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Red Sun Revival - Interview (no.2)

Interview with: Rob Leydon, Matt Helm, Panos Theodoropoulous
Conducted by: T.V.

Red Sun Revival, an English gothic rock band that marked the scene two years ago with their fascinating debut album Running From The Dawn are finally back among us with a brand new EP entitled Embers (read a review HERE), which was released by their new signing, the German label Echozone. With this release the band shows even more melancholic side of theirs and are masters in creating enthusing gothic atmospheres. It's irrelevant to write more facts about this band which captivated the fans of gothic rock in a big way and I'm sure that each one of you already knows all that. 2015 should be another milestone for the band's history because they are about to release their sophomore album and we're all for sure eagerly awaiting that to happen. Rob Leydon (vocals, programming), Matt Helm (guitar), Christina Emery (violin) and Panos Theodoropoulous (bass guitar) are the names of musicians behind the name Red Sun Revival, each one with a lot of experiences from before and the three guys were very kind to answer my curious questions about what's going on in the camp of Red Sun Revival right now, what are their future plans, about their past endeavours, live experiences and much more.

T.V.: I can't find the words to tell you how much I waited for the new Red Sun Revival release as Running From The Dawn was one of the albums that I was playing the most in the last two years, and here it is the new EP. Tell me how are you satisfied with the result?
Rob: Thank you very much, I'm delighted to hear how much you enjoyed Running From The Dawn. The EP is a little different from our debut album, with perhaps more melancholy themes, and reflects a certain set of feelings which I had at the time of the EPs composition. I'm very satisfied with the result, the song-writting has developed since the first album, the the songs now feature live drums, courtesy of Simon Rippin.
T.V.: It seems that on new songs you've taken the most melancholic and tender parts out of the debut and yet improved them with rich and deep textures...
Rob: Yes, the EP is quite downbeat by comparison with the first album, and the subject matter is quite different. We felt that these four songs ought to be a release in their own right, rather than added to a second album. It is a bit of a 'concept' EP. We developed our style and craft, and whilst the next album is likely to be a lot more upbeat and energetic, we'll take our new learning and apply them in the future.
T.V: If I understand this right the lyrics and the concept of new EP are not that personal as it was on Running From The Dawn?
Rob: It's actually more personal, at least from my own perspective. The first album, Running From The Dawn deals with a fairly broad range of subject, some of which are personal with others being more general. The EP is a bit of a diary for me, charting some personal events that occured mainly in 2012, which were at the time difficult to deal with. The EP is an exploration of the different stages of what was something of a difficult time.
Matt: I agree - If you look at the lyrics of "Mistakes" and "Broken", and everything about the song "Embers", there's a lot of emotion there. Even though Rob wrote the songs I think we can all relate to the things he went through and put into those songs.
Panos: I will agree with Rob and Matt. The lyrics that Rob wrote for our EP seem more personal and quite emotional as well.
T.V.: Ok, I see, and from that point is even more introvert, but can you be a little bit more concrete about those things that were going on that year?
Rob: I don't know that I want to go into specifics, I think the songs tell that story better than I can right here. A lot of things changed at that time, leaving a big empty space, and it changed my perspective on life quite a lot. It was a period of painful adjustment, after loosing some very important things in my life. Replacing them was, and is difficult, but writing music plays a big part in filling that void.
T.V.: I understand you. Recently you announced that you shot a video clip for the song "Mistakes". Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Rob: Yes, our good friend Gabriel Edvy from Blackswitch labs has recorded and edited a wonderful video for "Mistakes", which we hope to be in a position to make it available very soon. The video features some really stunning imagery from an on-location shot in the Dorset coast, and a great live performance in the studio. I think it's going to a really beautiful and enchanting video.
Matt: Yes, Gabriel has done some fantastic work. We don't want to give too much away but it's a great concept and I think it's going to look stunning.
T.V.: Does the video follow the lyrical thematics of the song?
Rob: For our first video, "My Child", the video very much followed the lyrical themes in the song, and we're all very happy with the outcome from that shot. This time, we wanted to approach thing a bit differently, and create a visual tapestry onto which the viewer can project his or her own ideas about the song. In this respect, I think the video for "Mistakes" is a little more mature and subtle in it's way of dealing with the subject matter.
Matt: I remember sitting on a plane flying to a gig and Rob wrote out the lyrics of "Mistakes" for me so that we could try to come up with something for the video. However, over the course of the flight we decided that making something too literal would detract from the whole thing. Instead we wanted something that would capture the mood, ambience and feeling of the song without trying to 'tell the story' too obviously. Then Gabriel came up with some brilliant visual ideas and we got started.
T.V.: How much of a team work is the compositional aspect? Are all of the members involved in the creation of music?
Rob: In the early stages of the band, I have already composed most of the material before the others became involved. This is starting to change now, and I think that's a positive development. On the EP, Panos and I jointly composed "Embers" and largely one evening. Panos also wrote the bassline for "Surrender". On the next album, I'm hoping that we can have more even contributions all around.
Panos: As Rob said. In our first album all of the songs were already composed by him. From the EP onwards we have started to colaborate in the composition of some of the songs and we have already spent quite a lot of evenings playing together, exchanging ideas. I think that we can write quite well together.
T.V.: Do you guys share the same ideas and cherish the same things in music? Is there any kind of an argument going on in the rehearseal room?
Rob: I think that outside of Red Sun Revival we all have quite different tastes. However, having been in quite a lot of bands, I can honestly say that I've never been in a band which argued less! I don't think our musical differences really affect what we do in this band.
Panos: I think we all have our own influences and different paths in music as individuals. But in Red Sun Revival we have points that unite and bind the four of us quite well together. There are no arguments and no reasons for any to develop.
Matt: We all have some central common ground in what we like - the well known original Goth bands. Beyond that there's a lot of diversity in our tastes, but I see that as a good thing. It means we can all bring different influences and ideas to the band which can only be healthy.
T.V.: That's good to hear. I think that most of people who follow gothic rock already know everything about Rob's past endeavours, but not much is known about the rest of you guys?
Matt: Well I got my break in 2009 when Tim Chandler of Manuskript asked me to join his band Pretentious, Moi? which he was putting together to play his own songs. They're a great band that I still play with today. Tim introduced me to Rob when he heard Rob needed a guitarist for his own project, and the rest is history. Outside of the goth scene I'm a session guitarist and guitar teacher. Goth is 'home' for me though, and I love being able to play for my scene in the two bands I'm in.
Panos: I started playing bass many years back in Greece and have been involved in different bands since then. I still like to play different kinds of music and be as productive as possible so I am still involved in different projects at the moment. Both in Greece and in London. Red Sun Revival keep me quite busy this period and I am committed to the band. But I think all four of us still try to play as much music as possible outside of the band as weel. Some of the bands that I am involved at the moment are: Clouds By NIght, The Mayors, and Rottviolent. All playing different kinds of rock music.
T.V.: Huh, I know almost all those names you are mentioning. But I wonder if is music your only preocupation in life and do you earn enough for living out of it?
Rob: I don't think it's possible for bands to make a living out of it these days, certainly not at our level. We'd have to sell in the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of units before such a thing was possible. The costs involved are also high, in terms of equipment, studio costs, pressing, and marketing. I work as a research scientist to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head.
Panos: Personally I am not earning my living from music. Music is a love affair for me and although I am involved in it in a professional level, it is still a difficult sector. Especially if you are in the sector with a band... I need my everyday job to keep me going with this love affair.
Matt: I do make my living from music, but it's mostly through teaching, shows and sessions, not from playing original music, especially not in the alternative scene. I'm lucky that I enjoy playing almost any kind of music. It's a tough living, challenging but a lot of fun.

T.V.: You just returned from the SGM fest in Madrid. Can you give us some details about this very event? How did you enjoyed there?
Rob: Yes, SGM fest was a lot of fun, it was great to play in Madrid, and we received a very kind and enthusiastic response from the audience. The venue was excellent also, and we had a great sound. I really enjoyed the city also, particularly the cuisine.
Panos: SGM was great fun. Excellent organization, fantastic audience, and great bands playing with us. Not to mention the amazing weather in Madrid, the friendly people and the great food. A great event indeed.
Matt: I can only echo what the others have said - it was a fantastic weekend. We should give a shout out to several of our loyal European fans who travelled all the way across the continent to come see us. It's always great to catch up with them and gigs are always more fun with them in the front row!
T.V.: Can you already name those tracks of yours that moves the audience in the best possible way?
Matt: "Lost For Words" is my favourite, but that's because I get to rock out a bit on it. The crowd ususally seems to be having fun when we do that one.
Rob: I think the most popular song live is "My Child", we always get a great response to this one, perhaps because of the kind of song that it is, and also maybe as a consequence of the video giving it a higher profile. Otherwise, "Running From The Dawn", "Lost For Words", and most recently "Mistakes" from the EP all seem to be crowd-pleasers. "Nothing To Hide" seems to be a good encore for us, we all get a bit of a solo in this one and it's a great way for us all to shine.
T.V.: And which show you played so far as Red Sun Revival is in your opinion the best one ever?
Rob: I think our show last December as main support for Diary Of Dreams stands out for me. Everything came together perfectly, and we had an amazing sounds and reaction from the audience. I would also have to mention our show in Modena, Italy, which for me was very special.
Panos: Since we started with Red Sun Revival I honenstly believe that we have had several great gigs. And we were lucky enough to share the stage with great bands of the alternative scene. I would say too that sharing the stage with Diary Of Dreams in London, is up there as one of our best gigs. And the gig in Athens, my hometown was also a really special one for me.
Matt: Athens and Modena were both great gigs where I felt we played really well, and were helped by a really enthusiastic audience. The two gigs we've played at the O2 Academy in Islington have been great too - although for the second one I had forgotten my contact lenses which made it an interesting night. Fortunately my fingers remembered where to go even though I couldn't see my guitar very well!
T.V.: Can you reveal some future dates at this point?
Rob: Right now we're taking a short break from writing, as we're currently in the process of composing new material for a second album release next year. We'll be back on the stage in 2015, but right now we're still working on the dates. As soon as we have something confirmed we'll reveal all.
Matt: I think Rob means we're taking a break from gigging! Yes, it's the first time I can remember since the band started that we haven't had at least one gig booked in the future. However, at the moment our entire focus is on the new album which will come out next year. Once that's out we'll definitely be hitting the road so people can hear it live. But first things first we have to get it written, recorded and released.
T.V.: Rob you already mentioned before a word or two about the next album... can any further details be revealed? Any dates, any titles, anything...?
Rob: Right now we have five new songs, and we're hoping to release it in the spring or autumn of next year, depending on how much progress we make. I can reveal that titles of three songs: "The Reckoning", "Echoes", and "Four Walls", but that's all for now.
T.V.: Embers was and I believe also your next album will be released by your new label Echozone. Tell me, how are you satisfied with them?
Rob: So far we're very satisfied with Echozone, and their professional way of promoting the band. Echozone offer and excellent service to bands and seems really committed to getting the best results for them.
Matt: I think the real test will be the next album. It's up to us to provide them with some really good material that they can work with and help promote us. I'm looking forward to it.
T.V.: There were a lot of harsh words about your previous label AF-music spreading over the web. Can you give us some more precise details about what was really going on?
Rob: I don't think it would be right to add to the speculation and criticism that's already been quite forthcoming. Needless to say, it didn't work out for us with AF-music and we've moved on. I can understand the sentiments that have been expressed but I think it's better for us to keep the business side of things separate.
T.V.: I know, but that kind of dramas are always very intriguing... If returning back to your next album,... will you remain loyal to the sound you achived so far or can we expect some surprises?
Rob: I think we'll certainly remain loyal to our own unique sound, but the character of the songs may differ, depending on the inspiration and direction each song takes. We'll be happy to explore new grounds and break into new territories, but all in our own way.
Panos: New influences and new ideas will always be incorporated in our music but always through our own specific sound and style of playing. I believe that there might be a few surprises in the next album but, not in a way that will affect our characteristic sound.
Matt: I think this album remains fairly true to 'our sound'. People who liked the sound of the first album should like this one too. It's not a radical departure or a whole new direction. I think we still have things to say and express using the sound we have, so the album will do that. Our songwriting has developed, and Rob knows us all well now so he's better able to write for our specific abilities. He wrote the first album before he'd formed the band so he was writing without specific people in mind. That's different now. I think that will add to the album as a whole.
T.V.: As Red Sun Revival become one of the most important bands in this so called "third wave" of goth rock bands, I wonder what do you think will be the future of this specific genre?
Panos: Music will always find a way to move forward, develop and "survive" the test of time in a unique way. As long as there are people that love this music and as long as there are active musicians that love performing and composing this music the future will prove to be good. I personally see many people committed to this sound, great musicians and loyal fans and I am optimistic for the future of the alternative scene.
Matt: That's a tricky question because ideas of genre and categories tend to be projected on bands from people on the outside. For us we just write and play the music we like. If that means we fit into a certain category then that's fine, but we're not doing it to take a genre somewhere. We're doing it because we like the music, we enjoy playing it and bringing it to people. I guess we all have connections with the goth rock scene and we'd like to see it grow and prosper. The more people writing and playing more new music the more vibrant and exciting the scene will be. I suppose we're a part of that, but our focus needs to be on making good music. Personally I hope this third wave continues and grows. I want a strong scene with plenty of new people, lots of new music and loads going on. Who knows what will happen, but we can keep writing songs and playing gigs to be a part of that.
Rob: I think this genre will continue to appeal to many people as it reflects something fundamental about all of us. At the same time, it will have to remain relevant and do so it will need to adapt, as it has been doing. We may find it takes forms we scarcely recognise today.
T.V.: I would also like to ask you which releases (not only gothic) in the last time caught your attention?
Rob: In This Light And On The Evening by the Editors was a release I enjoyed very much. It's a mixture of old and new influences and a good template for how modern alternative bands might succeed.
Matt: I've been discovering Grimes' stuff recently which I'm enjoying, and IAMX's Unified Field is a good album. Outside of the alternative scene I've been loving Back To Forever by Lissie, I've been to see her play twice now.
T.V.: I think that we covered pretty much everything for now. I would like to thank you for taking your time answering my questions and of course,... is there anything you would like to add at the end of this interview?
Rob: Thank you for the interview Tomaz, and I hope that your readers find our answers interesting. We look forward to releasing our second album next year with many live shows to support it, and we hope to see you and your readers at one of them in the future.
Matt: 2015 should be a big year for us, we're looking forward to sharing it with everyone.
Panos: Thank you very much Tomaz, for this great interview. I hope your readers enjoy it and I hope to see you all around soon, when we hit the road after our second album is released.

Red Sun Revival links: Official Website, Facebook

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