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Red Jumpsuit Apparatus return to Australia for the first time since 2014 this May and are planning to give long time fans a special treat by playing their debut album Don’t You Fake It from front to back.
“We will be playing it in full in the order we recorded it,” promised vocalist Ronnie Winter. “It’s the tenth anniversary of the album, so we thought it fitting to tour that.”
While a set list is normally hand – picked and therefore suited to a live performance, Winter is quick to point out that the band won’t have any problems tackling a full album on stage.
“I think a lot of people think that because I have been asked about it a few times,” he dismissed. “I guess it’s different for every artist but for me, I have final say on all the track listings and always have. I put the album in the order exactly how I would like to play it live if I had the choice so thus far it’s been flowing seamlessly. I know not all artists do that but that is something that I’ve always done because it has always been a goal of the band to play the albums the way we recorded it but what usually happens is we end up playing more of a greatest hits type of set – which is fine, that’s what the fans want – but whenever I release an album I do intend for it to listen to beginning to end and it’s the same thing live.”
With the songs having been penned over a decade ago, and some of them having never been performed live since, it is natural to assume that maybe some of the passion and meaning has faded over the years, but Winter refutes that notion quickly.
“Not for me,” he disputed. “Most of the lyrics are written about my life experiences, so I’m never short of passion with what I have to say and when I have to say it or about the time and place where I was at that time. It’s easy for me to tap back into that but as far as performing it live goes it is just a straight forward rock album, and I think that’s why people still love it. There’s not a whole lot of digital elements on it; it’s main guitar, bass, drums and vocals so we just really focus on trying to pull off the sound we had on the record and keep it simple with not a lot of stage production. None of that was out there when people first listened to the CD, so essentially we just rock it out and play it the way we recorded it.”
Don’t You Fake It spawned some hit singles, including ‘Damn Regret’ and ‘Your Guardian Angel’, but perhaps the most significant of all – which is still popular and relevant today – is ‘Face Down’ which addressed the issue of domestic violence.
“That song has just never gone away,” Winter recounted proudly. “Not only that song, it’s the same with quite a few on that album but ‘Face Down’ is one that did a lot of good. We raised almost $20,000 for the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, and I spoke at conventions about it, so the subject is something we like to visit at least once every couple of years. In the U.S our biggest market is the Christian rock market, which you guys don’t have in Australia, but our last six number one Billboard songs in a row were all on the Christian rock chart, and they are still discovering our earlier music. They are connecting with the band and the songs so then it kind of rebirths itself again, and this type of thing tends to keep happening, so it’s great for the music and the band. I hope it lives forever.”
Ten years is a long time in music, and Winter is the first to admit that musically the band and its members have morphed considerably in that period.
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“We’ve changed a lot since then,” he conceded. “There’s no doubt that music wise we’re far superior to we were when we were younger, so we’re able to do more intense, intricate chord progressions now. Some of the players that I have now are better than some of the players I was working with when I was a younger man, and I’m a much better singer now. The truth is I wasn’t even really going to be the singer of the band even though I wrote the songs. We kept trying out lead singers, and they couldn’t sing it the way I wanted them to so I wound up the singer out of necessity (laughs). I wasn’t even a great singer! I wasn’t classically trained in a choir or had any vocal training; I just got stuck into it. I’m just a drummer and a songwriter, so I was a little nervous in the first couple of years. I wasn’t that good live, and a lot of people made sure to tell me that on line that I was terrible and I should quit and luckily for them and me I got a lot better (laughs). Over years of doing something over and over again, you do get better so I’m glad that ten years later I can sing the album live the way I did in the studio. I’m proud of that.”
When Winter first entertained the notion of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus becoming a touring band, his sight wasn’t set on world domination or longevity, but rather his focus was merely for a creative outlet for the punk blood he found coursing through his veins.
“When I started this band it was a side project,” he recalled, “because of my other band… my brother Randy plays the guitar and he was in the studio and recorded parts on Don’t You Fake It – which a lot of people don’t know – but before this band I had another band which was a prog metal band, so my whole thing with Jumpsuit was just me on the couch with an acoustic guitar. I kept writing punk rock songs because I was listening to bands like Pennywise, Strung Out and NOFX, so I was writing all these punk songs with punk vocals – and punk post-hardcore kind of stuff doesn’t really fit in a metal prog band – so I kind of started recording these songs on my own with a couple of my friends. The initial intention was just to try something different other than the band I was already in, and then people started liking it straight away! We put out demos, and I realised maybe this was what I was supposed to do. A couple of years later my brother ended up joining me, and we put all our focus on this band instead of trying to run two bands at once.”
From the outset, Winter was determined to utilise experienced learnt from past endeavours to ensure this new project gained traction, and it wasn’t until eighteen months after the band formed in 2003 that they started touring and releasing music.
“Like I said I was already in another band with my brother,” he explained, “so we had gone through a lot of trials and tribulations with those bands. We made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of success and one thing that I learned was it’s better to spend more time songwriting before you are ready to go into the studio than worry about putting out 20 or 30 songs right away because most of the time people only like three or four of them anyway. So essentially what I discovered was what was going to work better for me was just take my time, craft my songs and release a smaller amount over a longer amount of time and that was something we just learnt, Randy and I, through experience from our previous bands.”
Written by Kris Peters.
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