WORDS / PHOTOS: GEORGIA RAWSON
Emmure. A name that has always been followed by controversy, but made more than just progression in it’s wake.
But whether you hate them or love them, their music and name has become a global phenomenon. And whilst in the last month the American metal outfit have found themselves playing to the thousands in countries such as the Philippines, it also seems that on a more radical and politicised, economically and socially challenged side of the globe, even the most established of metal master lords still need to tread carefully.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2019. The government has now eased its ban on ‘outdoor rock concerts’, all the while Abdul Najib Razak, the culture and youth minister of the country, continues to describe heavy music as both ‘anti-social’ and as a ‘satanic escapism, causing those involved to become hysterical and act becomingly’ throughout the press. And while Emmure’s music may be one that has drawn people in due to the tongue in cheek openness towards hatred, vengeance and feelings of anger, they’re still far from performing the masochistic acts of drawing blood and violence that seems to be the opinion of the heavily religious state. “No I wasn’t anxious.” Muses vocalist Frankie Palmeri in light of the disclosed situation that prevented the band’s show from happening. “I’m excited to see and be in a new place. It’s an adventure. You hear about places being sketchy to go to or that you shouldn’t travel to, but if there are fans there and a demand, I want to be there. I want to be anywhere that we have fans that want to see us play.
“You hear about places being sketchy to go to or that you shouldn’t travel to, but if there are fans there and a demand, I want to be there.”
And while for some being confronted on international soil in a part of the world where more radical religious views can override modern social and political advances may feel intimidating, Emmure are a band that Palmeri reminds us in the back of Bangkok taxi that has been built on survival. “Being completely honest, I don’t really know what happened there.” He continues. “We’ve been banned from places in America due to our lyrics, not just us but other bands too (Lamb Of God and German metal outfit Scorpion being a few others). So, it’s no different when you go to somewhere else and the same issues exist due to people in the position that push their own agenda to keep you out.”
Emmure have built their reputation on a deliverance of impeccable live performances, regardless of whether it’s a Vietnamese 350 capacity Rock City (complete with a bamboo ladder merely held together by wire to access a 10 ft high sound desk), or Nottingham’s 2450 capacity Rock City, and it seems that the advances in technology, and the use of social media, has furthered the band’s live footprint to outside the Western world.
“You really never know when or where you’re going to find something you absolutely love…” You hear about places being sketchy to go to or that you shouldn’t travel to, but if there are fans there and a demand, I want to be there.Further comments guitarist Josh Travis more positively. “The internet has made it so easy for us to explore the world of music. It allows you to test the waters on everything. Search anywhere!”
“You really never know when or where you’re going to find something you absolutely love…”
These days Emmure are far from the sterner exterior that they once portrayed. As we find ourselves in the middle of the curved temple roofs of Thailand’s Wat Pho temple the atmosphere is far from the sometimes-imagined intense persona often given off by a wrongly misjudged and internet lead reputation. The only intensity being the now 40-degree Celsius heat that shows no sign of dimming anytime soon. With his newer band mates alongside him (‘Emmure 2.0’ – consisting of drummer Josh Miller, the aforementioned JT, and newer bassist Nicholas Pyatt), Palmeri these days is in lighter spirit.
“It gives me a chance to reflect on what I’ve spent my life doing. It’s a cool feeling to be recognized for your craft and dedication. It’s a lot of different things. I’m around great people, I am enjoying the music we’re making and I’ve built up new coping mechanisms I didn’t have when I was younger.” Reflects Palmeri. In a brief glimpse the view of one of metal’s most controversial vocalists stood patiently and staring admirably at a 43 metre long statue of ‘the reclining golden Buddah’ really is a unique, and contrasting view that seems so rarely seen, but when done so brings a more human view of Frankie, one that prior to now had been pushed deeply down to the core.
As the heat still shows no sign of cooling down (or rather continuously burning exposed necks and limbs), and is only mildly subdued by the exterior commercial fans of a shopping complex turned music venue, Emmure also show no signs in slowing or declining. Bangkok’s show (one of which Palmeri refers to as one of the best shows of the South East Asian tour) echoes the same atmospheric, captivating, and riff induced live show we’ve seen a hundred times over all the globe.
“There are 195 countries, 65 of them fuck with our music…”
“I consider it a privilege to be requested to perform in all these different and interesting places, I worked for that privilege.” Further comments Palmeri, both humbled, yet stern that these opportunities, and with it the travels, have come from over a decade of gruelling tour schedules and challenges. “I’ve put everything I have into this band and I will continue to do so. Knowing that it is who I am and what I’m known for I can be comfortable with that. People will have a different outlook on their life and what they’re doing with it.”
Like many Palmeri is quick to agree that music is a ‘universal language’, and if one was to turn their head away from the crowd during any of these smaller sweat box of club shows over the last fortnight, the sheer volume of those singing back the lyrics once written inside Palmeri’s New York apartment replicates the sound we’ve heard before, no matter where we were. “we go to different countries where the fans know just barely how to say hello but scream our lyrics back to us when we are playing. Yet they cannot speak English otherwise. When I am speaking from the stage I have to talk really slow otherwise I don’t think anyone understands me.” Palmeri pauses. “They probably don’t anyways… I like a lot of different stuff and if it speaks to me then it doesn’t matter what language it is in.”
“I like a lot of different stuff and if it speaks to me then it doesn’t matter what language it is in.”
By the time you actually read this article, Emmure and their metallic anthems will have crossed through South East Asia, through China, back across the European continent, into the UK, and will find their feet placed firmly back on Western soil. And whilst Palmeri notes that these extensive runs have both ‘influenced’ his work (if you’re looking for a reference of Palmeri’s love for Asian culture, the track title Shinjuku Masterlord is a given), and has taken this band to the likes of Israel and Russia prior to this run, he’s also firm to tell us that the band, in it’s newly reformed state, is just as ambitious as before. “People most likely have misconceptions of what other countries are like, the truth is, you never truly know until you go and experience for yourself.” Remarks Frankie upon his final comments. So… where now? “There are 195 countries, 65 of them fuck with our music…”