Interview: Red Rising Sun at Sound Stage in Baltimore, MD 4/1/19
David Harris for Sound Bebel Magazine recently met up with Mike Protich, lead vocals and guitar for Red Sun Rising, during the bands tour stop at Sound Stage in Baltimore, MD during their U.S. Spring Tour. Red Sun Rising hails from Akron, Ohio and is currently on tour in support of their newly released EP titled “Peel”.
Red Sun Rising’s EP Peel released March 22, 2019 follows the release of their highly successful previous two studio albums their first, Polyester Zeal, in 2015, and their second, Thread, in 2018. Red Sun Rising consists of members Mike Protich, Ryan Williams, guitar, Ricky Miller, bass, Dave McGarry, guitar and vocals and Pat Gerasia, drums. Since the release of Polyester Zeal in 2015 which debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hard Rock album chart Red Sun Rising hasn’t looked back.
Their singles "The Otherside" and "Emotionless" both reached number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart making Red Sun Rising one of two bands to ever reach number one twice on their first album. The band doesn’t like to place themselves in a box and would rather describe their music as “Thread.” The meaning behind the term thread is to weave their influences together with their creative outlets and not be described as one particular genre.
Red Sun Rising’s newest EP Peel consists of four tracks, three of which are new takes of tracks from Polyester Zeal and Thread, as well as, a cover of the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t it Be Nice.” Peel adds a focus on Mike Protich’s powerful and yet at times subtle vocal range and while showing his control. His vocals pull you in as the melodic tones and emotion can be heard throughout each song. The acoustic guitars are peeled back showing you, the listener, just how many layers this band is capable of producing.
The band put on a killer show to an enthusiastic crowd. As mentioned, the vocals live were just as raw and melodic as the recordings and the guitars and drums complimented every note. Mike’s vocal range is incredible and it seems he sings with such little effort.
David Harris for Sound Rebel Magazine caught up with Mike Protich before the show as he returned to the bus from getting in a workout at the local gym.
Sound Rebel Magazine: How do you take care of yourself while on the road?
Mike Protich: A lot of water and sleep are the two biggest things. Obviously, food choices, such as, staying away from acidic foods and going to the gym every day to get the cardio in. I really try to eat healthy and work out every day. This is our fifth show in a row and it’s the middle spring and allergies are flaring. I’ve been having a tough time this past week.
SR: What’s your typical schedule look like (days on/days off)?
MP: This one has been kind of weird. The headline shows we try to do five shows a week which is a lot. We basically try to have Monday and Tuesday off. This week is a little different. We are obviously playing on a Monday and then we’re going to pick back up on Wednesday and go straight through Sunday. So it’s going to be another brutal week.
SR: I realize it’s important to you and the band to not define yourself as any one specific genre. Does this approach push you as a vocalist outside of your comfort zone or does this open you up creatively?
MP: I think it a does a little bit of both. I think it a blessing and a curse. If you just looked at a snap shot of the band as a fan from the outside and just looked at our singles we’ve released and you didn’t really get into the band you may not realize all of who we are. Once you hear the singles they are so different I think people sometimes have trouble connecting the dots to know it’s the same band. The reason I know this is because when we play a festival and play all of our radio singles we’ll see online comments saying, “I didn’t realize you guys had all those songs” and it’s because they sound so different. So in some ways it takes longer because it’s not being put into a box and this is what it is. But it’s all these other things and I think as our catalog grows the fans are getting used the fact that every song will be that different.
SR: You’ve been together since 2007 and touring since 2008. Was the plan early on to not put yourself in a box?
MP: We kind of always said from the very beginning when we first started writing songs, let’s just not try to write any particular type of song. Let’s just see where the process takes us and see what feels right. We noticed this immediately because the first few songs we wrote were heavy kind of Rage Against the Machine like tunes. But we also love the Beatles so we were writing some almost ballad type acoustic songs. I remember that conversation came up early on. Are these songs two different to be from the same band? We were kind of like, who cares it didn’t matter as long as we loved it.
SR: How does your creative process develop?
MP: It’s definitely changed a lot over the years. Early on it was Ryan and I sitting in the room with an acoustic guitar and we would bounce riffs off each other until we would settle on one. Then I would scad a melody and once we get a riff that’s cool, we’ll be like, hey play that riff. I would scad a melody over it and once we’d get the melody, I would literally keep scadding. Then we would write down what words we thought I was saying. Once we had a couple key words that sounded great in the melody we would decide on a concept and work around those words and form the lyrical content together. Currently, because we don’t live in the same city anymore and I have my own home set up right now I have been writing quite a bit on my own. Lately, it’s been moving more towards bringing full songs to the table.
SR: When you first formed the band in Akron, Ohio did you ever feel you needed to be in Los Angeles or New York?
MP: That conversation came up and thankfully we had a mentor at the time named Dave Brooks from the band Slammin’ Gladys. He’s a phenomenal vocalist and still is to this day. He mentored us a little bit through the years because he had the record deal back in the day and had done the touring. One thing he said to us was don’t feel you have to go to LA or Nashville because you’re going to get lost. He encouraged us to own the fact you’re from Akron and to be the biggest band from Akron. So that’s what we did and we spread from there and I’m glad we did.
SR: As we discussed, so many of your songs are different. Who do you feel you sound like and where do you draw your vocal inspiration from?
MP: There are a handful of guys I will channel depending on what kind of tone I am looking for on this particular song or what kind of delivery. The ones I always go back to for inspiration, meaning how would this guy do it? They are Chris Cornell, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon and Scott Weiland. As of late, I don’t listen to much rock anymore because I am surrounded by it constantly. Even on “Thread” there are moments where I was listening to Alanis Morissette, Regina Spektor, and Imogen Heap at the time and that kind of bled into that sound as well in a strange way. Another massive influence on me is Maynard James Keenan, I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention him.
MP: It’s been cool. We’ve been playing a couple of the tracks live on this tour and stripping a few on the songs down with the acoustic guitars and the fans really seem to be digging it. It’s a breath of fresh air and the set has been great.
SR: How do you develop the set list for the night? For example, are you playing the new version of Blister on Peel or do you change it up and go back to the original version?
MP: Right now we are just playing the new version. We do change the set up a lot. Every time we go out we change the set and we even play different arrangements of different songs. So you will never get the same exact show from us. Maybe on a tour we’ll play for the most part the same set. There are definitely moments in the set where we kind of jam and things are slightly different; I’ll change melodies depending on how I’m feeling.
SR: Thinking about your musical journey and the fans who at times can put themselves in a box with their musical tastes and expectations. Do you feel there is a risks when exploring new approaches?
MP: It’s really about what we are feeling. Even with Polyester Zeal to Thread we only have two albums. So when Thread came out this was the first time anyone had something to compare it to. When Polyester Zeal came out it was like ok, well here is their sound. Then we came out with Thread which is definitely more organic and has more texture to it and not as slick in production. People naturally would compare Thread to Polyester Zeal and say, “well, it doesn’t sound like Polyester Zeal”. It was a totally different album. So I think by the time we have our third and fourth album out people will be like, oh, they are all different. But for right now there is only one other album to compare it to. I feel maybe for some who really enjoyed the sound of Polyester Zeal maybe weren’t sure how to take Thread. When we released our first album Polyester Zeal, we kind of went down the act of the rock lane. It was all rock radio and rock outlets. Some of the fans when we came out with Thread, if you will a more alternative record, those avenues didn’t grasp it as easily. Some comments were like, “I wish they would play the heavy stuff like Emotionless”. It’s like there are still heavy moments in our music just not everything is always going to be that way.
SR: What are your plans for 2019?
MP: We are half way through this tour with a few more weeks left. We have a few festivals lined up where we may route some headline shows around that. But we are really going to focus on new music. We have been writing a lot and like I said at home and now on the road. I have a little set up I bring on the road. Probably after this interview I’ll head to the green room and lay down some tracks. This will be the focus even though Thread hasn’t been out that long and we just released Peel we are already ready to create again.
SR: You have been on this unbelievable musical journey in such a short time. I want to thank you for allowing me to share a few moments of this journey with you. Best of luck with the tour and the rest of 2019.
MP: Thank you.
Red Sun Rising is currently on tour in support of their new EP Peel with Special Guests Goodbye June and Dirty Honey.
Photos and Interview by David Harris
To see when Red Sun Rising is in a town near you check out the links below.