What happens when you put a bunch of college radio music heads together in a band fueled by the aroma of pizza? Red Sun Radio’s debut album For All the Wrong Reasons, premiering exclusively below, gives you an idea.
The five members of the New York-based rock group met about four years back at Fordham University, while working at the school’s WFUV. RSR honed its craft in the basement of a Pugsley’s Pizza near campus, but guitarist Ken Iselhart tells Billboard it took a while “to learn how to play with each other, learning what kind of music we want to write. The songs have had so many different lives by now, from writing them and performing them and honing them and then actually recording them. And they’ve meant so many things to us over the years.”
Each of the 10 tracks on For All the Wrong Reasons, out July 26, sounds like a needle drop into something you’d expect to hear coming from a college station. Red Sun Radio’s clear influences run from the garage and psychedelia of the Black Keys and the White Stripes to the anthemic modern rock atmospherics of Coldplay and Snow Patrol, with plenty of texture and nuance applied during sessions with Jeremy Loucas (Esperanza Spalding and Diane Reeves) and Sam Lazarev at Sear Sound.
“We started out playing covers — Black Keys songs, Talking Heads, 20-minute covers of their songs ’cause I would take a huge guitar solo in the middle,” Iselhart remembers with a laugh. “Then Sean (O’Connor), the singer, started writing more and we were getting these more acoustic guitar-driven songs that we’d flesh out as a band. That’s where the Radiohead and Coldplay stuff kinda came out of. From there was another evolution into an Americana bent, which I think you’ll hear more on another album.”
That next album, in fact, is already in motion. While touring is “the dream” and Red Sun Radio is working toward that, the group is also busy making a sophomore album that Iselhart says is “kind of almost done” and will delve into “almost like a psychedelic, alternative Americana sound. The style of the songs has changed just a little bit,” the guitarist reports. “It’s like Bob Dylan when he went electric, kind of like that feel. We’ve been to a lot of these Brooklyn shows, Manhattan shows where the bands are very indie. So now we want to be more of rock band and really get people excited and have a good time. You don’t see much of that anymore. So I think that’s where we’re headed — but that’s only me speaking, and there’s four other guys so we’ll see.”