It’s not every day you see a 21 year old living out their dreams. In fact, it’s more common that individuals around this age are still uncertain about their ambitions and goals, let alone know the proper steps to reach them. But that is exactly what Eric Emery and Concordia are doing; with a full U.S. tour now under their belt and a new album available, Concordia is starting to emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the rock/alternative genre and yet not a single member of the group is a day over 22 years old.
Based out of Cleveland, OH and led by Emery (lead vocals/guitar), Concordia has shown great promise despite only being together for nine short months. Over the past month and a half, the band has toured with Smile Empty Soul, Taproot, and 12 Stones, and is already making plans to get back on the road as soon as possible. But how did Concordia come so far in such a short amount of time? Aside from possessing a considerable amount of talent, Emery would be the first to admit some luck was involved as well.
Clearly a gifted artist, Emery had established himself as a skilled producer and songwriter before his teenage years had even concluded. But after growing tired of working for other musicians, Emery made the decision to begin writing his own original music. And as surreal as it seemed, it was Emery’s idol, Sahaj Ticotin (Ra), that gave him his first big break. At the time, Emery had posted a YouTube video of himself covering Ra’s “Broken Hearted Soul” and remarkably one of the first people to respond to the video was none other than the Ra frontman. Before Emery knew it, he found himself on a plane to L.A. to record with Ticotin in his studio. And as one may imagine, the now 21 year old was a bit overwhelmed when he first arrived in the city of angels. “I was walking on egg shells for a bit; I was star struck and didn’t want to say the wrong thing. It was unbelievable to me. I had been listening to this guy since I was eleven and he’s still my musical hero. So it was pretty surreal. But now obviously we’re on a friendly basis and I can come to him with whatever I want, and we’re pretty good friends at this point.”
Emery spent two separate writing sessions with Ticotin in L.A. and by the conclusion of the second, the two had generated enough material for a record. The album, entitled Clarity of Perception, is comprised of eleven tracks and acoustic versions of “Spoon-fed Sheep” and “Ghost of You” are available to listen to at the band’s website, http://www.concordiaband.com. Without an official band at the time, Emery recorded the album with Ticotin (backing vocals, guitar, and bass) and Adrian Ost (drums) of Powerman 5000 and Dope. In addition to working with Ticotin and Ost, Emery also collaborated with Trapt lead singer, Chris Taylor Brown, who helped co-write “Ghost of You.” “That was pretty interesting and also surreal. At one point, it was pretty funny because I basically had Sahaj a foot away from me on one side and Chris a foot away on the other, and they were both like, ‘okay, sing.’ I had to pretty much show them what I could do at that moment and it was kind of terrifying. And it actually turned out well but it was scary.”
With an album recorded, the new challenge facing Emery was filling out a lineup for the band. Upon returning home to Cleveland, Emery looked no further than his longtime friends (since the 5th grade), Cory Juba (guitar) and Nick Smith (bass) to be the first additions to the group. To round out the lineup, Emery then brought in Josh Lopresto (guitar) and Kyle Tresch (drums), who Emery described as a “human metronome” on percussions. Though the five-piece has only been a unit for a little under a year, the band has been touring consistently and for Emery, it’s been easy to recognize the distinct differences between playing live shows in comparison with recording in the studio. “It’s really a whole different set of skills to some degree. And I knew that from being a studio engineer because you see a lot of great live guys but when they actually come in they’re not real great studio musicians…in the studio you have to have a different mentality and it’s all about emotion and it’s a lot more isolated and focused. When playing live, it’s really just about the energy and it’s just a whole different thing.”
And while Concordia has been able to perform shows across the United States, Emery shared that he actually prefers playing in smaller markets as opposed to the bigger cities. In fact, he referenced the small northern Wisconsin town of Rhinelander (pop. just below 8,000) as one the group’s favorite places to play live. “It’s counterintuitive because the smaller towns are the best. You would think the big cities like Chicago or L.A. would be awesome but they’re so saturated with other concerts; for instance, the night we were playing in L.A. there were five other concerts on the same street. So for a lot of people they just have so many choices so they prefer to bar hop and go to different shows. But with the small towns it’s almost as though they’ve been waiting for months for anything to happen so when you go there, everyone comes out, they’re all into it, and it’s just a great energy and vibe.”
For a group that has only been together for such a limited amount of time, Concordia has certainly accomplished plenty and it would be fair say they’re only getting started. Look for the group to further promote Clarity of Perceptions and book more shows as well. And though Concordia may be young, they’ve proven themselves to be both talented and hungry for more success. “We’ve put a lot of time and hard work in, and also I think the material is there. I think that’s pretty impressive to a lot of people because usually when they see new bands, the material is still somewhat lacking. I’m really proud of the songs Sahaj and I wrote, and also I think our age works for us at this point because when people hear the music, they’ll ask, ‘how old are these people?’ Then they find out we’re all 19, 20, and 21 so then they want to find out what we’re really about.”
At the moment, Concordia is working with their new management, Major Label Productions, to formulate future plans for the group. Though specifics are still up in the air, Emery was positive a music video is in the works and the band will be back on the road soon.