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Rising Power: Akron’s Red Sun Rising set to release sophomore effort ‘Thread’

By B.J. Lisko / 
Repository staff writer
Posted Mar 21, 2018 at 3:49 PM

Area hard rock group has garnered mainstream success; an interview w/singer Mike Protich

According to singer Mike Protich, there are two sides to Red Sun Rising. The Akron-based, standout rock group is a friendly, easygoing and upbeat bunch. But digging into the subject matter of their songwriting, notably on the band’s forthcoming album, “Thread,” there’s clearly more to the story.

“If you read my lyrics and then you met me, you wouldn’t think it’s the same person,” Protich said following a recent rehearsal. “I don’t take myself too seriously, and neither does anyone in the band.”

Their art? That’s a different matter.

“That’s one place in our lives where we can be serious and even dark,” Protich explained. “That’s kind of how we let that out so we can be happy in our real lives.”

Red Sun Rising certainly has plenty of reasons to be happy these days. The band’s 2015 debut, “Polyester Zeal,” garnered it critical acclaim, radio support and opening slots for Korn, Stone Sour, Seether, Tremonti, Sick Puppies, Pop Evil and Godsmack, among many others, as well as bookings on mainstream rock festivals like Carolina Rebellion, Rocklahoma, Northern Invasion and Rock on the Range. The band will perform at the latter in Columbus on May 18.

The most pressing reason for the band to be excited, however, is the aforementioned “Thread” (due March 30 via Razor & Tie).

The 11-song, sophomore effort is chock full of the trademark hard rock guitar hooks and soaring vocal melodies that have endeared the Rubber City quintet to fans all over the globe. Red Sun Rising also hopes to soon announce a homecoming show to celebrate the album’s release.

Protich talked at length about “Thread” and more in a recent phone conversation. Here are the highlights:

Q. What was the writing and recording process like for “Thread” compared to your last record, “Polyester Zeal?”

A. “The one major difference was that the first record was basically (guitarist) Ryan (Williams) and I writing everything. It was just the two of us in the studio with a producer. Once we got ‘Polyester Zeal’ done, we had to find a band. We had gone through so many member changes, and when we got serious and we got signed, things didn’t work out with some guys, so we had to put a band together. Luckily, it’s a band of guys that we have known for years. It wasn’t just a random group. They were friends of ours and guys we had toured with. We toured ‘Polyester Zeal’ for two and a half years. When we got into the studio for ‘Thread,’ that was the first time we recorded a record as a band.”

Q. I assume there was a feeling-out process writing with the new guys.

A. “It was a huge feeling out process. The first time we tried to write as a band, it just didn’t work. It was too many people with ideas at the same time, and it was counterintuitive to getting anything done. So we reverted back to Ryan and I creating a structure of a song and then presenting it to the band. Then they could bring their ideas into it. That’s when it really started to work and everyone found their strengths within the songwriting.”

Q. Talk about the strides Red Sun Rising has made as a band in the last few years?

A. “With the first record, we had a lot of radio and touring success. We did a lot of great support shows and festivals both in the United States and Europe and Russia. I think we became better musicians and a better band just playing that much. The radio success helped a lot and it got our name out there and got the ball rolling to set us up for this next record.”

Q. Getting into some of the songs on “Thread,” what was the concept and inspiration behind the first single and video, “Deathwish.”

A. “We use the apocalypse as the subject matter. It was inspired by the Pygmalion effect, which is a psychiatric study that says if you have a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you believe something is going to happen, your actions will gravitate toward making that happen. Things like that can actually hinder one’s life. The apocalypse wasn’t in a worldly sense as much as it was a personal sense. For the video, we wanted it to seem like a short film and have more of a narrative than our other videos, which I think we accomplished.”

Q. What about the latest song released, “Left for Dead?”

A. “That one is very personal to me lyrically. It’s a song I’ve had for a while that was never on anything, and I’m glad it made it to this record. It’s basically watching a family implode and the struggles that comes with.”

Q. “Stealing Life” also builds really nicely and turns out quite anthemic.

A. “That’s another one that’s personal to me. It’s a little darker even still. I’ve been affected with suicide throughout my life. Two of my close friends have committed suicide. Also most recently, one of my biggest influences in music was Chris Cornell. That was one of the first times an artist passed away where I was like, ‘This is really tough.’ That came right in the midst of writing for this record, and I also tried to think about the friends that I’ve lost. The song is really about what was going on in their head, and if you would you really want to know what’s going on in their head? For the music, we wanted to give it a Beatles-esque vibe.”

Q. The subject matter and artwork and promo photos to “Thread” are quite the contrast. Was that juxtaposition what you were going for?

A. “Yeah, and I think it describes our personalities. If you look at us, you see this bright, sunny thing, but if you look at the details, there’s some darkness to it as well. I think we wanted to represent that with the five flowers on the front and the symbols representing each band member. I thought it was a more creative way to have an illustration that represented us than just a band photo.”

Q. How has Akron influenced the band’s sound?

A. “It’s cloudy and grey the majority of the year, so it’s easy to be in that mood if you want to. When I can get into that mood, that’s actually when I’m most creative. There’s also a lot of talented people in Northeast Ohio that are still here and still doing it. I’ve learned so much from them. Maybe they never got famous, but they’re amazing players. From a young age, Ryan and I were sponges. We took in every piece of knowledge we could get from these people. It helped us shape our sound and to be able to do our own thing. It’s a very nurturing scene here.”

Q. What has it meant for you guys to break out of that pack?

A. “I don’t know. We just take it one day at a time. We don’t think of ourselves that way, we’re just still playing music and getting further and further. This could end tomorrow, so we’re just happy to be playing music and we love coming back here. We still rehearse here and try to stay connected. We always try to give advice back to people who are still playing around here. ‘Here’s what we did, you can try this.’ We’re not secretive about it, and we don’t think we’re better than anyone. We just want to help, because we love what we do now, and we’re glad we get to keep doing it.”