Red Sun Rising

Red Sun Rising are at the forefront of a rock revolution. Amid a sea of familiar names on rock radio, the Ohio band has managed to break through and snag two No. 1 rock hits in “Emotionless” and “The Otherside,” both off their 2015 release, Polyester Zeal. The guys proudly rock a classic sound with mighty guitars, commanding vocals and catchy melodies.

“We like the guitar solo with the big vocals, and the ‘60s and ‘70s vibe, too,” guitarist Ryan Williams told Williams and vocalist Mike Protich are both Gibson players, opting for the Les Paul. Can you blame them? They sat down with me to talk about the state of modern rock music, social media and why they rely on Gibson guitars.

Not many new rock bands have been able to break through the charts like you guys. “Emotionless” and “The Otherside” are both rock radio hits. Why do you think listeners have embraced Red Sun Rising?

Red Sun Rising

Williams: Maybe for the same reasons that we like the music that we play. We’ve always had this philosophy that we don’t write for anyone else. We just write what we like, and I think we’re bringing something to the table that maybe hasn’t been popular on radio in a while.

Protich: I think there are a lot of holes in rock music, as far as what was on the radio and what was popular. It started to seem formulated. You couldn’t tell what band was singing what song anymore. They all really started to sound the same. The way we were writing is like the music we grew up on— bands that were a little more thought-provoking and put a little more time into their songs rather than just throwing together a melody and words that would rhyme. Make sure your songs say something and mean something. I think that was missing a little from rock radio.

You guys are really active on social media. How do you use socials to interact with your fans?

Protich: We were independent for years. Social media was the only thing we had, because we didn’t have radio. Thankfully, we grew up in an era where you could connect with people individually via the Internet. It continues to grow. Now that we do have radio and there are these people coming because of all these different outlets and opportunities we have, we can keep them and connect with them through social media. I think it’s important, because people kind of get to know you. They come to shows, and it’s pretty crazy how many people you do get to know online. You realize people that are commenting on a lot of things, and you meet them at a show, and you go, “Oh, yeah, that’s you? That’s awesome! I see your comments all the time.” We do try to stay as active as possible, and it is important, because without the fans, there wouldn’t be us.

Red Sun Rising

Let’s talk guitars! You both rely on Gibson Les Pauls on the road and in the studio. What makes Gibson your guitar of choice?

Williams: We grew up working in music stores, so we got exposed to gear constantly. Gibsons are musical. A lot of the modern guitars are over compressed. You can hear the dynamics in the individual picking, but if you strum a chord, it gets lost into one chunky note. Gibson, to me, is a like a breath. You hit a chord and strum through it and every note rings through, whether it’s distorted or not distorted. It’s thick and filled with tones and versatile.

Protich: Not to mention that working at guitar stores, guitars would come in, and we’d play on old, vintage Gibsons. They mature over time and get better. When you buy a Gibson, you’re not just buying a guitar. You’re buying a lifetime partner that’s going to get better with you. That’s cool, as well.

Red Sun Rising

Williams: They change as they grow. I feel like each one has its own character, and once you grow into it, it’s an extension of your sound. My Les Paul Studio isn’t a super expensive guitar, but as it’s grown with me, it’s become the guitar in the studio that when I have racks of things, I’ll go through everything, and I’ll go back to that guitar.

What does the rest of the year look for you guys?

Protich: We’re going to be finishing up the rest of the year touring. We’re doing a rally cool tour with Pop Evil and 3 Doors Down. We’re always writing. Up until now, the two of us have pretty much written everything, but with this lineup, these guys are slowly interjecting themselves and bringing us new ideas, and it’s re-inspiring us working off their ideas. There are plenty of ideas in the hopper, but we’ve been touring so much, we haven’t really had time to get together as a band and hash it out. But we will.

Red Sun Rising

Photo credit: Anne Erickson