The Red The White & The Blue are the new super-group on the block featuring members from Ash, Feeder, and Ivyrise. They are Paul Cronin on guitars, Ed Loades as vocalist, Rick McMurray on drums, and Taka Hirose on bass. Impressed yet? You will be. They have just released their first single ‘Crisis’ from the debut album ‘The Balloonist’ which is one of the most original concept albums going. On the 1st of each month they will be releasing a new chapter from the story followed early next year with by the full album and comic book which will be available in a number of different formats. The story is told over ten chapters with corresponding singles and animated comic book issues available on the bands website. All they will say about the plot is that it focuses on three characters and involves a love triangle that turns deadly but death is only the beginning…. In an attempt to find out more I managed to catch a few words with guitarist Paul Cronin about the album the band and everything in-between and beyond.
H: I’m really quite hyped about this new band that you’ve formed up. I absolutely love the concept for the album. Can you tell me a little bit about how the whole band got together then?
P: Yeah sure. I actually met Ed through a Twix advert He’d just done a vocal for their advert where he played Brian Ferry’s ‘Let’s Stick Together’ it was running on TV for years. I was looking for vocalist to work with and SM put us in touch and then met the others with a few ideas and it all started from there really. Then after we’d done some promos and headed into the studio had a crazy idea to reach out to some of our favourite bands and influences Ash and ask the guys if they wanted to play on the record, sent them the demos and they were up for it and it all happened quite quickly really.
H: Brilliant, it’s always nice when you can get ideas off the ground and people want to join in. Now I’ve heard that you’re a bit of an Ash and a Feeder fan what’s it like working with them?
P: Yeah! It’s a dream come true really. I can’t quite believe that we get to record together. It’s so much fun. I used to run an Ash fan site in my teens, I used to sneak backstage and meet the guys. I met Feeder after a show so it’s just great being able to play at it and it means so much as well. Really exciting.
H: I know it’s a concept album as your debut what was the inspiration behind this idea, did you kind of do the music first and then put the animation to it or did the animation come first?
P: The music came first. We’d done a lot of songs and we were starting to think about albums and we looked at all the song we thought were the strongest, the ones we were most excited about, and they just seemed to tell a story about these three characters and without too much hassle to be honest the whole thing just seemed to unravel by itself. Kind of led the way and then it was just a case of filling in the gaps to give a coherent story. We wanted a way to visualise the story so, I’ve always liked comic books, and the two kind of went hand in hand really, but it’s not been done before so we just thought ‘Give it a go’.
H: It’s a really fantastic idea and it’s very stylised the look of it was that a deliberate choice to go with? It’s almost like a pop are feel to it.
P: Yeah that was very very important to get the look and feel right to it. We spent years, literally scouring the world even the internet to find different illustrators colourers and inkers to get the look and feel of it right. It took some time but we got there in the end. I think the first comic took a year to do and now we’re able to do them much more quickly than that but the first time it was a real challenge to get it exactly how we wanted but also to bring the two worlds together there’s lots of hidden messages in the art work and things like that. It was just a lot of time and how to do it.
H: There are lots of hints on the website about hidden extras and things like that, I like that and I’m really looking forward to seeing how that comes together. I know the whole album isn’t released until early next year and you’re going to be releasing one single on the 1st of each month until then?
P: Yep so new issue on the 1st of the month then we release the album and the graphic novel which will be all of the comics and the whole album as well.
H: Are you guys planning a tour to coincide with that?
P: We Are! One issue we have is that we can’t get out now because we’ll give the game away we have to wait until the story has come out a little more so as soon as we’ve got a few more out then we can think about Tours next spring to co-inside with the album release.
H: You have to come up to the North East that would be great.
P: I’m from the North East! I’m from the North East actually.
H: Where about?
P: I went to school in Redcar and I’m a Middlesbrough fan Where are you from?
P: Oh right yeah we’ve got a Boro match isn’t it Boro versus Sunderland next week I think?
H: Are you coming up for the match then?
P: I’d love to, you got any tickets?
H: No but we’ll do what we can to get you tickets, I’ve got a sofa you can crash on.
H: Oh dear, I’ve completely lost track of where I am now!
P: Are we going to get a bad write up then if I’m a Middlesbrough fan?
H: No! Not at all! If you were Newcastle it might have been an issue but Middlesbrough you’re fine.
P: (laughs) With Middlesbrough we want to have that rivalry but nobody’s interested! Leeds and Sheffield are bother and Newcastle and Sunderland are like alright but we’re just by ourselves, no one really cares.
H: Ok getting back to the album and the music, ‘cos you’ve got me completely off track now.
H: No it’s ok I don’t mind at all, there’s been a lot of talk about having a concept album as a debut. People saying it’s a risky move did you feel that it was a risk making your first album a concept album or did you feel that it was the right course to go down?
P: Well we didn’t give that too much thought we just did what we wanted to do and just see what happens. We wanted to entertain ourselves as well and do something a bit different. We’ve all done hundreds and thousands of gigs between ourselves, just to do something a bit different a bit fun really and if other people who enjoy that then that’s good really.
H: It’s always good when you’re having fun with the stuff that you’re doing. I know that Ed Buller helped produce the album do you think that he had a lot to do with the music or was your sound already fully formed when you got into the studio?
P: We were rocky, no but, we had a good idea about the sound and what we wanted it to be but Ed helped us to get there. He’s really good in house making sure the good ideas get through and Rick and taka are pro’s so they did quite a bit as well. So it was great listening to them.
H: The Red the White and The Blue it’s quite a different sound from what any of you have done before. It’s different from Ash and from Feeder and from Ivyrise. Was it very important to make sure it had its own separate sound and its own unique identity as opposed to being an offcut from one of the other bands?
P: It wasn’t something that we thought about particularly hard I think when you get musicians together the sound just happens organically, Ed’s vocals, my guitar playing, Rick’s drumming, and Taka’s base playing they’re the ingredients and the idea is to try and combine the main influences which are the Beatles and Nirvana and try and be somewhere between the two. It’s just what came out really, what came together.
H: Mentioning the previous bands I know that you were part of Ivyrise and you left the band was that solely to peruse this new project?
P: I didn’t know I was going to do this at the time can we just say creative differences?
H: Sorry, don’t need to discuss it if it’s a sore subject.
P: Oh no it’s fine.
H; Ok are there any plans about the next album or do you just want to see how this one goes first. I know it’s very early stages for this kind of question.
P: Gosh I know. We’ve only just released the first single and already thinking about these things because the lead time for producing this is so long. If we are going to do a second we kind of need to get started but we have no idea what the reaction is going to be so it’s a bit cat and mouse really so we’ll just have to see how things play out. There is definitely more scope more story to tell there’s definitely more musical ideas so hopefully we’ll be able to do another one.
H: I’m not going to get any sneak peeks about the plot out of you am I?
P: (laughs) Oh no! It’s quite a closely guarded secret, plot wise there are only three people who know. We’re keeping it a very closely guarded secret.
H: Oh ok, I’ll just have to sign up for the newsletter.
P: (laughs) Yeah!
H: I know that the first chapter is online have you had much response from it?
P: Yeah it’s been fantastic, we had over a thousand people on facebook pretty quickly, it was really encouraging, and we got some good messages. The press are just curious I think about what we are doing which is encouraging I just hope the interest continues. I think at this stage it’s just a concept and trying to get people to understand what it is and then as we release more issues the story will take hold. I think it will take a few issues online before people get into what we’re doing.
H: It’s a social media driven thing as well. You’ve mentioned the facebook page do you think that’s been a big helping getting the word out there as opposed to the more conventional press?
P: Absolutely, I think it’s all about getting your music across to fans and potential new fans. You’ve got to use all the different medias that there are.
H: WG is completely online, we don’t have anything in print, and we’ve found this has given us a lot of freedom to get the news story’s out there quicker do you think that’s more the way things move?
P: I think it’s best to do everything really; there are still a lot of things in print. Sometimes it’s great to have things in your hands to keep like the cd and the comic to go with is. But saying that I quite like digital as well, I will quite often buy a magazine on an ipad now, it’s just easier, but I think it’s about having a mix it’s just a good time to be around really with so many different options rather than just hoping HMV stock your CD you can now get it directly to fans.
H: So will the album be coming out as a download as well as a CD?
P: Yeah, CD’s, downloads, an app, comic books, and some other crazy stuff as well. Some other crazy ways of getting our stuff out as well which we’re kind of developing so you’ll have to check for that a little bit later.
H: I think I’m going to become addicted to your website.
P: Oh really?(laughs)
H: I absolutely loved the first song and I’m chomping at the bit to hear the rest of it Definitely feel very teased about it.
P: Oh excellent! It is unusual because you usually go out with three good songs and say ‘here you are’ but we’ve introduced ourselves with one song which is very difficult actually, we have to be quite patient because we’re quite proud of our songs and want them out there but we just have to be very patient. All we want to do is go ‘Hey everybody listen to this!’ but we just have to keep it in the locker for now.
H: So you’re going to tease us a bit longer?
P: Yeah! Sorry!
H: Christmas and the New Year is coming up have you got any plans?
P: Band wise?
H: Band wise, personally.
P: I just got engaged so …
P: Thanks very much, actually the comic book helped because I got my girlfriend, well my fiancée now, to design the ring in the story so I was able to find out what she liked and didn’t like very sneakily. So we’ll have to have a bit of a party and Christmas is just brilliant.
Well I don’t know about you but here at WG we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for their next releases and the album due out in April. Thank you Paul for taking the time to chat to us and we hope to see you guys live next year!