The story starts in Madison, Wisconsin in the late 1970s
The four Emperors – Butch Vig, Phil Davis, Franklin Lee and Peter Anderson – are playing in two different bands. They all know each other, but for one reason or another never join forces as a four-piece. By 1980, as things will have it, they all go their separate ways.
The Andersons move out to California and form San Francisco Bay area must-see, Call Me Bwana. Davis moves to and then back from L.A. and ultimately hooks up with Vig to form Fire Town, a celebrated pop-rock quartet that writes and records two critically-acclaimed records for Atlantic Records and is named Rolling Stone’s ‘Hot Band’ for 1987. But by the early 1990s Davis starts a long hiatus from music to raise a family while Vig starts a long run of making rock history: producing Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream, Sonic Youth’s Dirty, and eventually creating Garbage, a multi-platinum international rock act. Meanwhile, Pete Anderson is running a couple businesses, blending wines in Napa, and playing music in northern California while brother Franklin Lee moves back to Wisconsin, directs films like The Life of Reilly, writes a book and plays his custom lap steels.
Fast forward to January 2009
Davis, a singer and songwriter, is talking to old band mate guitarist Frank Anderson: Hey, let’s make a country-rock record. A folk-rock record. Frank goes, Great idea, let’s go! Brother Pete goes, I’m in on bass. And Vig, living in L.A., just coming off a two-year stint producing Green Day goes, “Cool. Need some drums and stuff?” So there you have it. Back together again, for the first time. Only problem is, now the band members live in four different cities in two different states. No matter. Times have changed. All four have home studios. And so in 2011, two years later, through emailing ideas, songs, riffs, demos and mixes the Emperors of Wyoming is born and their masterful, eponymous debut, The Emperors of Wyoming, arrives. Under normal circumstances, that kind of distance and separation would be impossible. But of course, the Emperors all knew each from way back when, were old friends, and had played together in various combinations. So, no problem! In fact, this recording approach felt entirely natural and if anything brought them closer together, making the music even more distinctive and original. The result is an amazingly timeless debut record of American country folk-rock that bridges new and old, cutting edge technology and ancient instruments, spaghetti western, country-and-western, bluegrass, surf-rock, acoustic folk, hard rock, pop-metal, and pop-rock into a brand new American sound. A 10-song record with no filler, no gaps, that satisfies from the first track to the last. Yeah, it did take a long time to get here, but the Emperors of Wyoming wouldn’t have it any other way.