I got to take a couple minutes out of my day on Thursday to speak to Anthony Armstrong, guitarist of RED, about their upcoming album of Beauty and Rage and the tour planned in support of it. This will be the band’s fifth studio release. Check out the interview below!
Mosh Pit Report: You guys are kicking off the New Year with a new album, of Beauty and Rage, set to release Tuesday, February 24th. How would you compare this new album to your previous four records?
Anthony Armstrong: We answer that question a lot. You know, a lot of bands kind of stay true to their sound and then some bands kind of branch off and do other things. I think we’ve never branched off too far, I think we’ve made a couple little departures on certain projects with our sound, but I think ultimately we’ve never really strayed too far from the sound that we love. For this record, I’d say that if I had to answer that question, I would say that this is just an obscene embodiment of everything that we’ve ever done that fans love. Concepts, the sonic landscape, you know, just in general all of the songs, the theme of the record, the brutality of it is pretty intense and amped up from previous projects.
MPR: I had the opportunity to listen to the album and I absolutely love it! There seems to be an overarching theme throughout the record and its sound seems a lot harder and more aggressive than what we hear in past albums. Is that something you guys planned or is that just how your sound has evolved throughout the years?
AA: I don’t think we plan anything we do. We just kind of go into the process and feel out where we are in our life, like what’s kind of emotionally happening to us and what we are experiencing in everyday life, you know, like with touring and all that. What are we going through that’s just inspiring us or motivating us. I think that these last couple years for us, for each of us personally, we’ve had a lot of hardships and a lot of things go wrong in our personal lives. As Believers, we call that the “Attack” and the Attack was just so aggressive and it was very emotional for us and it was just a tough thing for us to go through. All three of us had different things happen that we didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend and we just took that anger, that angst, that righteous anger and just poured everything we had into this and we just wanted to be able to play these songs every single night and it just be that ultimate therapy. Just spew our brains out and play these heavy riffs and heavy chords, but wrap it in something beautiful. That’s kind of how the whole title of the record came to be. There’s rage full moments that ultimately have a beauty in them.
MPR: Is there one song in particular that stands out to you on this record?
AA: Man, that’s another hard one. If I had to pick, I’d say “Darkest Part”. “Darkest Part” is going to be the music video. You know, the imagery and the whole idea behind that, I think that was one of the phrases that was coined very early on in the process and was something that I came to the guys with. I felt like this last year of my life has just been, you know, if you’re walking in the shadows, I was in the darkest part of that shadow. As dim lit as that could be, that’s how I felt like my life was. And since then, it’s been a process and I know that time will heal those wounds and that has gotten me out of that, but I think that that song is just a grim reminder of how bad it can really get for people and remind you that you are mortal and completely vulnerable to the same Attack as anybody else. You know, just because you’re in a band and tour and things doesn’t mean that you’re not just a typical human being that’s going to have to deal with those types of things.
MPR: You guys are doing something pretty unique with this release; you’re releasing a graphic novel to go along side it. What can we expect from that?
AA: It’s just another one of those things. RED has taken on this very theatrical thing, you know, we like that kind of stuff, we just like the imagery. Instead of just standing on stage with a guitar and playing a song, it’s like, why can’t we create an experience and give the audience an image that’s going to burn into their brain and they have to see it again and again and again. And it’s just another outlet for us to carry on this story we kind of started on our third record. We did this video called “Feed the Machine” and it ultimately turned into this mini movie, and that’s exactly what we were going for! We didn’t care about the rules like it’s got to be 3 minutes. It’s the Internet, we can do whatever we want! So we did that video and it turned out amazing and we’re like, we have to turn this into something, you know, like carry on the story type thing. So we did it again on the fourth record. And then you know, we just felt like people are going to get this novel and they’re going to be seeing this story, this trilogy, and they’re going to be like “Ooooh” like we had this planned out from the very beginning. Everything we’ve done has been so methodical and fans are going to be able to see it all come together. You know, even the forth record cycle that people are scratching their heads about will all make sense and it’s just going to be awesome.
MPR: Awesome! I’m looking forward to that! So last week you guys announced some tour dates in support of the new record. I remember from seeing you guys in the past, it kind of goes back to the experience thing, you always had a very extravagant stage set up that complimented your latest release. Will we see something like that for this upcoming tour?
AA: Funny you should say that, I’m actually standing outside of the building right now at the place we design the sets and go through the final mock ups of what it’s going to look like. So yeah, you can definitely expect something pretty insane for this new record cycle!
MPR: Is there one new song that you’re looking forward to playing the most? You mentioned “Darkest Part” earlier is that probably one you’re looking forward to?
AA: I mean, yeah that’s definitely one that’s got that beauty in side that rage, just insane, and just kind of the hallmark on the record. I mean, we’re all fans of the heavy stuff. We’re talking about the set list and how the flow of the show is going to work. I think we’re most looking forward to songs like “What You Keep Alive”. Just the idea behind that song, you know, once our Christian fans that are “Believers” hear what that song is really about, it’s going to blow their minds. They’ll be like what in the world possessed you to think about writing a song from that perspective. If you listen to that song again, that’s the Devil, that’s a demon, that’s his voice saying those things to you. “You keep me alive/ You need me inside”. That’s literally the darkest, most evil demon speaking to you. And then as the song progresses it kind of turns it on its head. It almost turns it into “you’re my ‘frenemy’”. You know, I have to keep you close because I have to know what you’re capable of and I have to know how to combat that. It’s pretty intense.
MPR: With all the songs you guys have now it’s going to be hard to pick out the songs for your live set list. Usually with so many songs, bands just end up playing singles over and over again every night. How are you guys going to juggle your singles with some of your other songs?
AA: Ultimately for us, we cater to the entertainment of the show, you know, we want to be entertaining, we want to be fast paced, nonstop, like overload of a century. I mean, you obviously have to play the songs that people recognize. That’s what people want to see, they want to see what they’re hearing. We’ll obviously do some of that, but we’re still artists, we still want to do what we want to do. I think more so than any record, besides our first record since at the time that was the only one we had, we’re planning on playing 8 or 9 tracks off the new record live now. There won’t be a lot of the old catalog happening. You know, we’ve got a new record, it’s been 10 years, that’s completely changed and refreshed from what people are used to seeing and take it to the next level. You know, we love to play the songs that we’re most known for, but we’re really excited about this project and we think that this by itself is going to stand out. So in order to get those songs out there and have people hear them, we’ve got to play a lot of them.
MPR: We try to end our interviews with a question just for fun. So, if there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you, and why?
AA: Oh god, this is hilarious.
MPR: Have you had this question a lot?
AA: Yeah, well, it’s funny because you know how people always say “you kind of look like ‘so and so’”, I always get Bradley Cooper for whatever reason. Like I get “you look like Brad Cooper”. I just saw American Sniper not too long ago and I think that guy has got such a universal talent, every role he’s played has just been so amazing. I loved him in The Hangover.
MPR: I think he could do it. He’d have to get your live facial expressions down packed, but I think he could do it.
AA: Haha yeah, exactly! Yeah it’s amazingly weird how many people have said that to me. I was in FedEx yesterday sending a package, I was actually sending a piece of gear to fan that bought a piece of gear I was selling, and the girl there goes “Has anyone ever told you that you looked like Bradley Cooper?” I was like “What? Haha, oh my god.” So yeah, I would say him, cause I hear his name all the time and it was in the back of my mind, so that would be the guy I pick.
MPR: All right well that’s all I have for you! Thanks for taking the time to talk!