INTERVIEW: THE REDLINES
The Redlines are a band who twist the flavour of nostalgia in the best way. Inspired heavily by 60/70s music from soul to punk, combined with a love for classic rock 'n' roll, these four create an all encompassing sound that there is thoroughly enjoyable. Their latest EP 'Kick Out Tomorrow' delves deep into their wide ranging musical vocabulary, with lead single 'Take What You Can Get' reminds you of early Kings of Leon in Brian Seese's vocals and the overall tone.
Grunge rock track 'Black Wheels' has a real ZZ Top feeling about it, showcasing just how open-minded this Pittsburgh four piece are when approaching their craft. Raucous guitar lines and a euphoric energy drive through this EP, and we sat down with The Redlines to learn more about the EP, how they got to where they are now and much more, exclusively for FLEX!
Hey The Redlines! How has your upbringing influenced your journey as a band?
Probably the biggest thing was that we all had parents who were supportive and encouraged our musical ambitions or, at the very least, didn’t top us from trying. Music was also very important in all of our families whether it was other family members who played instruments or just being exposed to different genres like jazz or country that we probably wouldn’t have found on our own. We also got to see the importance of hard work and dedication as we watched what our parents did to support their families. So even if that didn’t apply directly to the music, it definitely translated into keeping a band together for over 10 years.
What is the music scene like in Pittsburgh, PA?
Pittsburgh and the surrounding region has some amazing musicians. There are a lot of bands here that the world should know about, like Tiny Wars, Chet Vincent, DiLisio, The Vics. There's a strong community between the bands but outside the bands themselves there's not really a strong scene, at least not for our type of music. A lot of the shows at the prominent venues are dominated by cover bands or tribute bands so it's hard to get an opening slot for bigger touring bands or to get a decent crowd as a headliner. There's a lot of other events happening here as well, particularly with this being the first summer post-Covid, so we're all competing for people's time. However, a bright spot for the local music scene is a female run connection point called Keystone Artist Connect that has been working to promote the scene and increase the profile of artists like us.
One great thing about Pittsburgh is that it's centred between New York and Chicago, around 400 miles in either direction, so getting to the major cities in the Midwest or East Coast is only about a half day's drive. And it's cheaper to live here than in some of the bigger cities so it's a little easier to focus on music when you can afford a place to live. So it's a good place to live that has easy access to other cities.
How would you define your sound?
We have been trying to come up with an answer to this question since we started the band! It’s cliche to say “we don’t sound like anything else'' because there’s got to be other bands out there that sound similar to us. But it’s also tough to narrow it down to one genre like Rock & Roll, because that can be so broad. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue but we’ve been going with: a distinct blend of classic rock & roll with hints of 60’s soul, 70’s punk, and 80’s heartland rock mixed with a touch of power-pop and garage rock.
Who would you say have been your main influences?
Our main influences in general are Tom Petty, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, Black Keys and Lucero. But there's also certain songs which were specifically influenced by a particular artist that you don’t hear again in any of our other songs. For example, “Drown in Gin” has some Alkaline Trio influence in it that we don’t really have in anything else.
Congratulations on the new EP 'Kick Out Tomorrow', we're loving it! What is the story behind it?
Thanks! So this new EP is the companion to last year’s EP, “Kick Out Today”. Kick Out Today was an exploration of the sub-genres of garage rock and we had wanted to put that out on 7in vinyl in 2022. With vinyl production backed up for months we quickly realised that we wouldn't be able to get it in time for a reasonable release (we put it out on CD and digital only). We also realised that we had a few other songs we could work on and that if we combined them with the first batch we could make a double-EP that flowed well with each other. So before we even released the first EP we were scheduling more time in the studio so that we could get a jump on the vinyl production and have everything ready in 2023.
Musically the songs are loosely connected through the roots of garage rock and all the variations and sub-genres within. Maybe there's an influence from a favourite band or a nod to a certain part of a song we like or even just experimenting with combining other genres with garage rock. Our second single, "A Good Haircut and a Great Pair of Boots", is a good example where we tried to combine the rawness of garage rock with the grandeur of glam rock, a la Mott the Hoople or David Bowie.
Favourite track on the EP for you? Each member please!
Brian Seese (Vocals/Guitar) - A Good Haircut and a Great Pair of Boots. It's our most complex song but catchy at the same time. There’s drama in both the sound and theme. It was challenging to write, record, and to play but it turned out great for being written in two days and recorded less than a month later.
Jason Lizzi (Guitar/Vocals) -Take What You Can Get, because it’s a catchy song. It’s fun and easy to play.
Tony Vinski (Bass) - I really like Drown in Gin and Black Wheels because both have a glam/punk groove to them, but my favourite would have to be A Good Haircut and a Great Pair of Boots because it just sounds so epic with the extra keys and organ.
Sandro (Drums) - Drown in Gin for me. I like its drive and groove as well as the guitar riff, not to mention the snare crack that we got on that track!
Stream 'Kick Out Tomorrow' here:
'Take What You Can Get' seems to have such a blend of soul, rock and blues, really reminiscent of early Kings of Leon. What was the songwriting process like for this one?
This turned out to be a Covid song but didn’t really start that way. Brian found the lyrics for what ended up being the chorus in a notebook from one of his old bands and, inspired by the whole craziness of the pandemic, decided to write the song around learning to be happy with what you have because life can change at any moment. With the extra down time during lockdown he was able to experiment musically with some music theory techniques he was learning and also pull the rhythm of the verse that drives the song from Smog's "Cold Blooded Old Times".
When we were able to get together again, he brought the mostly complete song to the band and we all jammed on it to try to find our own parts. It was a little bit of a departure for us, like with Jay playing some Tom Morello-style sound effects on guitar and just the overall “Pump It Up” vibe, but it came together pretty quickly.
The final piece to the puzzle was our producer, Eddie Ashworth, suggesting we add some soulful female backing vocals during the recording. Both of these EPs were recorded at his home studio, The Oxide Shed, in Athens, Ohio near Ohio University where he teaches recording. It's secluded in the woods and miles from any distractions. For almost a week straight we'd record during the day and then relax on the deck at night while he told us wild stories of working with Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, Great White and others. He's very laid-back and easy to work with which helped get us in a creative mindset. We were able to experiment with different sounds and instrumentation. With his connections to the music school he was able to bring in other musicians like Jeremy Schaffer on keys and Kari Rutushin on vocals.
As a side note, we’ll take a comparison to Kings of Leon, especially their early stuff, any time! Check out our cover of “Molly’s Chambers” that we released in 2020 on your favoUrite streaming platform.
What is in store for the rest of 2023?
We'll be staying local to the Pittsburgh area for the rest of 2023 because we're breaking in drummer #5 (cue the Spinal Tap jokes). Sam Berman has joined us from The Nox Boys now that they are on hiatus. He's been on tour previously throughout the US and Spain so we're looking forward to hitting the road with him in 2024. In the spring we're aiming to get down to South by Southwest with some tour stops along the way there and back, so follow our website, social media, and all the other major show listing sites for any updates.