Southern style rock n roll never goes out of style, and Leeds rockers Red Light Revival serve it up hot with a tasty side of bluesy guitars and keyboards.
The band has put out three albums so far, each one a musical treasure trove. Red Light Revival’s latest single “Standing in the Shadows” harkens to Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Tuesday’s Gone”) and The Marshall Tucker Band (“Can’t You See”) while maintaining originality.
“Locked Out” has a real bluesy feel, with a deep thumpy bass and lively keys converging with the guitar and vocals to make the total package rock. I bet this is a cracker played live.
“Black & Cold” cranks up the tempo and is a real hard hitter, while “Flame” takes it up a notch higher.
The next big gig for Red Light Revival is The Apollo Festival on June 25 in York. They are playing the Access to Music stage at 14:25 p.m. As a preview to this, I had a chat with Ben, the band’s keyboardist, to learn more about the boys. Here’s what Ben had to say.
So, tell me who all is in the band and what instruments they play …
OK, there are five of us. Matt, guitar and vocals; Jon, lead guitar; Phil, bass; Charlie, drums; and finally me (Ben), and I play the keys.
When did you guys start playing together?
The original incarnation of the band started nearly ten years ago when Charlie, Matt and I all worked together. The original bass player wanted to put together a cover band to play a gig at a Christmas party. We all enjoyed it and got together so well that Matt and I decided that we would start writing songs together and it grew from there.
How many times have you changed players since then?
That’s a good question, Charlie, Matt and I are the remaining original members. Phil replaced the original bass player and as far lead guitar players go it’s quite a list. Originally there was Tom, He was replaced by Dave. He was replaced by C.T (for one rehearsal). He was replaced by Steve. And finally, and certainly not least, there is now Jon, who will be with us forever (I hope).
Yes, that’s a few changes for sure … How big is your catalogue of songs? It must be enormous.
Again that’s a good question. The recorded catalogue comes to a relatively small 21 tracks. The unrecorded work is vast. Matt in particular is prolific with his songwriting. When he and I get together to write the problem (and it’s not a bad problem to have), is that we have to go through everything that he has got, plus contributions from the other guys. I’d say we are probably sitting on an unrecorded catalogue of 30 songs.
So the two of you are the primary songwriters then? Does everyone else get involved at some point?
Typically Matt and I will work together on the basis of the tracks so that they are in a form which can be presented to the rest of the band. We then take that to the rehearsal studio where the other guys put together the arrangements with us. It’s the benefit of working with musicians that you really rate as you can present something and they will put their own spin on it, and inevitably (almost) it comes out sounding much cooler than you had originally anticipated it would do.
Very true. So who are your musical inspirations?
Eclectic to say the least. The standard Beatles and Rolling Stones influences are there, Aerosmith, Guns n Roses, Jethro Tull (Charlie would never forgive me for not referencing that), Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty, The Black Crowes — you get the idea, classic rock really.
Exactly the bands I was thinking! Your tunes have a rootsy, Southern blues/rock feel to them and many of those bands came to mind while listening.
That’s great that you think that, it’s a sound which with unsigned bands seems to have gone out of fashion here in the UK, I think. People seem preoccupied with wanting to be Oasis. Not my scene to be honest.
Sounds like quite a crowded field, so it’s good to stand out. I don’t think a bluesy rock sound will ever go out of style.
I’m sure that you are right, it’s the basis of so much of all genres of music today and nothing beats are really cool bluesy guitar riff. The work that Jon has done on our latest single “Standing in the Shadows” is to be blunt, mind-blowing.
Yes, that song covers it exactly! It has a nice groove to it and some pretty keyboard work too.
Aw, thank you, I’m not really sure what to say about that. I’m pleased that you liked it.
Don’t you get compliments often? You should. The keys on “Locked Out” are great too.
Oh stop it, you’re embarrassing me now! But once again, thank you.
So how often do you play out as a band?
As often as we can to be honest, although at the moment we are not organising any other gigs than those found on our website (http://www.redlightrevival.co.uk ) as Matt has moved to London for six months to work down there. Such is his dedication to the band though he is coming back to Leeds for the arranged gigs. Just as well, really, as we are playing the Apollo Festival in York on 25 June 2016, which is our biggest gig yet. Cast and Dodgy are the headliners.
Yes, I’ve heard the Apollo Festival is coming up. Is it your first time there and how did it come about?
It is our first time there and we can’t wait for it. Jon sorts out most of our gigs for us, he is responsible for the band’s Twitter feed and is all over sorting gigs. I think that we were successful with our application, it’s mainly down to the work that he has done in promoting the band. And of course, the fact that the people love a bit of good old-fashioned rock n roll!
That’s great. If they don’t hear about you, they can’t invite you. Do you ever do acoustic shows?
The short answer is no, although it’s something which we do keep talking about doing. We’ve played about in rehearsal a couple of times doing the sets acoustically and they do sound good, but I think we’ll save it for the MTV special rather than start performing that way now. The music is written to be played loud and to rock out to.
MTV … What a joke anymore. The entire state of mainstream music is a joke too. I wish there was a way to get indie more mainstream.
Totally and utterly agree. It’s a huge frustration and I could rant about this for hours. We have huge support from EGH radio (an internet radio station based in the UK) and a number of others around the world. The quality of the music played by the bands on there is incredible. UK bands like The Brazen, Temple Avenue, Black Sonic Revolver and The Dangerhounds (who we are playing with this weekend) are truly magnificent, yet they don’t get the coverage they deserve because of Simon f****** Cowell and his ilk. Highly frustrating. Music isn’t about prancing around in your underwear appealing to the target audience’s dads.
The way to get it into the mainstream is by the work of people like you, and the other bands who constantly promote us. So on behalf of us all, thank you for that!
You are welcome. I’ve heard and wholeheartedly support the bands you mentioned and so many more from Leeds and Manchester alone. It is amazing the amount of quality bands I’ve discovered just since last summer!
Yeah and that’s the thing, there really is so much quality out there. Ultimately it comes down to almighty dollar!
Well, at least we can make a start to get you in everyone’s ears with chats like this and placement on Twitter, Facebook and the like.
Indeed, and once again thank you for that, if the scene is going to change it will be because a joint effort from artists and from journalists like yourself.
One last question I missed earlier as we got sidetracked … Tell me about a live show — what is it like?
They are all unique to be honest. The last gig that we did though was special and was not in fact at bar or a club, but was at the Eccup Beer Festival at a farm in Yorkshire. We were headlining and went on stage at about 10:45 p.m. to a crowd that were suitably enthused due to their love of live music, the great bands that had been playing all day, and their huge consumption of beer. It really wasn’t the largest crowd that we’ve played to, probably only 50 or so people, but they were just so up for it, and the band fed off this.
Matt’s interaction with the crowd was awesome, Jon looked like and sounded like he belonged in a stadium, Phil played the best bass I’ve seen from anyone, and I’m deaf from the drumming that Charlie produced two feet to my left. It sounds like I’m being totally self-absorbed, but it was quite honestly the best gig I’ve ever been part of over 20 years of playing music. Was just brilliant.
That’s lovely. I often think it’s not the size of the venue that’s important, it’s the quality of the people in attendance. That story proves it.
Thanks for your time today, it’s been great chatting with you. I think I’ll go for a quick pint now!
Red Light Revival has a website at http://redlightrevival.co.uk/, is on Twitter at @redlightrevival , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/redlightrevivaluk/, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz1it8aT01OwEtf7nQaGw2A and on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/redlightrevival.