Some of you may know Razor Red Noise for making beautiful covers of Linkin Park songs - recently he even did new singles or songs some time after they started circulating the web and, damn if he did good. We talked extensively about him in our previous interview (and first exclusive) with him, and you can find it here.
This time we're not losing time on introductory chit-chat, because we've a lot of questions and things to know about his present works.
EP2 and making
Q Last year you released 2 studio albums and many more solo material and covers - 6 months have passed since our first interview: tell us quickly how did you filled you time working on music and RRN projects.
A Actually it was quite hard finding the time to spend on music after Perfection In Tragedy as I had to devote time to my studies - of course music continued when I was able to do it, and ideas I worked on in my spare time eventually evolved into what became the EP2 and In Coma.
Q Let's talk about the EP2 [that you can hear on SoundCloud and download from Megaupload], that you put out when everybody thought you'd have released a new full length studio work. You decided to give it out for free to your fans: why this choice and what background information can you give us about it's making ? Are Songs in the EP2 tracks discharged from the new album or maybe you didn't think those could fit your new musical idea (for what has become "In Coma") ?
A I think I just wanted to release something to tide everyone over, to let them know that RRN wasn't dead in the water. I'd been working on some new ideas and I thought giving it out for free would be best; more people would be able to listen to it and get a feel for what RRN is. Before that, the only free releases I've done are individual songs on YouTube.
The theme of EP2 is a kind bridge between Perfection In Tragedy and In Coma, I think. You can hear some elements in the songs that harken back to previous albums but also give a feel for something new and fresh.
Q Your style - since the EP2 and going through the new single "Ashes" [here's the official video for it] - seems to have matured and evolved, particularly in going out of schemes you traced in old works. Did you experimented a lot in this kind of way, maybe trying different directions ?
A On the whole, I wanted people to see that RRN wasn't some Linkin Park ripoff. That's always been my goal and for some reason certain people find it difficult to look past that assumption. Not that I'm offended by the comparison - I'm flattered. An old song I wrote some years ago ("A Hundred Times") is actually on In Coma in a re-recorded form, though the structure has remained the same, so that's quite interesting; to have completely new material mixed in with old, unreleased songs. "A Hundred Times" is the only 'old' song on In Coma, but I hope to re-use some ideas from years-gone-by for future albums, if I can. They're good ideas and I think it would be a waste to just throw them away. I like to think I'm always evolving and changing as an artist - which is actually even more true looking at some of the music I've started writing after wrapping up In Coma. I find sticking to the same formula over and over again can get a little boring. It pushes away the fans too, because they want to hear something new and exciting - I would too.
[you can watch a performance video for Hypothermia that Alex did some month ago]
Q As promised you started to work out on cover too, re-making from scratch a lot of Linkin Park songs, both in instrumentals and voices (even a Shinoda verse in Blackbirds) in a record time, so that your cover video was usually online before the song even aired on youtube.
[We've selected for you his latest cover, for Shadow of the Day and a Collaboration with another LP fan and artist on youtube (astat) for In Pieces but he did a lot of crazy things: check it out]
We know that you'd like to gradually narrow down Linkin Park covers, wishing to do something different - why this decision ? Are you getting upset of the comparing between you and Chester Bennington or is someone leaving unkind comments about your covers ?
A I'd love to do Linkin Park covers until there are no more for me to do - I believe it's what I do best and it's certainly what I enjoy most. Recently I think some people want to see something fresh, and I know in my own mind that Linkin Park isn't the only band I'd like to cover. I think the main contender for new covers would be Nine Inch Nails (as they're another of my favourite bands) and Dead By Sunrise - though again, some people might get bored of DBS covers because it's more Chester. Of course I'm very flattered being compared to Chester but I want the covers to sound a little unique, too.
Q Let's talk of your new upcoming and much awaited album, In coma, set for release on 9th July [there's a preview on Amazon]. Would you like to tell us some background info about the making of the album, some production note or exclusive things like that ? Maybe some curious detail that fans doesn't know or wouldn't expect regarding the album.
A The oldest material on In Coma (excluding "A Hundred TImes") stretches back to just after the release of Perfection In Tragedy, in September last year. Right after I finished the album I just wanted to keep going and write more songs, so I did. Finishing the songs took a long time due to lack of spare time on my part - I probably had only finished 2 or 3 by the new year. The rest of the album came together quite quickly, finishing up around May this year. As for how I wrote it, I tended to have all the instrumentals written and recorded in full, with rough vocals over them. Then, when all the instrumentals were done in May, I had a few long vocal recording sessions to put all the final vocals on the songs. After that, the songs were mixed and mastered quite quickly, and sent off to iTunes!
Q Which songs do you consider "crucial" for the whole work, like pillars for the entire album structure ? Which ones do you like the most or maybe think are an improvement from your previous works ? What makes you really proud of this album ?
A "Ashes" is the most indicative of what the album sounds like as a whole. There are a lot of common elements that come to my mind for songs on the album, and "Ashes" really has most of them, I think. The elements I think of when I think "In Coma" are eery, dreamy verses with synthesised backdrops, big choruses, and a lot of strings in the background as the songs reach their peaks and finish. There's a good amount of piano work throughout the album - watch out for "Let Go" and "We Escape" for this.
Q Are there some cut or discharged song or demo that you'd like to release as an integration (like you did for the "in circles (demo)") ? Maybe some good musical idea or elements that have been thrown away just because they didn't fit the new music but wished to maintain ?
A I usually don't end up with too many thrown-away ideas (to contradict what I said a few questions before - the key word here is "usually"); I tend to be quite good at finishing what I start. As a result there are no real demos or bonus tracks that are truly new songs - I'm releasing an old demo from a few years ago for those who pre-ordered the CD though.
Q Some months ago you released the first album of a collateral project of yours, named "In Viridian": let us know how it started and came around and why you didn't use these Instrumentals for some Razor Red Noise instead of making something new at all.
A I always wanted to make ambient music of some description but I felt I'd never be able to release it - it didn't fit on any Razor Red Noise albums and I think it would have diluted the fanbase a lot if I called it RRN. It's very different from RRN and that's okay - it's what I want it to sound like. I thought I should create an outlet to release this music because some people might enjoy it as well as, or maybe more than, RRN. Also having a way to release it means that I'm always motivated to make more material without it just piling up and never seeing the light of day. I really like mood music; setting a certain feel for a piece of music, painting a picture in your mind. It's a very appealing goal to write music to.
RRN origins, career and video
Q Tell us briefly how the Razor Red Noise started, what pushed you to create your music and / or covering artists that you like (and what came before). Some curiosity or background talking about your first years or Works and some difficulty you've encountered in the very beginning.
A A friend gave me Meteora for my birthday years ago which really made me want to be a singer. I wasn't any good but I didn't care, I'd just sing along because it was fun. The idea for RRN came about when I saw an article about burning your own music CD or something like that - and I thought it would be an awesome feeling to be able to hold a CD of music that I'd created 100% myself. So, RRN was born.
Q How did the evolved working process (writing, composing, production and video making) in these years from covering and studio music ? And how the improvements and changes have reflected on the equipment you are using in the process ?
A At first I wrote songs with only a guitar and a Boss BR-600 recorder. It was enough, to be honest - there were built-in drum loops that I could riff to, and I could plug a microphone into it as well to record some vocals. So the very first material was entirely drums, guitar, bass and vocals. No synthesised material at all. As for covers, I started with just a microphone and a really bad webcam, but it did the job. I wanted to put my singing out there and see what people thought.
As I gathered more equipment I guess the music became more complex. When I got a Roland Juno-G, I think everything really took off. I'd been using Acoustica Beatcraft to make drums before but the Juno just felt much more fluid and easy to create beats and synthesised parts. Having a huge library of sounds to work from is a great creative tool, you can use some really off-the-wall combinations of instruments and create something crazy. I eventually got a better camera for doing covers and the quality of those increased, and finally now I can record in 720p. 1080p might come soon! But I'm not holding my breath.
Q What do you specifically use (including equipment, software or various instrumentation) to make your videos ? Which particular video effect do you prefer to develop a visual impact (not only the ones digitally elaborated but director's choices too, or mounting tricks) especially distinguishing from "video performances" for covers or personal music or just videos for the singles you've done (like the new video for "Ashes" in which you're using a nice shadow effect).
A My full music setup consists of: Roland Juno-G synthesiser, Vintage VRS-100 guitar, Line6 PODxt Live floor box, Logic Studio, Sennheiser E825 mic, AKG Perception 220 mic, and some other little things like pre-amps. I record my videos with a Sanyo Xacti HD700.
To be honest, I'd love to make every RRN video more like "Ashes". As it is, I'm very limited in where I can film and what I can do because I'm just one person. So it forces me a little into doing performances rather than 'music videos'. I enjoy performances fine, but I'd love to do some complicated video-work, it would be really good fun. There's not really much complicated going on directionally; most of my shots tend to be set up the same. Of course it depends what I'm filming - piano, vocals, or whatever.
Q Have you had fun in making videos or you consider it a little stressing ? Anyway, we've seen how you enjoyed "split screen"
A I do enjoy editing the videos, I think sharpening up the quality and tweaking effects here and there makes them much more interesting to watch than if I did a raw cut. It can be stressful if it's taking a long time, but if that happens I just take a break! After all, it's meant to be fun. And yes, I very much enjoy split screen, haha. I think it's good for the viewer to be able to choose what they're watching on-screen, rather than be forced to watch one cut of vocals or guitar, etc after each other.
QAt last, a question that many fans wanted me to push in: some news about live shows ? With the Summer you should have (we hope for you, anyway) some time and more freedom to move away and go singing around, isn't it ?
A Again, it's difficult because it's a solo project. I've been talking with some musicians that I might get together with and rehearse for some possible live shows. Unfortunately these shows would all be very close to home for me - around where I live in the UK. Going further afield would be much more difficult. Another thing which makes live shows a complicated prospect is how much electronics play a part in the songs - I think this is more an organisational thing on my part though, and if I spent some time hammering out electronic tracks that could be controlled by one person then it'd be easier.
Q Talking about that, a closing thought involving the interesting article that Mike Shinoda published in its Blog some time ago about Artists that sound better live and others that are great - exclusively - in studio: what do you think about that (both related and not to you) and, specifically, how are you moving about encouraging the "live" aspect of Razor Red Noise and your growing as a Live artist ?
A I agree with his sentiments - it's hard to really achieve greatness if you don't tour in addition to doing studio-work. If I was in a band with multiple members then I'd be touring all the time and loving it, but it's just hard with RRN because it's just me. If there's some way I can tour then I'll push it all I can. Until then, I'm studio-bound!
Thanks to Alex for sharing with us some great informations and background details about the new album and works.
Stay tuned on In Coma, Razor Red Noise upcoming studio album, set for digital Release on 9th of July on Itunes and Amazon.
Interview prepared and directed by lparcshinoda, thanks to Renji for the Italian translation.