In Conversation With..Jon and Ben of Red Light Revival

This weekend Red Light Revival will perform at Brudenell Social Club in support of the incredible Kyle Gass Band. Ahead of their huge show this weekend we spoke to Jon and Ben from Red Light Revival. Asking how the show came about Jon said that “me and Ben really do a lot of social media promotion and we just get out there and generally big up the local scene and bands we like that we play with and support one another. Out of the blue a promoter called Quarantine Live emailed us and just said are you available and we looked into it and of course was like yes!”. Now over my short period of time as a blogger, much of the issues with music and the industry is with promoters so this kind of opportunity is huge and it’s amazing that Red Light Revival were contacted this way.

Ben continued by saying “it’s remarkable really, what happens, a lot of people outside the music scene don’t fully understand it but there’s a lot of bands that get big gigs but they’ve got them through pay-to-play which you’re told you have to shift 100 tickets. Everyone says they do this but really they don’t they just spend the money – they price it up. What’s refreshing and what’s satisfying is we’ve been approached. I think that’s for two reasons, I think it’s the positive way we go around promoting ourselves and other bands. I think the other thing is we’re a bunch of guys in late 30s and early 40s and we play the music we like playing. Now in the Leeds music scene, we’re often overlooked for not being a Britpop band and I get that a lot of bands are younger than us and they copy the bands they like in the same way we do, but its refreshing we’ve been identified as a classic rock band, by a classic rock band and it’s not pay-to-play.”

Jon: “The most important thing for us is we got the gig but it’s really really satisfying. Leeds is so full of so many good bands, it’s vibrant. There are a lot of venues and a lot of bands and over the years we’ve got really close to so many. We were approached, he lay down some rules like you can’t play either side. I think Young Amphibians were down to play but they had to cancel and we recommended Neon Dolls or The Brazen. Also, it doesn’t hurt getting in with a promoter like Quarantine Live because they’re doing the Electric Six as well. It’s just about showing you’re willing and doing the hard work!”

Ben: “That’s the other thing, I’ve made some proper friendships through music and it’s tremendous. Lots of bands like Apollo Junction, like The Brazen, those sort of guys.”

It’s safe to say you’re sound isn’t that of the “Leeds Music Scene” was that a conscious decision?

BenAbsolutely not no. I don’t like this question because you sound so pretentious with the answer. Really, you have to write something others’ will enjoy but there’s no point trying to second guess what people want. You turn around, write music you like, get a band round you and you want to like that noise. If you do there will be someone else who does too.  Fact of the matter is classic rock isn’t and hasn’t been around for a while.

Jon: Don’t get me wrong we’ve been in a position where we’ve said we do what we do and write how we write and sometimes the songs are bluesy, rock, pop..

Ben: We’ve got a classic rock sound. It’s a conscious decision to play music that we like. Yeah we want to emulate some bands but it’s more inspiration than emulation. Are we trying to stand out, no because it hasn’t done us an favours. It’s not a competition either; we don’t consider it a competition we love going and listening to other bands. There are loads of bands that are tremendous and we couldn’t write what they do but the flip side is they couldn’t write what we do. That’s the way it should be; at the end of the day we’re an unsigned Leeds band, and we are just that, an unsigned band in Leeds, they’re worried about the music not the ego.

Lets go back to last year and the big release of Infinite Twin, how was that?

Jon: I’ve encountered internet radio and some FM. We do focus on a few, there’s a massive support network for unsigned music. EGH radio based in Newcastle, they play us a lot, really a lot actually. They have a label which is R&E, they liked the album and released it for us which was really good. We’ve learned a lot since then but the recent one was the lightest of the albums we’ve done.

Ben: I like it its got some good stuff on it but I prefer one and two. I think what happened with three is the band were in hiatus, got a new lead guitarist, and we had all this material and we were stopped from progressing, I genuinely like the album, when I listen back to it – I say I don’t like it and say 6.5/10 – Jon says I can’t say that, but I go and listen to it and say you know what there a bits of this that are really fucking good. But there’s too much of my co-writer in it in my opinion. The next album which were 3/4 of the way writing will blow the first three out of the water, the new album, and trust me on this, the next one is absolutely tremendous and before you ask, yes I have written more of it than the last one.

And what can we expect from the new record?

Ben: There’s a tremendous bluesy rock track, there’s one song which is the best song we’ve done to date.

Jon: We have different sounds within the band; the writing predominantly comes from Ben and matt and then they’ve got two different styles, Ben’s a lot heavier, a lot rockier. This album carries a bit more of my influence actually which is more guitar based riff songs. It’s interesting and fresh.

Ben: I’m exciting about this just talking about it actually. We’re gigging the tracks before so when we go to record them they’re mature. We’ve got a trip to LA coming up in September but what we wanna do is, what we’ll do is release the album for nothing, or what we’ll do is release two halves of the album for free then do a full one and bang it on bandcamp. We wanna get one out before LA then release in full in January 2018. We need to get this tour sorted, we want to gig as much as possible, we have to play the songs before releasing.

Jon: We’re definitely picking and choosing a lot more. Last year we did a lot of festivals and gigs; when we get back in September we’re playing in the Isle of Wight at a festival in October that’ll be good though.

What can we expect to see on these upcoming dates and the set on April 2nd?

Ben: They’re gonna get stuff from all three albums, some teasers of new stuff. You’re gonna get some classic fucking rock n roll and you’re gonna see a band playing a gig they’re unbelievably excited to do in front of a crowd who want to hear that music.

Jon: The Kyle Gass Band play not too dissimilar rock to us. We’re really looking forward to it, we’re trying to sell tickets like crazy.

Being the Regional Coordinator for Oxjam I had to ask how last year went for the band..

Jon: We love Oxjam; the organisers rely on volunteers and it’s just amazing. We played last year

Ben: Small venue, great gig. It was good, the organiser put a message on Twitter saying “RLR have just started run to see them.” Apollo Junction were on at The Old Red Bus Station and we owned it. It was in our own environment, small sweaty room and it was just ace.

Jon: It was a great venue, we’ll always support Oxjam yeah.

Moving on then – away from your music, if you could change anything about the industry what would it be?

Jon: Oh god, that’s a great question. We mentioned pay-to-play; the problem is, you sport stuff, I’m quite busy with communicating and discovered, quite a famous band will do a tour and they say to another band give us £1000 and you can play four dates. We know bands that have paid to play quite large gigs so it’s not PTP is bad necessarily. For me it would be the industry is so different here to what it is abroad. When I lived in Spain, the hospitality and mindset is so different. Bands don’t get paid massively but they look after bands much more. It’s not just PTP but it’s the whole approach really in this country.

Ben: Oh Jesus, erm, you know what normally I go on a fucking rant here about X Factor. The thing is, it’s great at being an entertainment show, its first class and it has its place. What troubles me massively, oh I could go on for hours, the problem with it is that it destroys other genres of music that you’ll find in your local pub. the difficulty is there’s an argument, really if the demand was there the X Factor wouldn’t be there but The X Factor is a billion pound machine you can’t compete with. i’ve been to see so many bands that are so unbelievably talented, vocally, on drums and they’re performing to a room of three fucking people. You can’t tell me that’s not right? Yeah you have the Brits and their awards but what about helping the unsigned community; it deserves a voice because there’s so much fucking talent in it. Just go and listen to bands, there’s so much talent, that’s what I’d change. I don’t want to be a rich fucking rockstar, but I think we deserve a break and the scene deserves a break. There are a lot of people like yourselves who do this for the love of the scene and music, but the point is if you’re doing it out of the love there must be some reason, some value to that. We rely on people like yourselves. Without people like you the scene wouldn’t be what it is so in all seriousness thanks so much. Organic grassroots growth, that’s what we need!

Jon: Yeah like yourselves, the radio stations, we love it. Ben is right though, you can’t just dismiss The X Factor, some of them are fabulous singers but..

If there’s one thing you love then about the industry, what would that be?

Jon: It’s exciting, it’s inspirational. If we’re not playing, not organising then lets get to a gig, I love the scene.

Ben: For me there’s nothing better than five people who’ve known each other a long time and have a genuine friendship coming to write music together and performing it and there’s bits when I hear Matt singing and the whole thing just clicks for me. I love it there’s nothing better. You should see the WhatsApp though – I don’t like them, but I do love them. I’m actually deeply unpleasant as a human being but I’m being nice here aren’t I?

Close it with two quick ones, one highlight and one lowlight so far?

Ben: Highlight will be Kyle Gass. Lowlight – there aren’t any…maybe trekking somewhere, doing, what was that one in Headingley? We played unity day looking forward to it, great stage, great sound, lovely day until we went on and it fucked it down. There was so much water the stage blew, we only had ten minutes to play but to do that and as we started our second song we looked up and there were a shit load of people coming down, we had a great audience for the last 45 seconds then had to fuck off haha!

Jon: For me I’d like to give a quote. We played somewhere last year – we played two sets in between there was a guy playing covers and we stormed the stage to play with him. We were then last on and the crowd were pretty pissed, the band before us should have gone on last, they came on to the stage though and said “can you play something we know” then a lady said “can you play something farmers know” that ticked two huge boxes that. We absolutely loved it; in a way it was low but it was like being heckled in a way.

If we were having this conversation this time next year where would you like to be?

Ben: Not in a fucking car outside the Chemic Tavern. This time next year, all still together, all still alive, hopefully playing the same gigs but just a bit bigger!

Jon: In the back of our mind we’d be asked to stay on leave our families and stay in LA. That won’t happen but it will mature us and be great and we want to build on that. We’re playing Whiskey A Go-Go, we want our name there, tick in a box that sets our stall. We’ve been together a long time and you look at how many bands come and go, like The Barmines, they were incredible, so just be together.

This was one of my favourite interviews done to date. Interviewing an established band and hearing the ins and outs of the music scene and hearing genuine passion for unsigned music was so refreshing and I hope this is the start of a great relationship. Good luck this Sunday supporting the incredible Kyle Gass Band.

Show and ticket information here –> 


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