Interview with Ronnie Winter from The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
The prospect of interviewing Ronnie Winter of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was both exciting and nerve-wracking. I mean, I have been a fan for years and therefore built up an image of the man who is the voice behind Your Guardian Angel and Cat and Mouse both of which are written with such purity and soul. I was worried that if I finally met this talented, inspirational person, he may not live up to my high expectations and I have to say he didn’t… He absolutely excelled them and here’s why:
The last time I saw Red Jumpsuit in the UK, I was at Slam Dunk Festival 2008. Where have you guys been? We have missed you.
Oh my goodness, it has been forever hasn’t it! We had a bunch of stuff we needed to sort out with our label and we wanted to focus on writing. We never properly put a record out here, neither one of our records actually came out here, they stocked some of the stores with imports instead. We just thought ‘oh well, it’s gonna be a while before we get back over there’. It took longer than we anticipated because we needed to get some stuff figured out with the band and the label and everything but now we are good to go. Our single is coming out this week, so this is our first tour promoting our new record and we made it our priority to come here first.
And you have managed to sell out nearly every venue!
Almost, I think there were only two that didn’t sell out so it has been amazing and we are already booking a second tour here.
How has the tour been going so far? Are you pleased with the reception?
I have been pretty much blown away. I didn’t think people would remember us, like I said it has been a long time. We put our EP out recently but we haven’t really put a lot of new music out so I was definitely shocked.
It is also a really great line up. LYU are awesome, they are from here (Birmingham) actually and Yashin, I think they are gonna blow up, so it has been a really sweet tour. We are even talking about doing the same package when we come back to Europe. It has gone really well.
Can you understand Yashin? They do have strong Scottish accents…
Some of them! Some of them I definitely can’t and they have to slow down for me, I’m like ‘dude, I’m from America’, you know.
Ronnie, you have recently donated your hair to Locks of Love, do you like your new short hair?
It’s cool. I can feel my neck again so that’s good! This is how my hair used to be when we were very first signed and I just grew it out and it kept getting longer and longer. My wife actually donated before me– she did it when she was like 10 years old and when she told me about it, I was like ‘I definitely want to do this’. It took about two years for it to be long enough so that when they cut it I still had some sort of length but I have wanted to do it for a long time and I have finally done it.
I think there is a noticeable difference between your album ‘Don’t You Fake It’ and your new EP ‘The Hell Or High Water’ when compared to ‘Lonely Road’. Was this something that you were conscious of? Were you trying something new?
The first album was basically written by us in our trailer in Middleburg and the new EP was written there too, so we were writing back home. A lot of Lonely Road was written on the road and in California too. I don’t know, we tried to make a pop record basically, well not a pop record but something a bit poppier on the sound and a little less heavy, mainly just because for a little while, we were kind of getting lumped in to a weird category of hardcore bands and we have never been a hardcore band ever. We have always had a lot of pop-punk but we just have had screaming too, with a lot of rock and roll and a little bit of metal, but not a whole lot. I think we got a little bit scared by that when we were making the record.
Plus there were a lot of weird contributing factors to Lonely Road, I still like all the songs on the record but it is definitely poppier sounding. We used the pop producer Howard Benson, who is Kelly Clarkson’s producer, so I mean you get a bunch of people trying to sway you away from heavier songs, then put with a pop producer and put in LA, that is just what’s gonna happen. It was kind of natural.
With the new EP, it was just us, no producer. I produced it technically but really the band produced it and there were no rules. It was kind of like ‘get out what you need to get out and let’s just go back and be a band again with no worries about expectations’. We left our label in February, which was before the EP so there just weren’t any restraints musically or lyrically.
How come you have resorted to a heavier sound again? Is this the sound that you are more comfortable with?
Oh yeah, definitely. It was a weird time though because for us, the most popular song of ours is Your Guardian Angel. It was the most downloaded, the most viewed, it was the most everything. When you think about that, we were trying to give the fans what we thought they wanted and we were wrong — I don’t mind saying that we were wrong. I guess we just over thought it and we were like ‘okay we will write more songs like Guardian Angel ‘cos that is what everyone likes’ and through that we lost our edge, our identity, or whatever you wanted to call it. So, with the EP instead of trying to write what we thought people wanted, we thought ‘let’s just rock out, let’s just have a good time, let’s just jam’ and I really like it.
‘Your Guardian Angel’ is definitely a popular track with your fans. Do you ever get fed up of playing it?
No absolutely not, I love all of our music. We play it every night and the only time we haven’t played it was at Warped Tour because we didn’t win the extended set. You only have 30 minutes and it’s hard to pull out the acoustic, plug it in and unplug it during the craziness that is going on at Warped Tour. Other than that we play it every night.
Do you have a favourite track that you perform?
Probably Your Guardian Angel just because it is our song. We wrote it, well we write all of our songs except a couple were co-writes on the new record, but I just feel that it’s the probably best song we are ever gonna write, I don’t think we are ever going to top it. So I’m glad that it’s ours and I’m glad that we were the ones that did it– if that makes any sense.
What does the rest of the year hold for Red Jumpsuit? Any festivals?
We are not doing any festivals that I am aware of. Again, this tour was to test the water and see if people still remembered who we are, which probably sounds funny if you are a fan of the band and you have been waiting forever but as far as we are concerned that’s so awesome if people even still remember us. We just needed to see what was going on first, so we needed to come over here, meet the people, speak to the people, see if the reaction was real or not real and if it wasn’t real then we would know that we would have to do some work over here, take it slow and continually try to build, but from what we have seen it has been amazing.
So for the year we have a new single coming out, which is called Reap and I think it is going to launch this week. Like I say this is the first touring that we have done ‘cos we wanted to make up for all the time that we have missed. We also have our new album coming out which is called Am I The Enemy and it is coming out later this year, probably a couple of months before we come back over here. We did it with John Feldmann (lead singer of Goldfinger) who is a hero to the band, he produced the record and wrote four or five songs with us. It’s pretty killer, it’s definitely a rock and roll record.
We will then tour with that for the rest of the year and do a couple of videos. We will also keep writing and we are going to tour the rest of the world too. We will be going to Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand as well as the US, Canada and maybe South America too.
So when can we expect you back in the UK?
I don’t know too much about the markets and how it works here but we were thinking maybe around sometime in November. Hopefully, the record will have been out for a little while and we will have a bit more music to tour with so we aren’t only playing our older songs. We are still playing a lot of older stuff because a lot of people didn’t get to come and see us on our last tour or they found out about us until years later so we wanted to do something for the old school fans this time.
Never before have I been so fascinated by one person and I literally could have talked to him for hours, but unfortunately he had a show to do. He was humble, honest and truly passionate about the band and what he believed in. It was an honour to have interviewed him and I cannot wait until they are back in November.
If you want to find out more about this amazing band, please see their official page: redjumpsuitalliance.ning.com/
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