A Night with The Redwalls

Great music takes us to another place. It helps us step outside ourselves. Where we wind up exactly depends entirely on what sort of people we are, what song we’re listening to and how open we are to being carried away by the music.

It’s easy to sit here and say that The Redwalls take me back to the glory days of classic rock. They wear their British Invasion influences on their sleeves – sporting sideburns, boots and jackets, they certainly look the part. But it’s more than that.

At their show at the Courtyard Cafe on Friday, April 20, the band demonstrated that while they may look to the past for inspiration, they’ve got their sights set on the future. After The Villains of Verona delivered a good set and Santa, fresh off their recent victory at the Local Music Awards, got the crowd dancing, The Redwalls kicked things off with a new song, “Hangman.”

In fact, “new” seemed to be the word of the evening. Of the 19 songs the band played, 10 are currently unreleased tracks. Even the band’s single off of De Nova, “Thank You,” which bassist Justin Baren introduced by saying, “If you know anything about us at all, you’ll know this song,” featured a reworked chorus.

That isn’t to say that old favorites didn’t get the crowd moving and singing along. After a bluesy intro, the band tore into “Balinese (Deep in the Heart)” and received a warm response. Later in the set, many audience members could be seen swaying and singing along to “Universal Blues,” the title track off the band’s first album. However, it was the new material that was the star of the show.

They closed the show, fittingly, with “In the Time of the Machine,” which somehow manages to sound futuristic and vintage at the same time. In lieu of an encore, the band mingled with fans after the show. One autograph-seeker exclaimed, “The world needs more bands like The Redwalls!”

And he was right. On Friday night, The Redwalls proved that they can straddle the line between past and present and take us back to the classic rock heyday while maintaining their own sound. As the Redwalls search for a label to put out their new album, it appears they’re coming into their own as a band, exploring new sounds while remaining true to their essence. Friday’s show didn’t simply take me back to the good old days, it took me and the rest of the crowd into uncharted territory.

Check out what The Redwalls told buzz about their up-and-coming ventures:

buzz: Do you want to talk a little bit about the The Wall to Wall Sessions EP? I’ve listened to some of the tracks, and they don’t seem like a departure necessarily, but like you’re experimenting a little bit, or trying out a new sound.

Logan Baren: The EP, we recorded that all in Chicago, which is cool. I guess we were in there just to have fun.

Andrew Langer: It’s just kind of a collection of songs we did over the last couple of months.

buzz: You guys have played lots of different sized venues, like The Courtyard CafÇ versus big festivals like Lollapalooza. Do you take a different approach to your performance when you’re playing in different sized venues?

LB: No.

AL: (laughs) Exactly the same.

Ben Greeno: You would think one would, but no.

Justin Baren: We just kind of do what we do, and it doesn’t matter what size the venue is, so no, not really.

buzz: You recently recorded an album in Sweden. Any word on when that’s coming out? I know the thing with Capitol Records (The Redwalls were dropped from the label back in February after a merger with Virgin Records) had kind of complicated that, but …

LB: No, actually everything’s okay now, and we are pretty sure it’s gonna be out –

JB: – By fall.

BG: Yeah, if anything, it un-complicated things. With a major label, there’s no real way to get your album out. You’re kind of at their discretion, at their mercy pretty much. So we’re just like, “Oh, we really wanna get this out.” Now, we own it, we have it, it’s our piece of work to do what we want with.

LB: Yeah, we’re just picking a label to put it on right now.

buzz: I’ve also heard you’re planning on re-issuing your first album, Universal Blues. Is that true?

LB: We are re-issuing it, and we’re re-issuing it with some material that has previously not been heard, so I think that’ll be cool.

AL: It’s a bunch of tracks that we kind of did around the time of Universal Blues that didn’t go on any albums that we made, so it’s incentive to get it.

buzz: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever encountered at a show or on tour?

LB: People have thrown drinks on us.

AL: And we’ve thrown drinks on them.

JB: The craziest thing I would say was when we were playing with Oasis, and there were just people that would sit there all day long and there was a big fence, and whenever some band would play, they’d just all rush up, and they were just like airlifting these people, like grabbing them out of the front row.

BG: Just tons of security guards lining the whole thing as fast as they could and these kids were just –

JB: – injured, like, broken legs.

BG: You’d come to a show and like an hour into it you’d leave in like an ambulance or a stretcher off to the side, or they just like pull them off and throw them back out to the other side, so they just kind of filter.

JB: Yeah, that was kind of strange to see. I’ve never seen so many casualties at a concert – so many people with heat exhaustion, or I don’t know what the hell was wrong with them.

buzz: You guys have been compared to The Beatles a lot. Do you ever get sick of being compared to them?

JB: No.

LB: We think they’re great.

buzz: As do a lot of people.

LB: Right, so I don’t know why we’d ever get tired of that.

buzz: Can you guys tell me anything about the new album, or is that sort of under wraps?

JB: The new record is like nothing we’ve ever done before. I mean, we worked with a really great guy, Tore Johansson out of Sweden, and it was really the first guy that really understood us and we understood him, and it’s a great record. You know, we’re just so glad to have it and so glad to be able to share it with you and everybody. I think it’s great, and everybody that’s heard it thinks it’s great, it’s just …

BG: It’s great.

AL: It’s okay.

buzz: (laughs) Just okay?

AL: No, it’s awesome.

LB: Pretty much the best record we’ve ever done. I think so absolutely. I think we’re just beginning to have our own sound. It’s very nice.

buzz: Anything else you want to throw out there?

LB: We just want to make sure everyone knows that our EP is out, you can begin to get that online, and the new record should be out soon, so just keep an ear to the ground about that.

AL: We’re gonna be on tour this summer, like in June, July and August. We’re gonna get back on tour and tour the whole country, so people can look for us coming to a city near them.

BG: Yeah, we will be posting shows for the first leg of the tour starting June 21, so that’ll be posted on our MySpace, and we’ll have a new Web site up and stuff. All new good stuff coming your way.

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