Published on August 24th, 2016 | by Craig Silliphant0
Interview: Royal Red Brigade
Regina’s Royal Red Brigade have a new album coming out on August 28th, called On Crimson Shores. We talk to Jason Thiry about their music.
Regina kinda punk kinda rock band (we’ll figure that out in a minute) Royal Red Brigade are a few albums in, and they have a new record coming out on August 28th (playing a show at The Exchange with SNFU). The album is called ‘On Crimson Shores’ and the advance track I heard, ‘I Need a Medic’ is a punch in the teeth, a blast of wailing guitars and kick you while you’re down venom-spit vocals. Here’s my chat with RRB vocalist and guitarist Jason Thiry as he prepares to enact his plan for world domination. Or, at least, on the even of release a killer album.
THE FEEDBACK SOCIETY: How did Royal Red Brigade meet and become a band?
JASON THIRY: [Drummer] Mitch [Rogers] and I were part of another Regina band, the Deadhearts, that had split up and we were kind of in-between projects. The other guys were in bands like the Hot Blood Bombers and the Sinsters that were doing really well, and we really wanted to get back on stage with something of our own. The two of us wrote four or five songs and we felt it was important to have at least an EP in hand for our first show. So we were recording well before we starting playing as Royal Red Brigade.
It was also a good opportunity to poach Jessie Ethier to record the bass tracks for us. We had been fans of her bass playing and her stage presence, and that recording was our sly way of convincing her to join the band permanently. We also talked Josh Ruecker, from the Sinsters, into coming back and playing these songs with us.
TFS: How would you describe your sound? It’s not really punk and it’s not really rock, but it’s both. And neither. And both.
JT: That’s always a troublesome question, but it think we’ve settled on describing ourselves as Punk Rock n’ Roll. There’s a lot of crossover that happens with our songwriting and all the members have very different interests. I really like how those influences manifest themselves under that greater umbrella label of punk or rock n roll. A big influence for me is the songwriting of a band like the Murder City Devils, who get away with writing simple riffs, but by creatively arranging the melodies they somehow tease out this bigger more complex sound. That’s always been a goal of mine, creating a big sound out of seemingly simple components.
‘Sierra Blanca,’ off the new record, achieves this quite well and we really weave these disparate melodies and harmonies together in more interesting ways than you might have heard from us before. It still comes across as a hard-hitting song, but if you took it apart, you’d find it’s built on this foundation of kind of nice, sweet riffs.
As for going heavier on this album, I think we’ve done a nice job of balancing that with more melody and more focus on the vocals, but yeah, definitely still trending heavier. Dylan Ludwig, since joining the band in 2012 has been a big influence on us, we all listen to a lot more heavy music because of him, and you hear that coming out on the record.
TFS: What has changed since the last album? How has the band progressed (or chosen not to progress) in four albums?
JT: The biggest change since the last album was having Dylan taking over rhythm guitar. Our original guitarist Josh was a big rockabilly guy so that was where he was coming from when we would write songs together. That rockabilly sound was a much bigger part of our early recordings. Dylan, like I said, comes from much heavier influences, and that has seeped into the songwriting as well.
I think the biggest progression for the band has come from the 150+ shows we’ve done over the last six years. We’ve toured hard and played shows ranging from sweltering concrete meat lockers (literally called, “The Meat Locker”) in New Jersey to opening for Bad Religion for 1000 people. We’ve seen, over the course of those shows, which songs work for people and which ones bomb. There really is no better feedback than playing for a room full of people who don’t know anything about you, and seeing if you can win them over. Battle testing songs on the road is the best education and I think it shows up in the writing and the way we structure things now. Building a dynamic set really starts at the very beginning of song construction and trying to make sure that things flow and hopefully, entertain and surprise people.
Did we care how those things came together when we wrote the first EP? Not at all, but it was a huge part of how we arranged this album and how we thought these songs would be played live.
TFS: Based on our phone conversation the other day, it sounds like you’re getting a bit more serious about promoting yourself. Is that true? Fair to say? Why are you coming around to that side of things now?
JT: I think that’s fair to say. When we released our last full-length album in 2012, we toured it across Canada for 44 days and had the best time ever. We met lots of great people and bands and the whole thing was fantastic, but have found that touring wasn’t effective on it’s own. Facebook and other things seem great but it is not enough either. The downside of social media is that it can really bottle you up within your own isolated sphere and it takes a while to realize that you’re not always going to reach new people that way.
So the answer for now is to the take the plunge with the promotion side of things, which is something that we’ve shied away from in the past. We’re a very DIY kind of band, and its not easy reaching out for help, but this new record is something we’ve poured our blood, sweat, and tears into and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure as many people as possible give it a chance.
TFS: Is there any one album by another group that you guys all get jazzed about together? Not necessarily something that sounds like your music, but something you guys all bond over.
JT: That’s a tough one…
Our interests are pretty diverse. Mitch is a Reggae, Ska, and Rocksteady DJ on the side so he woos and soothes us with his intimate knowledge of all that stuff in the tour van. Some albums get regular rotation every trip out, like Fucked Up’s ‘Year of the Pig’ or Burning Love’s ‘Rotten Thing to Say.’ Hmmm…actually, it might be Cypress Hill’s ‘Black Sunday’ or III: ‘Temples of Boom.’ Jessie will probably roll her eyes at me over this but secretly she loves it just as much as we do. Definitely heavy on the nostalgia with that one.
TFS: Who are your favourite local musicians right now?
Local progressive stoner rockers Black Thunder are killing it right now, and they just released a new record on Transistor 66 Records and finished an eastern Canada tour. Tomorrow Starts Today are a fantastic band that more people need to see. Snake River are releasing a ton of great material lately, every time I turn around they have a new record it seems. The Jump Off are one of the most fun bands around with their synth-rock dance-punk sound. Surf Dads have of blown up over the last year and are touring Europe right away. Bats Out! are Regina’s Oi Kings and they put on a great show. Who else? Failed States, Wormwood, Soiled Doves, Homo Monstrous, The Steves are all ripping bands worth checking out. I won’t even attempt to talk about Regina’s metal scene, there so much happening there. There’s a lot of stellar music coming out of Regina right now and it makes me really happy when people realize that there’s something special happening here right now.
TFS: What’s your least favourite thing about the Saskatchewan music scene?
JT: Sometimes we run into people that hear that we’re from Saskatchewan and are prepared to write us off before we’ve even started playing. Saskatchewan is really an undiscovered goldmine of talent right now and there are a lot of acts that deserve to be on the national radar. It’s frustrating to see those bands go unrecognized over and over again.
TFS: Anything I’ve missed?
JT: I think that about covers it. I would like to give a shout out to Creative Saskatchewan, they helped finance this latest record, and it really wouldn’t have been possible without their support. I’d also like to give Luc Hart of Black Powder Studios a shout as well. Luc is an amazing local producer and he always helps elevate the material to its maximum potential.