The Red Paintings: Q&A
Trash McSweeny, curator and musical mastermind behind illustrious The Red Paintings was kind enough to answer a few questions proposed by myself before the massive 2013 world tour began. The first show, which kicks off next Saturday night; is the only the beginning, moving throughout Australia, United Kingdom and Europe ending in the early weeks of December. Not to mention a quick stop in the US with Mindless Self Indulgence and all the eclecticism that comes with them. It’s been a long time in the making for the latest album ‘The Revolution Is Never Coming’; five years to be exact. McSweeny unveils the gruelling processes throughout making the album and discusses his personal overcoming of self assessment to present what is now today deemed an extremely successful album.
The Revolution That Is Never Coming has in fact come; this time with massively successful reviews of late. I’ve read a 10/10 rating from one reviewer. As creator, do you find yourself often reviewing your own work in a perspective less of your own and more so that of journalists, fans, public etc? Surely there must be a fine line between making something you love and something you know others will love too?
It’s quite amazing for me really, I’ve seen 4 reviews so far and they’re all 10/10 or 5/5! I made this album to satisfy my own dreams and aspirations and to give the greatest gift I could back to our fans for their support. For new listeners it would hopefully take them on a musical and visual journey. The media are just as human as you and I, so hopefully they fall into one of those categories too.
The aptly named new album has taken 5 years to reach our shores and will be out next week on June 7th. The notion of an album taking 5 years must create so much hype; do you feel that added pressure? Did you find each year added to the process caused more meddling from not only yourself but everyone involved in the album?
Well it was a nightmare to create for many reasons. The reason I stayed on it and continued to remix and remix over again was because I knew eventually I was going to find that sweet mix that made all the difference compared to anything else we had ever created. The songs and the concept were always there, it was just figuring out how to paint them on the musical canvas and what quality paint, brushes and canvas they were going to be painted on.
I felt immense pressure through the entire journey, but when I finished the final mix and the master, I took time out and went back to it after a week. It was the first time I’d listened to the album as a whole without getting anxious, my body was relaxed the entire way through. That’s how I knew I had the finish line next to me and that it was the album I had set out so long to create my entire life.
After that to be honest I held no expectations. I know how hard I worked and what I sacrificed and if the album is hated then so be it, but for me it was just something I had to do before my time was up. Now I can sleep sound at night!
How did you know the album was ready; do you think if you were to go back into the studio now there could be more work to be done and perhaps even find a want to spend longer on the album (like a vicious cycle) or was there a defining moment in which you knew the album was ready?
I think I answered this above for you. Sorry. There are always things that can be done, but I told myself that if I’m 99% happy then it was enough to not have to remix it again. Considering the other mixes ranged from being 20% to 70% happy, I did well to
2013 is one of the most extensive years of touring for The Red Paintings. You’re an Australian band who can also call LA home; when touring overseas how often do you find yourself comparing people, fans, venues etc to Australia – that is, if there are any comparisons to be made?
Well we are all human beings so I guess no matter where we play it seems we muster up the same emotions at our shows. But yeah, I certainly get a massive joy out of now being able to play across America, the UK and Europe so often. I mean, Europe is just amazing. We played two shows in Poland recently on what was an epic and very demanding 40-date tour, but it was such a beautiful place that I only ever dreamed I would visit. All the hard work with TRP has taken me to so many places, I feel very, very lucky.
Originally from Geelong, how do you find the music scene in Victoria today than from when you first started out? Is Australian live music on the decline?
To be honest, I don’t have my pulse on the radar anymore. Unlike the days when we would relentlessly tour Australia and I would know all the bands and which media publications were hot etc., nowadays I spend a lot of energy in the USA and UK so I don’t actually know much about what is happening here. You still have Triple J though right? I have no idea what new bands are out there, but what I do know is how god damn awesome Something For Kate’s new album is. They have always been my favourite and most cherished Australian band by a million miles. I dream of a day when I can tour with Paul and his magical crew.
It’s stated that the album had been mixed by 8 renowned engineers in 8 studios worldwide. As song writer and also producer – these are your works and creations; how could you possibly find 8 musical minds that had exactly the same musical directions as yourself? Was there any indifference during the time of mixing and recording?
Who mastered The Revolution That Is Never Coming?
It took 8 mixes because 7 people didn’t get it. So I had to pay my invoices and move on to the next one and hope for the best. Then spend another 6 months and still not get to the finish line and realise I was wasting my time. Then pay another invoice and move on again. Then 5 years had passed. After all that, you had the best of the first 7 mixes plus my experiences during all that time going into a super 8th mix which took over 12 months to complete with Bryan Carlstrom.
It was also mastered quite a few different times, but in the end I went with a cool studio in Perth with a lad called Simon Struthers at Forensic Audio Mastering. Great guy and creates world class mastering that competes with the biggest and the best. I highly recommend him.
You’ve played with Mindless Self Indulgence throughout your US leg and The Pineapple Thief in the UK and have opted to play with them again this year. Had you been a personal admirer of these bands prior to the tour?
Mindless Self Indulgence we toured Australia with in 2009, so we did know them; then came the offer for a big theatre tour across the US which was truly epic and now they’ve just offered us their theatre tour across the UK and Europe in November and December. I love touring with MSI, their fan base is huge and they are just the most open minded and enthusiastic fans. It’s great because we know we are building a new family with them. It’s incredible touring and playing to such beautiful souls each night. As for The Pineapple Thief, I didn’t really know them at all, but I have to say the band was just amazing. It was another really good match for us to do that tour. Plus I was able to play in other parts of the UK I had not seen before, like the amazing Glasgow, the land of Mogwai!
The film clip for latest single ‘You’re Not One Of Them’ is showcased with a pretty epic storyboard. You directed and produced the clip; what were the main ideals/themes behind this track? The make up from Dallas Ashton must have been a massive prick to get off?
Haha yeah the studio we shot in was not happy about the 160 bodies trying to wash body paint off but also getting it all over the walls. Damn that was a hell of an ordeal. I wanted to get everything right within the concept of ‘The Revolution Is Never Coming’ so it made sense to create my own music videos. The only video of the 5 we shot for this album that I didn’t direct or shoot was ‘Streets Fell Into My Window.’ My good friend Clint Lewis from Red Tape Pictures sat down with me and showed me one hell of a vision for the song and we both agreed it made sense to give it the visual treat it deserved. One song the TRP fans just instantly fell in love with. I really trusted Clint with this video as I knew how much he cared to get it right, but also add something fresh to the Alice in Wonderland story. The fact it ended up winning awards and screening at film festivals all over the globe says a lot about it I guess. Very proud of what he achieved.
Film clip for newly released single ‘You’re Not One Of Them’ is situated below, be sure to watch.
The Red Paintings will play The Gershwin Room at The Espy in St. Kilda on the 15th of June.
Tickets via The Espy
Download new album via iTunes