SHERVIN LAINEZ | Photo Courtesy
Ahead of their May 17 show at the Sanctuary Events Center with The Used and Fever 333, Red Sun Rising’s Mike Protich phoned in to talk about the authenticity of Midwestern music and Red Sun Rising’s latest album “Thread.”
A band conceived in the city of Akron, Ohio, lead singer and guitarist Mike Protich doesn’t see their Midwestern roots as a hindrance. In contrast, he actually thinks it is the reason for Red Sun Rising’s authenticity.
“I think it’s easier in a lot of ways because we’re more real than a lot of bands from New York or L.A. or Nashville,” Protich said. “We were grassroots. We grew up playing in a garage. We didn’t grow up playing in a studio or around industry people. We just made music and sucked for many years until we got good enough where people liked it. So it’s like the most real way to start a band, a more organic way to start a band in a smaller town. We definitely see that on the road. Some of those bands that were a product of a major city or that have industry around them and they have this staleness and it’s just not real; it’s all manufactured. So I think we have an advantage that way.”
The band is keeping busy this year touring in support of their sophomore album”Thread” under record label Razor & Tie. It is with this album that the band really comes into their own stylistically. A departure from their debut album “Polyester Zeal” and its evident influences of iconic ’90s and 200os acts such as Alice in Chains, Puddle of Mudd and Crossfade, “Thread” sees RSR evolve with a unique sound much more their own.
Protich credited the progression to the time spent on their “Polyester Zeal” tour, saying, “The first record was really just me and Ryan. So after we made ‘Polyester Zeal,’ we started touring with the group of musicians that is the permanent lineup now. We started playing together and gelling together. As we became a band on the road and gelled together, by the time we reached the studio their influences from the other members started coming in. There are some influences not seen on the old record because of the new members, and I think that really evolved the sound.” He added, “For the first time we got to record together as a band and not in pieces, and that is important. We got in a room and all played together, and I think that really helped us experiment with the musical landscape even more and create even cooler textures than we had on the first record.”
While many of their songs tackle hefty subjects, Red Sun Rising makes it clear that the tunes themselves don’t have to be dark and depressing. “I think Tom Waits said it best; he said, ‘I like beautiful melodies telling terrible things.’ We still want a song people can sing to,” Protich said. “And maybe you find a brighter meaning in it, you know? And that’s the beauty of music and art in general.” Protich explained it is this approach that makes songs like “Left For Dead” summer song material regardless of its meaning.
The album’s most “playfully dark” track is “Evil Like You” and includes the edition of a creepy piano. Protich admitted everyone else was just as creeped out about it the first time it was played. “The funny thing is, our bass player Rick had that original riff written that’s played on the piano and he played it on guitar. We walked into the studio and he began playing it on this little, tiny like 1930s piano. And everyone in the room just kind of stopped and were like, ‘Man, that’s so creepy. You may have just summoned Satan or something.’ So we were like, ‘We’ve got to put that on the record, and we did and it worked out perfectly. When the heavy guitars come in, just the juxtaposition made it really powerful.”
That being said, the songs of “Thread” still deal with powerful topics. For example, track seven “Veins” is a “conversation put to song” between Protich and a close friend who was a struggling addict. “It’s the back and forth, the broken promises and the promise that they are OK and not to worry, but, you know, you do worry because you see it happening.”
The band is eager to return to North Dakota on tour, as it has been a few years since they last played in the state. “I was actually shocked the first time I went to North Dakota because you don’t every really hear about it or think about it, but the Dakotas are actually really beautiful and people don’t even realize that.”
For fans already eager for another album, Protich has good news: “We stretched ‘Polyester Zeal’ (touring) to almost three years. I think if we hit the U.S. pretty hard this year like it’s already shaping up to be that way, (we’ll) probably do another European run in early 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were back in the studio in 2019 winter, which is what I’d like to be. Right now it’s all about ‘Thread,’ you know? But we are constantly writing; we’re constantly evolving the sound.”
For now, Protich and the other members of Red Sun Rising are living in the moment with “Thread.”
“The album is just over a month old, and we are just enjoying the reaction to it and playing the new songs.”
Laura Ellen Brandjord (LEB): You’ve been up to North Dakota a few times, but are you familiar with some of our lingo?
Mike Protich (MP): You know, no. I don’t think so. Maybe you can refresh me though.
LEB: All right, I’m going to say a few words. For each of them, I just want you to tell me what you think it is. Let’s start with knoephla.
MP: Ah um, that’s when you pee and you can’t shake it off completely, so you’ve got a little “knoephla” in your underwear.
LEB: It’s actually a soup. I mean it is a yellow soup though. How about uff da?
MP: Now I feel like you’re making stuff up. Um, no I can’t even think of anything for that one.
LEB: Well, it’s kind of a tricky one because it can mean a lot of things. It’s kind of like those swear words that you can put anywhere in a sentence and it still makes sense. It’s usually used when you’ve had a long day, or you’ve just got done with a great meal and you’re really full, or to show empathy for someone else.
MP: I’m going to try and slip it into a conversation today and see what happens.
LEB: The last one I have for you is lutefisk.
MP: Lutefisk? Isn’t that a rapper?
LEB: I mean maybe from Minnesota?
MP: Yeah, yeah, maybe a Minnesota rapper.
LEB: I mean everyone gets grossed out when I tell them about it, but it is technically fish that is cured in lye, like what you use to make soap, and it turns into a kind of Jell-O, and you eat it drowned in melted butter.
MP: Oh my God, what’s wrong with you people up there?
LEB: My family literally has it every year for Christmas. We tell the boys it’ll put hair on their chest.
MP: I feel like it puts more than that on you. But now I have to try it. I’m juiced with intrigue.
Who: The Used, Red Sun Rising, Fever 333
Where: Sanctuary Event Center
When: May 17, 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at: etix.com