By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
But to the members of Emblem3 — Drew Chadwick and brothers Keaton and Wesley Stromberg — fame from their Hollywood TV rise has missed one messy thing from their hometown of Sequim:
“The first thing I did when I got back was go out and get in the river,” said Keaton Stromberg, 16.
Chadwick noticed that his boots were still caked with mud from his trip to the Dungeness River woods of Railroad Bridge Park.
“I hope they're not too mad about that,” Chadwick, 20, said Thursday night in an interview with the Peninsula Daily News at Alderwood Bistro — where one member of the trio once washed dishes.
The three, fresh off the release of their first single “Chloe (You're the One I Want),” came back to their hometown this week for a special post-Mother's Day visit with their families.
After months spent in tour buses and recording studios, the band members said it felt good to come back to the surroundings of the North Olympic Peninsula.
“I never really realized how dependent I was on that spiritual and emotional connection with nature,” Chadwick said. “It's hard to get that on the road.”
“This is the best place to grow up,” said Wesley Stromberg, 19.
Wesley took advantage of his trip home to see grandparents, Bob and Deonne Hanson, and to rip around on his trusty old dirt bike.
“It was a little cold, but it felt good to get out and ride around in the mud again,” Wesley said.
“And bring it back all over the house,” Deonne Hanson said, noting his clothes needed three spins in the washing machine to come clean.
Having cut their musical teeth in Sequim at the Boys & Girls Clubs and The Buzz, the trio moved to Huntington Beach, Calif., to try to make it big in the music business.
Chadwick gives credit for his musical talent to Sequim High School teacher Jake Reichner.
“I owe everything I know about music to Mr. Reichner,” Chadwick said.
After producers from the Fox television show “The X Factor” saw the group performing in a YouTube video, they invited Chadwick and the Strombergs to audition for the show.
They quickly became fan favorites but were eliminated by viewers in the semifinals,
Nonetheless, the band was offered a record deal with music mogul Simon Cowell's Syco Music, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.
“Chloe” was released April 15 and quickly rose up the iTunes pop charts.
Proud grandmother Deonne Hanson showed off the button on her purse that declares herself a “Chloe girl.”
“I know the record label keeps saying they're from Huntington Beach, but these boys are all Sequim and will always call Sequim home,” said Laraine Claire, mother of the Stromberg brothers.
They sat down with friends and family, along with Mayor Ken Hays, for a dinner at the Alderwood Bistro.
For Chadwick, who remembered washing dishes at the eatery for two years as a teenager, the dinner was a measuring stick of his success.
“I washed probably hundreds of these little dishes,” he said, inspecting a bowl of dip served with the pre-meal bread.
“But this is the first time I ever actually ate out of one.”
It was at the Alderwood sink that Chadwick said he hardened his resolve to make a career out of music.
“I remember sitting back there, coming up with melodies and thinking: 'Someday, I'm not going to have to do this anymore,'” he said.
As he paused from almost-compulsive drumming on the table, Wesley talked about spending Wednesday working out with Ben Sanford, director of the Tribal Edge Training Center in Sequim.
“Nobody works you harder than Ben,” Wesley said.
“He beat me up pretty good today, but it feels great.”
After the workout, Wesley said he left Sanford the funding to sponsor training sessions for another young Sequim resident.
Hays presented the group with a certificate of achievement from the city and commemorative pins for the city's centennial in a gathering in the restaurant's rear courtyard.
“This really is an invitation to come back and put on a concert next year,” Hays said.
“We're going to roll out the town. We will throw a party because they got robbed on 'X Factor' last year.”
The Hansons reported a marked increase in traffic on the road outside their country home after word spread that Emblem3 was back in town.
The grandparents even considered putting signs in front of the house saying “The boys are in” or “The boys are out,” said Aunt Karen Griffiths.
The homecoming ended Thursday.
The trio flew out of Port Angeles on Thursday morning on its way to concert dates in New York and Boston.
Griffiths said plans had just been finalized for a summer tour in August opening for pop sensation Selena Gomez.
Last month, Emblem3 completed its first tour from Boston to Huntington Beach, with stops for shows along the way.
“It was the best. That tour bus is the sickest thing ever,” Keaton Stromberg said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.