This week, The Pier is bringing you one of the baddest artists around, coming out of the D.C. metro area is RDGLDGRN. These hip-hop, rock, go-go outfit is absolutely taking the country by storm as they look towards their second release.
RDGLDGRN is a three piece band comprised of Green (vocals), Red (guitar), and Gold (bass). They mix heavy alternative sounds with hip-hop verses and go-go drum beats for a wild and interactive live experience that should not go unnoticed. They recorded their first album at the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California alongside the legendary Dave Grohl, who played drums on the entire album. If that wasn’t enough of a cameo, Pharrell Williams also took over production for the track “Doing the Most”.
Since their first album, RDGLDGRN has toured the country, played at multiple festivals, including California Roots: The Carolina Sessions, where I recently saw them play and has wowed fans with their excitable and unique stage presence. They are now looking towards their second release, which will be an EP set to drop around Thanksgiving.
The Pier was able to hop on the phone with Red for a great conversation about how the guys got the name, playing with Dave Grohl, and everything else in between. So please enjoy…
Artist Radar: RDGLDGRN
The Pier: First of all hope is all well with you guys.
Red: Yeah man, everything is great with us. We have some exciting things coming up.
The Pier: Cool & I’ve been dying to ask you, where did you guys come up with the name?
Red: Well when it came time to create a band name the three of us were making music and we realized at some point you need a band name. So we couldn’t think of anything clever like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., or Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. So we couldn’t think of anything clever and we just settled with things like Peter Bjorn and John and Crosby, Stills and Nash and we figured on Red Gold Green. In the beginning we had Red Gold and Green, and when we typed it into Google to see what the search revealed, there was just so many other things, so this is gonna be a nightmare to get people to find out our band name. I was like ‘alright lets master-craft and we’ll just take out the vowels’ and then ‘cool, it looks unique’ and certainly its just us, there’s nothing on the Internet like that and if you type it in, you’ll be able to find everything about us easily. So great, problem solved, but the only thing is we ended up creating a giant problem for ourselves because when you tell people the band is RDGLDGRN, but we spell it without the vowels, people are like ‘what? is that ‘R…D?’ Now it’s actually harder to find our band name then it wouldn’t have been had we spelled it in English in the first place. (laughs). But it’s all good.
The Pier: That’s great. Now I know you guys go by those names at all times, but did you think of it all ahead of time, like ‘hey this could be something unique’?
Red: Well no, it was actually before the band! As people, that’s what we called each other. Here’s the short story… I just started to notice that I felt most comfortable having red things, and my eyes were just drawn to that color. So I slowly, over time, maybe around 2006, I started buying red shoes, red shirts, and would come around the others, and compliment them on having something that was red. I began identifying them with me ya know? I’m my own individual and it was my color. That was kind of how that got started. It was separate from any band decision about how we can stand out or anything like that. But we found out about this Japanese band called Peelander Z, whose thing is having colors too, but they have this whole backstory where it’s all sci-fi and fantasy and they come from this planet Peelander and there’s Peelander Green, Peelander Red, and Peelander Black. It was interesting because we first saw them at South By Southwest in 2012 or something like that and that was awesome.
The Pier: Your band colors are red, gold and green, so you obviously get associated with reggae. I have seen and heard your music and it is not reggae, in fact it is actually far from it. What do you guys say to that and how would you describe your music?
Red: You kidding? Of course we’re reggae, have you seen my hair? (laughs). Usually when people come up to us and that comment is made at a show, maybe we’re opening for Pepper or Sublime with Rome and 311, so it’s not really out of pocket for someone in that situation or for someone to say it sounds or feels reggae, ya know? Because of the whole environment of the night and the headlining acts and what not, so we really don’t have to say much about it that night or in that sense. Since you’re asking now, our music is more hip-hop, but it has some indie rock sensibilities and it also has some go-go elements and some pop elements, because we all love pop songs and we want to make great songs that are fun to sing and listen to. So it’s actually far from reggae! We basically call it alternative if you’re going to generalize. But if you want to describe the sound it’s hip-hop, it’s a little bit of indie rock and we borrow the go-go drum beat more often then not and we kind of mix it all together. Just like anybody’s music, you can kind of tell their influences from different songs and we’re not much different then that really.
The Pier: Yeah, and most artists don’t like to get labeled or pigeon holed, but if I had to describe the sound, I get a new age Rage Against the Machine feel, and maybe a little Beastie Boys, but it is fun to listen to you guys and see what kind of new music you’re going to come out with.
Red: Yeah exactly, it’s almost necessary to give things labels because that’s the easiest way to talk about it, but like you said, when you get into it you can get a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
The Pier: Definitely. Now for the question that I have been dying to ask, how was working with Dave Grohl? Wasn’t the Sound City Documentary being filmed around that time?
Red: Well it was, actually! While he was filming the Sound City documentary, we were in the studio as we recorded our first record at Sound City. He was coming though with the film crew and there were actually parts of the documentary where we were in the same room as him as he was recording the drums for “I Love Lamp” and some of the other songs.
The Pier: So did you guys reach out to him ahead of time or did you guys just happen to be there when he was there and it worked out?
Red: No, no, we reached out ahead of time, because the studio was like ‘who do you guys wanna work with? Just throw out some names and ideas’, and we went strait to the top. Our producer at the time, Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids) actually knew Dave at the time, and it was easy enough for him to send Dave an email. He was like ‘Hey I got these guys coming in and they’re recording here, they’re from Virginia and stuff, what do you think, do you want to drum on the record?’ And Dave came back like, ‘yeah man, that’ll be fun,’ and he came in and we were all like ‘Dude!’ (laughs) It was like the craziest day of our lives.
The Pier: That’s nuts! And on top of it, you guys got to work with Pharrell on “Doing the Most”?
Red: Yeah man, same basic thing. We threw his name out there too, and they were like ‘we can actually get in contact with him too’ and we were like ‘word?’ (laughs). It was different though because he was in LA, and he was in the studio along with Jason Derulo and he was playing the role of like, doctor, where he was peaking in different studios and going from one to the other working really hard. So we were in there with him and basically banged out a song in like 15 minutes, which is crazy.
The Pier: Wow, what a story. So onto your new material, which is going to be your second release correct?
Red: Yeah we are working on an EP. Our first single “Elevators” if off of that EP. We are going to have this one and possibly a second before the album comes out. But were still working on the music and getting the video sorted and getting everything ready. So it’s a little early to set any of that in stone besides the first EP.
The Pier: Is “Cornbread” going to be on that first EP?
Red: It’s too early to tell, let me just say that (laughs)
The Pier: (laughs) Yeah I’m trying to pry information out of you. So for the release of that EP do you guys have a date set?
Red: I’ll give you what I can man. For the release I think we’re talking right around Thanksgiving. We’ll have a second single coming out then the EP will soon follow.
The Pier: Now did you guys work with any producers or any other artists on any of the tracks besides Nike Nando on the “Cornbread” track?
Red: So far no, we took this opportunity to get a product together that is completely from us. We worked with people last time and it was great, it was fantastic and there is no question about that. But this time we wanted to have something that is purely from us so people can get a feel for more of what RDGLDGRN is all about. Yeah, so we didn’t want anyone to cloud anyone’s perception of us. Sometimes if you say you work with this person, people think you sound like this, or you say you work with that person and people think you sound like that. So if you don’t tell anyone you worked with anybody, people will think you sound like you.
The Pier: I like that a lot. As far as the sound goes for the new record, it seems like it’s going to be a little more raw and uncut.
Red: Yeah. Think of it as a scale. On the first record it was a little more rock heavy and then there were a few shining hip-hop moments. So now we’re going to balance the scales a little bit, and turn the rock down and bring the hip-hop more to the forefront.
The Pier: That’s awesome, I’m excited. So are you guys looking at any follow up tours or anything else exciting that you can give me a sneak peak on?
Red: Well, as long as the zombie apocalypse doesn’t happen we’re definitely going to be touring. We’re looking to do more things at colleges, maybe some events at frat houses. We’re looking to do some east coast stuff, but we don’t have anything on the books just yet. We’re excited to get out to where colleges are and kick it with everybody on a very informal level. Sometimes the environment of a show or the environment of a tour are not quite as informal as if we did a house party or a frat. We want to have some fun with it ya know?
The Pier: I was actually down at the Carolina Sessions, and I wanted to ask, what happened to Green’s verse on the last song of your guys set? I noticed he fudged up a little and then started spitting a freestyle?
Red: (Laughs) Well yeah. Here’s a little insight; we all pretty much run on auto pilot so when we start doing something, we can multitask. We can start thinking about other things like taking a look into the crowd and even have conversations with people while we’re playing. But the problem with that, is if you are multitasking too hard, you actually forget what you are doing! So when you come back to the main task at hand, you forget where you are in the song, and that’s what must have happened with Green. He was thinking about something else and I think it was on the second verse on “A Million Fans” and he came in and was like ‘I’m a color, not another black rock…I’m a black rock,” (laughs) and he forgot the lyrics and was like ‘fuck it’, and he spit a freestyle. That’s not the first time that’s happened and it won’t be the last, but it doesn’t happen at every show so that if it does happen, everyone should just know they’re in for a special treat.
The Pier: (Laughs) Yeah man, that was awesome and what I noticed from people near by me, was chatter about your guys stage presence. Where people were like ‘Wow!, these guys are something different’. I think when that happened, I was actually pumped that I got to see that and I think a lot of other people were the same way, and just thoroughly impressed.
Red: Well thanks man. When we’re on stage, we’re on stage. And when we’re up there, it’s a giant privilege for us to make the music we want to make, and then play it in front of people, and this is our livelihood. So when we’re on stage it’s nothing short of a pure celebration of life. We love it, we live it, and there’s nothing we’d rather be doing. It kind of just naturally shows in what were doing and your right, sometimes you see a show and it seems a little subdued, sometimes it lets you down, but sometimes that’s exactly what the music calls for. Our music definitely does call for any type of restraints so we kind of let it all go (laughs).
The Pier: That’s what’s up man. The last question I forgot to ask was whose going to be playing drums on the new release?
Red: Okay, well so far we got our drummer Snacks, our touring drummer, same dude from Carolina Sessions. We’ve only really recorded one drums and we got some demos going so that’s kind of what we’re going to be focusing on this next week. So far, it’s just going to be him. We can all play drums but not well enough, and our timing is a little off (laughs). He’s better than that.
The Pier: Well look man, this interview was awesome. Hopefully I’ll catch you guys again soon! I appreciate you taking the time out.
Red: No worries man, we’ll probably be seeing you soon. Thank you.
Right now, RDGLDRN is giving away their newest song “Elevators” off their new EP which you can download right now in The Pier’s MP3 Massive by clicking HERE!
Watch: RDGLDGRN – “Doing The Most”