Red Line Chemistry is busy touring their asses off on the heels of their new album “Tug Of War” which came out this past May. They have opened for tons of bands, many of them legends (including a recent jaunt as support for Whitesnake) but are currently experiencing a ton of attention focused directly on them. Their new single “Suckerpunch” is quickly becoming an Active Rock Radio hit and the Red Line Chemistry guys, Andy Breit (guitar), Tom Brown (bass), Brett Ditgen (vocals), Dave Fyten (guitar), and Mike Mazzarese (drums) are intent on hitting every single market they can. They are currently on tour with Nonpoint and Surrender The Fall while also playing festival one-offs and I spoke with lead singer Brett Ditgen about everything going on, read on….
Q: Red Line Chemistry is based out of Kansas City but you have toured all over including the West Coast, is that correct?
A: Yeah, we did quite a bit of shows in places like Spokane, Reno and Phoenix on tour for our last record, those were strong markets for us right off the bat. When we started touring it was a west coast tour with Evans Blue and we just kept hitting those markets again on our own and with Saving Abel. With the new album we are definitely growing our exposure, especially in the east and northeast to kind of cover the map a little bit more. We spent a lot of time home in the midwest working on the record but now that it’s out we are really getting out to more markets. We love being on the road and we have been waiting for these kind of opportunities that are presenting themselves now. In May we had a festival date about every weekend, which was killer, it was Carolina Rebellion, Rock On The Range, Rocklahoma. Getting to do all these outdoor festivals and meet all the people and all these other bands, there’s nothing like it. It has been a really great summer for the band and these shows are so much fun it’s just hard to explain how killer it really is.
Q: Your album, “Tug Of War” has been in my CD player for quite a long time and I like the whole album, beginning to end. Your producer, Nick Raskulinecz did a phenomenal job and it sounds great. I would say it’s been one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. Did it feel like you were taking a big step in making this album?
A: Yeah, I feel, we all feel that way, that the process of how this record came together combined with where we all are collectively as songwriters, combined with working with someone the caliber of Nick, who’s a Grammy winning producer and another guy who worked really hard with us, Matt Hyde….it all just feels right. The two of them really gave us a tremendous amount of insight and feedback, really kept pushing us to write and write and write. They didn’t give us “the answers” they gave us their feedback and made us go after and made us find ourselves and try to become better writers. We all kind of believe that we’ve come into our own as a band. This is our fifth record but it’s our second on a national scale. On the last record, “Dying For a Living” we had just gotten signed,we had just quit our jobs. We wrote and recorded the record in like three months and then we were immediately on the road, that album did a lot for us, the single “Dumb Luck” did a lot for us but now we’re watching from a little bit higher platform because I feel like sonically and musically “Tug Of War” is by far the best record we’ve been a part of or ever put out. We have really high hopes and we hope everyone else feels that way.
Q: These days a lot of bands put themselves together from the splinters of other bands but you guys are genuinely friends and have known each other and worked together exclusively for years. That can definitely be an advantage because you are so familiar with each other but at the same time, if a band is really like a marriage there are 7 year itches and all the other pratfalls that come with being together for so long. Has that familiarity been an asset for the most part?
A: I think it’s a challenging thing keeping a band together on a daily basis, for any band. It’s definitely a different dynamic for bands where some guys are all over the country and they’re sending files back and forth. I have no idea what it would be like to be in a band like that or have a situation like that but the scenario that I’m in or we are in is that of having a really solid foundation. We have a history and a story and yeah, we’ve almost given up before and almost broken up but there was just always something that kept us together. I think we’re all just very rooted in what we’re doing. Being able to share that with each other and get through everything, to be able to experience the highs and lows together and take the good with the bad while sticking together just makes us feel strong as a unit. It feels really rewarding for all of us. It can definitely be a challenge but at the same time we are just really, really grateful to be where we’re at and to still be all on the same page. To be able to be friends and have a shot at making our music a career is a feeling like nothing else.
Q: I’ve talked with plenty of bands who do the file sending thing and a lot of times it can result in a great record but there is something so powerful and tangible about plugging in, leaving the problems of your life at the rehearsal door and practicing or playing as a band isn’t there?
A: For us there is yeah….I mean, we’re all best friends. A couple of the guys have been playing together since High School. I was the last piece to join but we’ve been a band now for nine years and I knew immediately that this was where I should be. I could tell that this was a group of guys who all had the same drive, the same goal and the same determination and at the same time we’re also about the same age, at the same point in life and on the same page in general. This is a band I always wanted but never had, with that special kind of brotherhood. Growing up, I always looked at bands like Motley Crue where they have that kind of story or a band today like Avenged Sevenfold, just kids that came up together and they have this history and drive to make something happen. That was always something that excited me about being in a band and when I got with these guys that was the first time I truly felt it. Honestly, that’s where the name Red Line Chemistry came from. It’s about how much we all collectively want it and the history between us but also the chemistry between us, we’re gonna work as hard as we can like an engine red-lining. That’s the simple meaning behind our name.
Q: You’re from a working class, no nonsense kind of town. I’ve been to Kansas City. There might not be as much to do as there is in L.A. New York or Chicago but the people are hard rocking, hard working folks. Do you think some of that spirit found its way into your approach as a band?
A: It’s hard to say but I think so. You know there aren’t a lot of bands who’ve broke out big but there is a pretty good music scene in Kansas City, a lot of good music, a lot of metal, a lot of indie music and stuff. When we were coming up there werent very many straight up rock bands like we were but we just pounded the region anyway and were real weekend warriors for the first five years of our existence. We were just trying to build on every success and experience around the region and it helped a lot when we got Rock Fest in 2007 when our local radio 98.9 started giving us that exposure in our hometown. That really helped us out and lifted us up and giving us a taste of that success just increased our motivation to break bigger nationally. After experiencing what it’s like to play onstage in front of 20,000 screaming people, whether they know you or not it is just a great experience and was really kind of the launching to our career. That was definitely a landmark moment that really helped propel us forward and made us even more determined.
Q: There are people finding out about your band now and communicating to you their love on your page from Argentina, the far east and all these places. That’s got to be an amazing feeling as well, does that blow your mind?
A: Yeah, I mean, there’s so much negative stuff said about the state of file sharing and all the different avenues where music can be obtained but the internet has also made great opportunities for us as well. I mean there’s areas where we’ve never toured or never been on the radio and now with internet radio and YouTube and Sirius Octane and all these things that are there for bands these days, things that can take your music to people you’ve never reached. It has done wonders. There’s not a city we go to where someone doesn’t say “Oh we saw that song on YouTube or we heard your music on Sirius Octane and that’s how we found out about Red Line Chemistry”.
Q: The band has drawn comparisons from people who feel the need to draw comparisons to Alice In Chains or Stone Temple Pilots or Tool and on and on but the one thing I’ve gathered from really listening to this album over and over is that you definitely have a dual personality. There are seriously burning, fast and furious hard rockers and then there are some moodier moments and even songs where the two intertwine. Do you personally have a preference as far as playing the uptempo stuff versus the more moody stuff?
A: No, I really love both kinds and that’s really a huge part of the personality of the band. We all grew up on different influences and have different tastes in some ways but at the same time there are a lot of things we all agree on and share in common. That’s really why we consider ourselves a ROCK band more than any of the other labels or genres. I mean I love the music of the 90s but I also love Classic Rock and current rock, metal and even mellow stuff too, I’ve always had a thing for a lot of acoustic music and so have the other guys and that’s found its way into our band along with the more uptempo heavy stuff. That dual personality you’re talking about is also part of the reason the album is called “Tug Of War”. When you listen to the album, half of it is really musical and melodic and the other half is super aggressive and heavy which is simply because we really like a mix of all that stuff.
Q: How much of a hand do you play in the lyric writing?
A: I do a large part of that but then obviously get feedback and concepts from the other guys. It’s all an open forum in terms of our songwriting but I do end up writing a large majority of the lyrics.
Q: The lyrics are sometimes as memorable as the melodies. Are there a lot of deeply personal inspirations or do some of the lyrics come from your experiences as a band or from you fronting the band? When you hear a song like “Paralyzed” or “Unspoken” you could almost relate them to the band as a whole, did they come from a more personal place?
A: I think there’s a lot of my own individual life stuff in there that I bring to the table but there are also a lot of times where I try and step out of myself and write from a different perspective. Yeah, sometimes there are times where I think about what we’ve been through as a group and times where I write like that too. What it all comes down to though is writing to connect with each person listening and allowing them to kind of take the song and relate to it and surround it with their own life or apply it to what they’re going through. I love it when I hear people tell me about what a song means to them or tell me about how they listen to that song during a certain situation in their life and it means something to them personally. It’s really great to have it be open ended enough for people to kind of put their own spin on it and own it in their own way.
TUE – Aug 27, 2013 Kansas City, MO RLC / Nonpoint:
THU – Aug 29, 2013 Austin, TX RLC / Nonpoint:
FRI – Aug 30, 2013 Shreveport, LA RLC / Nonpoint:
SAT – Aug 31, 2013 Houston, TX RLC / Nonpoint / Drowning Pool:
SUN – Sep 01, 2013 Dallas, TX RLC / Nonpoint / Drowning Pool:
THU – Sep 05, 2013 Fort Wayne, IN RLC / Nonpoint:
THU – Sep 05, 2013 Broussard, LA RLC / Nonpoint:
THU – Sep 12, 2013 Rockford, IL RLC / Nonpoint:
FRI – Sep 13, 2013 Ashwaubenon, WI RLC / Nonpoint:
Green Bay Distillery
SAT – Sep 14, 2013 Wausau, WI RLC / Nonpoint:
The Fillmore SAT – Sep 28, 2013 Darlington, MD Ramblewood Festival