Redlight King Talks "Something for the Pain", Movies, and WWII Planes
Mon, 05 Dec 2011 12:34:51
Not only do Redlight King have Something for the Pain, they have a remedy for rock 'n' roll at large.
The Ontario outfit careens from airy, ethereal melodies into gritty lyrical stories that transfix from the first note. There's something elegantly dark about Redlight King's Hollywood Records debut that'll undoubtedly cause repeat listens. Something for the Pain is an intense, invigorating, and infectious collection of rock tunes that are as brilliant as they are boundless. It's one of the best records of 2011, and it sets up the foundation for a very bright future to follow…
Kaz of Redlight King talks Something for the Pain, WWII planes, movies, and so much more in this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino.
Did you approach Something for the Pain with one overarching vision?
The vision I had for it was that of an old school LP. These days, everybody seems to focus on singles and one or two songs. I was listening to a lot of vinyl when I was making this record. When we were recording, we had a pretty solid record collection from the '60s and '70s. There were Clash, Queen, and Bob Dylan records. It was a variety that left an impression on me. I wanted to make an album with a certain flow, landscape, and dynamic that made sense both lyrically and musically.
What's the lyrical thread between everything?
I'm a storyteller. I started the record with "Something for the Pain". After I wrote that song, I knew it was a really good opener. It said a lot and was a great overview of the emotional mindset I was in. Musically and dynamically, it had the sound I wanted to capture—a little bit of old and a little bit of new. After writing "Bullet in My Hand", I knew that was the second song. The last song I wrote was "Drivin to Kalifornia". The record had started to become a little serious and dark, and I wanted to lighten it up a bit and show some brighter sides of my life and what was going on. It's a very personal record.
What's the story behind "When the Dust Settles Down"?
It was the hardest song to write. I started the song out with a beat and telling a story. It was the perfect closer in a way. At the end of the day, the record was hitting pretty hard, and I wanted something acoustic. I shook the beat out, and we went into the studio and I recorded the song live to the floor. We ended up doing it in one take. It's a reflective song. It looks back and puts the dark time and things that I went through in the past. I write about the human condition, and I think people relate to that.
What fosters that visual sensibility? Do you watch a lot of movies or read often?
I'm an artist. I paint a lot, and I really love the tattoo culture. That opened up my mind artistically. I do watch a lot of films. A friend of mine who grew up with me was always doing the film stuff when I was doing music. I was around it. When I was younger, I went to school for graphic design before they kicked me out. I've always had a visual sense and a lot of irons in the fire.
If Something for the Pain were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
That's really tough [Laughs]. It'd be a musical, and there aren't many musicals around! It'd be something definitely based on the lifestyle of rock 'n' roll. It's who I am and the life I've led. I've worked every shitty job you can in order to sustain my livelihood. I call being a musician "A beautiful curse". I've lived for it and died for it so many times now that I'm okay with it. To me, it's normalcy. I can't really compare it to movies. I will tell you that one of my favorite movies is The Blues Brothers because it's as funny as hell, but there's a lot of truth to it. I also like The Shawshank Redemption because the guy is wrongfully accused and he breaks out of prison. I just think that's a great story.
How did the inclusion of WWII planes in the "Bullet in My Hand" video come about?
I grew up around them. We have a war plane heritage museum in Hamilton. That's one connection. We'd always go see the air shows, but the major connection is my grandfather. He was a squadron leader in WWII for the Polish air force. He was a bomber and a captain, and he flew The Lancaster Bomber and The Mosquito. I've always had pictures and a connection with these planes. My grandfather died when I was young, but I was old enough to remember some of the conversations we had. It was an ode to him with the WWII planes. I've always been obsessed with WWII stuff. I love how everything was handmade back then. We got to fly a Spitfire, and it's one of only two or three Spitfires flying right now. With the Lancaster, there are only two in the world that fly, so we used that as a backdrop. It was a lot of fun to make that video.
Do your lyrics often start as poetry?
It's different every time. I would say the most common thread is poetry. I start out with a lyric. Once in a while, I start with the music and that invokes the story. For this record in particular, a lot of the songs started out with poetry and stories. The music was dictated by that.
Where did "Past the Gates" come from?
Story-wise, it's an exclamation mark behind the fact that we don't really know what's going to happen and to embrace that in a way. When I was going through the dark times, you have all of these thoughts of heaven and hell and life and death. It takes you to a moment after all of that. It's an idea.
Which artists shaped you?
Since I was a kid, I've loved the blues. These stories are the truth for me. They're the hardships that I've gone through and the struggles that we all go through. My father had a lot of blues lying around the house so I listened to John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, even B.B. King, and Little Walter. We also had a John Lennon and Bob Dylan record. Lyrically, I think now more than ever I've been reintroduced to Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen as the guys I really related to. It encourages me to follow in their footsteps. When I was in high school, I was introduced to early '90s hip hop. That was the punk thing to do. Where I came from, everyone was listening to punk rock. If you wanted to be different or a rebel, you'd listen to that '90s hip hop. They were storytellers too like Tretch, A Tribe Called Quest, Lords of the Underground, and The Pharcyde. After high school, I got re-introduced to rock. That's why my sound is eclectic.
Have you heard Something for the Pain yet?