Whatever you thought you knew about Essential Records rock band Red, think again. In fact, that's exactly what the four-man alternative rock band wants you to do with every track on its fourth project, Release The Panic...think again.
Think past your first blush take on Red's lyrical ideas, think beyond the signature aggressive paint-peeling riffs and new-found evocative grooves, and think through the universality of struggle, pain and ultimately hope living in these new songs. Teaming with legendary producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., My Chemical Romance) and mixed by both Howard Benson and Mike Plotnikoff, Red has uncovered a potent set of standout songs - including "Perfect Life," "Die For You," "Same Disease" and the title track - sure to get fans talking, rocking and yes, thinking.
The band - vocalist Michael Barnes, guitarist Anthony Armstrong, bassist Randy Armstrong and drummer Joe Rickard - took the unusual step of clearing the calendar and coming off the road in the first quarter of 2012. While previous Red projects had coalesced amidst the band's hectic touring schedule, for Release The Panic the band decamped to Los Angeles and Benson's brand-new West Valley Studios. While in L.A., the band lived, breathed, ate, slept and worked, constantly crafting these new tracks, an experience new and invigorating for all members.
"One of the things Howard stressed was that if he had heard it before, he didn't want to hear it on this record," says Rickard, "so that's why we were really striving to make this as original as we could." At the same time, the band refused to stray away from its pull-no-punches brand of storytelling, with emotive lyrics dealing with mortality, abandonment, paths to redemption and the demands of a pop culture-obsessed society, as found on the initial single, "Perfect Life."
"As we recorded in Los Angeles, the inspiration for that song was all around us, all the time," Anthony Armstrong says. "So many people have themselves convinced they're living the sweet life, the good life, and some have worked really hard to get there, but it's the people who are trying, clawing their way to live this kind of life that's troubling." Still, that quest for sonic originality led to some expansion of what Red has become known for: heavy, dark, driving and expansive, with Barnes' gravelly, guttural, from-a-croon-to-a-scream approach solidifying his stand among rock's top vocalists. Release The Panic keeps all that, but meshes in beats, loops, layered vocals and - dare we say it? - pop elements.
The result is instantly identifiable as Red, but with a freshness that could help define the state of rock 'n' roll today. "The thing I like about this record is that they're very forward-thinking songs for a rock band," Benson says. "These guys are sitting on a powder keg, frankly, and I just can't wait for the rest of the world to hear it."