THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
21st November, 2019 0
In the Brave New World of contemporary music where artists come and go out of fashion and favor faster than the leaves of late October falling from the trees, Chris Redburn (aka: REDBURN) has proved that persistence and a commitment to one’s vision are qualities that pay off in the long run.
Poised to release his newest and latest album of original material titled Through the Flesh on November 22nd at Bay City’s Westown Theatre, REDBURN began his career 20 years ago back in 1999 as a promoter booking Hip-Hop shows throughout the region, eventually spreading his wings to become one of the region’s top DJ’s. His biggest breakthrough musically happened back in 2014-15 with the release of Rock Hop - a danceable, personal, and groundbreaking fusion of Live Rock music and Hip Hop that resulted in eight trophies at the 29th Review Music Awards, including Best Concert Album or Project, Best New Artist of the Year and Best Songwriter, along with a cross-country tour performing 17 shows in 25 days.
But as all the parts were finally coming together, fate threw a monkey wrench into the mix when Chris was forced to leave the band in 2015 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. “I was overwhelmed. Fortunately, the tumor that I was diagnosed with sat on the pituitary gland, not on the actual brain. There are two classes for this tumor - functioning and non-functioning - and 99 percent of them are benign. Mine was non-functioning, but eventually it grew big enough to hit my optic nerves and affect my vision. The struggle having the brain tumor was dealing with all the symptoms that came along with it and physical challenges it caused with my body. Once I had the tumor removed, I suddenly felt like I was 21 again.”
Having made it through this arduous rabbit hole of physical challenges, last year he signed a major management deal with Michael Barbee of Dovetail Entertainment - the man responsible for articulating the game-plan that took hometown heroes Greta Van Fleet into the spotlight; and now with the pending release of Through the Flesh he is poised to propel his life, music, and talents to an entirely new level - one focused upon driving the power of his unique sound into new depths and dimensions.
Thematically REDBURN says he called the new release Through the Flesh because much of his music is focused upon personal relationships and perspectives. “I was letting it all out on this latest release, which is very uplifting. After Rock Hop came out I went through a brain tumor, had an ex-wife pass away from liver failure, and raised my daughters, so music has been my main outlet. I never wanted to be a Rapper and started out as a DJ, but going through all of these personal challenges I started writing, and once it put these words and thoughts to music it became my outlet. Now its evolved and I feel finally that I’m kind of in my own lane.”
“I think people like to stick with what they relate to in music, especially with lyrics,” he continues. “If a song touches upon something they’ve been through or are struggling with it tends to hit them the hardest. I think a lot of our music hits people from that perspective, because that’s our point and purpose. I don’t want to make songs that are novelties. I want to make music that hits you and sticks with you forever.”
“Anything that is tough in life is what we want to address,” states REDBURN. “We have a lot of breakup material because that’s one of the biggest subjects in music - people either in love or not in love; breaking up or getting together - it’s easy to hit a fan base when speaking on those subjects.”
“As a promoter it’s tough to compete right now. I’ve seen a lot of bands produce the greatest music, but what they lack is promotion,” he continues. “You’ve got to know what works and doesn’t and create the right buzz that contains the right everything - music, image, graphics - it all has to be on the same page.”
“I think we hit hard with a lot of our fans because there aren’t any gimmicks or pretense to what we do. We try to be as humble as we can and we really do connect with fans. We take time to talk to them online all over the country.”
Over the last year REDBURN has done a few live shows here and there, but has mainly focused on the process of rebuilding his band. “We have two new members in the form of drummer and guitarist and our original keyboardist and original singer are back in the band.”
Last year REDBURN brought in a new guitarist, Jeff Lachcik, from Underground Fight Club to record new guitars and everything needed to revamp and retool their sound. With the fresh tracks in tow he flew out to Los Angeles to finish mixing all the tracks in the studio of Michigan native Steve Dresser at Dresser Studios. “Steve is plugged into the pop/rock scene in L.A. and works with guys like Dr. Luke,” notes Redburn. “He’s also plugged in with the guys who found Linkin’ Park and Limp Bizkit and its good to rub shoulders with the people out there in L.A.”
When asked the biggest difference between Rock Hop and Through the Flesh over the five years gap between the two releases, Chris references the tonal presence and excitement of sound qualities one experiences at a live performance.
“As successful as Rock Hop was, the guys in the band sounded way better live than in the studio. We were invited on a national tour and needed to have product for the tour, so when we put out Rock Hop we were still using backing tracks at our live shows and playing live over those backing tracks. The combination of the studio tracks and live performance sounded really good on-stage, but when listening to the record I think it was missing the presence of those live instruments.”
“An important element to our sound is a result of feeding off the energy from our audience and the studio is kind of a lonely experience. The tracks originally used on Rock Hop were produced - whether sampled or utilizing a guitar program where the producer can use their fingers rather than play live - back in 2013-14, so some of the sounds may have been outdated. With this Through the Flesh we wanted to make sure all the drums and guitars on the EP were the same; and this is also true with the vocals. What Steven did in LA. is produce the tracks the way that sound should be produced, as opposed to a strict Hip-Hop sound. We’re in our own lane here and I’ve never heard anything this good in terms of our sound.”
Another important move was picking up a new drummer in the form of Garret Hayward. “Garret is a very talented musician, plus can play most instruments and is also a very good rapper, so having him in the band is definitely fitting and shines when he plays the drums. He stays in the pocket and is more of a hip-hop drummer which is great for me as a rapper. I’ve known Garret for almost 20 years and never knew we could play the drums so well!”
“Not to discredit any of the old band members, but I think the band stays in sync a lot better than when working with a rock drummer. And our new guitarist stays in the pocket. Our last guitarist did a lot of soloing and had more of a jazz sound. Our new guitarist is more edgy like fusion rock and is perfect for the material. I’ve been trying to get this guy into the band since the beginning and is a very big asset to the group, especially during live performance.”
Jeff is just an all-out great guitarist and with his experience in other bands and his knowledge he is a great asset to this band. I’ve been trying to pull him over since we began this band, so it’s nice to have him. Jeff is also a huge asset in the Studio department as well as one of the brains in the band’s operations.”
Rounding out the group are keyboardist Dion Mason and vocalist Stevie Lee Kinzer. “Stevie is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever worked with and he’s been in the band since day one. He brings his experience in several other bands growing up and also a great studio ear. His voice is definitely unique and sticks out from the rest. Definitely one of the brains in this band’s operations. Dion is a natural keyboardist and literally picked up the keyboard and just started learning on his own. He is also a very good performer, puts on a great show, and is part of the hip-hop in the band.”
REDBURN says his upcoming CD release show at The Westown is probably the most important show of his career. “I’ve never released an album that I felt 100 percent was the best product I was capable of; but I feel it with this latest EP,” he reflects. “We have seven songs and play them all live and have invested a lot of time developing our stage show. We have pyro and all kinds of new props and fun surprises. Our presentation is better than normal. With me being around a long time in different genres, I think I can advance things in that department.”
In terms of personal favorites REDBURN considers stand-out tracks on the new release, he cites the lead-off song Hell No as the one that will get the most traction, followed by a remastered version of Empty Child that served as the breakout tune on the Rock Hop CD. “Hell No is an uplifting song about an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend that brings you down,” notes Redburn. “It’s saying ‘Hell No’ to everybody around you and has the most energy and uplifting energy.”
To accompany the release of Through the Flesh, REDBURN has also shot a new video that is equally as visually compelling as the sound of his new music. “The video is for our song They Come, which speaks about how evil is around everywhere and everyone and we each have a choice to deal with it or not,” he reflects. “You can chalk it up to spirituality, demons, or negative physical energy, but it’s a song I wrote for the TV series The Walking Dead, actually. It carries more of a city vibe rather than a country vibe, so they haven’t had a chance to use it yet in the series. They told me the song is great and are looking to get it placed once the show moves towards the city, but for now the video is out and can be seen on YouTube.”
“Overall, I knew one day I would be doing this and for whatever reason it never happened,” concludes Chris. “I’ve been doing this 20 years now and watched a lot of artists around me from PROZAK to ASTRAY, but never wanted to make a product that would come out and just sit on a shelf. Being in the industry long enough I’ve seen artists come and go because it’s so easy to make music now, and then make more music and leave it behind because it hasn’t been properly marketed. You need to nurture new material, which is the reason you don’t see some artists for a long stretch of time. If an album is working well they will let it marinate and invest time in the studio.”
“People forget you for a stretch and then ‘BAM, you come back in spades; and I feel that’s what we’re doing right now. I haven’t had any new product out since 2014-15 and its funny because it can feel like the brand is dead and then suddenly a new album is out and people come out of the woodwork. It’s cool to know those people are still there and listening.”
“This is the biggest buzz I’ve ever had right now. After going through my health issues I promised myself when I came back that I wouldn’t care about anything anymore, and I’m not striving for anything like fighting for a record deal. Instead, I’m making music and having fun doing it. I don’t set myself up for disappointment. If you have no expectations that way you can’t be disappointed. That’s a lesson in life. The higher one’s expectations in life the bigger the disappointment awaiting you; whereas if you have no expectations and people grab on to what you’re doing, its far more rewarding.”
“I made this album for me - it’s like therapy - the major difference for me now is let the buzz do what it’s going to do. And just a closing thought: there are some bands out there that are just bands. But this band is more than music and shows, it’s brotherhood and family, no doubt!”
Through the Flesh drops digitally Sunday, Nov 24th on all digital platforms. This is their first album as a band. The single FAR premiers on Z-93. And hits in Traverse on November 25th. Physical copies will be available at the following upcoming shows:
Friday • Nov 22 • The Westown Album Release Party in Bay City.
Weds • Nov 27 • Pre-Thanksgiving Show with The Dayton Family at The Hamilton St. Pub in
Fri & Sat. • Nov. 29-30 • Traverse City release parties at Union St. Station.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)