RED's music, sound and vocals, is very recognizable: everything from Michael Barnes' screaming and passionate vocals to the band's gritty guitars, and head pounding drums. The maestros behind the music comprise of brothers Anthony and Randy Armstrong, Dan Johnson, and Barnes.
I started listening to RED after hearing songs from their 2009 album, Innocence & Instinct. (Just a note that RED has recently released a 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the album. It includes single versions of "Death of Me," "Mystery of You," and more.) On the album, RED did an amazing version of Duran Duran's hit song, "Ordinary World" (it's even better than the awesome original). But, it's the hit ballad, "Never Be the Same" that made me a RED fan.
This song really spoke to me during a dark season in my life. My family was going through a death and a divorce. In an interview with NewReleaseToday, Michael called the song, "an anthem of redemption." This is so true. The song speaks to everything that my family was looking for: redemption. The good news is that that redemption came.
Ever since then, I've had a soft spot for RED's ballads. And, luckily, they've kept them coming: "So Far Away," "Hold Me Now," "Best Is Yet to Come," "Not Alone," among others. RED also turns their hard-rocking hits into epic power ballads: "Still Alive," "Gone," "Release the Panic," and the most recent, "The Evening Hate."
In the past year, RED has undergone major changes. The biggest, of course, is moving from a record label to an independent. I had a chance to speak with Michael about their new music and life as an indy band.
You recently released your latest singles, "The Evening Hate" and "From the Ashes." What's the inspiration behind the new singles?
I feel the new music that we are working on and putting out is coming from an inspiration of fighting through the barrage of hate and trials that life throws at us all and rising "From the Ashes." I feel like it will be a very empowering record of fighting through the pain to the other side and never giving up.
Earlier in the year, you announced you're becoming an indy band, parting ways from Provident after more than thirteen years. Describe your experiences creating music, without major label input and operations?
It's really a freeing experience. We're getting back to what it felt like when we were writing and working on the first record together. We're working on some very inspirational stuff, and not as many people speaking into what we should do or what direction we should go in. It really feels like we're now the sole creators and have total control of our direction. There is a lot of excitement around that idea.
Tell us about your newly launched label, RED ENTERTAINMENT and new partnership with Nashville-based The Fuel Music.
Now that we're independent, and a part of the process of going independent is setting up all the departments that the label used to handle and take care of. It is now our task, as an independent band, to build a team around us--a team of passionate people that are excited about our direction and music. In a lot of ways, this is a great thing for us, because, in a label that is not our own, they are hiring people that cater to everyone on that label. We're hiring people specific to the task of pushing the music of RED. And, that is a huge difference in this process.
Do you plan to add other artists and bands to your label? Why or why not?
We are, of course, always keeping the doors of possibility open to having other artists if the timing and music were right. But, at this time, we're more focused on jump-starting RED into a new era of independence. And, that will require much time and dedication on our part.
So far, you've released two new singles. When can we see a new album?
We have a new EP that will be coming out in November 2019 with the two new singles, plus acoustic versions of those songs, and a cover song that we are excited about. We're currently working on a new album and finishing up the songs for that. We want to make sure the music is right. And we want to make sure that we were heading in the right direction with the first songs we put out. Now, we have a clear vision of what the record is going to sound and look like. We're estimating that the new record will come out early next year.
How has your songwriting and sound changed since going independent?
The songwriting and sound really haven't changed much other than having less people speaking into the process. It has made us reach out to some of our friends like Joe Rickard who mixed and mastered the first two singles to be more a part of the writing process. And we are pretty excited about working together. We have always worked with some pretty amazing people. We will be continuing our relationship with [producer] Rob Graves on this album as well.
Ever thought of doing another heavy metal remake (meaning "Ordinary World") of a classic hit? Think "Sound of Silence" by Disturbed or "Zombie" by Bad Wolves. If so, what would you cover and why?.
Actually, we just finished a cover song for the EP that is coming out in November. We all love music and are old enough to have some pretty big favorites of the 90s. So, Anthony had an idea of a cover song and we all agreed and loved the song. A few weeks later we finished it out. It actually came together rather quickly and as an added bonus we were able to work with the original producer of the cover song on our version. Stoked for everyone to hear it.
What's next for RED?
We're finishing the record by the end of this year. And it should be released early next year. We're going to be pretty busy for the next five months with lots of touring for promoting the new record that we are working on and putting out soon. We're looking at hitting all the major festivals in the summer next year with a big tour in the fall. Our goal is to keep the music coming and putting out more unique content through our YouTube channel and other streaming sites that are available to us. There is a lot to be thankful for in this band. We have a great team behind us and a bright future of people that are on board for an exciting new chapter of RED.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 10 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
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