Founded in 2002, GRAMMY-nominated/RIAA-certified gold-selling alternative metal quartet RED consistently pairs sophisticated instrumentation with hard-hitting songwriting. Dynamic, eclectic, grippingly personal, and unflinchingly outspoken, their artistry has never felt as evocative and irresistible as it does on their brand-new eighth studio album, RATED R.
The follow-up to 2020's chart-topping DECLARATION--the first release on their own independent label, Red Entertainment--the self-assured and thought-provoking RATED R finds the Nashville-based band tackling several resonant and relevant topics while centering on the ideological and interpersonal divisions, confrontations, and suffering of modern society.
"We're examining how there's almost no authentic human interaction and empathy anymore," guitarist Anthony Armstrong explains. "People jump online to be and say whatever they want. They talk without listening, and it results in bullying and violence. Plus, we lose so much by focusing 24/7 on technology instead of stripping away everything that doesn't matter and seeing how beautiful and healing it is to live with only what's necessary."
Bassist Randy Amstrong agrees: "Traditional family values and systems are broken and it's causing chaos. Kids are forced to do active shooter drills at school, and it breaks our hearts. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people, and we're definitely seeing that. There's also the notion that we learn by suffering and making the wrong decisions. As philosopher Meister Eckhart stated: 'The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction.'"
Those sentiments even influenced the sequencing and meta qualities of RATED R, as Anthony describes:
"'Surrogates' kicks things off with noise from news reports, symbolizing how overwhelming the media can be. Then, with "Tell Me How to Say Goodbye" at the halfway point, it sounds like the listener is fishing through radio channels trying to find an escape and a good station. We put 'Emergency' at the end to lift people out of the darkness while bringing back that initial concept through various emergency signals and tones from multiple countries. In a broader sense, we wanted to give fans some sort of connective tissue between the songs."
It's that kind of blunt, innovative, and effective approach that makes RED's work so multifaceted and striking. It's also what led to the LP's title and visuals.
"It's RATED R for RED and it signifies the views we want to share. We approve of it, you know? We always try to be a bit provocative and get our audience thinking with how our records look and what they're called," Randy clarifies.
Likewise, Anthony adds: "The cover was done by Courtney Dellafiora and draws from 'Surrogates' by representing the fake, almost plastic versions of humanity we encounter. We tried to make actual mannequins look creepy, like four shadows of four people. It ties into our usual fondness for subliminal imagery."
Behind the scenes, RATED R is notable for two major changeups: Anthony taking over production duties from longtime partner Rob Graves and drummer Brian Medeiros taking over for Dan Johnson (thereby officially joining the Armstrong brothers and inimitable singer Michael Barnes).
"Rob was busy with his solo project, so he gave us his blessing to try a different route," Anthony reveals. "That said, we've absolutely kept the classic RED formula of symphonic elements, piano- driven atmospheres, heavy yet melodic guitarwork, and deep-seated and robustly delivered
As for Medeiros, he got the job in part because he was already such a diehard RED fan. "When we met him, he said he listened to us in high school," Randy ponders. "That made us feel old [laughs]. He was naming songs and lyrics, and he's incredibly invested in bringing awesome ideas to the
Anthony admits: "Our biggest fear was making sure the vibe was right. After all, we've had some monster drummers, so Brian had big shoes to fill. He totally nailing everything so far, though." The revised quartet isn't alone on RATED R, either, as the collection features RED's most expansive lineup since 2015's seminal Of Beauty and Rage.
For instance, former percussionist Joe Rickard--who contributed to 2017's GONE and DECLARATION--returns for mixing, programming, and songwriting. "He's done great things on his own with bands such as In Flames and All That Remains. We love having him involved whenever we can. He's a blast to work with and a big part of RED's history, so it's exciting to have him on board," Anthony comments.
RATED R also sees regular arranger/composer David Davidson handling orchestration, Teirney Armstrong sharing her spectacular voice, and various other guests playing their part across the sequence.
Releasing on August 4th, September 1st, and September 29th, respectively, upcoming singles "Surrogates," "Cold World," and "Your Devil is a Ghost" demonstrate the collaborative and creative hefts of RATED R. "Surrogates" is even getting its own music video--helmed by Medeiros--that thrillingly ties into the band's film past.
"Brian's an accomplished photographer and videographer, so his expertise allowed us to continue writing, shooting, and producing our videos ourselves. RED fans will love how 'Surrogates' builds upon the story we've been telling since our second LP (2009's Innocence & Instinct). We're going back to the 1890s Old West because it's the prequel to the entire series," Anthony explains. This fall--and into 2024--RED will be commemorating RATED R (and their 20th anniversary) with an extensive international tour. According to Anthony, they couldn't be happier about the opportunity: "We released DECLARATION a month after the pandemic shutdowns began, so we never got to properly tour it. With RATED R, we can. What's really cool is that we'll be headlining and offering the complete RED auditory and visual live experience for the first time in years!"
Clearly, there's never been a better time to be a RED fan. From their stunning debut collection (2006's End of Silence) to the widely celebrated DECLARATION, RED has repeatedly impressed and innovated. Consequently, their work has garnered numerous awards; coverage in publications such as Loudwire, Rolling Stone, Under the Radar, and Guitar World; appearances in film, TV, and video games; and millions of album sales, streams, and dedicated followers.
With RATED R, RED has undoubtedly delivered its most visceral and valuable statement to date.
"This is our chance to reach people and inspire them with our music and what we stand for. We want people to take responsibility for change," Randy concludes.
Red Announces New Album for Early 2013| Posted August 25, 2012
Red has announced the release date of their next full-length studio album to be February 2013. A specific date hasn't yet been announced. If you check out the band's Facebook page, they've been posting behind-the-scenes videos of the recording process - pretty cool to watch. In an interview with Michael Barnes, he said that the album will be "faster-paced" than their previous albums and sounds like "Innocence and Instinct on steroids." Getting excited about it!
RED is just AMAZING| Posted June 15, 2011
I started listening to them about 2 weeks ago....and I can say that they are great. Michael has a great voice...and that music....awesome! It sounds great when a dtrong sound of guitar is connected with violin and piano....this is a masterpiece.
RED is simply Amazing!| Posted February 06, 2011
I love RED and they have some very good songs to help people get through tough times in their life. I think RED is very good at making songs that everybody can relate to in one way or another.