Red Heat is a relatively obscure “buddy-cop” action movie starring Arnold Schwartzenegger and the lame Belushi brother dating back to 1988. Worth a watch if you’re stuck in traction. Red Heat is also a Buffalo, New York based indie rock outfit that is forging new and unique sonic territory with their most recent album Animals.
Evensound was lucky enough to catch Red Heat live in the midst of their most recent north-east mini-tour on their stop in Batavia, New York. Having been described as “Doomy-Funk-Punk” and then hearing them describe themselves as “post-punk-political-indie” we didn’t know what to expect really.
What we got was an incredibly entertaining and top notch performance of some very unique and meticulously crafted rock songs. Go ahead and hyphenate as many sub-genres as you want, Red Heat are just a really fantastic rock and roll band. Musicianship and originality bursting out their seems.
To be fair, the description of “Doomy-Funk-Punk” is as close as you’re going to get, but it doesn’t seem to really capture the imagination and fun resonating within Red Heat. They have such a wonderful combination of musical whimsy and political intellect that it’s almost as if the lyrical vibe of Rage Against the Machine had a baby with the musical soul of Cake… or if the Ren & Stimpy soundtrack had a baby with Noam Chomsky.
Challenging the status quo and arriving at something new and uniquely their own, the deep grooves laid down by the rhythm section are taken to incredibly interesting new heights with the unbelievably imaginative and innovative guitar work of Nick Randall.
The creative center and heart of Red Heat is singer/bassist/drummer/songwriter/label-operator/audio-engineer/political-activist/all-around-awesome-dude, Brandon Schlia. His digital indie label, Steak&Cake Records, just celebrated it’s 5 year anniversary and features some amazing other acts.
Red Heat’s featured song “Dread” , a song about dealing with a feeling we all run from, bounces back and forth between a funky dark half-time beat and uptempo surf-rock chorus. The track garnered some pretty interesting comments in their Audiokite report –
“I thought this song was nice and upbeat–it reminds me of summer-it’s a nice song to listen to while riding in the car with the windows down!”
“The song was really cool, I like the introduction the best. Good band”
“This is a really fun song. Reminds me of XTC! Great sound!”
“I liked the contrast between the verse and the chorus.”
Brandon was able to fit in a quick Q&A with Evensound while still on tour and we’re happy to share that conversation with you here.
How did Red Heat start ? – is the name inspired by the 80’s cop movie?
Yes! Well, that movie isn’t remembered well so its nice to know someone else remembers. But, thematically, no its wasn’t the inspiration. The movie is bad, its opening scene especially, and the original drummer and I joked around about it a lot so when we started practicing, it was easy to agree on that for a name. The music and lyrics are inspired by social issues and written in language a 5 year could read which might come off as ironic to some people, but its just hyper-literal.
Writing such unique songs, what is the song writing process like? What are your influences?
Well at this point in the band I write the bass parts and play the drums. Mostly that comes together through the magic of computers. For drums: Mark Guliana, Damon Atkinson, Pete Metzler. For bass: Nikolai Fraiture, Rob Pope, Eric Roberts. Nick likes Tom Verlaine, David Tronzo, and Marc Ribot. We don’t have a songwriting formula anymore, the only unwritten rule is that it has to have dynamics and syncopation.
Tell us about Steak & Cake records?
It’s the name of a digital only label that I started in 2011 that mostly includes music I wrote, recorded or performed along with many other musicians in the Buffalo community. It’s like the thrift store of recording; you can walk in with very little money but leave with something you’d wear on a date.
How would you describe your local scene?
At the national level Buffalo seems to get the blue collar vibes although working class isn’t really anything anyone directly identifies with, in my circles at least. The News covers dad-bands mostly and the blogs cover EDM, but at the underground level there are people doing good work. Some parts are more disconnected than others, but there are so many people dedicated to supporting.
How have new digital steaming services affected the DIY approach to releasing music?
No one I know ever really talks about streaming and local acts or unknown touring bands in the same sentence. If you want to hear the new Coldplay album, Spotify has it. But at my shows I haven’t ever heard someone say check us out on Spotify! on the mic. Those sites don’t seem to be a major part of my community. But free downloads, cassettes, vinyl and some cds are still in play.
What advice would you give to bands just starting out?
You will never make it so stop thinking you will and just shut up and play your damn music. and practice.
What are listening to at the moment?
Parquet Courts, Pinesheets, Chet Baker, Brad Mehldau, EMEFE, Pierre Cavalli, RH Factor, William Onyeabor, Aerosmith, Tom Waits, Nirvana, Thelonious Monk, John Cage, Bela Bartok.
How was your Audiokite experience?
Any final thoughts?
Just thanks so much for helping us to share our music with a wider audience.