Until Red captured in action — (L-R) Roman Clarke (drums/vocals), Liam Duncan (lead guitar), Dylan MacDonald (lead vocals/guitar) and Dawson Stephenson (bass guitar).
Brandon’s Until Red is a testament to the amazing young musical talent emerging from the garages and basements of this city.
It wasn’t that long ago when these guys were blasting ear-ringing decibels throughout their parent’s dwellings. Lucky for them they have understanding folks who were and still are quite supportive of them and their musical endeavours.
Thankfully for their parents they now have a place like The Loft to put their musical ideas onto MP3 format. The group is releasing their newly recorded EP this Saturday and they’re celebrating with a release party at the West End Community Centre.
(Tickets are only $15 in advance at Ted Good Music or you can purchase them at the door. That price includes a copy of the new Until Red CD. Talk about excellent value!)
The guys dropped off a copy of the disc last week and I immediately put it in my home office computer disc drive. I’ve yet to remove it — this is impressive stuff, folks! The arrangements sound like something you’d expect from a group well beyond the average age of the guys in Until Red.
The six tracks are packed with catchy riffs and melodies and they all vary in terms of genre and style, which you’ll discover in my track by track review in the accompanying insert.
Meanwhile here is a quick Q & A with Until Red’s singer/guitarist Dylan MacDonald:
Frank McGwire: Where was the album recorded?
Dylan MacDonald: We recorded with Cody Iwasiuk at The Loft. We had a great time working with him and really appreciated his hard work as well as the creative insight he provided.
What time frame was it created in?
We started out by laying down all of the bed tracks on one Saturday afternoon in April. After those were done, we basically dropped in to The Loft whenever we could to finish up vocals, keyboards and extra guitar tracks.
This is your second EP. Were you consciously trying to change your musical style at all when you set out to record this one?
We were hoping to produce a more mature sound for this record. We really didn’t know what it was going to sound like, but we wanted it to sound better than our first EP.
It’s safe to say you’ve more than accomplished that! Was there an overall musical concept you were trying to convey with the disc or is it a multi-genre effort?
I would say that it is a multi-genre effort. We went back to a lot of the ideas and songs that we had written at the very beginning (back when we were mandolin-bass-drums power trio) and shaped them into what they are now. So about half of the tunes are old and half of them were written very recently — it’s quite the mix.
How often do you write either lyrics or music?
It seems that every time the band gets together, we have a new song or two by the end of practice. Ideas seem to come out like crazy when we are together. I love being creative with this group of guys!
From writing lyrics and coming up with all the parts, then rehearsing and recording it, what’s the longest you’ve spent getting a song done?
Well, as I said, we reworked a lot of the songs that we’d written long ago. There is one song, "Always Thinking" — it was one of the first songs we ever wrote. We wrote it back in January 2011 and now in May 2012 it is finally complete and on our record. Melodies and the instrumental side of songwriting comes very easy to me but writing lyrics has always been a challenge. "Always Thinking" is very much a combined effort between myself and Roman Clarke, who wrote a lot of the lyrics that I really appreciate in the song.
What’s the quickest song you ever wrote?
"Groove Tune" was a song on our first EP — I think we wrote the entire song in about 10 minutes. The idea behind it was to take a super simple chord progression and just groove as hard as possible. It always seems to be a crowd favourite for us.
Give props to your band — who does what on the new disc?
Our current lineup is Roman Clarke on drums and vocals, Dawson Stephanson on bass, Liam Duncan on keyboards, guitar and vocals, and I’m on guitar and vocals. I’m totally loving playing with these guys! They are all extremely proficient musicians who are creative and always willing to work hard to push our band to the next level. We always have a blast playing or hanging out together!
What other bands or projects have you been involved with over the past couple years?
I have been extremely lucky to have played with fabulous people over the last few years. I had the opportunity to develop myself in Seeing Colour, a band who played lots of great classic rock covers as well as some original material. I had a blast in that band — everyone was excellent to play with! This past summer I got to play with 4 Hole Punch," a tight rock band from Brandon. It was great to play different music than I was used to with some very solid guys. Throughout high school, I have played in CP Express as well as various jazz groups within both Crocus Plains and Vincent Massey high schools. I have learned a lot from playing in these groups as well as various musical pit bands.
Do you have any current projects other than Until Red?
Right now a project that is taking up a lot of my time is my Buddy Holly tribute group called Rave On: A Buddy Holly Tribute. Roman and I are very excited to be getting the group up and running again for the summer and are happy to welcome our new Buddy Holly, Tom Dowden, into the band.
Next up on your to-do list is the big EP release social. I understand Katlin Mathison will be on the bill as well.
We are very pleased to announce that Katlin Mathison will be opening up with an acoustic set. The release is taking place at the West End Community Centre on June 2. Tickets are $15 in advance, which included a copy of our brand new EP. They can be purchased from any band member and will also be available at Ted Good Music.
A track-by-track review of Until Red’s new EP
• Track 1: The feisty yet poppy "The War We Lost" kicks off the disc with a solid straight ahead drum beat mixed with a punchy bass line straight into a simplified yet tasty guitar riff. As the track builds, so does its character thanks to a catchy chorus full of quick stops and starts that help punctuate the lyrical message. You’ll want to crank up the outro of this song to catch the nifty interplay between the drums and guitar.
• Track 2: "The One That Pays" — This is one of those tracks that displays the band’s penchant for musical melancholy. Lyrically and musically, this may be their most mature sounding track. Complete with organ and horns over top a grooving beat and a clean guitar tone, this track will have listeners of most any age tapping their toes.
• Track 3: Roman Clarke’s Krupa- like drum pattern on the intro provides the perfect platform to roll out the storyline on "Always Thinking." During this particular track, I couldn’t help but think that their experience in last year’s "Buddy Holly Story" and their current shows with the Buddy Holly tribute act is really starting to rub off on them. The Holly influence shows particularly on tracks 2, 3 and 4.
• Track 4: The whimsical and aptly titled "December" is the most mellow track on the disc. Clarke’s jazzy drumming is the perfect backdrop for the sweeping guitar lines that help tell the story of a lover scorned simply because of poor timing or lack of time. Sounds like this could be a personal experience from one of the guys in the group? By the way, the lead up to the guitar solo is mint and the solo is sweet!
• Track 5: With its layered keyboards and miscellaneous effects, "Runaway" sounds like Linkin’ Park lite. Or possibly what Linkin’ Park would’ve sounded like if they could have been active in the ’80s. The happy-go-lucky melody on the chorus is one that will stick in your head.
• Track 6: The intro to "Found You" hits you with some simplistic yet nifty guitar riffs that segue nicely into a couple of quick-time signature changeups. The dynamics really stand out in this "boy meets girl" type of soundtrack, and in my opinion, are what keeps this track interesting and makes it the most commercially viable tune on the EP.
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 31, 2012