Red lights Flash
I can’t think of a more underrated band than Red Lights Flash from Austria. They play a combination of intelligent political hardcore and technical punk rock, crossing genres and provoking thought from even the most closed mind. On their October 2004 tour with Pipedown, I caught up with the boys to chat about A-F Records, Outkast and alcohol. (Transcribing an interview with 3 people called Chris proved to be a nightmare) Here goes… By Chris 12o5
Christoph- So, did you bring your own answers for this interview?
Chris12oh5- Well, I’m just going to make stuff up if you don’t give me good answers. So, anyway, for the record, who are you and what do you do?
Chris12oh5- You have to answer that.
Christoph- How is your life in Leeds? I want to interview you! Ok, I am Christoph and I play guitar and vocals.
Christian- I am Christian doing the vocals and the guitar.
Consti- I don’t want to speak.
Christian- This is Consti and he plays the drums.
Christoph- This is Werner, he plays the bass and sings.
Chris12oh5- So, how’s the tour going so far?
Christian- So far very good, we’ve been to many countries…Like… Austria
Chris12oh5- So far from home!
Christian- Yeah, it’s been two and half weeks and we’ve been to lots of great cities, experienced new cultures. It’s good.
Chris12oh5- I think most people want to know how the relationship with A-F Records came about.
Christian- It started last year when we did support for Anti Flag in Austria. They seemed to like the music, we exchanged CDs, a month later we received an email and they asked us if we wanted to do the support for the whole tour. This seemed like a great chanced for us, so we went on this tour and it was really good and on the tour they asked us if we want to sign to A-F Records.
Chris12oh5- So, there’s no hard feelings with Householdname Records?
Christian- Oh no, We asked them if we could do it and thought maybe it could be on A-F Records in America and Householdname in Europe, then we started to record and we had finished the recording in February and we spoke to all the people at both labels and the best solution seemed to be to do it on A-F Records fully because they give us good promotion and a good booking agency whereas Householdname is more concentrated in the UK. They are still good friends of ours, it was good times…But now we have good people working for us also in Austria and Germany which is very important for us.
Chris12oh5- Are you spending a lot of time away from home these days then?
Christoph- Right now?! Yeah!
Chris12oh5- Doh! That’s not what I mean. I meant do you have plans to go to America?
Christian- Yeah there are plans.
Chris12oh5- Um… Elaborate? When?
Chris12oh5- Oh sorry!
Christian- Umm… Spring 2005?
Chris12oh5- Hopefully or definitely?
Christian- I think I will believe it when I am sitting on the plane.
Chris12oh5- How expensive is it for European bands to go on tour in America? Are you going to lose a lot of your own money?
Christoph- It depends with which band you are touring. If it is with a big band, then they will cover your costs. If you go out with a smaller band, then it becomes more of a problem to sort out the flights, so it really depends.
Christian- To be honest, we don’t care. It’s just a good opportunity for us to go to a different continent and play.
Christoph- So we will fucking do it…
Chris12oh5- Is your record already out there?
Christian- It’s been out since 3 weeks.
Christoph- But we already sold 2 million records.
Chris12oh5- Wow, that’s good going guys…Bon Jovi!
Christoph- Yeah, they are going to be supporting us on the forthcoming tour. Hopefully we can cover their costs.
Chris12oh5- So are you happy with the way the new record turned out?
Christoph and Christian- Yeah!
Chris12oh5- I’ve heard really good feedback. The only negative criticism I heard about it was that it comes across a little over produced…Do you agree?
(Chris12oh5- Laughing…No one else is)
Christoph- I think it’s the best record we did so far. It’s the first time where you can hear every single instrument and the voices are better produced. We did our best in the studio, but I think we could still do a bit better, but I definitely don’t think it’s over produced.
Chris12oh5- I don’t really think so either, but I’ve been talking to a lot of people since it came out and that’s the only negative thing I’ve heard, so that’s got to be an achievement! Who did the artwork, by the way?
Christoph- Werner out silent bass player did it. He’s quite a quiet guy.
Werner- Yes I did!
Chris12oh5- Do you do artwork for other bands, or was this your first attempt?
Werner- I’ve had no opportunity to work for other bands so far, it was just some flyers I made for local shows. So far as cover artwork goes, it stays within our band.
Chris12oh5- When I was in Graz I saw the flyer for the show you were doing with local people on guest vocals. How did it turn out?
Christian- It went really well. We didn’t know what to do because we had played our home town about 30 times. We wanted to do something special, so we booked a completely different venue which was really big and we just didn’t know if the people were going to come there, the drinks are quite expensive and it’s really big. But then 600 people showed up, we had to turn away 100 people. The cover songs were really difficult because we had no time to rehearse all the songs with different vocalists. But somehow it worked out really fine in the end.
Christoph- The way the cover songs worked is that we played them all at the end of the set and the audience had to vote who was the best singer. Georg from Antimaniax won…
Chris12oh5- Of course he did!…
Christoph- …because he did Outkast. He was dressed exactly like him and had practiced a lot…he really looked like him! So, we won.
Chris12oh5- Was there any backlash from having to turn people away?
Christian- Yeah a little bit. We never expected so many people to come because Graz is still a very small town and there are normally there are rock shows for maybe 400 people and the local band will draw 200-300 maximum. Nobody expected that. But I don’t think anyone can blame us for that because we booked such a large venue. If we did it in a small place for 100 people then Ok…
Christoph- There were some people there under the age of 16. We knew before that this might be a problem. So before the show I went out and there were these 3 guys who had been driving one hour to get to the show, but they were 15, so I asked to the security…I told them that I worked in the youth centre where they were (it was a lie!)…
Christian- Yeah, we were also putting people on the guest list we don’t even know. Making up fake names just so we could get more people.
Chris12oh5- Hah, yeah it seems like a no win situation some times. I was talking to one of the guys from Captain Everything and he was saying that they have the same problem when they play their home town, Watford. The venue is never big enough.
Christian- This has got to be the best problem a band can have though!
Chris12oh5- Yeah, but it is still kinda sad because you get all these stupid people on message boards complaining. Idiots who have nothing better to do than sit online and whine.
Werner- That is the exact reason we don’t have a message board.
Chris12oh5- I’m convinced these people don’t actually come out to shows anyway. They’d rather sit a computer and stir shit. Anyway, they way that I understood your new record, it seemed like the most political one that you have done. Just in terms of the ideas behind the music. Do you think that as you become bigger this message will become diluted? Or do you still believe in everything that you believed when you wrote your first song?
Christian- I actually feel like the second album is more political. I think the new one offers more directions for people to think about when they read the lyrics… To think about how to interpret the songs. But year, there are some very political songs on the new record, you are right.
Christoph- Especially the song ‘Politics of Hate’. We wrote this for a friend of ours from Sudan and he tried to make a new life for himself in Austria, but because of the political system he has been living for 6 years without the chance of getting a job. We tried to give him a platform, so for that song ‘Politics of Hate’, he is speaking and that was really important because we want people to understand from our lyrics what is happening in our country. We don’t want to write a lyric about George Bush like thousands of other bands.
Chris12oh5- I think this is what my problem with a band like AntiFlag is. It’s kinda basic, it doesn’t require a lot of thought to understand it. I suppose there is the argument that if you listen to Anti Flag it could lead you onto something like you guys, or Strike Anywhere, so it is a valid argument.
Christoph- I don’t know. I feel like it’s just a different concept. Anti Flag are good friends of ours and I know the people stand behind everything they are doing. Plus, they reach a lot of young people. A lot of young people will get to political issues through music, I think this is what Rage Against the Machine did. To attract a lot of people you need phrases. I don’t know if it’s bad or not. For me, it’s not bad. Sometimes when a band gets big people will mock them…
Chris12oh5- I don’t think that it’s a bad thing. I just think it’s good that you are doing something different, but you’re on the same label as a band like Anti Flag. So you could get a 15 year old hearing a song about George Bush but then he can hear about the civil rights of Sudanese people in Austria, which is much more unexplored territory.
Christian- To be honest, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to have an Austrian band sing about George Bush anyway! Noone could take that seriously!
Christoph- But on the new record there is a lot of stuff about personal feelings. It depends on what person writes the lyric. Werner writes a lot of personal stuff and Christian writes a lot of political stuff. Myself, when I’m not drunken, writes some lyrics down.
Werner- Rip off!
Chris12oh5- How is the drinking going on tour, by the way?
Christoph- Not good in England. We don’t get very much free beer here!
Chris12oh5- Well, I apologise on behalf of England.
Christoph- All the promoters- Please change that! Haha.
Chris12oh5- Ok, I think that is everything that I need to know. Thanks guys.
RLF- Thanks Chris.