After eight years, two EPs, two albums and countless shows across the country, Red Riders are about to call time on their career with farewell shows in Melbourne and Sydney. The shows will bring a close to a group that, from very early on, were weighed with many expectations; some that were delivered and some that have gone unfulfilled. It also sees founding member Adrian Deutsch rejoin the band for the first time since his departure in early 2008.
Deutsch’s fellow founding member Alex Grigg talks through the highs and lows of life in Red Riders, the decision to split and what’s next.
Music Feeds: Looking back on the eight years of the band, what were some of the highlights?
Alex Griggs: A lot of them happened early on. You know, everything’s really exciting because it’s happening for the first time. Our EP launch at the Hopetoun was such a high. I think that was the fastest sell-out in the Hopetoun’s history. The Franz Ferdinand tour was one of those things now, looking back, that was great. Getting to play at a place like the Hordern as well was a milestone. I think we’ve played pretty much every size venue up to the Hordern. We’ve played with bands I adore like The Shins. Another one was the co-headline tour we did with Dappled Cities, particularly the show we did at the Metro. There’s also lots of little experiences that we’ve had as part of being in a band, meeting a lot of people; the kind of things that enrich your life.
MF: There was a lot of buzz surrounding the band when you first appeared and a lot of expectation. Was that also the feeling in the band? Were you ambitious?
AG: One of the worst things for us was (starting out) it was that time of The Strokes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and, more specifically, The Vines here. They kind of came out of nowhere and their first album went huge. As ridiculous as that seems now, they were kind of our hopes. We did have a lot of ambition when we started. The whole thing with Red Riders was that we wanted to write good songs. We were never like an art rock sonic terrorist band. It was always meant to be about catchy tunes. In retrospect, its not that I wouldn’t be ambitious, I think it’s good to want things from a band and take it seriously. But often you get to a point where you’re so ambitious, no matter what you achieve it’s never good enough. With Red Riders we’d do all this great stuff and it’s only now that we’re stopping and looking back and realising we did a lot of great things and had so many high points and so many great moments that people in other bands would love to have. But because our ambitions were so much bigger everything kind of felt like [half-heartedly] “oh yeah”. Whereas being in a band like Straight Arrows, it’s totally fun and anytime anything good happens it’s mind-blowing. It’s so funny to have a different mindset.
MF: Did you ever contemplate a move overseas?
AG: We went to SXSW last year and played shows in New York and LA. There was label interest but it was a bad time financially over there so it didn’t happen. I’ve never really had much holding me here but the other guys had long-term girlfriends and stuff. Maybe if a label was interested in us overseas and there was a real reason to go, we would have gone. Maybe if we’d had that initial incentive to go, we would have gone and tried that.
MF: How did you come to the decision to call it a day?
AG: Matt kind of left the band about a year ago to go and do his Masters of Business and have a grown-up life. Tom and I started writing songs and demoing them, thinking a third Red Riders record. Then Brad got busy with The Vines again. In just the last six months or so we got a couple of other guys in and started playing. We kind of started thinking ‘well this is really good but it’s not the band that we started’.
I’m a real stickler. Even when Adrian left I was really close to saying ‘we’re done’ because I like bands and I like when a band is the same band from when it started and I don’t want people to come and see the band and it be a different line-up everytime. It’s just a step up from being a covers show. Playing these new songs with Tom and these other guys is great but it’s not Red Riders and it’s not what our initial thing was. It’s not like we make a living from it and if we split, our lifestyle would change drastically. A lot of stuff is gonna stay the same. It’s easy to make those ultraistic decisions when your life isn’t riding on it.
MF: After these last shows, what is the band planning on doing musically?
AG: Adrian’s already done a solo record. He’s got another one recorded and ready to come out pretty soon. Brad’s started to get busy with The Vines again with their new record. Matt’s doing his band Peppercorn. They’ve played a couple of shows and Adrian’s recorded them. Tom and I are starting a new band called Palms and we have a show booked for July. It’s fairly quick turnaround. All the stuff we’ve been writing for the new Red Riders is now for Palms and we’ve been recording with Adrian as well. I want to do some more recording with Owen again for Straight Arrows.
What do the songs you’ve written for Palms sound like?
AG: It’s still indie rock but its not as melodramatic, the songs are really simple. They’re more of a melodic thing as opposed to a poppy sort of thing. That’s another factor I guess in why we decided to stop. We kind of thought ‘how could we play these new songs alongside A.S.P.R.I.N. or alongside the other songs?’ It just wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to us. So all the stuff that we were writing for the third Red Riders record has become Palms. If people want to come and see us because of something we did in the past with Red Riders, then there’s not really much point in having a new band.
MF: How are rehearsals coming along for the last shows?
AG: Stuffs coming back a lot more easily than I expected. I felt like it would take us forever but you have so much muscle memory. Adrian’s coming only to Sydney. He’s going to do any of the songs that he recorded; so stuff from the first two EPs and Replica Replica. Then we’ll do a few of his songs as well. There’s a lot of goodwill about between us all.
MF: Are you looking forward to playing with Adrian again?
AG: It’ll be cool having him back. I never wanted him to leave in the first place.
MF: What’s the idea behind these last shows?
AG: I think mainly the whole thing with these shows is for us to put it to bed. To be able to think that was a moment in you life and now it’s done instead of just hanging around over your head. We didn’t have to advertise. We just did it through Facebook. We were just going to do Sydney at first. Our booking agent told us that we could probably do Melbourne as well. We thought, because we don’t know a lot of people down there that it wouldn’t work but both cities sold out in about a week. I think they’re both going to be different shows. Sydney’s going to be more like a house party because we’ll know half the people there. Whereas Melbourne, we’ll know a few people but there’ll be a load of people there just because they like the band. I’m kind of looking forward to being in Melbourne and not just seeing a sea of faces I know.
Red Riders farewell Melbourne on Friday night at The Northcote Social Club and Sydney at Oxford Art Factory on Saturday 18th of June.