By John B. Moore
Whether it’s punk rock for metal heads or metal for punk rock kids, either way your ears will bleed and then eventually thank you for it.
Dayton’s Red Hot Rebellion blends the best of Rancid and Slayer in such a way that their audience looks like a cross section between all the kids who never made the football team or the mathletes. They play a stellar mix of “mine goes to 11” rock that can only be found in dark clubs and darker bars.
With a full length and accompanying comic book out just a year ago, the band wasted no time releasing Melt the Sky, a 5-song EP (including a brilliant cover of Gang Green’s “Alcohol”). And plans for another full length album/comic are already in the works.
Bassist Jim Tramontana spoke with us recently about the band and getting that perfect mix of punk rock and metal.
Having been to Dayton, Ohio quite a bit, I was surprised to learn how many great musicians came from there. Is there still a solid music scene in Dayton?
Dayton has a historically rich music scene and the current scene is no different. We are all actually transplants to Ohio – well, Doug (Spencer, guitar) grew up on a woodsy farm outside of the Dayton area, but left for several years for Colorado and then returned in the mid-2000s. I am from Florida and Andris (Devine, drums) is from Wisconsin. Andris actually lives in Cincinnati, but we practice in Dayton, so we call ourselves a Dayton band – except when we call ourselves a Cincinnati band. When we play Pittsburgh, we are definitely from Dayton because of the whole sports team rivalries that exist between Pitt and Cincy. Those Steel City mofos take that stuff seriously.
Do you think the city at all shapes the attitude and sound of Red Hot Rebellion or would you sound the same if you guys grew up in Boston or LA?
I think this band would probably sound the way it does no matter where we lived. Since we all came from different places and came together under this common idea of doing a band that is essentially “the soundtrack to a bar fight,” we could be from anywhere. We just wanted to do something simple and rockin’ and fun and not be slaves to any trends or Hot Topics.
You just put out a full length last year and now a 5-song EP. Are you going through a particularly prolific period right now or were these songs left over?
As soon as we wrapped up the full-length last year, we started writing new music. Since it is hard for us to tour extensively – it’s ridiculously expensive now! – our main outlet, beyond doing regional shows, is writing. The idea behind the new EP is to keep people interested and whet the collective pallet for the next album: RED HOT REBELLION II. We have already started writing music for the new full-length and hope to put in out in the first quarter of 2014. There is still tons work to do, but when we lock into writing mode, we can be quite prolific.
We are also working on a new full-length comic book. Whether it comes out as a stand-alone or in concert with the second full-length LP is yet to be determined. We’ve had a good reaction to the comic book from the first album, which is essential a page for each song on the album. We’ve done a few comic book conventions and people seemed stoked that they are buying a book that comes with an album – the flip side is selling the album at a rock show where people are equally stoked to buy an album that comes with a comic book. With the second comic book, we are doing a full story. In a nut shell, Red Hot Rebellion is a band of intergalactic heroes sent to Earth to set rock ‘n roll back on the correct path – because it’s gone horribly wrong.
Do you consider yourself more of a punk rocker who also happens to like metal or a metal head at heart that also digs punk bands?
Both. We have all played in both punk and metal bands and those influences show up in everything we do. Red Hot Rebellion can hang with bands from either genre. So in any given night, you’ll see us as the odd ball in a line-up of all punk or metal bands. I mean, they’re both so wide-open stylistically that there is a lot of room for cross-over. And since we bring the ruckus, diehard stalwarts from either camp seem to really dig us. The one band that all three of us love a lot – I mean, a lot, a lot – is Rancid. But we also really, really love Slayer and Led Zeppelin. I think we take the intensity and oomph from all these places and funnel it into the sonic maelstrom that is Red Hot Rebellion.
Will you guys be touring around this EP?
We will be doing regional short-tours, one-offs and some festivals. But, we’re available so feel free to make us an offer.
Via Facebook, we were just talking about the name your own price you guys started for all of your merch 9shirts to records0. How did that first come about? Have you been surprised that you aren’t getting hosed by cheapskates (assuming you’re not getting scammed)?
The Name Your Price/Pay What You Want thing has really worked out well for us. Sometimes it’s a little confusing for some people, but others seem to get it and appreciate it. Typically we’ll get more for any item or bundle of items than we would have charged if we had set prices. Sure, sometimes someone will give us $2 for a vinyl LP (that also comes with a comic book and CD, by the way), but the next guy or gal will give us $30 – which is waaaaay more than we would’ve charged. But they really like the band and want the record and feel that’s what it’s worth. Who are we to tell them any different?
Also, it helps that we don’t have to keep a bunch of change in the money bag. We’re lazy and don’t want to make change, so telling people they can pay what they want means we don’t have to get a shitload of 1’s and 5’s to make change. And we’re really bad at math, so that helps too. The one item on our merch table that has a set price is ear plugs: One dollar for a pair. And we suggest you buy them and use them. You’re gonna need them. We are essentially an arena-rock band that plays small bars and listening rooms. There be thunder in them thar hills.
You mention the comic and full length. What’s next for the band?
More rock ‘n roll shows. More comic book conventions. More writing and recording. More awesomeness.
Anything else you want to cover?
Almost the entire first album has been licensed to various television shows in the past year. Our songs have been used on Nitro Circus, Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, Good Vibes, Ridiculousness, ESPN web videos, and we just got a placement in a new Danny McBride-produced cartoon called Chozen. Since we can’t tour much and are still very much a baby band, licensing is the one thing that keeps us afloat and trucking. We also play weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.