The history of Emerson Drive all started in
1995, at St. Joseph Catholic High School
in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada,
where Brad Mates entered a talent
contest at his high school, singing Garth
Brooks' "Friends In Low Places.' Enter
Pat Allingham (fiddle) and Chris Hartman
(keyboards/acoustic guitar), who entered
the same contest with another band. They
met that night and decided to form a band
called 12 Gauge and included Jeff Loberg
(bass), Dan Binns (lead electric guitar),
David Switzer (acoustic guitar), and Remi
Barre (drums). The band started to practice
in Mates' parents' basement.
12 Gauge started entering contests, and won. One contest, a battle of the bands, gave them the chance to write 6 songs. record them in a studio and released a debut CD called "Open Season." 12 Gauge then released another CD, "Until You Walk the Tracks" a couple years later. They even made a music video for their single "Some Trains Never Come."
Binns, Switzer and Barre decided to
leave the band, and in walked in
Quebec-natives Danick Dupelle and
Mike Melancon. The band toured
extensively around Canada and the U.S.
The band decided to get serious and make
the trip to Nashville to try and get a record
Around this time the Columbine
tragedy happened, and the band decided
that their band name and image (dressed in
trenchcoats holding guns) wasn't appropriate,
so they decided to honor their homeland and
called themselves "Emerson Drive," after a road
that runs through Alberta called "Emerson Trail."
Emerson Drive were then signed to DreamWorks Nashville in 2000, and released their debut single "I Should Be Sleeping," which reached the Top-5. Their next single, "Fall Into Me" also reached the Top-5.
2002 was a year full of ups and downs
for the band. Pop-star Richard Marx
heard the band and offered to take them
under his wing, producing two songs on
their debut CD for DreamWorks, including
their second single "Fall Into Me." The
band released their debut major label CD,
"Emerson Drive," in May 2002, reaching
#13 it's first week out. With their rising
success and with their tour schedule filling
up, members Jeff Loberg, Chris Hartman,
and Pat Allingham decided that road life
was no longer for them. Emerson Drive
welcomed 3 new members within an
11-month span: Patrick Bourque, Dale
Wallace, and David Pichette, all who hail
from Canada. Bourque & Pichette hail from
Quebec, as Wallace is from British Columbia.
The group struggled a little with their next couple of singles, "Only God (Could Stop Me Loving You)" and "Last One Standing," both reaching the Top-25, but failing to reach the success that "Sleeping" & "Fall Into Me" did the year previous. The band went into the studio again with Richard Marx, Marx producing their sophomore album "What If," which was released in June 2004, which went to #12 its first week out. "Standing' was the first single from that CD (although, "Waitin' on Me" was released as Canada's first single a few months prior) and was followed up by "November," which had just about reached the Top-40 when it was announced that Emerson Drive and DreamWorks would part ways.
Without a label under it's belt, Emerson Drive kept hitting the road, working on it's live show and trying to gain more fans. The band released two more singles and videos in their homeland, "If You Were My Girl," and "Still Got Yesterday." They also spend more time doing some of their own songwriting and soon got together with producers Josh Leo and Alabama's Teddy Gentry, and found themselves with a new sound in the studio. Now with a more traditional sound, but keeping the "Emerson Drive style" in place, Emerson Drive started working on a brand new album.
Keith Follese and Brad Allen
were starting a brand-new
country division of Midas
Records when they heard
Emerson Drive's sound and
offered the band a record deal
and to be the flag-ship (first artists
signed) artists of Midas Records,
The band jumped at the chance.
Emerson Drive's first single for Midas
Nashville, "A Good Man," was released
March 13, 2006, hitting the top-10 in
Canada and the top-20 in the US. Their
third CD, "Countrified," released in July
2006 in Canada and August 2006 in the US,
was produced by Josh Leo, Teddy Gentry,
Keith Follese, and Brad Allen, and includes the current US single, "You Still Own Me," the new Canadian single "Testifyl (one of the songs Mates co-wrote songs off the new CD)", Emerson Drive's first US #1 single (and the first #1 by a Canadian band in the US), "Moments," and "Countrified Soul."
Emerson Drive received their very first #1 on US radio with "Moments" the week of June 5th, 2007. The #1 came at a great time for the group, who was able to celebrate with many of their fans and fellow artists at the CMA Mustc Festival which ran the same week. Their #1 party was held at BMI and SESAC on July 31st, 2007.
In August 2007, Patrick Bourque decided to leave the band due to unknown reasons. The band went from a sextet to a quintet (although the band has a bass player that tours with them in Arlo Gilliam). In September, Emerson Drive sufffered a tragedy on September 29, 2007 when former bassist, Patrick Bourque was found dead in his home in Montreal, Quebec, of an apparent suicide.
Even though Brad is the sole original 12 Gauge/Emerson Drive member, and now the sole Albertan in the group, Emerson Drive's sound and live show keep getting stronger with every new member.
(Photos courtesy of Universal Nashville and Midas Records, Nashville)
- Open Season (Independent- as 12 Gauge)
- Until You Walk The Tracks (Independent- as 12 Gauge)
- Emerson Drive (DreamWorks Nashville)
- What If (DreamWorks Nashville)
- Countrified (Midas Nashviille)