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Interview: Red Riders

Red Riders

Last Friday saw the release of Drown In Colour, the long awaited second album from Sydney band Red Riders. A few weeks ago I sat down (inside the 'chat' window of Facebook) to talk to frontman Alex Grigg about life, the new record and the current state of Australian music.


So, first things first. Griggles? The Grigman? Griggy? Griggo?

Well, there's always Alan Giggs, Giss, Griggs, but... The high school one was griggy. But Al is cool with me. Kind of reminds me of Married With Children, which in turn reminds me of Waynes' World.


YES... hand down the front of the pants. No Maam style.


Speaking of nicknames (segway!), do you have any good nicknames for the band? ie. The Messy Ballz for The Mess Hall. Red Riders is a hard one. Tried to go with Bag Raiders for a bit.

We always end up with The Riders, which is just boring. Red Rooters?

Oh, yeah, that'll work. Most of them are kinda smutty.

So, the new album is out now...

Yeah. We're pretty excited about it.

I jumped between the idea of a pastoral-post punk record and a madchester revival record. We made neither, but my head was sort of in those places.

Been giving it a bit of listen over the last few weeks, the core sound is similar to Replica Replica, but there are definitely some changes. What was different this time around? I mean, besides the line-up change.

Well, I mean, we're basically the same band, so in essence it's gonna sound similar, but Adrian and Brad are such different guitarists, Brad's style of playing is way more effect laden, way more reverb and delay and stuff like that. As a songwriter I felt way less limited as well. I think our music is at a really interesting place at the moment, there's no real zeitgeist which gave us the feeling that we could try more stuff and not have to just be this dance rock band. Which would be hell boring.

Did you feel like you were kinda falling into a pigeonhole before? Just because of when you guys first came out, amidst the back end of that whole 'rock revival'.

Nah, it's more that I was going out a lot more before and was way more aware of the whole indie/dance thing, but as the dance part of that has become more "dance", I've gone back into the indie music that I love that most.

Indie music that you love the most...?

I think when it comes down to it I just love guitar bands - Stone Roses, JAMC, Replacements, Smiths, Cat Power, Pavement, You Am I, Cure...

Are the influences different at all this time around..? Are you still listening to the same stuff you always have or has the band's general taste altered?

Influence is so hard to define. I think there's such a big difference between stuff you like and stuff you think you're influenced by. I don't think you have that much control over what influences you. I think you're just as likely to get something subconsciously from a TV ad, as you are your favourite bands. Bands that we liked (still like) at the time...

How have you seen the local scene change in your time? Not trying to make you guys feel old her, but there are so many bands around that have just been around for a few months. By default you guys kinda fall into category just by getting the 2nd album out...

Too late. To go back to your question about the "rock revival", we've never truly fit in anywhere. We got by in the rock days because we were guys and we played guitar, but we weren't The Cops or Wolfmother. And then when the scene changed, there were elements of us that were "danceable" but we weren't The Valentinos. I guess we've just been lucky that people found an element of our sound that was relevant at different times, but it certainly wasn't something conscious from our end.

So, now with the album out. What is the plan? Shows? Old fashioned rave parties? Celebration BBQs? Video nights?

Plan? Maybe you should ask [our record label] that. I dunno. We're just gonna play shows and do all those old fashioned things.

How does your external stuff with Straight Arrows fit in with the Red Riders stuff? Are they just two completely separate projects?

Straight Arrows has totally helped me to take stuff way less seriously.

So, the influence was less musical and more 'attitude'?

Straight Arrows didn't open my eyes to a whole new world of music, I was already into a bunch of that stuff. That's kind of how I was friends with Owen already. But it helped remind me of how music should be fun first and foremost.

With that, do you feel any pressure when approaching Red Riders music, with the band being somewhat of an established name?

There isn't really any pressure. Our label is really cool with just letting us do what we want. Maybe I'd feel more pressure if I thought that what we were doing now was somehow worse than what came before.

Ok, so with the whole 'album promo' run that you are on, I am sure you are sick of hearing questions about the album. So, maybe it's time for some questions not related to the new record, ok?

Try whatever you want man.

Ok, firstly, how did you feel when Jay-z made that Bonnie and Clyde song to 'woo' Beyonce? Given the fact he stole the chorus from a 2pac song dedicated to his gun?

I love the fact that any normal guy just tries to not act like an arsehole when he's trying to woo a lady, but Jay Z makes a whole million dollar extravaganza and IT WORKS!! At least now I know what I've been doing wrong - being broke.

YES. Mixtapes with songs by The Clean and Radiohead just don't cut it in this money focused world...

Unless you're Bradford Cox

Also, TuPac is already the richest ghost in town. I say everyone should steal from that guy.

Whoa. Ok. Next question - Richard Wilkins?

I only like him when he's on TV and it's the morning after the ARIAs or Logies or some junk and he's still so coked out of his mind that no amount of make up works.

Ha... Yes! I actually saw him once in the real world. His head is the largest thing I have ever seen. Surprised he doesn't topple over. He is like a bobble head.

He should be on my dashboard.

I also just saw that he has become an international celebrity for fake reporting that Jeff Goldblum had died...

So, how's being engaged? So grown up.

Note: Alex later explained/joked that he asked me this because I questioned his band's 'veteran status' within the Sydney music scene. Snap.

Ha. It's not too bad. She is pregnant. So you know, doing the right thing...

Shot gun wedding?

For reals... well, yeah.. I was joking about the pregnancy but..

I know my gun's loaded.

Yeah.. it's like the wild west out there. I actually got robbed the other day...

Note: Ok, I promise that is the last time I will mention how I got robbed.

...by some little ruffneck. Wasn't 'packing'.

What did they take?

Some money and my phone.

Did you deserve it?

Dude, I was just walking around at 5 in the morning in Redfern. Reducing my carbon footprint..

Enviro-conscious is just another name for sucka!

YES.. it would appear so...

So, what local bands are you into at the moment?

I like Thom from Mercy Arms' new band Canvas Kites, but that's cos I'm into that kind C86 mid-late 80s English twee pop. Also I like Circle Pit and as far as that new wave of "experimental" bands, I like Megastick Fanfare.

Al from Red Riders

Yeh.. there seems to be more of the experimental acts coming through. I mean, they have always been there, but they actually are now slightly more accessible acts, which I guess means they are allowed to play outside of Marrickville...

I have a really problematic relationship with some of those bands because they're obviously just as influenced by Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors et al, as anyone ever was of The Strokes or Interpol or whatever.

So it's not as though they're actually cutting edge.

Yeah, but it's always the way...there will always be that replication happening...

Totally. I agree. It's a part of Australian music.

Exactly. Dare I say it's the most embarrassing thing about Australian music. This whole thing of continually digging up something old, dusting it off and making it 'fresh' or pretending it is.

But who in the Australian media is actually gonna pick up on Australian bands actually doing something different to what the dominant global trend is?

Yeah, but it actually really annoys me. It's not that I think showing influences is a bad thing, it's just when it's done more as replication.

I agree, showing influences is just part of being in a band.

I always think the deciding factor is whether or not the band believes in what they do. That's always easy to pick. For me, that's what matters. Not just doing it to try and 'make it'.

I think there must be Australian bands out there like that. But no one has the gall to go out on a limb and stand beside them until an overseas trend says it's ok.

Yeah, it definitely seems that way.

This discussion is way too big to have over Facebook.

YESSS.. Ok, so in closing, in 12 words or less - why should someone buy the new record?


Damn.. I think you just won the interview.

Victory is mine!!

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Red Riders


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Yeh.. there seems to be more of the experimental acts coming through. I mean, they have always been there, but they actually are now slightly more accessible acts, which I guess means they are allowed to play outside of Marrickville...

I have a really problematic relationship with some of those bands because they're obviously just as influenced by Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors et al, as anyone ever was of The Strokes or Interpol or whatever.




1 decade ago


big up on the megastick mention

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes


1 decade ago


oh man snap.

but lets not make flamewar ovah da internets.
much respekt for da riderz first record was great played it all da time in da car.

must... resist... temptation...........


1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

ha... dude... less time flaming, more time producing the bearhug record.. yehhh?

1 decade ago


mos def right after we finish the problematic one

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

ah... and how is your record coming along? snap.. been following the myspace updates a bit...

two interviews in one interview..winners!1!!

1 decade ago


one 1 one one !!

its getting there!

1 decade ago


How many bands in Sydney sound like Animal Collective or Dirty Projectors?

That's right, sweet fucking none.

1 decade ago


I saw Megastick and thought they were a complete AC ripoff. Sorry, but that's how I saw it.

Ivan, absolutely can not wait to hear new material from you guys!

1 decade ago


There arent any bands in sydney who are as good as animal collective. Thats for damn sure

1 decade ago


animal collective stink. I like megastick better.

1 decade ago


Stoked the Bag Traders won Masterchef.

1 decade ago


Animal Collective are treading new ground. Which is hard to do these days. But I agree with Bella, they do stink.

I saw Megastick once at the Hoey. They were quite ok, but one of the guys in the band was dressed up like MGMT. Thats probably why people from Melbourne think Sydney bands are lame.

1 decade ago


Just to clarify matters, Animal Collective do not stink.
Never have, never will.

Thanks for your time.

1 decade ago



1 decade ago


Further fact: no member of megastick has ever dressed like someone in MGMT, unless you stumbled upon one of their Halloween shows + forgot that people sometimes dress in costume at such events...

1 decade ago


those megatrick funfair guys sound like total babes.

1 decade ago


megatrick funfair are probably my favourite band at the moment. I love that song they do with the drums.

1 decade ago


Megastick ARE my favourite band. effing brilliant

1 decade ago



1 decade ago


fuk off mabbit da internets is for da pros only

1 decade ago


PS i heard the megadick record ands its like when MGMT + Animal Collective SEX
PPS they are so much like MGMT so not funneh
PPPs mabbit i love you i didn't mean that you weren't pro
PPPPs reeling: danny is that you?
PPPPPs total lolz

and of course, nobody listen to techno!

PPPPPPs its like 7 in the morning and im at changi airport and haven't sleep for 24 hours so im totally aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

1 decade ago


gobble my stick

1 decade ago


Saw these guys at pyramid. Along with Telepathe they were one of the only good bands there. glad their shit didnt get storm-fucked.

1 decade ago


I would hate to have my shit "storm fucked". Sounds painful.

1 decade ago

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