“You know, it’s always better when you’re growing as a band and you’re seeing success. We’re still in it though.” – Ryan Williams, guitarist Red Sun Rising
By Carl C. Sundberg
When Red Sun Rising hit the stage at Rock on the Range 2016, the crowd was already seething and surging forward to the stage. Throughout the performance, the crowd swayed and sang along, pumped their fists, packing tighter and tighter, and some fans took crowd surfing to the next level, with a young lady literally standing on a shirtless guy, as if he were an actual surfboard, cruising over the top of the crowd toward the stage. Red Sun Rising’s live show is wild, reckless and full of passion.
At times, they remind you of a young Pearl Jam during their rise to glory. Singer Mike Protich, with his mic stand antics completely captivates the crowd as the rest of the band – bassist Ricky Miller, guitarists Ryan Williams and Dave McGarry roam the stage with laser-sharp intensity and drummer Pat Gerasia beats his drum kit so hard you’d think it would shatter under his force.
It was the band’s second time playing the legendary festival in Columbus, Ohio, with their debut the year prior as an up and coming new rock sensation. Akron, Ohio natives, Red Sun Rising referred to the show as a homecoming of sorts on stage, which got a huge roar from the mostly local crowd.
Last year, people were just learning about Red Sun Rising, most likely hearing them for the first time. Now, they knew them and they knew them well thanks to two number one hit songs on rock radio, which was clearly evident as the whole front of the crowd was singing along to “The Otherside” and “Emotionless” from their debut album “Polyester Zeal”.
In just one short year Red Sun Rising has picked up incredible momentum, touring across the country, hitting the top of the Mediabase and Billboard charts and scoring a RadioContraband Rock Radio Award for New Artist of the Year 2015, which we presented them personally backstage in the Artist Lounge before their thunderous set. After the presentation, we sat down with the whole band for a brief chat on their recent accomplishments, the creative process, who they were looking forward to seeing at Rock on the Range and who the biggest diva in the band was.
Q: Last year I talked to you guys real briefly [at ROTR], this was the first time I met you guys, and now, I mean it feels like your ascent has been pretty crazy, number one songs on Mediabase, this award [RadioContraband Rock Radio Award for Best New Artist 2015], does it feel like you guys are becoming bigger than ever or what is it like, what do you guys think?
Ryan Williams (guitar): You know, it’s always better when you’re growing as a band and you’re seeing success. We’re still in it though. We think of it as the next thing, more work, what’s next, but I think when we take a little break from this tour, we’ll get to enjoy at home a little bit, but we’ve been looking forward to today because this is kind of a homecoming, Rock on the Range, so today we’re gonna celebrate that a little too. The stage we’re on, the time slot we’ve been given this year, two years in a row, I think that’s kind of our way of celebrating our success this year.
Q: Tell me about the tour so far. Has it been hectic, smooth rolling? Take me inside this tour with you guys. I love hearing stories.
Dave McGarry (guitar): I guess it depends what day it is man, and how long the drive is. I mean that determines whether we get to hang out with everybody or if we gotta get on the road. But it’s been pretty rollercoaster. The Hard Drive Live Tour with the Sick Puppies during the week and then we break off during the weekends to hit the festivals. It’s a rollercoaster, the whole thing. It’s cool.
Q: On tour, who is the diva in the band?
Mike Protich (vocals/guitar): Pat. (points to him, band is laughing).
Pat Gerasia: In some ways, in some ways.
Q: What makes him the diva?
Mike: He’s very particular. He’s a little OCD. And he’s from LA, well he’s not from LA, but he’s in LA, so a little bit of that LA style comes out.
Q: (to Pat) Now you said you were gonna explain a little.
Pat: I got to do one tour with a pop artist and it’s a little bit different from the rock n roll lifestyle. So I got a taste of that touring life, my own hotel room every night.
Mike: Street cred, right out the window.
Pat: Right out the window. Now it’s seven dudes, one room. So, a little different.
Q: Are you looking forward to seeing any bands today or do you even get to see any bands today? Let’s go down the list.
Ricky Miller (bass): I’d say Deftones, and oh yeah, the fucking Peppers are playing tonight, right? The last band, man!
Ryan Williams: Yeah the Deftones and the Red Hot Chili Peppers for sure, there’s so many great bands it’s hard to think, but those two for sure. We were listening to the Deftones the whole drive here.
Dave: I have to repeat that. I don’t know the whole list today, I haven’t looked at it in a few days but I think for the whole band, none of us have seen the Deftones or the Chili Peppers live. The Deftones have been a huge influence on me growing up.
Mike: As well as those, I kind of want to see The Sword. I’ve not seen them live and they’re on our label.
Pat: I’m surprised nobody has mentioned At the Drive In yet. They’re headlining our stage. It’s a reunion. I’m a huge fan of them and obviously we haven’t seen them before.
Q: How does the creative process work while you’re on the road, because creativity can come from anywhere and sometimes it’s best to get the ideas down any time you can.
Mike: We have been busy on the road, so we haven’t had time to sit down as a band but all the band members are always bringing ideas, whether it’s a riff or rhythm or a melody or a lyric and we literally record them on our phones or our computers so when we do have that time, which hopefully in June, we’ll be able to sit down as a band and actually start to hash those ideas out. But we’ve got plenty of ideas coming in.