Written in Red is a modern rock band from Wyoming. While their sound is definitely of the hard rock variety, there is a definitely a slight tinge of metal (especially the 80s variety) thrown in -- especially with the pinch harmonics used from time to time. The band lists influences ranging from TFK, RED, Disciple and Stryper, to Needtobreathe and Third Day. There is also some hints of secular artists such as Three Days Grace ("The Reason"). In general, the sound doesn't really stand out amongst the influences they've named and the tracks are all pretty standard rock tunes. With that being said, Not My Home has really solid production and all of the music and vocals sound crisp. It's actually quite surprising that an indie rock band of this caliber hasn't been snatched up by a label; especially with labels losing heavy hitters such as TFK and Disciple in recent years. The sound quality of this record could be what sees the guys into the spotlight. Everything about Written in Red fits nicely into today's rock formula. From the chunky guitar rhythms, to the screaming leads, to the big drums and even the gruff vocals. It's all very melodic and packaged nicely; it's honestly perfect to a fault. While everything here sounds extremely good, it's also highly predictable. You can feel out the tracks during the first listen and figure out where they are going. This stands true for the rockers as well as the two ballads ("Hollow" clearly standing out as the superior ballad over "Yahweh"). Out of the eight total songs (ten total with an intro and an acoustic version of the title track) on Not My Home, "Pray For the Prey," "Hollow" and "We Are (Broken World)" stand out a little above the rest. If you are a fan of current modern and hard rock today, you will likely find a lot to like about Written in Red. I'd be really interested to see what these guys could pull off with some label support and a top-notch rock producer like Jason Rauch at the helm.
- Review date: 8/8/15, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Many bands are classified as "rock." Truth be told, that genre has evolved so much from whence it came, most bands resemble nothing of their heritage. Without a doubt, that is because music resembles a river more than it does a living creature. Nowadays, modern hard rock is typically what the masses would consider standard rock. But with the ever-growing presence of synth power-pop, it feels like the river is running dry. Nevertheless, there are those who are keeping rock alive; Written in Red is one of those bands. Their debut full-length release, Not My Home, is banging on all cylinders from the start. The title track is loaded with distorted rhythm and some killer lead licks. The same can be said for the entire album; it's a mass of energy. "The Reason" is an incredible anthem of action; concert-goers would find this to be the song to lose themselves in. Those seeking ballads will be pleased with "Hollow" and the worshipful "Yahweh." Both of these songs are structured well with balanced instrumentation. The album concludes with an acoustic reprise of the title track; it is fantastic and dare I say better than the original. A special note must be made on the quality of the album's recording: it's mixed and mastered impeccably. New artists seeking to record an album would do themselves a favor by seeking out that production team. While the album isn't breaking ground on anything new, it's a solid release for anyone looking for gospel-infused lyrics with pure rock music.
- Review date: 7/27/15, Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
Album length: 10 tracks: 39 minutes, 45 seconds
Street Date: June 27, 2015
Buy It: iTunes
- Intro (1:56)
- Not My Home (3:45)
- Pray for the Prey (3:52)
- The Reason (3:29)
- Hollow (4:41)
- Battle Within (3:32)
- Cry (3:51)
- We Are (Broken World) (4:08)
- Yahweh (6:35)
- Not My Home (Acoustic) (3:56)
JFH (Michael Weaver): How did you guys come together as a band?
I and Shaun Collins have been in many different bands together over the last 17 years. Around 4 years ago we hit Steven Nichols up to see if he would like to join us. He obliged and the formation of Written In Red came into being. Shortly followed by Ty Hilbert and Michael Fridley.
JFH (Michael): Written in Red is obviously a reference to the words of Jesus in the Bible, but how did the band decide on the name?
We had some other band name ideas, but Written in Red just seemed to be the one that everyone was most excited about. It is absolutely because of the words of Christ are red, but for those who have not heard God's Word it kind of gives us an "in" to introduce them to salvation.
JFH (Michael): Where is the picture on the album cover from? It looks like a small cityscape with a cross high on a mountain behind it. It's kind of a cool view.
Actually, my wife, Brittany, is a graphic designer so we get a 100% discount on all photos and graphic work (haha). With the title of Not My Home, we wanted something that showed the higher calling/purpose. With the cross prevailing over the city, it helps us remember to keep our eyes vertical.
JFH (Michael): You've played with several big groups before recording your first album. What did you take from those experiences?
Shaun Collins: I have enjoyed seeing how real and down to earth these big bands are. They are real people doing what we all love to do. The biggest thing I can take from this is that through God we are able to do big things!
Ben: It's very easy to geek out with some of them since we are huge fans of theirs and they definitely influence our sound in their own ways. But more importantly, it is encouraging to see that they want to spread the Word with their music.
Steven: It's always exciting getting to play with bands that you respect and have influence from. Getting to see how they interact with others, watching their live shows and, most importantly, spreading Christ's love to others is always exciting to witness.
Mike Fridley: It's always a blast to play out, but it's even better when you get to know the other bands and build relationships with one another.
Ty Hilbert: What I took from those experiences is to just have fun and take the moment in. It's not every day we get to open for bands like that. Dream come true.
JFH (Michael): What lessons did you learn in recording your first full-length album?
Shaun: Work with your sound engineer, learn from those around you, Have a GREAT sounding instrument, and realize that you can improve your skills very much through the recording process by learning what sounds good by itself and when it is blended.
Ben: Be prepared. Wasting time in the studio is not a good idea. Know what you want the final product to sound like and strive for it. Recordings don't lie. If it's close, but not exactly what you want, fix it.
Steven: That I am extremely picky! (haha). It is great to have so many ears on one record to hear everything that is going on. Everyone has input on tone quality, song structure, etc. All in all, it makes for a better record. One piece of advice I have for anyone going into the studio who hasn't before is have your material ready prior to getting in the studio.
Mike: When going into the studio, I learned that, beforehand, you really need to be practicing as a band quite frequently, as well as on your own, with a metronome. That way, when you hit the studio, you can spend more time on the overall sound of the record and less time trying to remember the parts you're playing or keeping in good time while tracking. Overall, though, it's a blast and there's nothing like it!
Ty: I loved being in the recording studio. Every time I'm in there, I have a chance to make something special and to put my unique musical talent on display. I learned to go in there and be myself, don't try to copy others. That is what makes some bands better then others.
JFH (Michael): I personally really enjoyed "Pray For the Prey." It has a really cool name and great sound. Can you tell about the song and influences behind it?
I went through a phase where God was giving me all sorts of lyrics and scripture to pour out into these songs. With the help of the rest of the band, we came together with great structure for the tunes. Specifically, "Pray for the Prey" started as just a cool sounding title with a strong message of praying for those who are lost and in turmoil. When the lyrics started coming out, they were very metaphorical ("Don't you know a man stands taller from his knees") and fixed on repentance and, as always, the cross ("His blood for me paid my cost no sin can last").
JFH (Michael): What is your favorite song off of Not My Home to play live?
Shaun: My personal favorite is "Cry." I love the power behind the song.
Ben: I'm with Shaun. It's my favorite to play live and it speaks to the beauty of being broken and picked up again through the Father's love.
Steven: I love the title track actually. It has some busy riffs in it and heavy breakdowns that can get anyone moving.
Mike: I love playing "Cry" the most I think. It just has that mainstream rock sound that a lot of people can appreciate and vibe with and at the same time, it's not so heavy that it scares the older generation! Lol!
Ty: I really enjoy playing "The Reason" live. Just a fun song to drum to. Has time changes and breakdowns that will melt your face off. My favorite track off the album is "We are (Broken World)." An entertaining song that will get everybody moving.
JFH (Michael): You guys are big proponents for sharing the word of God to others. What has God been showing you lately?
Shaun: God has been showing me that He is on the throne and that no matter what the circumstance He is in control.
Ben: That He's got this. I can't lean on myself or my own understanding. Through Christ, I am strengthened, I cannot do it alone.
Steven: God always continues to show how great He is to me. I'm just excited that He looks at me and wants to use me and WiR as an instrument for His glory.
Mike: God has been showing me lately that I don't spend near enough time in His word as I need to be. I'm finding out more and more, that if you continue to fill yourself up with everything but His word, that is what you will end up with. It's like the mewithoutyou song says, "A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains." Also, He has been showing me that if I'm going to truly serve Him, I need to be serving others and loving others the same way that Jesus did.
Ty: God has been showing me to be faithful to his Word, stand up for what the Bible says, and preach the gospel. Christ died to take away my sin and took the punishment I deserve. What a great message of what Christ did for us. Charles Spurgeon put it best, "The motto of all true servants of God must be, 'We preach Christ; and Him crucified." As a band, that is our goal; to spread the name of Jesus and what he did. There is nothing better in life than to preach Christ.
JFH (Michael): And the completely random question for the day… If you could bring one rock legend back from the dead to play one show with, who would it be and why?
Shaun: Well, I don't know if he's a Rock Legend, but I would love to play a show with Keith Green. He had incredible talent and a heart for lost souls like none other. I can't wait to hear him play in heaven.
Ben: Ray Charles. What a phenomenal musician. And he did it without being able to see. He literally played by feel and emotion. He wasn't a Christian musician, but you can still hear his influence in today's music: Christian and secular.
Steven: I would love to bring back Dimebag Darrell and pick his brain on the southern influence that he added to Pantera. I'm a huge fan of that southern metal influence (obviously) and would always take tips from the pros!
Mike: As far as older rockers, I would have to say mine would be Jim Croce, otherwise, most of the guys I look up to are still around or close to the same age as me.
Ty: I'm thinking the Apostle Paul, which would be a sweet show! Lol. I grew up a big Newsboys fan and was a part of their Breakfast Club. All I want is Peter Furler to go back to the Newsboys or for our band to open for him. As far as legends go, Buddy Rich would be someone I would love to watch bang on them drums one more time.