Happy Mondays Interview Series: Empire Escorts

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The Jersey Shore scene is filled with fantastic bands — but the one genre (or subgenre) that seems to get overlooked when discussing the scene is hard rock. That wild, whiskey-soaked sound of free-wheeling mayhem rooted in a guitar driven groove that sends chills up the back of your, stirs a heavy-drinking warrior spirit in your heart and causes your hand to form into a horn-like gesture.

That spirit is embodied boldly by Brick-natives Empire Escorts.

Empire Escorts’ hard-hitting, groove-laden rock sound has been synonymous with hard rock at the Jersey Shore for the past few years. These guys just know how to rip it and get crowds moving, they know how melt faces and shattered souls. Tonight, they do it at Happy Mondays at The Wonder Bar along with our old pals Only Living Boy and Mother. We spoke with Empire’s guitarist Tim Spaulding to talk about rock ‘n’ roll, covering the doors and much more.

Empire Escorts Is (Members of the Band & The Instruments They Play): Joe McCaig (vocals), Tim Spaulding (guitar, vocals) Tucker Williams (bass), Cameron Lockwood (drums, vocals)

We’re Based Out Of: Brick, New Jersey

The Story of Our Name Is: Empire Escorts were lyrics in one of our old songs back when we hadn’t had a band name yet. Empire Escorts got brought up as a potential band name, everyone instantly liked it, and it stuck.

Any New Music Coming Out Soon: We’ve been working on writing new material for our debut full length. We are not sure as far as a release date yet but we are shooting for a Spring 2015 album release and tour to follow. News of all of that will be incoming as we get there.

You’ve Seen Us Before [In Other Bands]: We’ve all been in other bands growing up, but Empire is the first serious band we’ve all individually been a part of.

Our Sound Has Been Likened to:  Audioslave, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, etc…

Cool/Famous Bands We’ve Played With: Clutch, Seether, The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement……

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In a recent Facebook post you mentioned you’d be performing new music at your Atlantic City show with Crobot. Can you talk about how this new music differs from music we heard on your 2013 release, The Weather?

Tim Spaulding: The music that we will be releasing will be all new material, nothing anyone has heard before. Unless you’ve seen us perform live, we’ve been playing these songs and testing them out to see the crowd reaction and how they feel for us in a live setting. The music is definitely a step up from anything we’ve written in the past. It is a more clear, cohesive and focused body of work. It is a breath of fresh air for us as a band, where we feel we have pushed each others boundaries and have been thinking creatively outside the box to allow for a more unique, away from the norm sound that strays away from so many rock bands today.

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You guys will be back at The Wonder Bar at the end of October for Dark City Entertainment’s big Halloween Bash where you’ll be performing as The Doors. Why did you guys pick The Doors to perform as? What songs can we expect? Are you going to pull out any obscure songs to perform?

Tim Spaulding: The Doors are a great classic rock band that we feel we can cover well and at the same time it allows for us to add our own twist on the music. I’m not sure we could ever just cover a band to a T without adding our own style to it. We will be playing hits like Break On Through, to Roadhouse, to deeper cuts like Maggie M’Gill, The End etc. It’ll be a fun Halloween show. Great lineup that night as well.

There are so many bands out there in the Jersey Shore scene to check out — what do you think separates you guys from everyone else?

Tim Spaulding: At the end of the day our music speaks for itself. We’ve been playing together growing up for years and there’s just a chemistry between the four of us that is unmatched. We’ve been crafting the sound that is Empire Escorts for years now and it is finally coming into fruition as a focused sound. When you hear an Empire song you will know its us. There will always be bands that you may compare us to but our band’s sound cant be mistaken for anyone else. We have a lot to say about whats going on in today’s world and we just ask people take some time to listen.

If someone read this interview and never heard you before, but decided to check you out, what song would you recommend they listen to in order to understand what Empire Escorts is all about?

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Tim Spaulding: “Electric Whiskey.” It is our straight to the point rock and roll song that gets everyone singing and moving around to. I would say that would be the best song to check out first if you haven’t heard us before.

A bit of more broad, sweeping question — what is it that you love about being in Empire Escorts?

Tim Spaulding: Being in Empire Escorts is an outlet for all of us to be creative and write the music that we all want to write. Everyone in the band brings music and ideas to the table, and each members music always has its unique identity to it. We never shun anyone from a particular song idea they have. Instead we work on it as a whole and craft it into something better. I think we all need that creative outlet as musicians and wouldn’t know what to do without it.

What can the people coming out to Happy Mondays expect to see from you guys in terms of a live experience?

Tim Spaulding: No two shows are the same. We like pushing each other and trying different things live to keep us interested and in turn the audience as well. Our live show is full of energy and it is felt and reciprocated back from the crowd. It is something you need to experience to be understood. We hope to see some new faces at the show tonight.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2014?

Tim Spaulding: We will continue to be working on new material for our early 2015 release until we feel it is our best effort possible. We’ll be playing shows locally  at the same time and be sure to be on the lookout for a tour following our 2015 album release.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites