The true art in making modern music is in creating songs that resonate within the artist rather than through the prism of commercial expectation. Trying to fit into a niche or genre because it sells, or because “industry experts” know more than the artists themselves, may be the fastest way to insure a band’s mediocrity. Fortunately, Akron, Ohio’s Red Sun Rising is not a band that cares about fitting under convenient labels. As a result, their debut album, Polyester Zeal, struck a chord with listeners yielding three Top 10 hit songs including; “Emotionless,” “Amnesia,” and “The Otherside,” These tracks and many other memorable songs on the record will stand the test of time, and the hard rocking quintet has reaped the benefits of its conviction in numerous new fans, high profile tours, and strong radio support.
The band was founded in 2007 by frontman Mike Protich and guitarist Ryan Williams, who recorded Polyester Zeal with studio musicians. This summer, Red Sun Rising completed its sophomore major label release, which will be the first to feature the band’s solidified line-up with drummer Pat Gerasia, bassist Ricky Miller, and guitarist Dave McGarry. We recently sat down with Protich and Gerasia to chat about the new record, and how having the entire band involved in the creative process impacted the music.
The group flew in to tiny Jerome, Idaho for a weekend date as a quartet, with Williams staying home to handle some personal business. For the band it was a chance to play a more stripped down set.
“I think it’s kind of cool,” offers Protich of performing as a four-piece. “It’s like the Rage Against the Machine set: It’s one guitar, one bass, and drums. We were rehearsing because Ryan was like ‘I’m sorry guys, I can’t make this weekend.’ Luckily we had a little rehearsal, like we might as well run these songs, and we’re kind of stoked about it really. Not that he’s gone, it’s just kind of cool and refreshing to hear the songs that way, so it will be fun tonight.”
Red Sun Rising brought in Grammy Award winning producer and engineer, Matt Hyde to work on the as yet untitled new record. Hyde has worked on albums spanning artists as diverse as Cypress Hill, No Doubt, Seether, Sublime, Jonny Lang, and Slayer.
“The coolest thing about Matt” says Protich, “is when we were interviewing producers, he was the one guy that—he didn’t really want to change the band at all. There were a few producers that were like, ‘You’ve gotta do this if you want to make it on radio, and you’ve got to do this. Matt was just like, ‘Let’s get in there and have fun and make some cool sounds,” and we’re like, ‘I like this guy.’”
As to how the new record will sound, Gerasia suggests that:
“It’s really fresh. There’s an even bigger variety than on the first record. I think there’s just a lot of variety and color and a lot of things you wouldn’t expect, but also it remains true to the Red Sun Rising sound. There’s heavier tracks, there’s softer tracks; a lot of dynamic stuff. Mike and Ryan did the first album with studio guys. Since we formed the band, were two years together, now here we are and this album is the product of the five of us playing together and finding that connection as a line-up. There are some other influences in there that weren’t on the first album.”
“I think we became a band in the studio,” adds Mike. “Even though this line-up has been playing for years now together, we didn’t really become a band, I think, until we had that studio experience and got to write together as five musicians.”
Earlier this year, Red Sun Rising released a stunning, uncensored video for their cover of Alanis Morrisette’s “Uninivited.” The video was somewhat controversial and equally intriguing as the storyline is open to each viewer’s perspective.
“I think that’s the beauty of the video,” offers Pat. “I think the vagueness of it, it can be interpreted in so many different ways,” shares Mike. “The director and the writer that wrote the scene, Brad Golowin, he’s a good friend of ours. He’s doing a documentary on us. He just had his own kind of vision, and then when we showed him the song, we kind of married the ideas. It just worked out so beautifully.”
You can check out the full interview with Pat and Mike below as well as some shots from the Jerome performance at Diamondz Events Center.