Deep into their ninth year, Pittsburgh’s own The Redlines have made it clear that the method to making music won’t consist of being comfortable. Their approach is simple: continuously pushed themselves to explore new terrain musically. In order to achieve their lofty ambitious goals, The Redlines rely on their influences by the forefathers of Americana rock, blues, and alt-country.
The Redlines latest album Bones Under the Morning Sun is the band’s signature album to this point; five older songs have been integrated with five fresh tracks. The opening track “Panic Attack” starts off with a twangy vibe which then explodes into a booming rocker. Wishing for the days of old are highlighted in the lyrics for the 80s-style arena rocker “We Were Young.” For the cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” The Redlines make it to be their own with a more haunting, bluesy, guitar-driven composition.
We recently caught up with the band to hear more about the new album and more.
When I think of Pittsburgh, I often tend to visualize it being one of the more blue-collar cities in the country. Do you often sense that within the music scene?
Yes, mainly with the work ethic of the bands. We don’t have a lot of pretentious rockstar attitudes here. We just have a lot of hard-working people that love creating music and looking to have a good time playing for other people. There’s also a strong DIY mentality where a lot of people have started their own collectives, venues, labels, etc. because they know that they have a better chance to get where they want to be by rolling up their sleeves and putting in the effort to do it themselves. Pittsburgh has come a long way from the smokey rust-belt steel town that it once was but that blue-collar ethic still runs through our veins.
Who would you say the band looked to as a major source of inspiration?
Tom Petty would be at the top or close to the top of the list given that our entire Paradise Vegas, Vol. 1 EP was inspired by his songs. But our inspiration often varies from song to song. Clearly, we’d have to say Creedence Clearwater Revival because we cover “Bad Moon Rising” on our new album but on that same LP our song “Down to the River” has elements of Queens of the Stone Age and The Beastie Boys.
During the pandemic, have you found yourselves writing more than you normally did?
We have a huge backlog of riffs and snippets and it’s always growing. The pandemic hasn’t really changed that part of the process but what it has done is given us more time to spend on crafting the song. Previously we would just come up with our parts on our own run with whatever sounded good in practice. But now we are making a more deliberate effort to break apart each section of the song to make sure what everyone is playing fits together.
The new album primarily delves into recurring themes of regret, needing to start over, and reaching breaking points. Did these topics come across frequently during the writing process?
For Brian Seese, our lead singer and primary lyricist, there was a lot of reflection on life and life choices while writing these songs. Whether it was seeing how people often fall short of others’ expectations even when they are trying to better themselves or watching as others struggle in life before they are finally able to get help and see a clear path forward (or even just see the light at the end of the tunnel), the majority of these songs came from either introspection of personal experiences or as a creative interpretation from watching the experiences of others. The shift to more personal storytelling was deliberate and filled a gap that was missing in our songwriting for a long time.
What were some of the biggest takeaways during the recording process for the album?
Come to the studio prepared but also be willing to experiment. And if the experiment doesn’t work, be ok with moving on. We pride ourselves on being very tight on the songs we plan to record so that we can lay down the main tracks quickly. This gives us time to try layering in parts that we might not have even imagined until we heard it during playback in the studio. Songs like “Belly Full of Hurt”, “Murky Water”, and “Down to the River” each have a new guitar or piano parts that came from experiments in the studio. On the flip side, there were other things we tried that ultimately didn’t fit…for the betterment of the song.
How important was it for the sound of the album to sway into elements of rock, Americana, country just to name a few?
It’s hugely important for us because that represents who we are. We are music lovers that listen to and appreciate a wide variety of music so we naturally find ourselves writing and playing songs in the styles that we like. We want to make albums that we would want to listen to ourselves.
What’s coming up for the band?
Obviously, with Covid the opportunities to play shows are limited but we are starting to line up some socially-distanced outdoor festivals for the summer and some indoor shows for the fall when hopefully most of the restrictions will be lifted. As things open up we’ll be making our way beyond the Pittsburgh region more and focus on touring. At the same time, we are working on demos for a new four-song EP with plans to shop it around to labels and producers. We’re really fortunate that we’ve been able to thrive during this pandemic and we’re hoping to hit the ground running when we come out on the other side.