Meet Humble & Dreamy Emblem 3 from X Factor

'Dude, come on, our dream has always been to achieve something in music.'

We were the popular kids...We're not going to achieve anything in an academical world.

Emblem3 beat out the competition and made it into the live shows tonight.

They already have a solid group of fangirls obsessing over them and it’s not hard to understand why. They’re pretty charming over the phone, asking me where I’m from (Canada), if I’ve ever been to Banff (No), and joking about when we should all meet up (next time you’re in Toronto gents, *wink).

It’s hardly worth mentioning that the Huntington Beach band has been compared to X-Factor veterans One Direction, since their sounds are completely different. While One Direction is a boy band, Emblem 3 is a trio who play their own instruments. A common description of Emblem3: ”Its like Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz had a baby and Lil Wayne was baby sitting.”

The guys, consisting of Wesley Stromberg, Keaton Stromberg and Drew Chadwick, performed an original song called “Sunset Boulevard” during their audition. They’re currently being mentored by Simon Cowell, made it into the live shows.

Aside from playing shows in both their native Washington and around OC, the HB residents spent the last year doing shows at places like the Hard Rock Cafe, The Roxy and Rock N' Road's Orange County Battle of the Bands--which they won last year. They've even been one of those bands who plays out side at places like the Block at Orange and the Lab in Costa Mesa.

Wes Stromberg was the first of Emblem3 to leave home for the bright lights of Hollywood and a shot at success in the music business. It was two years ago, he was 16 years old and before long he advanced from open mic nights to a weekly gig at the Gaslamp on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach.

"I did that for almost a year until I was like, 'Dude, I don't know if I can do this, I need to get my homies and get the band back together,'" Wes says.

Band mate Drew Chadwick picks up the story: "He came up to Washington and we ran into each other. We were like, 'Dude, come on, our dream has always been to achieve something in music. I'm not going to achieve anything in an academical world.'

"So I just dropped out and moved down here," says Chadwick, 19, describing a career decision that his guidance counselor might not have endorsed but which is paying off now with his Huntington Beach-based band in the Top 24 on Fox's "The X Factor."

Emblem3, which also includes Wes' brother Keaton, 16, impressed the judges in the initial audition with an original song, "Sunset Blvd," before coming up with a fresh take on the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" after advancing to judge Simon Cowell's home last week.

The roots of the band are in Sequim, Wash., where Wes and Drew eyed each other warily as pre-teen big men on campus.

"We were kind of arch enemies," Wes says. "We were kind of like cool popular kids, and were like, 'Oh, that's the other cool popular kid.' We always liked the same girls, too. And then one day I was having a party and Drew decided to crash it."

They discovered an affinity for jamming on the same songs. Lynyrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" got played. And before long, 13-year-old Drew, 11-year-old Wes and 9-year-old Keaton were gigging around their hometown north of Seattle, playing the Boys & Girls Club, the school cafeteria, anywhere that would have them.
The Strombergs comes from a musical family – dad William Stromberg is an Oscar-nominated film composer, mom Laraine Larson is a harpist. And with an uncle working in Hollywood, too (Robert Stromberg won art direction Oscars for "Avatar" and "Alice In Wonderland") it was natural to look south as the band mates got a little older.

Emblem3 also had the benefit of just a touch of prior TV singing competition: Earlier this year, on the advice of their manager, they tried out for NBC's "America's Got Talent," but bowed out before being seen on the air.

When they were introduced on "The X Factor" the guys made sure to tell the judges, and viewers, that they are not a boy band, partly because they write and perform their own songs – though so far on the show they've not been allowed to use their guitars – and partly because they want to make sure viewers identify them as more of an indie rock band.

"We obviously don't have any disrespect for boy bands," Wes says. "But we play all of our own music, we write our music – it's just limiting (to be called a boy band)."

Keaton it was harder for him to leave his friends and home to move to Huntington Beach for the band, living with his brother and Drew along with their mother, stepdad and half-sister. But in addition to playing bass and singing backup vocals, he's the group's audio engineer, having recorded the songs they've released on iTunes, too.

"The whole thing was crazy," Keaton says about the pressure and anxiety that came while waiting on stage to find out whether they'd made it through the boot camp round and onto the judges' houses. "Your heart was beating the hardest that it had ever done."

When they were assigned to Simon Cowell, the mentor for the groups competing on "The X Factor," they found that he wasn't nearly as intimidating as he sometimes seems on television.

"I just want to say Simon, from what we've seen in person, is such a boss," Drew says. "He's not a (jerk). He's just this sweet awesome guy."

Where are you right now?

Wesley: Huntington Beach at a kitchen table. The crib!

What sets you apart?

Wesley: We were established as a group before and were literally playing shows in clubs at ages 9, 11 and 13. It’s a little bit of a leg up. [They recorded an album in their basement called Bite Your Lip and Take It.]
Keaton: A lot of the other people don’t have that same experience of performing before this so when they go on that stage it makes them more nervous.

You’re already getting fangirls. How do you deal?

Drew: Some of these girls are like teeny boppers and they say the most adorable, cute sh*t all the time on Twitter and I literally want to hang out with them and watch movies and stuff!

Biggest musical influences:

All: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, Mac Miller, Jack Johnson, Young the Giant. An eclectic mix.

Two of you are brothers. Do you get in sibling rivalries?

Drew: We get along but we butt heads over little things because we’re together every single day. But it’s cool for improving each other because we can be a bit competitive.

Toughest Judge

All: Britney Spears.

Are you a boy band?

Chadwick: The whole boy band thing is a completely different vibe from our style, normally we'd be playing our instruments on stage but for the show we weren't allowed to. We wanted to explain that to everyone, we're not a boy band.

We've got this reggae, rock genre going on. I feel like the stereotype of a boy band can narrow us down to like 12 year old girls. I want my friends who are guys who are 20-years-old to wanna bump E3 and I want them to respect our music. These are our songs that we wrote and we want people to know that. We just grew up listening to Sublime and stuff like that, we look up to those guys.

Source S2