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AMA interviews Red Empire

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Posted February 28, 2014 by markdowning in AMA Entertainment
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This week AMA Media’s Celine Smyth caught up with energetic Dublin rockers Red Empire to get the dirt on the new EP “Small Mercies” which was released today. Music critics showed full support when their first EP “Strange Philosophy” was released, The Irish Independent called it a “red hot debut” and GoldenPlec.com noted that “despite it being a first release the standard of their first song is incredibly high”. Hype has already begun to build for their debut album “Inhale” which is due out later this year. They have been touted as the best band to come out of Dublin since U2 and it is easy to understand why. Their obvious passion for music infectious melodies places Red Empire firmly on top of the pedestal as the ones to watch in 2014.

 

Hi Guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. So where did the name Red Empire come from?

Craig: When we originally got together there were a few names floating around. I wanted to call the band “Red Road” after a film I love and Gar wanted to call it “Fake Empire” after one of his favourite songs by The National. We couldn’t decide and in the middle of debating it Deco suddenly piped up and shouted “why not put the two of them together and call it Red Empire” and boom, that was it! I think it’s a funny way of showing how collaborative things are within the band!

                                                                               

How would you describe your sound to anyone who is not yet familiar with your music?

Craig:  Honest, well-written, energetic rock music. We model ourselves on bands who provide albums and lives shows that take you on a journey. All killer – no filler.

 

Where do you normally gather song writing inspiration from?

Craig: It can come from anywhere. I know from talking to all the lads in the band that ideas can come from films, TV, books, conversations, dreams, arguments, life in general, the list is probably endless. I remember I once went home and wrote a set of lyrics after passing two 18-year old lads in the street. One of them turned to the other one and said “I get terrible horny when I drink red wine.” I pissed myself laughing. Things like that just happen and you have to count yourself lucky that you were there to witness and laugh at it.

 

What is your musical background? 

Craig:  I’ve sang and written since I was very young. I was in choirs and sang solo when I was 7 or 8. I’ve been in bands since I was 14 and it’s always just been something that was a part of my life.

Richie: I can remember seeing Noel Gallagher playing Wonderwall when I was a teenager and immediately wanting to do that. I’ve played and written songs ever since.

Gar:  I’m a classically trained pianist and I’ve played guitar since I was a young kid. I’ve sang in choirs since a young age also. I studied music at college and I have a masters in composition.

Des:  I come from quite a musical family and there were always instruments lying around. I learned guitar at a very young age but decided to switch to bass when I started playing with Richie and Deco.

Deco:  I taught myself the drums when I was a young teenager and when me and Richie and Des started playing together as teenagers it gave me a chance to really improve as a drummer.

 

Who are your musical influences?

Craig: There’s so many different influences running through the band that it can be hard to wrap your head around sometimes. Richie and Deco grew up being influenced by the Britpop sound: Oasis, The Verve and bands like that but they’re big into John Lennon and bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival as well. Gar has a kind of classical background because of his education and training but he loves bands like Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones. Des is into The Stone Roses and slightly more dance-type bands like Orbital and the Prodigy. And I love The Smiths, Jeff Buckley, Randy Newman and loads of others. We all listen to each other’s music and share a lot of the same influences but because of our backgrounds it’s a really mixed bag!

 

Your first EP “Strange Philosophy” was extremely well received by critics and showcased quite an eclectic range of musical ability, what can we expect from your upcoming EP?

Craig: You can expect another eclectic range of songs! “Small Mercies”, as a song, is a disco and funk-influenced stomper. “Like Ritual” is a rocking up-tempo number. And “Deliver Me” is a complex ballad about devotion. So, plenty to get your teeth into there!

 

Your latest video for “Small Mercies” features Aslan legend Christy Dignam, how did that come about?

Craig: Christy has been a long-time supporter and friend of the band. Our producer, Joe Jewell has been his lifelong friend and band mate. When our director, Daz Murphy, said he needed an older gentleman to be in the video we approached Christy and we were delighted that he said yes. When we made the video Christy was still quite ill and we were half expecting him not to be able to turn up. So, when he did actually turn up and he was suited and booted it was a major inspiration to us and what we were trying to do. We will be forever grateful to him for what he did.

 

Your debut album “Inhale” is due out this year, was it difficult to choose which songs would represent you as a group for your first album?

Craig:  The short answer is “Yes”, haha! From the time that we formed we have written a serious amount of songs so really, it was more a question of picking the songs that would fit best and that complement each other the most. I think we accomplished that.

There is some incredible talent in the Irish music scene at the minute, is there any in particular that have influenced or inspired you?

Craig: We’re particularly inspired by performers like Soak, Villagers, Damien Dempsey, and Little Green Cars. But there are also a number of other “unsigned” acts floating around that deserve to be heard more widely like SHADOWBOXER and Anderson.

How would you define the term “successful” in today’s music industry?

Craig:  Well, we would describe making an album that we felt completely proud of as being “successful”. But, I suppose to really measure that success you have to share your music with as many people as possible. When we receive the opportunity to do that we will grab it with both hands.

Do you think that an online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to review?

Craig: Absolutely! Things on that front have almost unrecognisably changed within the last 20 years and that change is only going to accelerate as time goes on. People will always want good music but there is some danger that those who are not online-savvy will become obscured. There’s a great pity in that but I’m pretty confident that the cream always rises…one way or another.

You have been tipped as the best band to come from Dublin since U2, does that put a lot of pressure on you to live up to that expectation?

Craig: Not really. We’re quite confident about what we’re capable of, given the chance. We pride ourselves on our live show and our interaction with the crowd so any comparison to the likes of giants of industry like U2 is very flattering.

Is there any one song that every time you hear it you think “God I wish I wrote that”?

Craig: Oh, there’s quite a few! Hhhmmm, let me think…I’m not just saying this because of the question, but “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. Haha! I love that song – it’s just so perfect.

Which do you think is more important, artists conforming to commercial expectations to sell records or artists being committed to originality even if it means their record reaches a smaller audience?

Craig: You see, I don’t think that those two options ever need to be mutually exclusive. Every musician out there knows that good songs will sell but it’s always a balancing act, like most things. If you lean too far in any direction you’ll fall into a trap so it’s better to stand on your own two feet and just try to be as smart as you possibly can be. The problem is that that usually takes time and planning which is where a lot of people fall down.

If you could play with any artists alive or dead who would be top of your bucket list?

Craig: Jeff Buckley

Richie: John Lennon

Gar: Billy Corgan

Des: John Squire

Deco: Noel Gallagher

 

Check out the songs from the new EP “Small Mercies” below and get a little taster of what you can expect from Red Empire’s debut album due out later this year. With an ever expanding fan base and a proven track record of being able to hold their own centre stage expect bigger and better things from these Dublin natives this year.


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