emit ridge

Shari: OK, Linda. What's the deal? Are you in the public relations business now?

Linda: Huh?????

Shari: You are way too nice to emit ridge in this article!

Linda: Yeah, I really struggled with that. Do you remember sitting down with them at the Light Club in Milwaukee on November 1, 1996? They're a great group of guys!

Shari: Sure! Did they hire you to write their bio? Are you going to design their website, too?

Linda: They already have one. No, it's just that they had such an interesting story to tell. 

Shari: Yeah, yeah. Met in a youth group. Wanted to play for money. Had to go downtown to be paid. Had to play for all the big-city low-lifes because their suburban friends said it was too much of a hassle to get there.

Linda: Right! 

Shari: Yeah, I really like 'em too. So how come we can't find anything negative to say, to balance the article?

Linda: I think it's because they haven't been with a major label very long, and they still get along really with each other.

Shari: So why should we post this story?

Linda: They're not well known, they show a lot of promise, they're touring a lot and if our readers miss their show, they might get really mad at us for not cluing them in!

Shari: Ok, folks. Consider yourself warned. Here's the short and sweet story of emit ridge.

emit ridge. A unique, meaningless name frequently mistaken for a Hebrew phrase, or an obscure geological feature. The U.S. ad campaign sums it up: "Not A What, Not A Who, Just A Band (a very good band)."

emit ridge could be described as Christian, contemporary, adult-alternative, somewhat like Third Day, Dryve, or Jars of Clay. Acoustic guitars and tight harmonies are the foundation of their act, yet they can play plenty loud and dirty if they want. Poetic lyrics focus on issues like relationships with God, women, and each other. They look beneath the surface to the heart of the struggles we all face while also celebrating the joys of our humanity. 

Vocalist Mike Weise shares the spotlight with bass/keyboard player/producer Marty Gast while Rob Lilley and Eric Doerksen trade off nimble guitar solos. Drummer Derek Iddison holds the whole thing together with a solid, professional beat. The moves in their show could fill an arena, nicely conveying the emotion and thought packed into their songs.

The guys from emit ridge are all good buddies who met in a suburban church youth group. Some of them liked to get up in front of the congregation and do improv comedy. But their interests changed and the friendship matured into a tight-knit, creative, musical unit with a flair for the dramatic. 

The band quickly booked some club dates in downtown Toronto and learned almost as quickly that they'd have to build their audience from the folks that frequent such places, as it was too much of a hassle for their suburban friends to venture regularly into the big, bad city. They built their following in the club scene because they didn't have a choice. Christian music venues may be few and far between in the U.S., but they are nonexistent in Canada. When the band first earned some money, they committed a portion to sponsoring a child through World Vision. Band sponsorship lead the way to becoming World Vision representatives. Able to perform but unable to preach, they developed an uncompromising, yet subtle, message about the One who promises to return for them. Airplay on local alternative rock radio of their independently produced CD Discretion proved they'd found the right combination.

Capitalizing on their success, the boys decided to take the next step. They hired Kevin Minnett as manager, signed with Light Records, dropped Mike's singing a register, punched up the electric sound and re-recorded their material. Their first major release, Undivided Soul, was released in October, 1996 with Christian and secular distribution. 

They know where they want to go, they know what it will cost. They are paying their touring dues, playing wherever they can in Christian music clubs, coffeehouses, secular clubs, pool halls and churches before returning to Toronto to make enough money to continue breaking into the southern half of the North American music scene. 

Don't let their good-natured, polite Canadian demeanor and British Commonwealth mastery of the English language fool you into thinking the boys of emit ridge are too nice to be any fun. If you stick with Undivided Soul long enough to hear them let loose on the hidden track "She's Beyond" and a free-form jam session lead by bassist Marty Gast, you'll realize that such goodness can be overlooked, and their active touring makes them easy to check out for yourself.

By Linda T. Stonehocker 


Copyright© 1997 The Phantom Tollbooth