Redline Addiction Let it be known – I love two things more than just about everything else: Music and Sports. So when I hear a band make a sports reference to leaving it all on the field, I’m more than pumped up to find out what they’re all about. The Redline Addiction, a Washington, DC band that pulls no punches within their music or during their performances, seems to have it down; “We leave it all on the stage every time we perform. Bottom line is we are all in this for the chance to perform, whether it’s for 10 or 10,000. We push it to the max.”
It’s hard to believe the current group has only been together since July 2007 – I mean, they did open for the Misfits this past October. But these guys (Rob Robinson, Justin Liberti, Justin Ganderson, Chris Mcvey and Neil Mutreja) each come with a plethora of experience in genres ranging from pop to punk to pure rock. There’s more to their success than that however – the Redline Addiction understands that there’s a difference between an artist and a performer. While the performers currently dominate the mainstream charts… the Redline Addiction is part of the charge to put the power back in the musician’s hands; to show that success comes from creativity, not from some pop-star recipe of redundancy.
Their latest release, “Goodbye Miss Dolly” is full of energy. The writing on the album “doesn’t fall victim to many of the normal pitfalls of songwriting, like trying too hard to sound Ôdeep’ or Ôintelligent’ or reaching for symbolism and metaphor. That’s not to say that the lyrics don’t have all of that, we’re just subtle about it.” The band is already hard at work on their next record, and has a bunch of local dates in the DC and Baltimore area coming up. Check them out and find your new favorite local act. Jump into the XXQ’s to learn more.
XXQs: Redline Addiction
PensEyeView. com (PEV): How and when did Redline Addiction first get involved with playing and writing music?
Redline Addiction (RA): We didn’t come together as Redline Addiction until July 2007. Individually, we have a varied background in music. Liberti, Neil, and Chris all played in bands, together and separately throughout high school (Wootton) and college (UMD: Neil & Chris; West Virginia: Liberti). Ganderson played in bands throughout high school (Norfolk, VA), College (Cornell) and law school (Miami, FL). I was mostly a choral singer who minored in voice at Wash U in St. Louis. I didn’t start playing in a band until my senior year of college, but had been involved in several vocal performing groups throughout my whole life.
As Redline Addiction, we all dabble in the writing process, though Chris did the majority of the writing on our debut album “Goodbye Miss Dolly”. Usually he comes to us with a basic outline of a song: root chords, verse/chorus/bridge, and he will have most of the lyrics written. From there, we collectively attack the song, giving our input and suggestions as we work to flesh out the songs. I was the last member to join the band. When I got up with the guys, they had already written all of the songs on the album. We sort of tweaked things a bit, especially melodically in order to fit my vocal range and styling, but for the most part the songs have remained in the original format.
PEV: What kind of music were you all listening to growing up?
RA: Again, this varies from member to member. Neil is a big fan of the classic metal bands: Metallica, Pantera, etc. but also has a strong passion for reggae. Chris and Ganderson tend to sway toward the more underground, indie, and punk bands, but were definitely influenced by the 90’s alt rock movement, particularly the Seattle grunge scene. Liberti was really into Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Collective Soul and others. Me, I’m taking my time with music. Growing up I was more into R&B, Hip-Hop, and Motown. In college I was introduced to classic rock and actually studied Dylan and the Beatles, in addition to falling in love with jazz and the blues (easy to do when you are in St. Louis). Now I’m mostly listening to Folk Rock and contemporary rock artists like Ray Lamontagne, Josh Ritter, and Ryan Adams. I also have a great passion for reggae and Electronic Dance Music, (EDM) specifically house.
PEV: What’s your take on today’s mainstream music scene?
RA: My opinion about artists is this; you have professional musicians and professional performers. A lot of what you could classify as mainstream music, the artists getting regular airtime, I would classify under professional performers. Obviously, they are accomplished musicians and I would never diminish their abilities, but their most important asset is that they have a strong grasp on the pulse of the market. They know what sells and how to sell it. But I would tend to argue that in doing so, some creativity is lost. The sound is more generic, more studio and less rawness, a more limited range of variance. I certainly think that the mainstream scene is missing out on a lot of tremendous musicianship and a lot of creativity. You’ll find a ton of gems on the side stages at festivals, that’s for sure, though it’s likely you will have never heard of any of the bands.
PEV: At what point in your life did you decide that music was going to be more than just a hobby for you?
RA: Well we are still struggling with that decision. We are all full time professionals who work busy weeks. We try our best to commit time to playing music and creating new music, but real life can get in the way sometimes. When you try to accommodate five different schedules, five different lives, it can be very challenging. Our main priority towards the end of 2007 was to finish the album and get it out in 2008. We have booked several shows for the spring and are looking forward to touring more aggressively during the summer. I think its safe to say that music is a very serious hobby for us, but as to whether or not we consider it a profession, I think we will have to reassess that after we get a chance to see what kind of success the album has and how well we get our name out there this summer. Hobby or profession, music is a priority for all of us and is the one medium through which we get to free ourselves of the normal chaos of everyday life. I know music will be a part of our lives forever regardless of where it leads us “professionally”.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Redline Addiction performance?
RA: Pure energy and fun. In sports there’s the old saying, leave it all on the field. We leave it all on the stage every time we perform. Bottom line is we are all in this for the chance to perform, whether it’s for 10 or 10,000. We love to play live music and I think that really comes across in our shows. Our music is raw and energetic, fast and aggressive. That’s where the “redline” came from in our name (that and as a little shot out to DC). We push it to the max. Another unique aspect of our show/our music is that because we all have various preferences and musical influences, our songs transcend many genres. We have songs that can appeal to many people on both the underground or mainstream level. You can hear certain influences in some of our songs, like “Arsonist” which resembles, and I use the term loosely because these guys are gods, but resembles a Metallica sound. But all of our music manages to maintain our own unique style, keeping it fresh and new. No matter what, our live shows are sure to get people moving and will have a little something for everybody’s pallet.
PEV: Tell us what it was like for you when you first started out. Before you were regularly playing gigs.
RA: Like I said before, we were primarily focused on getting the album fine tuned and finished so we could get out and start touring. It took some time for me to get accustomed to the band, since they had been together for about a year before I joined them in 2007. In addition, I did not have a personal relationship with anyone in the band, so there was definitely a period of time where we were just kinda hanging out, getting to know one another. Most of the songs were in their final arrangement, so practices were mostly spent catching me up to speed. But I have had a lot of performing experience and tend to learn music pretty quickly, so this was not as laborious as it could have been. Shortly after, we started playing shows in bars, doing cover songs as well as originals just trying to iron out our stage chemistry. After opening for the Misfits in October 2007, we felt we had come together and found our niche. After that it was straight to the studio and we spent the next few months perfecting the CD.
PEV: How is your style changed over the years, since you first started out?
RA: Well, we are a little new to really say that there has been a lot of change. I can say this though, we have the foundation for about 75% of the second album and there are some changes. The next album will definitely be a bit more melodic and varied vocally. The new songs are definitely more refined and incorporate more genres and styles. Chris has really grown as a songwriter and gets better everyday. Plus there will be writing contributions from every member on this album, which explains some of the variation. There is a lot of blending of new ideas and influences that will appear on this album, which in the end will show how diverse we can be as artists.
PEV: What can fans expect from the new album, “Goodbye Miss Dolly?”
RA: Goodbye Miss Dolly has a bit of a garage feel to it. There are a lot of energetic songs that get the people dancing and sort of exude our live persona. But there are also some neat little studio effects in there as well that give the album a little boost and add some creative elements which are not easily replicated in our live show, like the orchestra in “Haunted”. Its subtle but adds something. Thematically, I think the album is fantastic. The title, the art, the song order all really suits the music and makes a very cohesive finished product. As I said, Chris did almost all of the writing on this album. He’s a humble man so I have to say it for him, the man can write. He doesn’t fall victim to many of the normal pitfalls of songwriting, like trying too hard to sound “deep” or “intelligent” or reaching for symbolism and metaphor. That’s not to say that the lyrics don’t have all of that, he’s just subtle about it. A lot of the music is about the relationship between men and women. The songs cover a broad spectrum of emotion, covering generic, universal issues like failed communication, the struggle to maintain identity, resistance to conformity, and deception. In saying that, it sounds like this album would be depressing and dark. In a sense it is, but like I said, Chris has a subtlety to his writing that allows some of these dark feelings to be cloaked in irony and sarcasm. Some times the music creates a contrast to the lyrics, which sheds unique perspective on the lyrics. The lyrics might depict one picture if simply read with out music, but when coupled with the music, it takes on a new life. Often times the music offers a feel of retrospection to a lyric that is very much in the moment.
Then there are other songs on there that tackle sociological issues like “My Favorite Rival” and “The Arsonist”. “Rival” could very easily be assumed to be about the war in Iraq, lyrically it is pretty blatant. But the genius about that song is that it doesn’t necessarily take a position one way or the other. It more sort of begs the question, does man actively seek out a rival/competition/opposition? Its very Hobbesian in that sense – the natural state of man is competition. We, as in people, almost enjoy having enemies, hence “favorite” rival. “Arsonist” struck me in a similar way to Radiohead’s album title “Hail to the Thief.” I remember reading an article, I think it was Rolling Stones, but people were getting all caught up about the title being a play on Hail to the Chief and was Radiohead calling Bush a thief, blah blah blah. I’m not quoting but, essentially their response to this was that fear is the thief. Fear takes everything from a person, their decency and altruism, saps them of their strength, steals their ability to reason reducing us to animal instincts that we blindly follow. Well if fear is the thief, Hate is the “Arsonist”. Fear may steal from a person, but hate destroys them, it burns them from the inside out and leaves their lives unrecognizable.
Back to the original question…you will find all of that and much more in the album. The album is extremely playable from start to finish, has a great flow to it, and will challenge you emotionally, mentally, and theoretically to whatever extent you are willing to allow it.
PEV: In all your travels, what has been the favorite city to play and why?
RA: We’re working on some shows in St. Louis, Philadelphia and New York, but to date, the band has only really played in DC and its VA/MD suburbs. We have a big myspace following in Philly and its suburbs as well as in Baltimore so needless to say we are looking forward to getting out there and performing for those fans.
PEV: Is there a certain “up and coming” band or artist right now you think we should all be looking out for?
RA: Redline Addiction, anyone, anyone? No seriously we have a group of local artists that we are very proud to know and have a lot of mutual respect for. On the rock side of things we there’s local artists The Llyod Dobler Effect, The Speaks, Stella Mira (who is joining us for our CD release party on 3/28/08 at the Rock & Roll Hotel), Seattle’s J Minus, the New York based Sikamor Rooney (also joining us at the release party), the Hatch and The Gay Blades,, also from New York. Then on the indie scene there is Undercover Monks, based in DC. We also have a lot of love for the hip hop artists the Fif (DC based, playing the release with us), St. Louis’ DJ Trackstar, and LA based artists DZ Azeem and Abex. For all the EDM fans definitely check out DC’s favorite DJ duo aRk.
PEV: Tell us, if you can, the meaning behind the band name, Redline Addiction?
RA: Like I said before the “redline” refers to our aggressive and fast paced style. We play loud, we party hard, we’re none stop from start to finish. It is also an homage to our Maryland and DC roots. We all grew up on or near stops on the DC Metro redline. The “addiction” came from our commitment to music and our love for performing. The rush from performing your own original music can be intoxicating and certainly addictive.
PEV: How have all your friends and family back home reacted you the band’s success?
RA: Our friends and family have been a great source of support. They come out in masses to all of our shows, most never miss a show regardless of whether it’s on a Wed. night and 30 miles away or right around the corner. They are there for us through thick and thin. Our families and loved ones have been supportive of the late night practices and recording sessions, our regular absences from family gatherings, and the attitudes that often accompany the stress and exhaustion that comes with being full time professionals by day and rock stars, so to speak, by night. Whatever success we have already enjoyed or may experience in the future would not have been possible with out them.
PEV: How is road life for the band? Best and worst parts?
RA: Don’t have much to tell about that right now. Talk to me again after the summer. I’m sure we will have quite a bit to relate to you on that topic after we finish up our DC tour and start hitting the asphalt.
PEV: When you aren’t performing or traveling, what can we find the guys doing in your spare time?
RA: We came together at such a pivotal point in our lives so we all have very involved personal lives. We all enjoy watching other artists perform so you’ll probably catch us out in Baltimore or DC enjoying some live music. I golf. I guess the reality of the situation is that most of our spare time is spent promoting our efforts as a band whether that is through practice, organizing shows, or networking at local venues and bars. Otherwise our time is spent preoccupied with our “real” careers or spending time with our friends and family just relaxing and trying to catch a breath from our hectic schedules.
PEV: What’s one thing fans would be surprised to hear about the members of Redline Addiction?
PEV: What is a normal day of a show for the band like? Any pre-show rituals?
RA: For me, if the show is on a weekend, it’s usually spent doing as little as possible trying to conserve my energy and voice. If it’s on a weekday, then we are all at work. Pre-show rituals? A shot of whiskey and a “Whoa Bundy” minus the “Whoa Bundy.”
PEV: In one word, describe Redline Addiction.
PEV: If you could have your “dream collaboration” with any artist, who would it be and why (living or passed)?
RA: This would probably vary from member to member. My dream collaboration would be with the Bob’s, Dylan or Marley or both. But as a band, I think we’d all be in agreement that playing with Metallica or Pearl Jam would be a dream come true. If I was going to generalize our sound I would say we try to blend the influences of metal and alt rock, particularly 90’s Seattle scene. I think it’s safe to say that both of these bands are at the pinnacle of their respective genres, both of which have been an enormous influence on us.
PEV: What has been the best part of the band’s career so far?
Opening for the Misfits has to be up there on the list at the very least for the experience of that crowd. Its amazing to see a band that has been doing the whole punk thing for that long still rock as hard as they do, and their fans really go at it. It was awesome to be able to open for a national act with some legacy and who has a sound and fan base completely distinct from our own. I wouldn’t have really expected that we would be a hit at the show, in all honesty. But I was really amazed at how many people actually came up to us and told they loved our sound. It was a nice validation that our music can appeal to people of all different tastes.
Finishing the album has to be up there. Having all of that hard work and time condensed into something tangible is a unique feeling. We have a physical embodiment of hours upon hours of dedication and sacrifice. On one hand its like all of that and all we get is this small plastic disc? One the other hand we have something that we can keep for the rest of our lives and something that we can give out to people all over the world. We gave a big part of ourselves to this CD, so in a sense, when people buy it, we are giving them a part of ourselves.
PEV: What is next for Redline Addiction?
In the immediate future we have these shows.
4.12.08: The Zodiac Lounge
4.27.08: Velvet Lounge
5.09.08: Saphire Cafe
We are planning to do some shows in Ocean City and the Delaware beaches this summer. We are definitely going to be heading up the east coast to hit up some shows in Philadelphia and NYC. We are also working on booking a small tour in St. Louis so I can hit up the old stomping ground. There are a ton of great venues and a great live music scene out there so we hope to start our push westward sometime in the late summer/fall time frame. Like I said before, the next album is actually pretty far along though still in its infancy. We would like to say that by this time next year we will have our second album complete and will be planning our second tour. Check us out at our myspace page myspace.com/redlineaddiction to keep posted about upcoming tour dates and album information.
For more information on Redline Addiction, check out www.myspace.com/RedlineAddiction