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Interview: Red Sun Rising vocalist Mike Protich unravels 'Thread'

By:   AXS Contributor Mar 28, 2018

There is something wonderful to be a said for a band that can creatively fuse the beauty and melody of artists like The Beatles with the moody dissonance of 90s grunge. Red Sun Rising is such a band.  A group of musicians not happy being constrained by labels, the music is reflective of their diverse collective influences. Vocalist Mike Protich founded Red Sun Rising with guitarist Ryan Williams just over a decade ago. The band self-released Making of Kings in 2011. They followed it up in 2015 with the critically-acclaimed, Polyester Zeal, an album which felt fresh and inspired. The record earned the band several high-charting singles, including two #1 hits in “Emotionless” and “The Otherside,” as well as the Top 10 hit, “Amnesia.” After the release of the album, Protich and Williams welcomed drummer Pat Gerasia, bassist Ricky Miller and guitarist Dave McGarry to the line-up. This spring the band will release the next chapter, Thread. The new album continues to showcase the group’s deft ability to craft harmonious and emotive music that feels equally vintage and contemporary.

Red Sun Rising spent the summer of 2017 in the studio with producer Matt Hyde (Seether, Deftones, Slayer) recording Thread. The album’s songs are reflective of a line-up that spent the last two years touring non-stop and developing their internal chemistry. AXS recently spoke with Protich about the new record. He shares that the most difficult part of making the album came before they even entered the studio.

“Everybody had ideas, but we hadn’t actually turned them into full songs yet. So we got a cabin and lived there for two weeks and we just jammed on these songs. That was very challenging. When you have five guys in a room all throwing out ideas, it’s pretty counter-intuitive to being creative. But once everyone figured out what their strength was, by the time we got into the studio the recording process was a breeze.”

The band completed the recording of Thread last year, and Protich admits that sitting on the album for the last six months has been extremely difficult. “We’ve been chomping at the bit. We’ve been sending the album out to friends and other bands, just for somebody to hear it and give us some feedback. Thankfully, it’s all been phenomenal feedback.”

The first single off the record is for the track, “Deathwish.” The lyrics and video have a darkly twisted feel yet there remains a buoyant quality to the song. “That’s one of my favorite things to do,” offers Protich. “Even if the lyrics are dark, I try to find a beautiful melody that someone can sing along to. The lyrics are inspired by the Pygmalion effect which is a psychiatric study that says if you have a self-fulfilling prophecy, your actions will subconsciously gravitate towards making that happen. People become obsessed with that and it can ruin their lives.”

The album’s closing track, “The Evil One,” is the heaviest on the record. The song has an intriguingly disturbing quality to it, yet it is still somewhat playful in large part due to the sinister childlike piano interludes. “Ricky brought the riff to the band. When we were in the studio in pre-production, there was this old miniature piano from like 1902. It was creepy,” laughs Protich. “Ricky started playing the song on this piano and it was so creepy it sounded like he’d summoned Satan. It was ridiculous. So we decided we had to put it on the record.”

Thread finds Red Sun Rising continuing to grow and mature as songwriters, and Protich's voice remains one of the most engaging and emotive in rock music. This is the band's most diverse and cohesive record to date. The album releases March 30 through Razor & Tie Records.

You can listen to the full interview with Mike Protich here, and watch the video for “Deathwish” above. After the band’s current run of headline tour dates, Red Sun Rising will join Godsmack and Shinedown on tour this fall.