Mid-Western Rock Evolves
>> Red Wanting Blue, the mid-western rock heroes, have been making music for over 20 years. They have ten full-length albums out and are just about to release their 11th, The Wanting, on April 13th. We had the amazing opportunity to ask them questions about touring, Justin Bieber, and other weird shit! Check out our interview with these dedicated, hardworking rock legends.
“Ulysses” has a super hard Phil Collins vibe. Are you Phil Collins over Peter Gabriel fans? Favorite Collins drum fill? If you had to listen to a Phil Collins album on repeat FOREVER what would it be, and how long would you enjoy it?
Boom! Straight out the gate with an awesome question! I wish most interviews began with Q's like this. Okay, I'm a child of the eighties...so I love them both. Phil was my first love, for sure. His duet with Philip Bailey "Easy Lover" was my childhood fave followed by everything on "No Jacket Required" which is in my top 5 80's albums. Gotta say that most would choose the obvious drum fill in "In The Air Tonight" which I do love and played the hell out of when it was on the Miami Vice Soundtrack tape cassette...but I gotta go with the slightly lesser credited fill in "Against All Odds" when he goes into the second verse. It destroys me.
Peter Gabriel resonated with me too and I daresay on a deeper level... and it has held up for me after all these years. So if I had to have to choose a Collins/Gabriel album to listen to FOREVER...it'd be "So"...and YES, I'd enjoy it. A true classic. That album is at the top of my Top 5 Albums of the 80's along with Tears For Fears "Songs From The Big Chair", U2's "Joshua Tree" and GNR's "Appetite For Destruction".
Being a band for this long, what has been the most challenging part? What’s been the lowest-low?
Hmm... good question. There are so many pitfalls we have found throughout our life in this band. The ones we have fallen in...we still have the scars to prove it...I only hope that they've made us stronger. Thank goodness that most other hazards we've come across...we've been lucky enough to find a jungle vine to swing ourselves away to safety with! Staying together is a tremendous challenge. To keep inspiring one another...to evolve and mature in music together...not just in musicianship but also in education. It's human nature that we find interest in different types of music...we only hope that we all keep educating ourselves together so that we don't grow apart in how we appreciate music. We all go through different phases. You have to respect each other's choices and trust that we'll all circle back to one another...hopefully with new inspiration.
The lowest low? Whenever there's a long bout without playing. It's like being a cobbler with no shoes to fix. It's depressing.
What’s the difference in the writing process this time around that every member is contributing? Are there certain exercises you had to go through or was it a very natural process?
It felt very natural.We all fell into the process very smoothly. We're a family...on the road and off, and everyone has their role.
Our worst enemy, historically, has always been time.We've always been fighting the calendar and the clock when it came to songwriting and record-making. So when we all agreed to make this new album...we set up some ground rules to ensure that the process wouldn't get compromised.We promised each other that we'd give ourselves the time to do it our way...whatever that may be...and that no song shall be recorded unless unanimously agreed to by all. Looking back on the process now...we really were operating as a collective. All of us creating and collaborating. I think we'll all remember this album's making with great fondness.
You guys tour your asses off, and have built a hardcore following from that. Are you a totally DIY band (before recording this new record). How has the shift of recording yourselves in your own space affected the final product this time around?
We've been a DIY band pretty much from the beginning. And yeah, we've toured a lot over two decades. I'm so proud of the fans we have...because of the way we found each other. Grassroots touring and word of mouth. From one town to the next. Over and over again. We know our fans and the towns they're from. Shit, it feels like we're relatives who show up a couple times a year. A relationship somehow was created...and we've tried our best to nurture that.
Now, regarding the recording process...we've recorded most of our albums in our old studio El Rancho Relaxo in Columbus, Ohio. We have since closed that one down and opened our current studio L'Entrepot. This time around we demoed there, but then recorded the album at Sound Emporium in Nashville, TN. The process was unlike any other, but that has less to do with the space and more to do with us and our producer/good friend, Will Hoge. What can I say about Will? He's like a big brother to us. He helped us to trust ourselves and take chances. He really helped us to put the whole process in perspective in a way we never had before. When you hear the album... I believe it shows.
With a super dedicated fan base I’d imagine some weird shit has happened. What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever done?
Oh, man...where do I begin?!?! So much good crazy and bad crazy. Here's a list with a little of both: We've had instruments stolen while on stage, people traveling all over the country and beyond for shows, lots of RWB tattoos, our bus and trailer drunkenly stolen and left on the other side of town, ..and a whole lot of baked goods for the band. One of my favorite strange fan moments was when a guy approached us to see if it was okay if he (not us) went on to some Midwest TV music show as a representative of our band to discuss how our band got started, our current touring, and perform some of our songs live on the show. We were flattered, but it was definitely a little cuckoo.
What’s the craziest/worst/most WTF tour story?
Wow...there's so many. Our most epic WTF story? I told the full version of this story on the NPR podcast "Snap Judgement" which I encourage you all to go listen to. It's way too long to get into here, but it takes place in Jackson Hole, WY, Red Lodge, MT, and Yellowstone National Park. It involves an open mic night, surfboards on I-90, sleeping in a bathtub, The Beartooth Pass, an elk, a family of moose, a Siberian husky, 2 broken transmissions, The Tiki Taxi, a man who harvests peyote, a case of Heineken and a bag of weed.
How has your tour life improved? Still in a van? Is touring tougher being older as opposed to when you started out?
Touring has absolutely improved over the years for us. Over the years, we've gone through 3 vans, 1 shuttle bus, and 6 trailers before getting to the motor coach and trailer we're in now. Is touring tough? That's such a subjective question... I guess it depends on how much you love what you do. Some people look at touring as a necessary grind, and others look at it like bringing the circus to town. I think we're definitely the latter. And we try to live our tour life like The Griswolds from National Lampoon's Vacation. The reality is we get to go to a lot of cool places, but don't get much quality time there... so we try to make the most of the experience. I guess you could say we're roadside romantics.
How do you think “The Onion” would review your album?
Ha...How about this. They're a southern band born into the Alt. Right trying to come to grips with their secret love for the northern liberal agenda. Their album exemplifies ambivalence.
Seriously, so many people think our name is a political reference. People also think our name is a reference to The Matrix... The red and blue pills. We won't deny any of it.
Have you seen Red vs Blue?
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCII0hP2Ycmhh5j8lS4cexBQ If the whole band is playing halo - who kills who first - how do you die? Who’s trash talking who?
I do not play Halo. I have never played Halo. I'm sure some of the band have, though. I'm not much a video game player. Sorry. This one is lost on me.
You have to collaborate with Justin Bieber - how does that song turn out? What does it sound like, what's the process? Do you make it through?
Hmmm... right off the bat I feel like there would be some lyrics about cellphones, texting/sexting and snapchat nonsense that I would have a hard time swallowing. I'm quite confident, however, the song would be catchy and not a second over 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I feel like we'd ultimately not finish over the argument that we would want to record real drums and he would want drum samples. He'd finish the song with someone else, and it'd become an instant smash.
Favorite local watering holes/hangouts/can't-miss spots in Ohio?
Oh boy... too many great spots to name 'em all. Here are a few of our faves: Seventh Son Brewery, Curio at Harvest, Spoonful Records, Stauf's Coffee and Acre in Columbus. Jackie O's and Tony's in Athens, Ohio. Rockmill Brewery outside Lancaster and Cedar's, Suzie's Dogs and Drafts, and Space Jan's at The Ward Hilton in Youngstown, Ohio. <<