The secret to forming a great modern pop band is simply to take a trio of dedicated regional rock musicians, a songwriter from Indianapolis and toss them all together into a recording studio down in Nashville, Tenn.
Then add a former Northwest Indiana Symphony violinist to the mix and just sit back and let the magic happen.
Some of the magic that has come Emitter's way in the last year includes: getting a nationally known Web guru to develop a way cool site for them; getting a respected New York management company who handles such big names as Third Eye Blind to guide their career; signing with a national booking agency who puts dozens of bands on the concert trail each year (including Britney Spears); and being invited to open shows for such radio heavies as The Gin Blossoms and Tonic.
If it sounds 2002 was a rather blessed year for Emitter, perhaps it is because all five members are devote Christians and their collective prayers seem to have caught the Big Guy's ear. Although their music conveys positive energies and messages, it would be unfair to label what they doing musically with this band as Christian rock.
"The songs have a Christian perspective perhaps (in the same way P.O.D. does), but this band is more of a mainstream radio band really," explained bassist Dave Schoon, whose resume includes being a co-founder of the Chicago Christian bands Riversevenswell and I'dee Fixe.
There's a neat back story behind Emitter, a remarkably upbeat group that employs a very radio-friendly sound fueled by the prolific pen of Jason James, their resident songwriter/vocalist.
The saga begins with the turn of the new millennium and James getting offered a staff songwriting deal down on Music Row with a Christian music imprint, Gotee Records. A short time after he relocated from Indianapolis to Nashville, two resident producers for the label sweetened James' life by offering him a production development deal that evolved into a studio project.
"Jason actually started the album with a Nashville session bass player and drummer," Emitter bassist Dave Schoon explained. "But he called me up to come down and record with him. We knew each other from when his old band Sunday Blitz used to open for my old band, Riversevenswell, and he always liked the way I played bass."
Soon after that phone call, Munster's Schoon was wearing headphones and laying down rhythm tracks with James and a studio drummer. To flesh out the sound, Schoon recruited his former Riversevenswell guitarist Steve Van Der Griend into the project and they recorded the 12 songs that would eventually become the first Emitter album. The self-titled CD has to date sold more than 4,000 copies to fans all over the world, who discovered the band from its involvement in the Rolling Stone/Jim Beam Online Band Competition.
"We took the CDs and went up to shows in the city and just started handing them out to music industry people here in Chicago. Somehow one got in to the hand of a guy who managed a Chicago-based band called Drop, who had played on the Warped Tour and done a lot of big gigs in the Midwest here," Schoon said. "He put his in touch with Chris Hagen who is now our drummer. Chris was in a popular Chicago club band called Rubber a while back and had been filling in Drop while their drummer was out with a broken hand or something."
With their line-up intact, the newly formed quartet began taking their music to live concert stages throughout the Midwest, playing both electric and acoustic performances in their unbridled desire to be heard.
"We first started playing live about two years ago, just after the first CD came out. A lot of the gigs at that time were acoustic shows in coffee houses and our friend just started sitting in with us at some of those shows," explained Schoon on how Emitter came to add Steve Gouwens to the line-up this past October. "Steve is one of those gifted people whose talent goes way beyond his years, he's a prodigy really. He's not only an incredible violinist, who used to play for the symphony, but he is an unbelievable piano player and he can sing as well. The guy's got it all."
Gouwens joined the band just as they were preparing to start recording their latest four-song EP, "Melody."
Though still unsigned at the moment, some record labels (including Atlantic) have flown in to Emitter shows to scout out the band.
"We're hopeful that there will be a deal on the table pretty soon," Schoon said. "If the record industry as a whole weren't in such a mess at the moment, we would most likely be signed already, but we are treading very carefully because we want to make sure that we hook up with the right label and don't get lost in the shuffle."