Featured Artist: Winston Audio

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I love records. Singles are great, EP’s are even better, but give me a Long Play and I’m a happy camper. I’m one of those listeners that wants to find the “hit single” myself, if that makes any sense. If you’re like me, you often feel that there are better songs on the record than the one(s) that make it on the radio. LP’s let me dive into the marrow of the artist to see what they’re all about. I don’t want a snapshot, I want the whole panoramic view.

Sometimes, though, a record does more than merely give me an idea of what the artist is about… it paints a world that I’m curious to explore, whether it be through sound or lyric. I think these are the records that intrigue me the most because it’s a world that I can’t see or touch, it’s only something that I feel. It’s hard to explain, but I hope I’m making some kind of sense here.

Winston Audio‘s new release, The Red Rhythm, is just that kind of album for me. From the very opening feedback to the last few strums, The Red Rhythm takes you into a world that is in constant battle between the darkness of what life presents and the hope that life offers.

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Winston Audio was formed in 2003, but didn’t find their footing until 2006 when they started writing in the style that now defines them. They have a predominantly “rock” album here, but as singer/bassist Daniel DeWitt explains, “There are a lot of blues undertones to our music, which comes from our southern roots.” (their home is in Atlanta, GA.) He goes on to tell TheFrontloader.com that “Michael (guitarist) said once that he really wanted us to sound ‘American.’ A broad idea for sure, but it more or less dictated the latter half of the writing for The Red Rhythm. We were looking at people like Dylan and Petty, and even bands like Nirvana, who were very complex in their simplicity. It takes you a while to process their songs even though you could play most of them by yourself on acoustic guitar. That’s the kind of spirit we wanted to convey.”

The band piled into Vintage Song Studios in Alpharetta, GA. to begin recording. “We wrote around 30 songs for this record. Some were definitely not worthy of recording, but a lot of the material was. I really think we had an entirely separate album’s worth of material we scrapped. In the end we made a pretty straight-ahead rock record, and any songs we felt like didn’t fit into that vision were tabled. We did actually write a lot of pretty songs. We just decided to make a rock record,” says DeWitt.

Regarding the sound of The Red Rhythm, DeWitt describes it as a product of their 90’s upbringing, when the Grunge explosion took over the airwaves. You can definitely hear what he’s referring to: huge, distorted guitars, heavy drums and grooves, and a beautiful dissonance that is so characteristic of that style.

I noted to DeWitt that I found the album lyrically “dark… that it doesn’t look to a bright future.” He told me that it is indeed dark, but the overall message of the record is that “there is darkness in the world, and lots of terrible things happen, but there is hope and redemption that can accompany those things.” It’s the chase of that redemption that struck me within his lyrics.

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A good example of this chase is in the opening track, “On My Trail,” which grabbed me by the collar and shook me like a rag doll. I think the riff stayed in my head for a good hour as I absorbed the rest of the record. “For me,” says DeWitt, “the song is about rebellion. How as a Christian, I can rebel against a God who allows me to rebel, who doesn’t force me into a relationship with Him. Or as a son, I can rebel against my parents when they have spent their lives providing everything for me. It’s about the ego that goes along with that decision. The idea that there is freedom in that, where in my experience it’s really just the opposite. I feel much more enslaved when I am running away from people who love me.”

Another highlight is “Action Reaction.” I was fascinated by the line, “If you push, we’ll push back / Violence is the only way we react.” The song found its roots with Dan Gleason (keys, guitar), and was the first song the group had worked on as a collective. Although the lyrics were influenced by the War in Iraq, Gleason says that it’s not a political song. “Things were reaching a fever pitch and our country seemed to have a very strong ‘with us or against us’ mentality,” Gleason explains. “There was a lot of determination to make this thing happen no matter who was on our side. Personally, I can remember being worried about escalation, things getting much worse before they got better, and where that would leave everything.”

To me, “Action Reaction” is a cornerstone of The Red Rhythm. The idea of “violence is the only way we react” pretty much sums us up as a race, whether we deal with love, government, religion, or society as a whole. The beauty of this song is reminiscent of a Greek tragedy…

Winston Audio is unveiling The Red Rhythm on February 10th (that’s tomorrow!). They’ve got a string of shows lined up to celebrate the album’s release, and are looking to continue touring the album until it’s in the hands of every single person living on this planet. I say that it can be done. They’re a band that pushes forward, and I certainly hope they make it out to the West Coast.

Yes, I love records. I love how they can transport me into another world with blinders on, only to be guided by what I can interpret. At times it’s slow going, at times it’s a full stop… but it’s worth the time and always rewarding. The Red Rhythm has a great marriage between the complexities of sound and of the mind. If the music doesn’t get you, the lyrics will.

This is not to say that they’re all about being dark, brooding, and complex, though. When I asked about the band name, DeWitt replied, “John Lennon’s middle name is Winston. We make audio recordings. I don’t know man, it’s just a name.”

Cool.

Here are their February dates:

Feb 9 2009 @ 9:00P – Caledonia Lounge in Athens, Georgia
Feb 13 2009 @ 9:00P – The Drunken Unicorn – THE RED RHYTHM ALBUM RELEASE SHOW in Atlanta, Georgia
Feb 15 2009 @ 7:30P – New Brookland Tavern in West Columbia, South Carolina
Feb 16 2009 @ 10:00P – Tin Roof in Charleston, South Carolina
Feb 17 2009 @ 8:00P – Hummingbird in Macon, Georgia
Feb 18 2009 @ 8:00P – Alabama Music Box in Mobile, Alabama
Feb 19 2009 @ 8:00P – Sluggo’s in Pensacola, Florida
Feb 20 2009 @ 8:00P – Coasters in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Feb 21 2009 @ 8:00P – Swell-O-Venue in Jackson, Mississippi
Feb 22 2009 @ 9:00P – Nick in Birmingham, Alabama

Catch a show, pick up the record, buy some swag, spread the word…

***** Special thanks to Winston Audio for taking the time to answer all my questions!

Official Site
Winston Audio on MySpace
Winston Audio on Amazon
Winston Audio on iTunes
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Download: On My Trail

Download: Action Reaction

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