From someone who was groomed by the world of both Glam-and-Sleaze Rock, it’s hard not to be enticed by someone who goes by Trash McSweeney. And for someone who attended a fine arts school and was equally enchanted with the postmodern “high arts,” it’s hard not to take note of his band, The Red Paintings, who have gained a reputation for concerts that resemble avant-garde performance art; including costumes inspired by classical traditions of the far East, Greek mythology, and intergalactic conspiracy theories; in addition to video projects, DIY props, and live painters (sometimes painting on human canvases). And, as a professor of the humanities, I can’t help but get off on the fact that they’re largely driven by animal rights issues and what it is to be a living and breathing contributor to the circumstances of this giant rock on which we exist… They’re pretty much the perfect cocktail of excitement and intellect… They’re smart and fun as fuck.
The Red Paintings started at the turn of the century in Australia; with Trash McSweeney as lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, sequencer, and sampler; yet they’ve spent recent years in LA. To me, they sound along the lines of “Morbid, Symphonic, Prog Power-Pop.”… They prominently feature strings, resembling a clever dance party for the smartest brand of the disenfranchised. They’ve gone through uncountable lineup changes while they established a following among the most open-minded and angsty youth of Australia and America. They had an abundance of EPs, which were largely fan-funded and gained the attention of Mogwai, Amanda Palmer, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Saul Williams, who each welcomed them as support on tours.
Finally, The Red Paintings are releasing their debut studio LP, The Revolution is Never Coming, due out this coming Tuesday, October 1st, on The End Record in the states (It was released earlier this year around the world.) In preparation, they’ve spent much of 2013 touring as support for the likes of Mindless Self Indulgence and …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. The album has already received quite a bit of critical praise from around the world. The Red Paintings are about to embark on a US tour, which begins on October 4th in San Diego and has them stopping at our very own North Star Bar on October 23rd, something that should not be missed.
I recently got a chance to chat with Trash McSweeney, who told me all about the highlights of band’s recent history and why you should give The Revolution is Never Coming a listen. I ask McSweeney about the highlights of 2013, and he tells me, “Being on tour with Mindless Self Indulgence was fucking amazing and some of the painters we’ve had have been really amazing and MTV getting behind us has been a huge fucking shock. … Trail of Dead are one of my all-time favorites and getting Conrad [Keely] painting onstage with us was amazing.” When I ask him about his biggest influences, he admits, “My larger influences are art, like people like Mark Ryden and Da Vinci, I mean, I went to art school.” And when I ask him about how he characterizes the sound of The Red Paintings, he explains it as, “Orchestral, Sci-Fi, Art Rock.” Trash is also quite passionate about his fans: “They’re generally really intelligent people who have a conscious awareness of this planet and what negative things are going on in it.”
Trash McSweeney seems more proud and honest about The Red Paintngs’ latest release and their upcoming tour than anything his band has produced in the past. When I ask him about the release of The Revolution is Never Coming and their upcoming tour, he admits, “This album took me five years and $230,000 to make. Our previous EPs were demonstrations of what we wanted to do, but this is what we really want to be. In terms of our live show, I’ve built this show to be on festival stages.”