Red: The heavy rock band from Nashville inspiring change

Wednesday 26th August 2015

Tony Cummings reports on the Dove Award-winning rockers RED


When Cross Rhythms last wrote about Red (or, if you prefer, RED or R3D) their 2009 album 'Innocence & Instinct' was about to be released. It proved to be a major Christian music success winning the Rock Album Of The Year Dove Award. Their 2011 'Until We Have Faces' was equally successful, selling over 100,000 copies with the song "Start Again" picking up the Best Rock Recorded Song Of The Year Dove Award. 2013's 'Release The Panic' was a little more problematic. Although released in standard, deluxe and remixed ('Recalibrated') versions some fans felt it was rather over orchestrated. Now with 2015's Rob Graves-produced 'Of Beauty And Rage' the band - consisting of singer/songwriter Michael Barnes, guitarist Anthony Armstrong and bass player Randy Armstrong - have according to most fans and critics returned to top form. Christian Music Review (CMR) even went on record to call it "a musical masterpiece that will blow the minds of fans everywhere and no doubt create an entirely new host of followers."

On the JesusFreakHideout website Randy Armstrong was asked what were the biggest changes he thought had been made on 'Of Beauty And Rage'. "I wouldn't say that we've made any huge changes. I would say that we've definitely matured in our writing. We wanted to go back to a place where people discovered the band and fell in love with the sound. When we made our first record, we didn't think we were reinventing the wheel or anything. [With this release] we wanted to forget about radio and all those things that so many think are important."

Randy agreed with JesusFreakHideout's Wayne Myatt that their latest set was a return to the sound of the band's 2006 breakthrough album 'End Of Silence'. Said Randy, "When we met up last January, at the far north of Maine and locked ourselves down at a lodge, we talked about what we wanted to do and when we made that first album, we didn't know anything about radio, we didn't know anything about anything. We just wanted to make music that was good and thought people would fall in love with. We decided to do it again and forget about all outside influences of what others were telling us to do. We wanted to do what we knew we should do."

'Of Beauty And Rage' has seen the band working again with producer Rob Graves. Commented Randy, "Rob came at the very infancy of the band. Over the years, we've developed such a familiarity with each other and we know what each other is thinking and our styles. We can go to him much more prepared now than we did with our first release. When we made our first album, we recorded a couple of tracks at a nursery actually and took the demo to him. With Rob in the process, we knew what we were going to get with the passion, and he is emotionally vested in what we do. Rob has been here from the beginning. We parted ways for one album ('Release The Panic') and we wanted to try some things. We knew that we were going to return to working together again with Rob, but we didn't think it was going to be this soon."

Red: The heavy rock band from Nashville inspiring change

Unusual for a hard rocking band one of the standouts on their latest set is a ballad, "Of These Chains". Explained Randy, "When we were writing the song, we imagined ourselves alone behind bars or something that's holding you back. We talked about what's really holding ourselves back, which is really ourselves. No matter how much we fight against these chains that keep us shackled, we try to break free from these chains, but there's always one link that you always hold on to. For some reason, I don't really understand why, I think of something that makes me feel horrible or something that I shouldn't do or say. When I hear that song, I think of somebody sitting inside some kind of ancient prison and they put themselves there. I think it can be a song that resonates with everyone listening to it and it's a song that everyone can relate to."

Randy was asked what is the primary driving force of Red. He responded, "I'd say to inspire change. We try to challenge people to get out of their comfort zone, to take notice that they are not perfect. People have done dark things and they're not talking about it. As a band, we've always wanted to be an inspiring example. We want to show people that they can change things; there is a way through the tunnel. They can get out of their situation. They have to use that strength inside of them and do it." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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