Red Wanting Blue Is Ready to Light Up Westside Bowl

To fully appreciate Red Wanting Blue’s new album, “Light It Up,” it must be listened to in its entirety.

An intro and an outro bookend the nine songs and give the album a sense of unity and connectedness. Two interludes reprise the album’s musical themes and separate it into chapters.

The Columbus-based band will release the album June 7. But first, it will return to Westside Bowl in Youngstown on Friday, May 3, for a show that will include some of the new material.

The new batch of songs, which took shape during the dark days of the pandemic, are among RWB’s most personal. The band also took its time in workshopping each tune and – for the first time – handled the production phase without outside help.

As a result, the album has a cohesiveness that flows from tune to tune.

“Nowadays, it’s on trend to release single after single,” said Dean Anshutz, RWB’s drummer and its only Youngstown resident. “We want people to listen to the whole record,” he said, emphasizing its flow. “The interludes are pieces of the songs that bring you to the next one.”

While some of the songs have been circulating for a while – “Hey ’84,” “Goliath” and, most recently, “Run for Your Life” – the album reveals where each one fits into the musical journey.

The leadoff song, “Hey ’84,” has been a staple at RWB shows for a few years and has gotten a lot of air play on The Summit FM.

It starts with a bouncy electronic riff that is reminiscent of an 8-bit arcade game from the 1980s. While the riff wasn’t created specifically for the nostalgic lyrics, it’s a natural fit.

Getting Personal

The title track is the most personal song on the album. It was written in 2020, amid the global lockdown, as lead singer Scott Terry wrestled with his thoughts.

“Stuck in my Brooklyn [N.Y.] apartment, I was feeling conflicted, lost without the forward movement of touring while also being grateful for the time with my family,” he explained in the band’s press materials. “I often found myself in the cavernous basement of my converted factory building, singing to the brick walls, wrestling with the thoughts in my head.”

Many had fled New York because of its high rate of Covid. Terry wondered if he should do the same or stick it out.

“The loudest voice in my head said to stay the course – you’re a singer and a songwriter, so write your way out of this,” he said.

The title track was born out of “a dark, empty basement as a beacon of hope, light and direction,” he continued. “The song serves as a lighthouse for those lost in the dark. Light is something that we usually find, but it’s easy to forget that it’s something you can also make. … So if things are feeling dark and you can’t find that light, do what we did, and make it for yourself.”

Self-produced Album

The band’s decision to produce the album without hiring outside help stems from its realization that no one knows RWB’s sound better than the band itself.

“There is this whole idea [among bands] that you need someone else to produce [your records],” Anshutz said. Long-lived bands such as RWB can reach a point where that is untrue, if not counterproductive.

On some of their earlier albums (but not 2018’s “The Wanting”), the band had some bad experiences with producers. It was then that it vowed to regain artistic control in the studio. “The Wanting” was produced by Will Hoge, but with a light touch that was more about encouragement than making changes. Hoge also came on board after the songs were nearly complete.

For the upcoming album – the band’s 13th studio effort – all production was done by the band members.

The band members – Terry, Eric Rahm (guitar, keyboards), Eric Hall (guitar, lap steel), Mike McCullough (bass, Chapman stick) and Anshutz – also dug in deeper when fleshing out the songs.

“We worked on one or two songs at a time instead of the whole thing at once,” Anshutz said. “It’s different than what we had done in the past. We had more time to spend on each track.”

The result is evident in the final mix.

“Everything we do together always works out better than when we do it as individuals,” Anshutz said.

Hometown Touch

The upcoming album has some interesting Youngstown connections.

The interludes, which include horns and strings, were recorded at Peppermint Studios in Youngstown, with Valley-based musician Fred Burazer.

The cover of the album shows a white deer in an abstract wooded setting that is based on a photo taken in Mill Creek Park.

Youngstown will always feel like home for RWB, Anshutz said. It was a frequent stop for the band in its early days, and one of the first cities where it built a large following.

“We haven’t played in Youngstown for a minute, and we always look forward to these big Ohio weekends,” he said, noting the band will play Bowling Green the following night. “It will be as old school as we can be, a big old rock show that will be super fun.”

The show starts at 8 p.m., with opening act JD Eicher. Tickets are $32 in advance, $35 at the gate. Click HERE.

Pictured at top: Red Wanting Blue will play Westside Bowl on Friday evening. (Photo by Stephen Albanese)

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.