I had a chance to sit down with Brett Ditgen, the lead singer of Red Line Chemistry, and discuss the new album Tug of War, touring, some of his influences growing up and the best place for BBQ in Kansas City. For those that are not familiar with the band, check them out, get your hands on their new album and definitely go see them live!
Listen to the entire Brett Ditgen interview below:
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Today I’m joined by Brett from Red Line Chemistry. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
Yeah, thanks for having me.
For those that aren’t familiar with your band, how would you describe your sound and what should people know about Red Line Chemistry?
Well, our sound is pretty much straight up hard rock, maybe some influences in a little bit of metal, classic, but overall it’s just really melodic, vocal driven, riff driven rock. A lot of the newer stuff is some heavier tones and there’s also some epic songs on there, on the record as well, Tug of War being the new record. That’s kind of the sound. As far as anything to know about us, we’re a hard working rock band that’s been around for about 10 years, we’re from Kansas City and we’re doing the best we can to get around the country and get in front of fans and build this thing so we can keep it going.
You had mentioned the new album which came out a couple months ago and it is called Tug of War. For me, the new album sounds like you guys were in a different head space from your previous album Dying For a Living. Were you consciously aware that you were going in a different direction or did it just kind of turn out that way?
I think it was just a natural process. The last record was right after we got signed. We went in the studio, we wrote it in three months, we recorded it in a couple and then we were touring before we knew it. This record we had all that time on the last record to get road legs under us to spend time together touring, played tons of shows and then we got off the road. Then knowing that we were going to be working with a producer like Nick Raskulinecz who’s, last year he did Rush, Deftones, Alice in Chains and our record. So being in that company and with somebody of his caliber, that gave us a whole lot of confidence and a whole lot of encouragement and just the fact that the wanted to work with us. Then when we got into the space and just the five of us got together and we really organically, collectively came up with a lot of the ideas on this record as opposed to the last record with one person coming up with a riff or an idea then it builds around that, where as this one was just kind of collectively coming together as a group. Then I just think we’re definitely in a different headspace as far as the maturity level of where we’re at in our careers, where we’re at with our song writing and just getting better at doing what we do and kind of knowing what we want to achieve and we hope that the record, we feel that it’s the best thing we’ve put out. We hope that it connects with people and shows people that we’re here to stick around.
Now did you guys seek him out or did somebody recommend him to you guys?
We actually, he had done a couple albums that we really liked and then I’m not sure how it came together, but he ended up doing a radio mix for our third single, Ultragigantour, off the last record and he just kind of got interested in our group and was like, “Hey, I like the stuff if you guys want to do a record, when you’re ready next time.” We’re like, “Okay, definitely.” Then our management facilitated it and we got it worked out and it took a little longer than expected just because we had to work around his schedule working with the Deftones and Rush and those guys, but it worked out. It gave us enough time to let these songs breathe and to let them grow and turn into what they became so I guess it was a blessing in disguise even though it took a while.
So how have fans been reacting to the new songs live?
It’s a good response. A lot of, I mean high energy with our new material, a lot of heavier tones, which right now people are used to the live sound being heavy and high energy. We’re getting a lot of encouragement from fans. Good reviews on the record. People just recognizing that maybe we’ve come into our own and that we’re a band that deserves a chance to stick around and be heard and hopefully just be able to keep doing it.
Now how many new songs are you playing live?
Most of the new record. I mean, if we’re headlining, we’ll play the majority of the new record, a few older ones. We’ve been doing some headlining stuff but we’re also on tour with Whitesnake which is pretty cool. We’re just doing a half hour set with those guys. Those are good shows. We’re playing in front of a couple thousand people a night.
That’s an interesting combination. How did you guys get hooked up with that?
Our management came across it. But it’s a really good opportunity. They’re one of the older bands, but when I think about it, it’s like, okay, well this is actually one of the most legendary situations that I’ve been in. Even though we’ve played with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, and the bands that I love, this is one that was, this is like 80’s huge super hits stuff, Here I Go Again and Still of the Night, so it’s, we’ve gotten a real kick out of seeing this stuff live. It’s the stuff we heard when we were kids.
Are the fans for those, have the crowds been good?
The crowds are awesome. They’re really enjoying it. Our merch sales are doing real well. We’re building fans and we can’t wait to play more of those, honestly, it’s great.
Well awesome. So you guys released a video for Paralyzed and at the end there’s instrument destruction. Did everyone have one take to get it right or were there a line of guitars and whatever to smash as many times as you needed?
There was a couple extra pieces but the stuff like the drums and things like that was all one shot. That was just kind of having fun at the end of it. It’s like, take a bunch of angles of that stuff and they had plenty to work with.
It looked like it was probably a lot of fun.
Yeah, it was cool.
Did you get to smash anything?
No. If you’ll notice, the mic drops and then I walk by it. That’s about all I did at the end so I didn’t get to crush anything.
The last song on the album is actually a Pink Floyd cover, “What Do You Want From Me.” Did you plan to record a cover all along or, how did it come about?
We’ve always, here and there, played covers when we were younger growing up to get people involved at shows and catch attention but this Floyd cover we’ve been playing since before I was even in the band. We’ve been together almost 10 years. It’s actually a medley. It’s a combination of What Do You Want From Me off The Division Bell and Echoes. So two different eras and it’s been a fan favorite for as long as we’ve been playing it and it’s just one of those songs that we thought that we could pull it off. We’re really happy with the arrangement that we did. People seem to enjoy it. I don’t think it’s a situation where you’re going after a cover where you’re dooming yourself. Going after a Pink Floyd cover is probably not something that a lot of people would do, it’s one of those bands where you have to be really careful about. But somehow this rendition of this song worked out to where people, it separates itself enough from them and kind of becomes a part of us enough to where it’s accepted as something that’s pretty cool. When Nick heard it, everybody wanted to get that recorded and put it out.
Well, I will say you guys really do it justice and the fact that it’s Fall of Man into that song to end the album, to me it’s just a huge ending to an already amazing record. You know a lot of bands may start off strong and then maybe, you know what I mean?
But you guys, the entire, whoever is responsible for the track order and whatnot, I mean, from start to finish, it’s an amazing record.
Cool, thank you.
I actually picked it up at Rock on the Range and my friend and I listened to it all the way back home on repeat. So I hope you guys continue to see success from it because you should be really proud of it.
Thank you very much.
Then to you personally, for me, your vocals are very distinct and every time I hear a song on the radio I immediately know that it’s you and Red Line Chemistry and kudos to WIIL ROCK for supporting you guys…
…because they’ve been playing you guys for a long time. I actually saw you at the first time you played Rock on the Range and it was an amazing set so I’m glad to see you guys are still out there playing and whatnot. But growing up did you have certain influences vocally and if so have they changed over the years?
Yeah, I mean, it changed overtime. When I was a little kid I listened to a lot of the Top 40 stuff, 80’s Top 40 but also a lot of Iron Maiden and my older brother grew me up on Motley Crue and all the 80’s metal. Once I started getting influenced as a vocalist though, there’s bands like The Doors, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Gary Cherone from Extreme, just a lot of the bands that had some of those powerhouse singers, you know that were, singers that I could emulate or I could relate to the type of music they were playing. Those would be some of the big ones as far as influential as far as vocals.
You guys have been touring for a few months now. What has been the best moment so far?
On this run, the whole thing has been real fun. We did a handful of shows with Filter, we did some stuff with Buckcherry, but I’d honestly say this Whitesnake stuff is the funnest that we’ve done. Just with the nostalgia of it, the magnitude of David Coverdale, and seeing those guys in the flesh and they’re an amazingly talented band. The guitar players are phenomenal and they’re just still rockin’. The big crowds and the energy, that’s what we want to do is get in front of big crowds and have an opportunity to prove ourselves. That’s what we’re able to do with that so those opportunities are definitely the most fun. Those festivals, Rock on the Range, Rockfest in Kansas City, Rocklahoma, Carolina Rebellion, those are all amazing opportunities and great times. Those were some highlights as well this summer.
So, is there that one band that you would hope to tour with?
Who’s at the top of the list?
I particularly would enjoy going out with Papa Roach right now. Deftones, Alice in Chains, just any of the bands on that level. Shinedown, bands of the same, bands that are succeeding doing exactly what we’re trying to do, no matter what their music or who they are. I have a lot of respect for any of those bands that are out there making a living doing what we’re continuing to strive for as well and rubbing shoulders with those guys and getting that experience. That would be those kinds of bands.
Now are there any new bands that you’re listening to?
They’re not exactly new but Karnivool from Australia, they’re great, they just put out a new record. Heaven’s Basement, we toured with them, they’re awesome. I don’t know, we’ve been so focused on getting our new record done and playing our shows that I haven’t had a lot of time to get into a bunch of new music yet, but I just got Spotify Premium for my phone so I’ll be able to spend plenty of time checking out new stuff.
So I wanted to go back to the new album really quick. For me, Fall of Man is probably my favorite song. Can you tell me the story behind it?
That song was actually written before the last record came out it just didn’t make the record. It worked out because it fit better on this record. I mean it’s called Tug of War for a reason because half of it’s kind of hard aggressive and the other half has got some epic stuff to it. That song is really just an observation of the state of affairs, apocalyptic views. It talks about the unemployment, all the soldiers overseas fighting to come back home, just kind of the state of things as they are and they’ve kind of been the same for the last five years or so. That’s kind of when that song came out, or when I put it together anyway.
Now are you the sole lyric writer?
Large majority. I come up with the lyrics and then it will go through a microscope process just like everything else does. That song in particular I did write the lyrics and that was one I wrote on my acoustic. There’s been a few songs here and there that I will bring to the band or what have you and then they put all their instrumentation and they put all their vibe on it and make it was it is.
So here at Unsung Melody we like to end with a random question. I know people feel pretty strongly about this topic in general, but where is the best place for BBQ in Kansas City?
Best place for BBQ. You know, that’s a tough question. Oklahoma Joes, Zarda, I like ‘em all, really. Gates is great, Jack Stack, those are probably the top four.
I’m looking for an excuse to go to Kansas City and I keep asking people, “What’s the best BBQ place to go to?”
There’s plenty of it. I’d probably go with Zarda, for me, their pulled pork sandwich is amazing.
Well cool. Alright, well thanks for taking the time to speak with me and best of luck with everything.
Thank you very much.
Preview or purchase Tug Of War below:
Red Light Chemistry – Paralyzed: