20 years is a long time for anything, especially a rock band. Red Wanting Blue celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year, commemorating it with RWB20, a live album/DVD filmed at the Lincoln Theater. Further to its credit, Red Wanting Blue has released 10 full-length albums, has landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and has received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, NPR and Esquire. Especially impressive when considering that Red Wanting Blue avoided having a record label for most of its existence.
Frontman Scott Terry is a native of New Jersey, but formed Red Wanting Blue in Ohio; he is now a resident of Brooklyn. RWB’s lineup is rounded out by guitarists/multi-instrumentalists Eric Hall and Greg Rahm, bassist Mark McCullough and drummer Dean Anshutz. It’s unclear when Scott, Mark, Greg, Dean and Eric will next be playing in New York, but given that the quintet’s next studio album out is set for a winter release, it ought to be soon.
Downtown caught up with Scott for some Q&A about the past, present and future of Red Wanting Blue. More info on the band can be found at www.redwantingblue.com, while Scott and crew can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook.
Red Wanting Blue is known as being from Ohio, but you grew up in New Jersey. What led the band to being centered in Ohio?
Scott Terry: I went to college at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio where I studied theater performance, and formed the band. After graduating, the band relocated to Columbus because it was the biggest city in the state. However, I still hold Athens very close to my heart. Love that town.
Where was the first gig you ever performed live in New York City? What do you remember about it?
ST: Wow, good question! Let me think…I’m pretty sure we the first place we played and frequented as our New York City venue was The Village Underground on West 3rd Street, across from The Blue Note. I think it’s now a venue called the Fat Black Pussycat Club — not 100% sure, though. I remember performing at the Underground and we shared the bill with our old friend Justin Tranter, who later went on to lead the Semi Precious Weapons. That was a good show.
I first learned about Red Wanting Blue from your old drummer Mark Stepro. When’s the last time you encountered Mark?
ST: (laughs) That’s great. Mark has an awesome spirit and is an outstanding drummer. We haven’t crossed paths in a while, ever since he moved to Silverlake, but we still keep in touch. We actually were just in correspondence about the band’s 20th Anniversary. He’s a fun one to reminisce with.
RWB20 Live At Lincoln Theater is a live concert film in celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary. Where the idea for that come from? I ask because some bands may emphasize a 25th anniversary, others a 15th anniversary…
ST: I wish I could take credit for it, but the truth is we were finishing up recording our new album in Nashville with producer/friend Will Hoge this summer when my wife brought it to my attention that we were turning 20. Our band family then decided that it’s a milestone worth celebrating, so we built a nostalgic tour of some select old band stomping grounds. Meanwhile my wife Jenna, who is a kickass video director — she’s directed all of our band’s previous music videos — threw out the idea of a live concert film to commemorate the anniversary and shortly after decided to spearhead the project. Her vision for the concert and film was inspiring to all of us, so we gave her the ball and let her run with it. One of the best decisions we ever made. She killed it. So proud of her.
Is there a highlight for you in the set recorded for RWB20?
ST: Screaming my head off while standing in a cloud of raining red confetti. I recommend everyone try it at least once.
In general, is there a Red Wanting Blue song you like performing live the most?
ST: Man, that’s a tough one. That’s like trying to pick a favorite kid. You’re supposed to love them all, aren’t you?
Hmm, well, if I had to pick, it’d definitely be “Hope On A Rope.” It always reminds me why we do what we do. It really recenters me whenever we perform it. There is something so cathartic about that song. It’s the closest thing we have to a mission statement.
Is there a follow-up to Little America in the works?
ST: You bet. Our best effort yet. Coming out this winter in early 2017. Get ready.
Recording aside, what is coming up for Red Wanting Blue?
ST: We plan on 2017 being big. The band is officially 20 now, and we’ll be starting the new year performing on the floating music festival The Rock Boat, leaving out of Tampa and heading to Costa Maya and Belize. It’s always a blast! Then we’ll be turning a new corner on our career with our new album, where we’ll be embarking on a national tour leading us up to summer with music festivals, and who knows what else? Just talking about it gets me excited — can’t wait!
Beyond the music, is there something you wish more people knew about the band?
ST: We like to look at ourselves as “The Griswolds of Rock N Roll.” We love roadside attractions. I’m a sucker for a tourist trap.
When not busy with Red Wanting Blue, how do you like to spend your free time?
ST: Personally, I enjoy living in Brooklyn with my wife and exploring new places with her — preferably on our bicycles.
What’s been your favorite album of 2016?
ST: Jeez, that’s too hard to choose. So much great stuff out there. For me it’s a toss up between Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free and The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream. Both are epic and worthy of exploring.
Finally, Scott, any last words for the kids?
ST: Five things from Scott: “Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!”…”Eat more veggie burgers than beef burgers”…”Even a broken clock is right twice a day”…”Don’t underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee”…and last but not least, “Take care of yourselves because whoever dies with the most memories wins”