Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
Kaleidoscope. The optical instrument by which two reflecting surfaces, tilted at an angle, create repeated reflection. Constant rotation causes multiple motions resulting in an ever-changing view. Kaleidoscope–the perfect way to describe Red Sun Rising and their sophomore album Thread. “That’s one of my favourite words!” cries frontman Mike Protich.
The Ohio five-piece are mavericks of melody, generating rock songs with an artistic flair that provokes uncertain thoughts, surreal and sublime. Though the group generate extremely artistic sensibilities, manipulating tone, texture and balance to be rock ‘n’ roll’s welcome sore thumb, Protich’s energy and enthusiasm is not reflective of the aforementioned. He’s rather sombre, mysterious almost. This is largely down to the fact that Red Sun Rising created this thought-provoking album to be very much open to interpretation, so naturally one’s enthusiasm about Thread may not be matched in the same manner. “That’s the beauty of art,” says Protich, “It can be interpreted in so many different ways and we love that about music.”
Make of Red Sun Rising and their new album what you will, Protich invites you to. The underlying darkness in the imagery of lead single Deathwish for example, depicts an oddly bright world that is blanketed in dread and individual catastrophe. Married with pointed guitar riffs, jiving beats and captivating vocals, Deathwish is teetering on an anthology song. That of course, is one impression. Certainly Protich’s intentions were far deeper. “The main inspiration was the Pygmalion effect,” Protich explains, “A psychiatric study that says if you have a self-fulfilling prophecy your actions subconsciously will gravitate toward making that thing happen. That can hinder someone’s life, take the ability to live a normal life because you become so obsessed with this prophecy happening.
“We used the apocalypse as only an example of that. It’s not necessarily an apocalypse of a worldly sense but it’s more of an apocalypse of a personal sense, a person’s life.”
Red Sun Rising cater to the individual at every turn, music and movement depicting a variety of interesting personalities whose stories push and pull as the song moves and changes, and indeed, the album’s songs could be construed as being part of one whole story. “I think there’s a juxtaposition of emotions in there as well,” Protich says. “There’s the darkness, the realism of what’s happening. I think there’s hopefulness and the melancholy all threaded into the narrative and that was definitely an intentional move. We wanted it to sound disjointed but coherent.
We either wanna make rock music more popular or we wanna make pop music more interesting
[ Mike Protich ]
“If you knew the end of the world was coming, how would you feel about it? You could deal with it in many different ways and I think people would deal with it in different ways and that’s what the video portrays—a mini soap opera of stories because all these different people are coping in different ways.
Though an intricate and boisterous album, it’s interesting that Red Sun Rising weren’t always as melodically articulate as this, Protich saying previously he feels the band are more of a band with their second release. “I think I meant that in more of a sense that when Ryan [lead guitarist Ryan William] and myself wrote the first album [2015’s Polyester Zeal], these band members weren’t in the band.
“Recording Thread we brought them into the studio as an actual band. There was some flavour not there before because these guys’ personalities bled into the sound. All these extra spices are the character we’ve obtained from our very good friends and now we’re a band. I feel like it was a rebirth and we’re ready to start Red Sun Rising as this group of musicians.
“I won’t lie in saying that the first time we tried to write as a band in a room, it just did not work. When you have five people with ideas thrown in constantly, it’s counterintuitive to getting anything done. Ryan and I specifically will create a song structure and the general idea and bring it to the band then they can bring their ideas on top of that. It taught everyone to focus on their own strengths and once everyone figured that out it flowed very easily.”
Thanks to this meticulous effort Red Sun Rising’s reputation is growing hot and heavy. In July the band will tour North America with Shinedown and Godsmack – not small names in hard rock. “That’s gonna be a huge tour and we’re really excited about it,” says Protich. “We needed it as a band but I think the genre needs it.
“Rock just fell into a very generic hole and we wanna break that mould and bring some new flavour. We either wanna make rock music more popular or we wanna make pop music more interesting.”