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Abbe Davis, lead singer for BannerElk interviews Red Sun Risingat Fort Rock Festival - April 29, 2018

What do you get when two guys who were in the same class in high school start talking music at a gas station in Ohio? You get a band from Akron, Ohio called "Red Sun Rising," featuring the soaring vocals of Mike Protich and the rocking riffs of Ryan Williams. The whole band is a rhythm machine, tight and solid from Dave McGarry on rhythm guitar, Ricky Miller on bass, and Pat Gerasia on drums. And then there is the bonus of some very nice backup vocals from Dave and Ricky. In 2006 the discussion of music between lead singer,Mike Protich and guitarist, Ryan Williams at a gas station, was truly a fateful day.

They built their following through social media sites, like many bands do, and were touring nationally by 2013. By 2014, the band signed with Razor & Tie records, and then released their album "Polyester Zeal" in 2015 which debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hard Rock album charts. Since then, their rock music continues to draw us in with intrigue.

“Emotionless” features Protich’s strong vocal range, cool drum kicks, and guitar layered into rocking riffs. The tune cuts across boundaries or categories, just as their latest album entitled, “Thread” suggests:  Their songs will flow across the genres of rock and pop and will, instead, be seamless threads of music as an art form.

 “Amnesia” has an unforgettable chorus and the melody is contagious. If you haven't seen the video yet, it is just a riot to see these cool guys geeked out in wierd outfits, and acting like nerds, when they are anything but that.

“The Otherside” seems reminiscent of Soundgarden yet it is Red Sun Rising. The video is a great production of lead singer Mike morphing into a wolfman at times. Again, nothing like the Mike I saw when I met these guys. The tune has great guitar lines with an interesting bridge. This is the song you put on in your car, start driving miles to, and drift away with. Replay, replay, replay. It’s that good.

"Fort Rock" (in Fort Lauderdale) this past weekend had Fretboard Magazine and the media doing the typical dance of time changes when you want to interview bands backstage at a festival. What can you expect? The artists get off of the stage and may want to eat, or who knows. Basically, for media, we would get a time, the time would change and you’d just have to catch up with any of the bands to ask questions when you saw them show up. I was there to help out at the Fretboard Magazine tent in front, and the perk was how I could hear all of the great bands for two days so, of course, I was all in. I was nervous about interviewing anyone-even though I used to write in other industries up in New York, NJ,  a few years ago. However, on Sunday, FM needed me to go do it, so I did. Walking over to the media tent I was saying to myself "you can do this, really, it's cool and you will learn things".

I have to confess now, that when I met up with Red Sun Rising at the media tent, I was really slated to interview Pop Evil that day. I'm a singer/songwriter so one thing I wanted to know about Pop Evil was how they have kept going as a band since 2001. I was ready to ask questions.

What I found was a group of friendly guys getting photos taken who looked to me more like a J. Crew ad, then tough guys at a rock festival of metal. However, it does fit with their crossover rock style. I jumped in with “Can I get a photo of you guys?” The next thing I knew they invited me into the photo. Ryan Williams, the guitarist for Red Sun Rising, probably saw my hesitancy that day, because he made eye contact after the photo, and walked over casually, which made me feel like I should just get to work and ad lib.

I began asking Ryan Williams about the band.

AD: So how is it going for you guys?

Ryan Williams: Great! We released “Thread” which came out on March 30th.. Right now it’s festival season and we’re gonna jump into a tour with “the USED”, and we’ll go from that to Godsmack /Shinedown.

AD: That’s great! Who have you enjoyed, in the last 5 years, playing alongside the most and why?

RW: Man, that’s tough, there’s so many, “System of a Down,” one of my favorite bands of all time. We get to open for ”Tool,” at “Rock on the Range,” which I’m looking forward to. There are so many great bands we’ve toured with like “Godsmack,” "3 Doors Down.” These are bands that treated us great.

AD: That’s great. Any interesting road stories?

RW: Ever?

AD: Just generally, things that “stand out” from the road.

RW: Well the last tour from the road we had “Them Evils” opening for us. Their bassist, Jake, drank a shot out of our bass player Ricky’s _____. (I hope we don't get slammed for printing this but it is a riot, and what you expect of the rock life; being on the road -a group of guys playing music and then goofing around).

AD: (me, cracking up,) Ha! That is so Howard Stern! 

RW: It was very Howard Stern!

AD: Would you guys go on the Howard Stern show ya think?

RW: Of course!

AD: That’s cool. 

AD: Ah, let’s see, what do you prefer, doing the live festival like this, or being in concert alone, or small room, what is the best format?

RW: It depends, It’s always a “grass is always  greener” kind of thing, because I love the size of the crowds you know I love seeing these bands we haven’t seen in a long time, you get to say hi, but then there is something intimate about the people that are just there for you (back to the room). I like them both and it’s hard to say.

AD: What about producers, anyone in terms of  who you want to work with, or who you liked the most?

RW: Well, Bob Marlette, did our 1st record. Matt Hyde did this one. Amazing, incredible.

AD: What did you like about him?

RW: Matt Hyde?

AD: Well, Marlette and Hyde, generally.

RW: Bob Marlette was our first one, he taught us a lot, he was amazing and became family.  Matt Hyde was great, he came in, kind of like the sixth man in the band, and he treated it that way, which is really cool, so it was kind of like more of a working together kind of process right from the beginning; actually, Bob was like that, too. They are amazing.

RW: Guys I’d wanna work with…? I’d like to collaborate with Dr Dre.

AD: Really? Tell me why?

RW:  Because I like to produce myself, and I think we’d come up with something great.

AD: Great!  What can you tell me about the songwriting process, for people out there who are writing (me) what do you like the least about it?

RW: What I like LEAST about it? I guess probably the process, where we start cutting ‘em down and whiddling down what we do and do not like, cause then you gotta say goodbye to stuff. It’s more fun to bring stuff in.

AD: Do you let others influence you, do you think, or not? Your sound is great, just wondering.

RW: Yeah, of course! I think whether you think you are or not, you’re being influenced by something, you know what I mean? You can say you’re not, I mean, but subconsciously, you never know. And that happens to us, too. It’s funny, this record came out, like “Deathwish,” for example,  I wrote the riff, and I’ve never thought this, but the comment I hear a lot is “Where the River Flows,” by Collective Soul. And I see it, I hear it a little bit, but I wasn’t thinking that at the time, but maybe subconsciously, I don’t know. But that kind of stuff happens.  And I’m not afraid to say “Hey, what would ‘A Perfect Circle do’, or “what would ‘Tool’ do,” or “what would the Beatles do?” I’m never afraid to say that.

AD: And are those your major influences?

RW:  Just for certain things, yeah, I think we’re influenced by everybody but um, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stemming from that. It’s not like we’re stealing their songs but it’s like, sometimes they bring an element of themselves to music that I don’t mind thinking about. Like how did they do that, and the more I learn about how they do it, the better I could do it.

AD: That is true. Who, as far as your songwriting goes, do you wanna collaborate with, besides Dr. Dre.

RW: Not sure.  

AD: Have you had anyone asking you to collaborate?

RW: Yes. I just don’t have time. I have a feeling you would see our singer, Mike and myself maybe working with some artist in the future, however, right now it’s all about this.

AD: Very cool.  What about causes that are close to your heart?

RW: There’s a foundation for cystic fibrosis, that my uncle is very involved in. Then [there is] Star Treatments which is growing and it's very cool and if we get an opportunity to help any of those, we will.  Actually, my number one, and I don’t want to leave this out, is called Musiccares. They're a treatment center, they help musicians get sober, change their lives, they’ll pay for treatment. That one’s the nearest and dearest to my heart.

AD: Terrific, thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

And that was it, I rushed away from the rock star to get back to my life and my own music, in hopes of things ahead. I am glad I could fill in and help FM out, hear his views, and see how human it is, behind the rock n roll. After all, it’s probably why we write music, or at least I hope so. Emotions, dealing with things, plus music connects, it heals and also supports causes. That's just good all around.

Abbe Davis

Sudden Special Events Writer

Fretboard Magazine

April 29, 2018