Red Star Rebels
Rock music on both sides of the Atlantic is in a such state of limbo right now that it is totally unclear not only to bands, but to their managers as well, who you have to be or what you have to do in order to land a major record deal. Nu-metal, the last seriously big rock trend, has long been out, glam-rock revival is not in yet properly and, while it seems that in order to get noticed you absolutely have to belong to a certain trend, it is unclear which of them will prove to be the winning ticket in the long run.
While this identity crisis torments many bands who are trying to make the right guess as to which bandwagon to jump on, Red Star Rebels have chosen to distance themselves from being described as belonging to any particular tribe. They want to be known as a classic rock band with a punk twist and they seem to fit the description: a lot of what they do stems from the 70s and 80s rock, which they blend with an aggressive punk edge. Although they don’t deny their influences, they still insist that they are not interested in exemplifying outworn myths and are able to create their own vision which is fresh and relevant to modern times. What really matters about this band though is the fact that they can write great songs – memorable and full of content – a rare skill which separates future winners from everyone else.
The Mag caught up with the band before their show at the Purple Turtle in Camden on August 12 where they shared the bill with The Glitterati, Wry and Dead Monroe.
Tell me about your new single and the upcoming tour.
Meady: Our new single is called ‘You’re Just Another Drug I’ve Gotta Kick’, it’s out in late September and it’s our first single, a collectors’ edition.
Where can people go to buy it?
Meady: It’s going to be on all major internet download sites like i-Tunes. If you go to our web site there will be details there. Local records shops in the UK will also have it, but specific ones, so check the web site for details.
Jonny: The Faster Pussycat tour with Red Star Rebels and Beautiful Creatures will kick off on Thursday, September 14 at the Pitz in Milton Keynes, then Saturday the 16th at Bradford Rio’s, Sunday the 17th we’ll be in Glasgow at the Renfrew Ferry, Tuesday the 19th at London Underworld and Wednesday the 20th at JB’s Dudley.
Are you looking forward to this?
Jonny: Yea, very much, we’re gonna blow them away!
Meady: We’ve played with Brides of Destruction, Nikki Sixx’s band, then we played with Gilby Clarke of Guns’n’Roses. Because all those guys are from the same era, it’d be good to measure up and see who’s still got it and who hasn’t.
Stevie: Brides of Destruction were wicked!
Jonny: Tommy Lee came across us last year and he had a word with Nikki Sixx, which is how we got the Brides tour and got to know Tracii Guns. So that’s how the whole thing rolled up and that’s how we got these tours.
Blackie: Gilby has asked us to provide material for Supernova [a reality TV band with Tommy Lee ( Motley Crue) on drums, Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica) on bass and Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns’n’Roses) on guitar]. He wanted a couple of our tunes but we didn’t want to give them away, because as soon as we give the tunes to them, we can’t use them ourselves. They would use them for a whole year and after a year we would get the copyright back, but we didn’t want to do it.
Dazzle: Everybody would remember Supernova doing them, rather than us doing them, so we didn’t want that.
You guys seem to belong to the new generation of musicians who are very uninhibited and passionate, something very different from what went on in the 90s in this country. Where does the confidence and the passion come from?
Jonny: The confidence comes from the fact that we are the best-looking band not only that is there now, but that has ever been. That’s where the confidence and the passion come from, we’d like to think.
From your physical attributes?
Meady: I think that a few years back there were a lot of bands of the Oasis / Britpop era where none of them could play their instruments that well. Now there are bands coming out that are a bit heavier, but still many of them, because of the Oasis hangover, think that they can stand there and play three chords. Still, some bands play a bit better than that, so all the bands tonight, us included, can play a lot better than those that belong to the last major music trend in the UK.
How much of what went on in the 70s and the 80s is relevant to your music and how do you manage to remain original?
Blackie: Everyone in this band has completely different influences and we all bring them into this band in the same part. That fused with amazing tunes with fantastic lyrics has got us where we are now.
The lyrics that you write, do they come from personal experiences? Are any of your songs autobiographic?
Blackie: For me there are a lot of great lyricists. There are poets, obviously, then there are modern day poets like Doherty and Mike Skinner where they are talking about what is relevant to the kids. I like lyrics that are going to mean something to kids in the street. We’ve got songs like ‘Too Young to Care’, ‘Fast Die Young and Pretty’ and ‘In it for the Kicks’, these are the songs about teenage angst. When the kids grow up they want to rebel against their parents.
Can what you do be seen as a form of social commentary on what goes on in this country right now? Is there an impact of what goes on in contemporary Britain on your music?
Meady: It’s not specific in terms of a particular social situation, it’s specific in terms of relationships that people have, in terms of what kids experience when they fall in love and the pain that goes with it, that kind of thing. This is the point where we hope people identify with our lyrics.
Jonny: There are a lot of clever kids out there these days between the ages of 13 and 16 who know exactly what they are looking for.
What are they looking for?
What about the males?
Jonny: That goes for them as well. (Laughs).
Stevie: They are looking for a band to inject some fun back into rock’n’roll, it hasn’t been that way in years, all those shoe-gazers staring at their fucking feet all night, and you want for someone to get up on stage and do something different.
Blackie: When kids hear songs they want to go ‘Fucking hell, that’s me’ or ‘Fuck me, I’ve been there, they talk about me’.
So in a way it’s a two-way thing – your generation inspires you and you inspire them?
Blackie: Exactly, I want to write something that a kid thinks that it’s them you are talking about.
Are there any contemporary bands of your age that you rate? The bands of the rock’n’roll revival, do you rate any of them?
Dazzle: The Towers of London are probably the nearest, but there isn’t a lot out there really, a lot of them are just nicking what has been before.
How are you different from them?
Dazzle: We are putting a modern edge to it.
Blackie: We don’t belong to any one genre, we ain’t just a glam rock band or just 80s rock band, or sleaze or just punk, we are all influenced by different things and bring it into the band in equal part, so that’s what brings out the originality.
Meady: If you look on Myspace there is a million bands there and what’s the point in that? It’s all be done before. Yea, there is a bit of retro going on, but most of them are duplicating something that has already been done. With us, you have a bit of mix and match and an attempt to create a new genre by blending together different styles of music rather than looking like a band of 20 years ago and doing everything that they did like a rulebook. Smash the rulebook!
Do you rate any contemporary guitarists, any young guitar players?
Meady: I am not one of those guitarists who get all geeky and read magazines. I just like to turn up and play and then have a party afterwards.
Did you start out with lessons or are you self-taught?
Meady: I’m completely self-taught. Some guy tried to give me lessons but he tried to touch me in a place I didn’t want him to.
Stevie: I got a bit carried away that night!
How about you, Jonny?
Jonny: I am the pretty rhythm guitarist who knows five chords. (Laughs) I can’t say that guys from the guitar magazines are knocking on my door yet. What I want to say about the band is that we are a classic rock band with a punk twist and we believe that there isn’t another band around doing what we do.
Meady: The big part of it is our stage performance because we try to make a real show for people. For somebody to turn up and not only to say that the band was good but to go ‘Fucking hell, what the fuck was that?!’
Blackie: And there isn’t a dry pair of knickers by the time we get off stage.
How do you know that?
Blackie: We do knicker checks. (Everybody laughs)
Stevie, what three worlds would you use to describe this band?
Stevie: Cool, sexy, original.
Blackie, what’s one thing you can never say ‘no’ to?
Meady, what’s the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?
Meady: On stage, in a band context or in life?
In your life in general.
Jonny: I can answer that for him. When we played the Mean Fiddler last year, Meady jumped up the PA stack and broke his foot in two places mid-gig. We had two gigs the next day and he had to sit down on a chair. That’s probably the most spontaneous thing I can think of.
Dazzle, what do you do for fun?
Dazzle: For fun I play bass in Red Star Rebels, drink and watch animal porn.
Here is a question for you, Jonny. What’s the best thing about being in this band?
Blackie: That’s me!
Jonny: I think the best thing about being in this band is for these lot really, because they get to be in a band with me.
Blackie: That’s very original! That’s how original we are!
Are you guys planning to release an album?
Jonny: What we are going to do is to put a single out in late September / early October, then follow it up with another single January / February time, and we look to release an album in around March.
It is going to be self-released?
Jonny: It’s going to be on an independent label called In Vain Records.
Good luck with the tour and the album.
Jonny: Thank you very much.
Guest article from Alyssa O.
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