It was about a year ago when Ronnie Winter from Red Jumpsuit Apparatus told me what I consider to be one of the few legitimate truths in music. In reference to a bandís first album- ďOf course people like the first album the best. Itís usually the first time theyíve heard your band.Ē Talking to Ronnie on and off for the past five years, weíve discussed similar cynical views on music, but this is the best one.
Looking back on what he was saying, itís clear that he wasnít just voicing an opinion. This statement was coming from a place that might have been somewhat tired of hearing about how Donít You Fake It, the first Red Jumpsuit Apparatus album, was the bandís best album. Winter was tired of fielding questions and comments on the bandís sound at the present not sounding enough like the bandís debut.
Itís a year later and Red Jumpsuit is removed from their last album, Am I The Enemy. Their last release was produced by John Feldmann and released and distributed in a partnership between Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and their management company at the time, The Collective. RJA is in a different place now than they were then. Instead of having a management company act as a label too, theyíre now a hundred percent do-it-yourself. In Ronnieís own words, theyíre Ďself-funded, self-managed, self-released, self-everything.í If things go right with this new attitude for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus they get all of the credit. If things go wrong, they get get all of the blame.
Fully in charge of their own destiny, Ronnie and Jumpsuit have taken an intelligent route with their first independent release. Theyíve opted to keep their artistic credibility and give their fans what they want at the same time. Ronnie writes the music, that hasnít changed from album to album and it will continue to be the same. Where the band is going back to the days of Donít You Fake It is with who is in the producerís chair. After working on their debut album with David Bendeth, the band went with two different producers for their next two albums. With their brand new release, Et Tu, Brute?, the band is back working with their first producer.
ďItís a big deal to our fans, especially the old-school fans,Ē said Winter last week talking to Alternative Addiction about the new release. ďA lot of people have commented on the change of sound over the years, but really the only thing thatís changed has been the producers. Itís always been the songs Iíve written with the band performing collectively. The only thing we actually changed from record to record was the producer. Everybody says they like the first album the best, and Iíve heard that multiple, multiple, multiple times. We had approached Dave over the years, and now we were finally able to get back together. I think it was the first time in seven or eight years that we sat down in the studio together and these songs came out.Ē
By definition a six song release can be claimed to be an EP. But who says that in 2013 we need to label music anything other than music? This isnít half of an album, it isnít an EP. It's a six song release for Red Jumpsuit that goes back to the bandís sound of almost a decade ago.
ďIt was eerie because I hadnít been in a recording environment with Dave since I was 22 years old and Iím 30 now. We picked up right where we left off, but I learned a lot tooĒ said Winter.
ďWhen we first went in there (for Donít You Fake It) I was known as the guy who wanted everything his way. I didnít trust anything. I didnít trust labels, producers, anything- especially when it came to somebody having an opinion on my songs and the bandís music. I butted heads with Dave a lot more the first time, but a lot of the things he said to me made sense way after the fact when we were playing the songs live. Itís one of those things where I was still learning lessons, years after working with Dave. This time I was already using those ideas in the song writing process even before we went in with him. I would say I was easier to work with, but youíd have to ask him. This time, we approached it coming from an admiration of Daveís work and looking forward to working with him again. Everything came out really easily and smoothly. Itís always nice when that happens in the studio.Ē
Bendeth didnít just help shape the sounds of the new Jumpsuit music, he helped Ronnie and the rest of the guys find the inspiration for a central theme to the music. Et Tu, Brute? Comes out on March 15th. Thanks to William Shakespeare, thatís the day of the Roman Calendar that everyone knows as The Ides of March- the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated. The song ďYou Canít Trust Anyone These DaysĒ relates to that. ďThe Crazy OnesĒ relates to Romeo & Juliet. It all goes back to William Shakespeare.
ďThe idea started with 'The Crazy Ones.' Dave and I were talking about how awesome Shakespeare was and we started talking about Hamlet and the different things weíd both read and we were just sharing a respect for it. I realized when we were looking into the release that March 15th was wide open and nobody would release anything that day because it wasnít a Tuesday. So we thought it would be kind of cool to keep the theme with Shakespeare because we always threw out Shakespeare quotes when we were in the studio. We donít normally have a lot of intricate meaning behind our releases, this is the only one weíve ever actually lined up a title to match a date. We thought it would be cool.Ē
With Et Tu, Brute? coming out next month, weíll see what this new version of Red Jumpsuit can do. Are they capable of being an established band with a D.I.Y. approach? Thatís to be determined, but this method might be the best one for Red Jumpsuit with Ronnieís insistence on being the boss and the force behind the music that matters so much to him. Winter can be known as a control freak with different people heís worked with in the past. He'll claim that himself too, as long as he can take the good with the bad.
ďI donít like the word control freak because it feels like thereís a negative connotation there,Ē started Winter on the subject. ďBut if there is, Iíll accept it as long as Iím able to make sure whatís right is right. This band is a lot more than songs to me. A lot of the lyrics are about my life and the things Iíve been through. Iím very specific about how I want to be portrayed and I want people to understand the message behind the music. Iíve always wanted it to be that way but until I took control of more things I wasnít fully able to get what I wanted.Ē
The negative associated with being a control freak is being stubborn and hard to work with. You can't really say that hard to work with is an assessment that can be made for Winter. The positive quality related to being a control freak is that what the person is trying to control is something that the person cares about.
ďWell we definitely care,Ē said WInter. ďPeople like Dave do too, some people donít. Itís frustrating to work with someone who you know is just going through the motions. Iím not pointing out anybody, Iím just saying in general- everybodyís gone through that in their life, no matter what their career is.Ē
Thereís being independent and then thereís doing what Red Jumpsuit is doing. Theyíre not actively seeking publicity or marketing, theyíre just putting the music out there and seeing what comes back. Itís music, without the industry, and the thought of it succeeding is exciting for Ronnie and Jumpsuit, but not because of the accolades or the results, itís whoís behind the music and this particular release.
ďAt this point, Iím relying on my family and my friends- my brotherís in the band- and they never really let you down. It seems like nothing but great things are happening. Maybe thatís because Iím deciding to perceive them that way, or maybe it's because they actually are happening that way. Either way itís a good time for us.Ē