Hot off the Press

Guitarist Anthony Armstrong of Red

by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist —

Two-time Grammy Nominated Red is currently on the road in support of their latest release Release The Panic. Produced by Howard Benson, Red’s latest release unleashes a more melodic alternative pop rock sound. Hardrock Haven had the privilege of speaking with guitarist Anthony Armstrong before Red’s show at the legendary Roxy in Los Angeles. In this exclusive interview, Anthony discusses the making of Release The Panic, the music industry today and current tour.

REDHRH: Anthony, last time we spoke the band was headed to the Grammy’s for their nomination. You are back in LA performing at The Roxy tonight. Are you excited about tonight’s performance?

Anthony: Yes, we love playing California. Pretty much anywhere in California is just a great time for us. We have been to Sunset a few times. We had the chance to play on a couple of cool tours. The Roxy is a pretty historic landmark, as far as rock and roll venues. We are excited.

HRH: Tell us about your set list for tonight. What have you been playing on the tour so far? Are you incorporating a lot of new songs from Release The Panic?

Anthony: We got a really good mix from all of the records. I think we are playing seven or eight songs off of the new record and two or three off of each of the other records. It is about an hour and half long super show. We are kind of giving everybody a mix of everything.

HRH: I know the band has been nominated for two Grammy’s in the past. Did this raise the bar higher when you were going into the studio? What was running through your mind in the studio?

Anthony: I don’t think it raised the bar. I think we always hold ourselves very high, as far as the standards are concerned. We want to put our best foot forward. I think are fans deserves that. The Grammy nominations were icing on the cake. We like to focus on making great music.

HRH: Tell us about the writing period for Release The Panic. Over how long a time period did it take to make the record?

Anthony: We wrote for almost two years. We usually are on a two and a half year record cycle. It is a decent amount of time. It is a lot of effort and patience. It takes time to write songs and really get connected to what you want to get out there. It’s our music. It’s all about experiences that we have that we try to draw inspiration from so that we can write. We want to have a song that we want to be a soundtrack for people.

HRH: How did other bands that you listen to influence the album?

Anthony: I think the influence comes from just great music in general. Whatever it is that we are listening to. Obviously it is hard not to be influenced by things that you are listening to on a daily basis. I think we are just inspired in a way by bands that have a way of captivating an audience. We kind of go through that theme point. We want to keep that captivated audience alive and connected to us in a big way. We draw from bands from different genres and try to make it what we call Red.

HRH: Right. I remembering seeing the band perform when I lived in Boston. The show was very high energized. It brought the fans together.

Anthony: Yes, the show is very important. That is where you kind of live and die nowadays. A lot of bands don’t sign huge record deals. It is a big effort on our part to do something about that and take the show to the next level. You can record a record and that stuff but once you get out there and tour it is like what kind of live impact you are you going to have? So we just make sure our shows are really energetic and very aggressive and in your face. That is what gets peoples attention and a visual of the record itself.

HRH: The industry has changes so much since back in the day when there was MTV. The bands are really depending on their live shows to make a living.

Anthony: We don’t have as many outlets to see bands. The imagery that a band portrays is almost all gone. MTV videos gave a face to the name and music. A lot of that is now gone. The people come out to see the shows and what a band has to offer. I think You tube is a cool outlet for fans to see what bands are doing. A lot of bands are putting videos out. It definitely keeps that thread there. The live show says it all.

HRH: Would you say that this album is more melodic and alternative than the previous albums? How would you describe the sound on this album?

Anthony: I say it is a little bit of a departure for us. We had three studio albums that had a similar sonic landscape. This album we kind of wanted to stretch and bring some elements of our music to the forefront of the actual song. We changed the mix a little bit. Some of the songs are a little bit different to what the fans are used to hearing but will still melt well with all the other songs in a live show. We don’t want it to be such a departure. We are definitely walking the line. I think it is just the season for us where we were with our music and writing.

HRH: Now you worked with Howard Benson on this album. Did he play a major role in taking the band on the melodic route?

Anthony: I would say yes and no. We initially brought him all the songs and told him what we wanted the record to sound like sonically. Like shed away some of the things that fans got used to hearing. And actually focus on the songs and see how they stand up on their own with not all the extra bells and whistles. The point going into this record was to get to the point. That was kind of the idea. Being melodic is really cool but what the theme of the record is about is getting to the point. A state of panic and a state of fear. You are not willing to be poetic. You don’t have time for those things. You want to get to the point quickly. That was the going theme for us with Howard.

HRH: What is the first single?

Anthony: The first single is “Perfect Life.” I think we are going to release the next single real soon in July and shoot a music video. It charted on the Billboard, which was very cool.

HRH: I think it cool too that you continue to keep your Christian roots as a band.

Anthony: It is who we are. That is the kind of music that we like to write. It is the kind of experiences that we like to talk about with our music. We don’t necessarily go out and recruit believers. We just sing about our lives.

HRH: I read that your singer Michael is an avid runner. When he went to Ethiopia did the band go also to meet the children there?

Anthony: He is an avid runner. He kind of goes through seasons of running long distances. It is a routine with singing. Running gets his heartbeat up. Get him kind of warmed up for the show. He runs just about every single day. It is all about the show. He wants to have a good performance. Make sure his head is in the right place.

HRH: Are you going to be returning home to Nashville soon? How is the music scene there these days?

Anthony: People think of country music in Nashville. I think the music scene has grown in many ways. Recently a lot of great acts have come out of Nashville. Nashville is up and coming but I think it has always been considered country. With more groups like us moving into town. What we do has brought more attention to the scene. Especially artists who have gone national and broken out of the scene. It is a chance for us to shed some light on Nashville hats off.

HRH: What is the plan for the summer touring season?

Anthony: We will keep touring. We have got plenty of shows through the summer. Into the fall, we will probably jump on another tour. We are heading to Europe in November. This year we have logged 55 shows so far.

HRH: That is awesome. We wish you the best of luck. Have fun in L.A. tonight.

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