Emphatic guitarist Justin McCain is first and foremost a songwriter. It is at the core of who he is as a person, and with the release of the band’s major label debut, Damage, his passion has now officially become his job as well. Not many people get to work at something they love for a living, and Justin knows just how lucky he is.
Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, McCain and the other five members of Emphatic, have worked harder than most to get to this point. Record labels aren’t routinely eyeballing their hometown for hard rock talent. However, the band made such a pronounced musical statement, Atlantic Records took notice.
The nucleus of the band was formed when McCain and vocalist Patrick Wilson crossed paths. The two shared a love of Korn and similar bands, and from the moment they connected, McCain felt he’d found the voice for his music. Judging from their debut album, he was right.
Howard Benson (Halestorm, Motörhead, Papa Roach, Saliva) thought so too as the much sought after hard rock producer signed on to take the band to the next level, something McCain still can’t get over, and learned a lot from. Adding to the vote of confidence, legendary mixer Chris Lord Alge put his stamp on the album as well.
Rounding out the band are guitarist Lance Dowdle, bassist Alan Larson, keyboardist Jeff Fenn, and drummer Dylan Wood. While the band has lessened their original metal leanings to something more akin to what is considered hard rock these days, Emphatic maintains a unique heaviness to go with a modern melodic accessibility.
I sat down with McCain last week to talk about Damage, songwriting, and the road that has led them to this year’s Carnival of Madness tour with Theory of a Deadman, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry and Adelitas Way. He spoke candidly about the risk in leading off with the somewhat poppish single “Bounce”, and his favorite track that didn’t exactly make the album…yet.
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