Exclusive: Interview With The Red Paintings

The Red Paintings

Two years ago The Red Paintings released the highly anticipated The Revolution Is Never Coming with much acclaim. Along with it, came a national Australian tour that left fans wanting more. For two years The Red Paintings have been touring extensively, never giving up despite airport setbacks or personal troubles. And now they are finally returning to Australia for another national tour, with a new stage show based on Mexican folk art and the element of fire. Australian fans have been waiting – perhaps not so patiently – for the return of The Red Paintings, and that day has finally come. Trash McSweeney sat down to answer some questions about the new stage show, their latest video for “It Is As It Was”, how it feels to help Trail of Dead celebrate 20 years, a little information on album number two, and reminds us the revoltuion isn’t quite over yet.

You’re bringing a new stage show when you return to home soil, what can you tell us about that?

It’s based on Mexican folk art and the element of fire. It’s a metaphor for the future earth.

The Red Paintings have spent a lot of time overseas – some of that time has also been spent with Trail of Dead who you share the stage with this time around – how excited are you to bring the new stage show to Australia?

Will be nice to see Aussies painting on stage again. It’s been a while. Excited to see my family as I’m lucky to see them once a year. 

You were here earlier in the year, but that was more a stripped down set, which I imagine must feel completely different to a full show.

We returned to Oz to play with MOGWAI and then VAMPILLIA for Adelaide festival. Not shows I could ever knock back and it was certainly a privilege to play. 

How does it feel to be sharing the stage with Trail of The Dead again, especially while they celebrate 20 years? I’m hoping to see some artwork collaboration with Conrad.

Great, for those dudes to be turning 20 and still kicking goals and will be great to catch up with the lads again. Conrad and Jason I’m sure will paint us a party. Both great artists. Last show on USA tour with TOD was  in New York and we certainly finished on a high. Their drummer Jamie Miller joined us on stage to play a Nirvana cover then a few months later joined TRP for a US tour. Great drummer, actually one of the best I’ve been fortunate to tour in TRP with. He has a style like no other.

Despite having successful shows and tours, you seemed to unfortunately have a run of bad luck with airports, vans and personal trouble. How did you deal with it all? Did you ever just want to pack it in and go home?

Home? I’m not even sure where that is. Sometimes we have such insane scenarios that I wonder why I even picked up a guitar and created TRP. At the end of the day the project has bought me great joy and I’ve been lucky to have communicated with many talented people across the planet.

Being a touring musician isn’t your usual 9-5, you can’t just call in sick when you don’t feel like facing the world.

I play how I feel it. That can be a worry sometimes.

You did get to do some exciting things like visit Roswell. What was that experience like?

It was a dream come true. No place like it and I’m truly convinced after my own research and talking with many locals that an object and its strange pilots crashed in 1947 and many of the advanced technologies we use today are a reflection of the aircraft that was recovered by the US army.

Your latest video was released earlier this week – It Is As It Was – and I didn’t think I would ever say this in relation to The Red Paintings, but it seems to be more minimalistic compared to what we’ve seen in the past. Could you explain this new approach?

To be honest – lack of money and time to create sets. My dream video was not this one – this was plan B. But we still poured many hours into editing it and I’m delighted with the end product. The video I originally set out to make was about a black Pope and the subject of current racism in religion and its many forms. The cost to create that clip and bring it to life was just too much and we have to put what funds we have into staying alive on tour (instead of my usually video epic clip ideas). Sucks though. It’d be nice to have the budgets of bands like MUSE! Sadly videos these days don’t seem to pay for themselves.

Have you been working on a new album, or is there still much more to do with The Revolution Is Never Coming before you can move on?

Album two is titled and in my back pocket waiting for the right time and people to commence its journey. As for ‘revolution – it’s still a worldwide marketing work in progress. I’m not one to give up on true art.

How does the Australian music industry treat The Red Paintings? I feel like Europe, UK and US have given you more love than we have.

All markets have their obstacles!

Last time we spoke – 2 years ago, before your last Australian national tour – you mentioned that it was getting easier to reproduce the art you saw in your head as all the touring was helping fine tune your craft. You’re touring even more, and with bigger and bigger artists. Does all of that help the show evolve even more?

I don’t always notice the growth but it seems many of our close crew and friends have, which is positive. I spend very little time in Australia these days and my band is drawn from all over the globe from Japan, London to Hollywood. It’s like if you had a relationship that went bad would you be looking for that in your next partner to recreate that experience again? Not me. A fresh approach is due.

Well, last time I saw you guys live, I thought for sure it couldn’t get any better than that. But I have a feeling your stage show has grown so much in two years, and I will yet again be blown away.

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