Interview with Trash McSweeney of The Red Paintings

The Red Painting_Trash(1)

It has been a long time coming, but after five years of hard work The Red Paintings are ready to unleash their anticipated record, ‘The Revolution is Never Coming.’ The mastermind behind the band, Trash McSweeney, took some time out to discuss the nightmare it was to create the new album, their most recent tours with MSI and The Pineapple Thief in the US and UK respectively, how it is getting easier to reproduce the art he sees in his mind, and that perhaps it is time he get in a space ship and set off to a new galaxy.

You’ve just come off the US tour with MSI, and UK tour with The Pineapple Thief. How did that go?

It was one hell of an experience! Mindless Self Indulgence and The Pineapple Thief are totally different acts, but both their audiences took to us like their own. It was somewhat of a surprise to us, having to mold ourselves between the two tours and make it work, but we made plenty of new friends and fans along the way. Touring the US and UK again was a real treat overall.

I just listened to ‘The Revolution is Never Coming,’ and one of the things I love is how you’ve made tracks we’ve heard on previous recordings, sound brand new. What was the decision behind reworking these tracks?

Thanks! There are plenty of new tracks on this album, but I felt that some of our previous songs that make up the story and concept of The Red Paintings were rushed for earlier releases. I see this album like a big artwork or an entire book. There would have been chapters missing and it wouldn’t have made sense – at least to me – if some of those EP songs were not placed in the track listing to bridge each story.

When I first heard the single “You’re Not One Of Them,” I actually thought of the novel I Never Promised You A Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. Mainly because of the fact that in the world that protagonist Deborah created to protect herself, she is constantly told that she is “not one of them.” The song draws other parallels with the book – for me anyway – was the novel an inspiration, or is it a pure coincidence?

Honestly, I’ve never heard of the novel so it’s a pretty neat coincidence. But I like your idea – if the songs and music video provoke thought then I’ve done my job. When I wrote the song I was dealing with band member issues. I came to the realisation that I was not like the others – even though I would take the band to the corners of the earth and we would sit together in the tour bus for months on end, they would still not understand what I was trying to achieve. Hence the name and the story behind the lyrics when you listen back now. Things are very different now though, we are one tight ship ready for storms and all the rest.

It hit me hard just how large the album sounds. How do you translate a 35 piece orchestra and a 22 person backing choir into a live performance?

Haha good question. All I’ve ever heard in the past from our live shows was “you guys are better live than on CD” and “you guys sound so much bigger and more aggressive than you do on recordings.” My mission was to stop that from being the case and to kill it with one mammoth 13-track album. To get it right for once. If I did, then thank god, as it was seriously a f*cking nightmare to create and to get each brush stroke right with my interpretation of sound and colour. I’m not worried about the album sounding too big for our live set up, as there are so many ways now to thicken sound. What is more important to me is that we sound raw and energetic.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews how you often struggle to reproduce what you see in your head. How did this affect the writing process of the record? Is it even harder to reproduce it live?

I think it’s getting easier to reproduce live. We tour so much now that you just naturally learn how to fine tune it and build on it from each and every show. I have definitely struggled throughout my life to produce any of my art as I see it in my head. Hence why this album took so damn long to create. I just refused to stop until it was the vision I always dreamed it would be.

The Red Paintings live show is known for having artists paint during the show, as well as body canvases being painted. When and how did the decision to add these elements to the show come about? Does it have anything to do with colour-sound synesthesia you developed after your seizure, and how you relate to music?

Yes, it has everything to do with my synesthesia. That was the ingredient to create the band. Since day one I’ve had a painter on stage and nowadays if we do a show and a venue or band we are supporting doesn’t allow us to do it, I feel naked. It’s not the end of the world, we have done shows in many different formats across the globe, but it just means we need to create a new energy, because things can feel different without the full circus behind us.

It’s very important to me to have our fans or even random people collaborating with us on stage in real time. It’s really brought unity for us and our audience. Plus I’m obsessed with art, it’s the core of my existence.

I feel a little weird saying this, but from the outside looking in, the seizure was almost a blessing as it spawned the creation of the band. Is that how you view it?

Absolutely. If I had not had those experiences in my life, then I wouldn’t have pursued this musical journey. I’m pretty sure I’d be a veterinarian (also a good thing).

The new tour is being promoted as having a new stage show. Can you tell us what differences will be made to the show?

Nope! You’ll have just to come see it and feel it for what it is 

You’ve just announced a run of new international dates. It must be exciting to be taking your art to new territories? How do you think they’ll respond to The Red Paintings?

It is exciting – we have been very active, touring the US, UK and Europe twice in the past year and going back again later this year. New places mean new people to collaborate with and every night a new fragment of time that fits the moment. As a band I feel like we have become much stronger and more focused, but hey it’s all subjective right?

You moved to the US because you felt The Red Paintings had gone as far they could in Australia. Do you still feel that way, or do you think there is room now for the band to grow more over here?

You can always go further and swim with the times I guess. It was more so that I needed to find out what the big scary world was all about, which in return inspired me to make larger goals, create new art and ideas and work harder to survive whilst doing them. It’s always a pleasure to come back and visit Australia, but my home feels like Los Angeles for now. This is our first real album release so I’m sure there will be many new faces at the shows to grow in many ways.

The Revolution is Never Coming‘ was first announced in 2007, how do you feel that it is now finally unleashed on the world?

I feel like I conquered a war and I won. Now I can get in a space ship and jet set off to a new galaxy!

The Red Paintings tour Australia in June & July:

Sat June 8 @ The Great Northern, Byron Bay NSW

Thu June 13 @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW

Fri June 14 @ The Hi-Fi, Sydney NSW (AA)

Sat June 15 @ The Espy Gershwin Room, Melbourne VIC

Sat June 22 @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane QLD

Fri June 28 @ Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA

Sat June 29 @ Fowler’s Live, Adelaide SA (AA)

Sat July 6 @ Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast QLD


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.