By D. Beall There’s been quite a bit of buzz around Red Sun Rising, and for good reason. It’s partially because they kick ass at what they do and partially because of their aggressive indie marketing skills. Having opened for bands like Shinedown, Seven Mary Three, Days of the New and Sponge doesn’t hurt either. Buzzbin talked to guitarist/songwriter Ryan Williams who, along with dynamic vocalist Mike Protich, Mark Jendrisak on drums and their brand-new bass player Mitch Bandel, makes up alternative rock/metal get-on-board-now-because-these-guys-are-going-somewhere group Red Sun Rising. Their influences include A Perfect Circle, Tool, Metallica and Soundgarden, which we talk about for a while. “We’ve always called it alternative rock/metal,” said Williams. “We’re not screaming at you or anything but we’ll definitely throw you some 16th-note straight distorted riffs at you with some double bass every once in a while.” The current incarnation of the band came together about three years ago. “I met him (Mike Protich) at a gas station, believe it or not,” he said. “We had known each other in high school, but never talked—he was younger than me.” At the time, they were looking for a singer with the right attitude and great pipes. “A lot of people try to emulate other singers. We wanted somebody that had their own sound,” said Williams. “We held these crazy auditions, I’m talking like American Idol-type, people were getting dropped off by a bus thinking they were gonna spend multiple days with us. It was weird. I had a guy who called me every half an hour until I had to tell him to quit. I approached Mike and he was saying, ‘Well, I’m more of a guitar player’. I didn’t really want that”. Eventually, though, Mike Protich realized he was a singer, and joined the lineup. The band had worked for years before that to find their sound and direction, originally including more of a left-leaning antiwar stance, which is where their name comes from. “We thought we were going to go in a more political direction. A while ago, it seemed like everybody was so focused on that. There were two different wars going on, all our friends were leaving for Afghanistan or Iraq, so we were writing a lot of music about that,” said Williams. After a while, however, that changed. “Our music became more about everything. But the term Red Sun Rising comes from the old saying, ‘Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning’—it meant there was a storm coming.” Their self-titled record has been doing well; the single off of that to check out is “Beautiful Suicide”. The video for “Beautiful Suicide” is hellaciously professional for a bunch of Akron dudes. Mike Protich makes for a kickass frontman, quivering all over the screen like Joe Cocker. There are a few things that make the band different from your usual mainstream alt-metal group. “We get put in that genre a lot because of the vocals, but we’re kind of a big throwback band in a way,” said Williams. “We do a lot of guitar solos, let the drums rip up when we can—we’ve always been influenced by guys that can just fucking play, like Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Metallica.” Some of the band’s biggest challenges include keeping the band on the same path. “We’ve gone through six drummers. It seems like the least committed drummers we could get were the best drummers, and the most committed were the worst,” he laughed. “But Mark is sort of the best of both worlds, so that’s cool. Everybody who’s ever been in a band can watch an episode of ‘Metalocalypse’ and laugh. People are different, you know; you’ve gotta keep it together.” Over jobs, girlfriends and parties, the band comes first. “It can be frightening to have the feeling that you can walk out on things that are very concrete for you, and walk out in midair and possibly fall,” Williams said. “But we do that because we love it.” The new album is called the Making of Kings. They’ve just finished it up and it’s getting mastered right now. “The last record we had was us just spending a couple of years trying to make a record, and we eventually took the best songs we had and made it, while this one is just putting our best foot forward, defining our sound and making what I hope is going to be a great record,” he said. I ask him to expound on his musicianship and why the hell there isn’t more rock in mainstream rock. “I talked to a friend of mine who used to play in the ‘80s, and he said you know you had to have the guitarist and the frontman or your band wasn’t going anywhere,” Williams said. “Personally, I always feel like the guitar solo is my chance to say something in a song; I write lyrics, but I don’t get to express those live, so the solo is my opportunity to say what I want to say. I like to make it a part of the song. A lot of bands don’t do it anymore because they think the hook is more important than anything. Then there’s a lot of underground bands that are just destroying [in a good way] guitar, so it seems like it’s coming back.” We talk extensively about raw deals and record company sharks. Williams makes it clear that, for him at least, being able to live doing what he’d like to do without having to work at Burger King on the side is all he really needs. They work hard, and they deserve it. “I don’t want to get a deal and then to be sitting there years from now and think, ‘Man, if I would’ve gone to college and been some kind of corporate lackey I’d be better off.’ It’s not 1985 anymore. It’s not like we’re going to play a show, and somebody’s going to see us and we’re going to get a million-dollar deal. It just seems like since the Internet has made the world such a small place that there’s free advertising, people want to hear new music. We want to get to the point where when we are dealing with a record label, we’ve already created a working business model, rather than saying, ‘Hey, we’re a bunch of raw talent, mold us into whatever you think you want us to be.’ We wanna do things on our own terms in that respect.” There’s another thing that sets Red Sun Rising apart—they’re rabid about their fans. “We want that when people come, they not only hear the music, they might see something visually and hopefully by the end we have a connection,” said Williams. “I always have this dream that if we were to ever get famous, we’d come back here and do free shows.” We’ll hold you to it. In the meantime, get over to the Akron Civic on December 10 for the Making of Kings release show. Opening is Catera and Jet Packs On.