While many bands namedrop U2 and Coldplay as their primary influences, some are prone to borrow a little too liberally from others respective playbooks. But for Canadian rockers Red Umbrella, a copycat act simply isn't good enough. Instead, they were determined to passionately pursue their own musical path-and with the release of Wishing for Boardwalk, their persistence has finally paid off.
Growing up together in Parry Sound, Ontario, lead singer/guitarist Jeremy Michaelis, his brother Dennis Michaelis (keyboards and guitar) and drummer Jason Rosewell honed their skills together early on. Eventually, the guys recruited another Parry Sound native, bassist Kevin Swartwood, and Red Umbrella was born.
Spending countless hours writing songs together, they discovered that each member had a variety of musical tastes, which paved the way for Red Umbrella's unique rock sound. "We're trying to distinguish our music as much as possible, " Jason says. "Sure, we like Coldplay and U2 as much as everyone else, but we don't want to be confined to one particular box."
And a quick listen to Wishing for Boardwalk proves that Red Umbrella has succeeded in this quest. Touting a decidedly Brit-pop flavor reminiscent of The Beatles, Boardwalk is accentuated by the new-wave flair of American hipsters, The Killers. The common thread is catchy melodies and an atmospheric sound. Even more impressive is that a majority of the album was produced by Jeremy and his bandmates, with several songs ("Already Won," "Elevator," "Slide") produced by Quinlan and one cut each by Rick May ("Storm Warning") and Jay Elliot ("Home").
From the opening strains of "Storm Warning," and driving track "Straight Jacket," to the anthemic "Already Won," among others, this project's melodies will swirl around your brain for hours on end. And as rich lyrically as it is sonically, Wishing for Boardwalk drives home the simple point that every human being has one thing in common-an unspoken longing for meaning in life.
While the band members were exposed to, and fans of, various musical styles, this album is their first attempt at making a more specific statement. As the primary lyricist, Jeremy admits that this was something he had to be somewhat deliberate about. "Prior to this record, I was writing all sorts of random, poetic things. But I prayed throughout the making of Wishing for Boardwalk, that I would say things that were a little more universal and encouraging. I never wanted to say something because that's what somebody thought should be said, but because it was true."
"We wanted this project to encourage people in all stages of life's journey, hoping that our lyrics would cause them to ask questions about their own path," Kevin elaborates. "So there was a conscious effort to make our lyrics accessible to the listener rather than just saying things in a way that people would expect."
Basically, Red Umbrella is a band that prefers to talk about its beliefs, instead of using simple songs as its vehicle. "Some of our songs are ambiguous in certain ways," explains Jeremy. "but when somebody asks 'What does this song mean?' it provides me an opportunity to explain my convictions. It gives me the chance to talk to an individual about what I believe, to go deeper than you can in a song. That, more than any other aspect, makes our music worthwhile."