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On the Ranch

by Anya Zinn / 14.11.2013

This week sees the release of the debut album from Cape Town-based rock band, Red Huxley. The album was recorded at the world renowned Rancho De La Luna Studio in Joshua Tree, California earlier this year after the band raised the dollar for the trip through a Kickstarter campaign. The album was produced by Eagles of Death Metal guitarist, Dave Catching, mixed by Mathias Schneeburger and Red Huxley, and mastered in Los Angeles. Before the launch party at Assembly tomorrow night, we had the chance to chat to the boys from the band.

MAHALA: You guys have played on some of the biggest stages alongside some of the biggest names in the South African music industry, as well as released a music video, EP, and soon your first album that was recorded in Dave Catching’s studio. From starting off practising in a bedroom in 2009, it seems like things have escalated quite quickly for Red Huxley – has it felt that way?

RED HUXLEY: Yes, it definitely has. Especially as when we started out it was more for the fun of playing music. Then the Loeries Battle of the Bands came along, we decided to give it a shot and after managing to win the thing and using the prize to get our music out to the world for the first time, things started growing from there. We are really stoked with the way it’s gone and still can’t quite believe that we have recorded an album with Dave Catching in his studio in Joshua Tree, California! It’s been crazy busy and we’ve been working really hard to make things happen – the release of the album will make it feel a bit more real and now that we have something more physical to share with people, we hope that translates and helps us grow further.

Let’s talk about your expedition to America – it must have been quite surreal. What was the most impactful or memorable moment for each of you throughout that episode?

Dylan – Playing the guitar Josh Homme played on QOTSA’s ‘Make It Wit Chu’. That was nuts.

Murray – The brisket braai we had with everyone at the end of our stay, ending up with a colossal jam with Dave, Hayden Scott and so many more of Dave’s friends from different bands. The experience on a whole was impactful, so it’s hard to choose

Matthew – Just seeing how real everyone and everything was out there and how dedicated everyone was to create and collaborate and do cool shit. Dave really is living the way you’re supposed to: doing what he loves, with the people he loves, in the place he loves, everyday. It’s quite inspirational to be see how they do it.

On the Ranch

What was it like hanging out with Dave Catching for three weeks? Did he give you any good tips or advice?

It was like hanging out with an old friend. He is such a great guy and so welcoming that he made us feel at home in his place. As soon as we stepped onto his property, it was like knowing the dude for years We learnt a hell of a lot from him in terms of recording and how best to capture our sound on record, but also in general. He’s such a legend.

You mentioned in your Road to Rancho videos that you wrote a new song while you were at Rancho De La Luna – do you think this experience has matured you as musicians and influenced what and how you play?

Dave said it’s tradition to write a song while at Rancho, so we sat down and wrote ‘Calling Me’, which made it onto the album and we are really happy with it. It’s easy to sit down at Rancho and be inspired to write music. You don’t have any distractions and the environment that you are in is perfect for clear thoughts and decisions that are pure and unadulterated. What we realized over there, thanks to Dave and the people we were in contact with was that they were incredibly accepting of who you are and encouraged you to be yourself, and that translates when you are creating something unique and different from anything else. We have Rancho to thank for bringing that out of us. There is talk about a musical force out there, and judging by the amount of cool music that has come out of that place, the people who are there and the general vibe, it’s hard to ignore that it exists.

Being recognised and backed by one of the greatest names in rock ‘n’ roll such as Dave Catching must have had serious ramifications on your career path. Any new opportunities presented themselves as a result of it?

We did get a lot of advice from the people that we met on our trip. Once the album is launched we will be spreading it far and wide and acting on the things we heard (oh and holding thumbs for an Eagles of Death Metal support slot). We’ve just gotta keep working hard to make things happen and promote what we’ve created and try and share the experiences we’ve had with people along the way.

Red Huxley

Is the final idea to move into international waters?

We would love to get our music all over the world. After seeing the size of the music industry over there and the potential to grow further, it’s a no-brainer to try and make it over there, but speaking to Dave, which was a little weird to hear, he suggested trying to break in Europe first as from his experience, it’s easier to tour the US with the backing of another continent. He told us that QOTSA and EODM have taking years to be able to pull off a country wide tour and to get the deserved support and that their biggest audiences are still in Europe, and South America. Think we’ll try Europe first.

What are your views on the music scene in South Africa – specifically rock?

I think it is a great scene if you know where and when to play. The crowds really do know how to rock out and there are quite a few bands flying the rock flag pretty high and proud these days which is rad. But there is no lie that it does feel somewhat limited and being in America showed us that even bands there know the only way to ‘make it’ is to work hard and constantly tour, whether that is inside or outside of your country.

Tell us about the process of making a new song. Is it a collaborative effort or is it usually one or the other who comes in with a pretty set idea of how a new song is going to sound?

Its always different. It can spark from one random riff and the song will be done by the end of band practice, or one of us will work on a set idea until its ready for the band but then there is always a collaborative effort in fine tuning the songs. I think that’s how you make the song sound like the band and not like that person’s solo project song. Making music (especially music that is played live) is something that happens between people, and if everone playing the music is involved in creating it, the feel of it is generally better.

What can we expect from this upcoming album?

A bit of old, a bit of new but all of it is recorded right and is something we can confidently say we are proud of. It’s been 3 years in the making since we started and lots of things have changed and shaped us. So it’s a good sum up of our total growth as a band. It captures the last three years on record.

On the Ranch

Would you guys record the next one in America, too? Make it a tradition?

Well just before we left Dave said ‘Guys, when you come for the second record, you’ll have to stay longer’. And then we all laughed. It would be insane if we could do Road To Rancho V2

What’s next on the horizon for Red Huxley?

Becoming a full time touring band. Touring South Africa and overseas and then of course the second album. Hopefully we play alongside some more legends along the way and continue to be as lucky as we have been in the past. We’ll have to keep our heads down and try make things happen.

Drink of choice?

Whiskey on the rocks and beer. Lots of beer.

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