Emerson Drive - United States
The final piece in the Emerson Drive puzzle was drummer Mike Melancon, another French-Canadian, from the town of Mont Laurier, two hours north of Montreal. "My dad's a biker and a rock 'n' roller," he says of his background, "so I grew up listening to Black Sabbath and AC/DC." Mike started playing drums in high school, then moved to Montreal to study the instrument, playing in cover bands on the bar circuit until his old buddy Danick called asking him to join 12-Gauge.
The early days of Mike's membership were interesting ones. "He couldn't speak a word of English," Pat explains. "We basically communicated through music. After he came in, we rehearsed for four days, got the show together and performed for 3,000 people at a rodeo in Vancouver."
Leiske was in the audience that night and, duly impressed by the band's new incarnation, signed on as their manager. The sextet renamed itself Emerson Drive, after the Emerson Trail, which crosses western Alberta and joins the Alaskan Highway. Then they hit the road hard.
"We'd already done a lot of touring, but we had no idea what we were in for," says Pat. "Gerry threw us out on the road and we traveled from week to week. We only got home for Christmas and maybe for a little break in the summertime. It was tough, but it's what made the band what it is today." Remarks Brad: "Making music is great, but you've got to find out if you can live together, and we've been able to do that in this form for three years. It's a very special thing."
The band not only survived but thrived on the road, even weathering the demise of their bus with grace. "It broke down eight hours from home, and we couldn't afford to have it towed," Brad continues. "We left it in Calgary and sold it at auction four months later for $300. But it cost us $200 for storage, and we'd just put on $800 worth of new tires!" They replaced the beloved old vehicle with a 15-seat van that has yet to break down but which has been broken into, resulting in the loss of $40,000 in equipment.
Still, no amount of tough luck can dim the luster that comes with attaining the goal of a record deal and tackling the next objective making Emerson Drive a success.
Says Pat: "We've got the chance now to go out and play for people who will be coming especially to hear our music, and that's when you realize you're getting to live your dream."
The members of Emerson Drive now live in Nashville, where they look forward to becoming part of the U.S. country music scene. They can't wait to get back in the van, travel across the 50 states and meet a whole new family of fans and friends.
Mike Melancon @ MySpace
22x18 bass drum
14x14 floor tom
16x16 floor tom
14x6.5 snare drum
14x5 Ultracast snare drum
13x3 brass snare drum
B1000 boom stand x 2
TC1000 tom/cymbal stand x 2
H2000 hi-hat stand
P2002C double pedal
S2000 snare stand
S1000 snare stand
PBC507 box cajon