To be human is to wonder what happens when you’re gone and to question your existence in the meantime: Why am I here, and what will be left of me when I’m not? For the members of RED—Michael Barnes and identical twins Anthony and Randy Armstrong—the fearless search for those answers lives with them every day, on the road, in their records, and in their latest release, GONE.
“We dug a little deeper, talking about issues like what we’re leaving behind for our families, what we’re leaving behind for the people who knew us,” Randy says of the trio’s sixth studio album since their Grammy-nominated debut, END OF SILENCE, in 2006.
“If we died tomorrow, what would be the legacy that we leave behind? What would people talk about us for? That's not just as a band but as individuals,” he says. “Everybody, at some point in their life, contemplates their mortality and wonders if people will miss them when they're gone or what they'll say about them when they're gone.”
Here’s what one reviewer said about that, after RED was gone from a Columbus, Ohio, stage: “Lyrically, their performance was smart, with their own brand of uplifting-yet-heavy edge, with a real focus on finding the beauty in everyday life, pain, and strife.”
That Rock Revolt review, of a RED set opening for Breaking Benjamin in May 2017, went on to say: “The dose of hope in the trenches that they delivered hit the spot.”
That’s the very same message in GONE’s 17 tracks (on the deluxe edition – 10 tracks on the standard), a richly textured and powerfully felt musical narrative from three musicians who grew up together in Pennsylvania. Friends for nearly 30 years, they’ve always asked those questions, and with GONE, they’re responding to those same questions from everyone else.
“We have had countless conversations with fans over the last 11 years touring, and people share their hearts with us,” Randy says. “They share their insecurities, their fears. Us having a faith and the background that we do, we carry those things with us no matter what kind of questions we ask ourselves because our music has that redemptive side. We find our way out of the darkness.”
While RED has long since established itself as a million-selling juggernaut with two Grammy nods, six Dove Awards, and 17 Dove nominations, the band says they still “live and die” on stages all over the world
That’s where RED’s latest effort comes from. Since their last release, 2015’s OF BEAUTY AND RAGE, the trio sought to write what can actually be considered a live album that happened to be recorded in a studio.
“We pay a lot more attention to what a song will do onstage,” Randy says. “Instead of
wasting time writing songs that we probably wouldn't play live on a stage, songs that wouldn't be fun enough or exciting enough for an audience, we're getting more tracks that we can play live than we have in the past, anticipating where we live, and that's on the road.”
The road goes on … so does RED … and so does the desire for relevance, for living life.
“Like in every other record, we want to be here in ten years. We're asking ourselves that question now - if we aren't going to be here in ten years, what are people going to think about our music? Our music is going to be out there, certainly. However long we're here on Earth, the music's going to be available for people to listen to, but we're not going to be available to tour and write new songs.”
As “Still Alive,” GONE’s second track, asks:
“Is this where the story ends?
Are we just beginning?
Live the lie and we’ll pretend
We’re fighting for something
If I lose the world I know
If the night, it comes for me
If tomorrow fades
And nothing matters
I am still alive (what’s it all for?)
I am still alive (what’s it all for?)
RED may not know where their music will take them or what opportunities await, but one thing is certain - the band’s collective and individual reminder of hope adds to a substantial legacy that will resonate long after they—after all of us—are gone, thanks to the universal relevance of their epic melodies and passionate message.
“We know where to go, and we're trying to point people in the direction where they're not relying so much on themselves and their friends,” Randy says. “It's more about realizing that we're all different but we're all the same.”
ABOUT RED: The band has sold more than 1.5 million albums collectively with OF BEAUTY AND RAGE, RELEASE THE PANIC, UNTIL WE HAVE FACES, INNOCENCE & INSTINCT, and END OF SILENCE. RED is Michael Barnes (vocals) and twin brothers Anthony Armstrong (guitar) and Randy Armstrong (bass).
(bio written by: John Jeter)
Lacey Sturm, née Lacey Mosley, (born September 4th, 1981) is an American singer-songwriter from Arlington, Texas. She rose to fame in the early aughts with the hard rock band Flyleaf. Her distinctive voice and shiver-inducing screams helped propel Flyleaf to multi-platinum success with hard rock hits "I'm So Sick" and "All Around Me". With the band, she released several EPs and three albums before amicably parting ways in 2012 to focus on family and faith. Over the years, she has featured on songs such as the Grammy-nominated hit "Born Again", as well as, "Broken Pieces" and "Take the Bullets Away". As a solo artist, she contributed a number of songs to wide-ranging beneficiaries, from the Underworld: Awakening soundtrack (2012's "Heavy Prey") to a compilation inspired by Christian evangelist Billy Graham (2013's "The Reason" and "Mercy Tree"). Since 2011, Sturm has played a wide variety of concert events with her husband, Josh Sturm, and various musicians, around the world. In 2014, she released her first book, a memoir titled 'The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living', about her journey from depression to spirituality. After her book debuted, Sturm returned to her hard rock roots, recording her debut LP, Life Screams, with husband/guitarist Josh. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sturm's solo support is rounded out by Tom Gascon on drums and Ben Hull on bass. The first single, "Impossible", combined her unmistakable voice with chugging blasts of guitar that will be familiar to her Flyleaf fan base. Her second book, 'The Mystery: Finding True Love in a World of Broken Lovers', is set for release in 2016. -Neil Z. Yeung
RIGHTEOUS VENDETTA is ready for battle, driven by the fire of the classic New Wave Of American Metalcore movement, with a fresh melodic bent. They are primed to decimate the airwaves and the stage, with a unifying message of hope and inspiration, all delivered with smoldering intensity.
Arising from humble small town origins, Righteous Vendetta offer positivity and encouragement against adversity, with a sound of defiance and power.
The band’s new album for Century Media Records, Cursed, arrives after a long season of writing, rewriting, honing, shaping and refining. It was a process that resulted in a definitive mission statement for the quintet, laying the blueprint for the band’s evolving creative identity. Cursed was produced and mixed by Mitch Marlow (In This Moment, Stitched Up Heart).
They effortlessly combine the diverse melodic Swedish death metal of vintage In Flames with the spirit-filled pop-melodicism of Anberlin, easily appealing to fans who grew up listening to albums like The End of Heartache by Killswitch Engage and Shadows Are Security by As I Lay Dying. There’s even a bit of the SoCal hardcore-meets-Pantera fury of Throwdown, not as much in overt sonic thunder as in energetic, steadfast perseverance.
This is a band that knows what it means to fight for everything they’ve got, to earn respect with integrity, to standup and be counted, to surpass and defy all expectations by delivering the goods on an awe-inspiring scale. This is metalcore for the underdog, a new collection of anthems for a generation hungry for music that’s authentic and pure. Righteous Vendetta is reverent to the greatest strengths of the scene’s past, yet equally forward-thinking.
Gestated in a small town in rural Wyoming (population: 3000), these five young men have beaten the odds against isolation, outside pressure, and the daily grind to conjure a ridiculously catchy and relentlessly fierce metalcore sound to rival the genre’s titans and light up the world’s stages.
“There was no music scene, really, which forced us to tour,” explains vocalist Ryan Hayes, who first formed Righteous Vendetta after discovering his college piano teacher could shred on guitar. “The closest ‘big’ market to us was Denver, which is about nine hours from where we live. By the time we were signed, we already had over a thousand tour dates under our belts. It really helped to shape us as musicians and who we are as a band.”
The lineup shifted a bit (“we’d have to find new members on YouTube or wherever else we could”) before it solidified as Hayes, guitarists Justin Olmstead and Carl Heiman, bassist Riley Haynie, and drummer Zack Goggins. After opening for Hatebreed, Righteous Vendetta caught the attention of Jamey Jasta, who encouraged them to explore more of the melodic side of their already crushingly heavy, breakdown-friendly music.
Songs like “The Fire Inside,” “With Love” and “What You’ve Done” helped grow the band’s fanbase, through hard-touring, social media, online videos, and a series of independent releases and material issued by Red Cord Records, with the 2014 Defiance EP cementing the group as a rising force.
The two years Righteous Vendetta spent crafting Cursed was time well spent. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to write ‘hits’ at one point,” the band’s frontman confesses. “If you get too much into that mentality, you can start to lose yourself. So as we made Cursed, we focused on what we were when we started: a metal band. And we wrote a metal album.”
Which isn’t to say the album is without hooks. “Doomed” is the heaviest song on the record (inspired by the classic video game, Doom), yet its chorus is unabashedly melodic. “The video game is about killing demons and ripping their faces off,” notes Hayes, with a laugh. “It’s a super metal game.” Lead single “Weight of the World” is a radio-ready banger, co-written by the group with Atreyu drummer/melodic vocalist Brandon Saller.
The band poured their frustrations into both “Weight of the World” and the album’s crushing title track, “Cursed,” taking the uncertainty and struggle of the long album making process and putting it to good use in an empowering way. There is plenty of darkness to be found all over Cursed, but it’s designed to work less as a burning poison and more as healing oil.
Cursed is the soundtrack to Righteous Vendetta’s overall mission statement. “We’ve always wanted to have a positive influence on people’s lives, but in a real way,” Hayes explains. “We want to connect with people, find common ground, and develop real relationships that aren’t superficial.
“There are some bands that are very manufactured. Everyone in our band is fully invested in our music,” he adds. “That passion comes out onstage and on the record. It’s something we strive to put across every single day.”
Music that blurs the line between nostalgia and modern art, leaving the listener with a sound that is familiar but also NEW and ADDICTIVE.