you’re playing for 15,000 people, and you feel like a million bucks when you’re up there. But the second you walk out of the arena into your dressing room, and there’s crap laying all over the room, and you realize you have to hop on a bus and drive for 15 hours and eat Subway while she’s flying, then you come back down to the ground. So you get 35 minutes of fame every night, and then it kind of just slips away.

Pichette: I guess the only thing that we started doing that would be diva-like is that after our show we have to walk in the crowd back to our dressing room. And we’re always trying to find a longer way to go because that’s the only time we get that people are actually on their feet and applauding us and cheering. So we’re trying to suck all that in.

10. What other Canadian band or artist would you like to record with?

Mates: Bryan Adams. Growing up, I mean, he was a pretty big influence on all of us. We all listened to his records, and I think it’d be really cool to kind of cross our music and his music together. It’d be a great thing.

11. How do you feel about not getting nominated for major country awards in the U.S.?

Dupelle: If we’re nominated, we’re nominated, and I think it’s a big accomplishment. If we’re not, we’re just going to keep pounding and try our best to [make it] happen the year after. And if it’s not, it’s going to be the year after that. It’s nothing about being mad or being sad. … It just gives us a big kick in the butt to keep working harder.

12. Is French your native language, and you learned English as a secondary language? Or is English the main language, and you learned French?

Dupelle: French is the first language for me, four of us. And English, I mean, almost probably everybody starts speaking English about in the mid-teens, and all our families are 100 percent French.

Wallace: Danick, Patrick, Mike and David are French, and Dale and Brad are not French. We speak the bad words only. (laughs)

13. What do you remember the most about making the video “Fall Into Me” in an aquarium?

Mates: The aquarium, the lights, the atmosphere in the aquarium, everything just kind of came together, and you didn’t see that until you saw the end product. When we get it two weeks after we’re done shooting the video, they usually send us a copy out. And it was just amazing to see all the visuals, how they came into play.

Melancon: I thought it was pretty freaky to see the sharks flying right above my head because they were like flying, you know, not swimming. Because I was underneath, playing drums, and every time I’d play, instead of going away, they’d be like, “Ooh.”

14. If you could be on any reality show, which one would it be?

Mates: Fear Factor. That’d be the one because it tests every bone in your body — if you can eat worms, swim with snakes. Yeah, Danick, you’d love the snake pit.

Wallace: We’d be good on Jackass. (laughs) We’d be great on Jackass.

15. Who uses the most hair products?

Mates: Uh, Mike? I probably do. I use two different things: Bed Head and a little bit of thickener. Oh, I use three of them and then a couple of shots of hairspray. I’m the only guy in the band that has long hair that has to do it every day.

16. Who takes the longest to get ready?

Brad: Uh, Mike? I’ve been known to take my time. I don’t play an instrument on stage. (everybody groans and jeers) So my job as a singer is to make sure there are no wrinkles in my clothes.

17. Is there any chance Brad would ever go into acting?

Pichette: Only kissing scenes.

Mates: I want to be a kisser, a professional kisser, because I’m starting to get enough practice in these days.

18. What do you like to do in your free time, when you guys are not on stage?

Mates: Iron, vacuum and do my hair.

Dupelle: Movies! I go to movies when I can. … I’ve got this thing, I don’t know if you call them Nibs down here. It’s like licorice, but they’re small. So you buy a bag of Nibs, get a popcorn and you put the Nibs in the bag and you shake it. So when you eat popcorn and it’s dark, you get a surprise once in a while. (laughs) It’s really good.

19. Do any of you guys like NASCAR and would you ever consider singing the national anthem at a race or doing a concert after a race?

Wallace: NASCAR, that’s funny because … when you log on to Dale Wallace on Google you either get Rusty Wallace or Dale Earnhardt or Dale Jarrett and all that stuff. I’ve never been to a NASCAR race. I don’t know if you guys have been or not. I don’t think anybody has, but I think it’d be really cool. I’m more interested in how loud the cars are when they go by. And as far as singing the anthem goes, we would love to. We sing the anthems at baseball games and hockey games and all that stuff. Itt’s a real thrill to be in front of people just being naked and just vocals like that. You know what I mean? (laughs) Naked with no instruments — a cappella. (mockingly) We like to sing naked sometimes too, OK? It’s OK.

Dupelle: I’m not a big fan of NASCAR, but I went to see the NASCAR 3D at IMAX and thought it was amazing. So I think personally, yeah, it’d be fun to do a show and be part of it.

20. What’s your dream vacation destination?

Wallace: I’d like to go back to Europe. We haven’t been there as a group and that’d be pretty cool to go over and do some gigs in France or Germany. Or Switzerland. (laughs)

Bourque: I’d like to go to Europe, too. I’ve never been there, and I just hear good things about Europe. But I’d like to go by myself, not with you guys. (laughs)

Mates: I want to go back to Hawaii in the next year or so. I went there when I was a kid and had a great time, so I’d like to go back there again.

Melancon: Anywhere where it’s going to be really hot and sunny and where I can surf and snorkel and get some sun and drink some beer and play some music.

Pichette: Fly to Peru, rent an SUV and drive down to the ice caps of Antarctica.

Melancon: Yeah, I’m going, too.

Pichette: You want to come? That’d be the ultimate thing.

Dupelle: I’ve been wanting to go to Fiji or Tahiti for two weeks, just to do nothing and be in paradise island.