Red Wanting Blue

Hello again! Katie here, and I missed you a lot. I’ve missed the conversation, and I’ve missed the
company—and I’ve missed my fellow producers. You’ll be hearing a few new voices on this blog this time around, partially because we’re just all so excited. None of us knew we were going to do a spring show until… I guess the Monday after we finished our October showcase, we realized we didn’t want it to be a year again. Another year before I hear Felipe’s laugh. Before I watch Frank sketch while someone’s playing in The Garden. A year before Zoe brushes past me with a smile. A year of only hearing Adam’s voice on the (brilliant, but maybe I’m biased) Underwater Sunshine podcast. Barbara’s “day one” and “it’s over” hugs. You know— I could list thousands of things I miss about all of these souls who’ve somehow bounced together from around the country.


But what I really want to talk about today is time travel. OK, and announce our first band, Red Wanting Blue, who MADE me time travel!

Not kidding. Because one evening in October, the Sunday after the showcase, we were still recording musicians at the house. There have been some pretty amazing surprises come out, but we were all so tired— and about to say goodbye to each other, so many of us kept congregating in hallways for last-minute hugs. I can’t remember who I was standing next to when I heard a very, very familiar voice— and song— coming from The Garden. Was this… no. Not Red Wanting Blue. Because that was a very different time in my life.


 Do you remember the first time you heard “Sympathy for the Devil”? I do. I think it was one of my formative “I want to be a writer” moments. I also love OK GO’s response, “A Good Idea at the Time.” But here’s where time travel comes in. I didn’t meet Adam until roughly 2012.

So why was it 2011 in the living room? 

Hey there, fellas. My name is Death
So when you see me coming
Better hold your breath—

Some call me the repo man ‘cause I seem to collect where ever I am
I’m often called the big finale
I’ve got a tendency for bringing the curtain down
And I can’t help my reputation precedes me
Like clouds before the storm
You’ll run for cover, believe me
And I start every conversation the same, saying…


I’d made it into The Garden in time to hear my favorite part, but not to get a good seat. You’d think the last day of seeing almost forty different bands and artists play, people would be busy showering and eating chips (*To be fair, we did have homemade tortilla chips from Dreams Aren’t This Good, so several people were very quietly trying to eat chips) but unfortunately enough of them were watching the band play that there weren’t any good seats left.

Very few songwriters have the depth and imagination to go into the darkest waters they can— and then put it in the first person. And when they do, we remember it. “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste” slides into a 2000s pop song with, “True about my taste/ True about my wealth/ But that thing about St. Petersburg? I was never there myself.” And then, stock still in a silent room, there’s Red Wanting Blue, playing “My Name is Death” —a song I actually wrote about on my old blog before I shuttered it. Frontman Scott Terry, who has personality for days on stage and off, doesn’t need the microphone to fill the large room with his booming voice: but despite being “the baddest motherfucker that you ever did see,” Terry sings most of this song with hat in hand.


Our friend Death isn’t going to say he’s not proud of his work, though. And thank God he finally explains how Keef has evaded him (*now you get a third tie-in to “Sympathy”!): Now, don’t think I’m all work and no play

Now, don’t think I’m all work and no play
I’ve just got a knack for taking people’s breath away
It’s not to say exceptions can’t be made
When the Stones wrote me a song, I cut ‘em a break
And I can’t help I’m dressed best in black
Even better than the late great Johnny Cash
And I shot more men in Reno than he ever did.

What I remembered from being there in 2011 was that I was floored at how brilliant placing his song in conversation with the greats was. Because, in literature, that kind of allusion doesn’t just tell you what the writer knows: it shows you who they want to be. Terry’s right. A little bit Stones, a little bit Johnny Cash. And though Red Wanting Blue had been active since the mid- 90s, From the Vanishing Point came out in 2011, and was my first RWB record. And there I was in 2018, right back with that feeling again.


I guess we need to go back to the future, now. Or present. I’ve always been bad at time travel. But as soon as that song wrapped, Charlie, one of our interns, turned back to me with wide eyes and said,

“You want to know what kind of music I like? (PAUSE) That.”

(I’m not going to do the math out on how old he was when the label first sent me that CD … or even how old I was…finding myself in the present is jarring enough.)

So imagine my surprise when the guys hang out for a little while and we finally get to talk. I’d been “misinformed” and told that From the Vanishing Point was their first CD and they were about to go on Letterman— only one of those two things was true. (It’s the Letterman one.) But as we started talking, I remembered all the songs on the CD in order. Terry has a distinctive, deep voice, and it comes through even in conversation. When I got home, all I wanted to do was find my copy of that record and listen to it over and over again.And then I heard that Red Wanting Blue was playing Underwater Sunshine Fest in April. And then I got told that Red Wanting Blue was playing Underwater Sunshine Fest in April.

To 2018!

I was in no way surprised to find out that a deep trawl through their catalogue results in nothing but pleasure. They’re a great rock act who know when to lean pop and when to lean country. I often have to put seven “alt-”’s in front of something I’m talking about but I don’t really have to do that with Red Wanting Blue. They’re a rock act, and a damn good one.

The Wanting kicks off with a song called “High and Dry,” which, while musically not quite equivalent, still reminds me of Doug Hopkins’s songwriting for the Gin Blossoms’ “Hold Me Down:”


Weekends in the city
We all roam like a pack of wolves
Getting drunk on blood
In the vampire club
We all want to be never ending

We've got an easy way out
There's an easy easy easy way out

I wanna stand, on my own two feet again
I wanna know, the feeling
I wanna stand, on my own two feet again
And when I mess up, when I mess up
That's when I hope my friends will pick me up



That’s a strong start to the record, because his friends, presumably, are standing next to him, getting drunk on blood in the vampire club, all trying to be “never-ending” (*which strikes me as quite different than immortal, but I’ll find a way to work that into a poetry class later so y’all don’t have to suffer). And that’s not even to touch my favorite line— “I got a lamp-post-God/ On the corner of who gives a shit.”

I think if we close our eyes and go into a dark street, we have either seen or been that person. And it’s a terrifying place to be. So how can someone who can so effectively personify evil and then write rock ‘n’ roll that kicks off new record this convincingly have the range of a band that can also write a soft (still driving) song with the delicacy and gentleness of “Survival Song”? The tempo is slowed, his voice is kind:

Now you take your nasty thoughts

Bury them in the ground

Shake your secret heart

Spread the ashes all around

What is everyone to think

We have a special life?


Terry reaches the edge of his range for the chorus (and when he pushes, the rasped notes are exquisite):


Even though you are to blame

I still feel the same

Even though you are to blame

I still feel the same

You swore things wouldn’t change

When you ran away

Even though you are to blame

I still feel the same


The guitar solo feels distant, like it’s being played back towards the earth through speakers that don’t quite travel all the way. Clear, ringing— but like there is an impenetrable space between the instruments, like the drums and the guitar aren’t even in the same world. Red Wanting Blue has been around for a long time— even longer than my time machine can take me, because I wasn’t there for the early records— but they’re one hell of a band in the right now. You can hop on the Sunmarine with us and them yourself this April.

Their home on the Web
And the book of Faces
And on the Grammmm
Plus the Tube of You