Red Handed Denial Interview
Red Handed Denial are a sublime, hard hitting metal band who hail from way up in hockey country Toronto, Canada. Founded a decade ago¸ Red Handed Denial have constantly challenged and evolved their sound into a pure metal masterclass. They effortlessly blend shredding guitar riffs, blistering drum beats and sensational scream and clean vocals to create a truly unique sound.
The bands latest release was the brilliant 6 track E.P. Wanderer which was released in 2016. Wanderer is a superb E.P. and its success has propelled the band onto a whole new level and has left fans desperate for new material. I recently caught up with the band to discuss Chris’s 360 air kick flip right into an audience members’ nuts, their upcoming tour and their NOW CONFIRMED BRAND NEW ALBUM!!! HOLY SHIT WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!!
“what makes the E.P. songs so unique is that for once we wrote what we wanted to without the fear of boundaries or judgement. We wanted to write songs that we could enjoy both on stage, and something we wouldn’t skip if it came on shuffle a few years from now. The songs on the EP really allowed us to say, “Hey everybody, we’re not just typical metalheads.”
1. Firstly, rather a straightforward question, how did you get into music? Was there a decisive moment or event that you remember that made you stop and think, wow, holy shit THIS is what I want to do with my life?
Lauren: I knew I wanted to be a musician pretty much since birth. I always found myself infatuated with instruments at a very young age. There was a time as a toddler, I snuck on stage at a local jazz festival and just sat at the drum kit. That was definitely a telling moment for my parents that I wanted to do something musical, so they signed me up for piano lessons. I ended up playing piano for 10 years and that’s where I learned the foundations of musical theory. I didn’t even consider singing until I was 17 when I started listening to bands like The Used and Underoath.
Chris: For myself, it was through my dad’s massive collection of vinyls since he was a DJ a while back. I learned to play guitar a bit later in my teens only because my friends band needed a guitar player. I think what made me say “I want to do this for a living” was not really a moment. It was the momentum, the connections, and the impacts I made with friends, fans, and strangers throughout the years.
Tyson: I’d say a huge contributing factor for me would be the amount of noise growing up. Back in their countries my Mom used to be a singer in a local band (I found a pic of her on stage!) and my Dad plays guitar as a hobby. I remember waking up almost every morning to the tunes of ABBA, Scorpions, Blondie, Lauper, Gypsy Kings, and many more. There were more CDs at home than kitchenware! I had always been surrounded by music but never really wanted to take it seriously until the tail-end of High School when my drumming had become proficient enough to be performed in front of a real audience.
2. All of us here at Echion Music believe that “Wanderer” is an amazing EP and shows that Red Handed Denial have crazy potential! The EP features many different influences and genres all intertwined in a unique metal way, which really packs a sledgehammer of a punch. How did this unique sound come about? Was it the intention of the band to push the boundaries of what the ‘metal’ genre could be?
Lauren: Thank you for the kind words! Even after 2 years of the EP being out, we’re still really proud of what Wanderer became and how it’s been received. The EP was truly a collaborative effort between all the band members, so naturally, many different musical influences can be heard throughout. When I approach writing, I never go into it thinking “I want this album to sound like this”... I just want to create something that sounds good and something I can be proud of.
Chris: The RHD sound came from all of our various influences and our love of many genres. Although something about “metal” holds it all together in a unique kind of way. From my perspective it was indeed an intention to push towards new boundaries.
Tyson: The seeds of each song usually stems from Chris’ mind, and each song goes through a decently extensive screening process between the members. I think what makes the EP songs so unique is that for once we wrote what we wanted to without the fear of boundaries or judgement. We wanted to write songs that we could enjoy both on stage, and something we wouldn’t skip if it came on shuffle a few years from now. The songs on the EP really allowed us to say, “Hey everybody, we’re not just typical metalheads.”
“yes we have a meaty release on the way! I’m not sure how much I’m able to reveal, but I’ll tell you anyway: Album! I can guarantee it will be worth the wait. For the fans of Wanderer, this will be a hefty step up in writing and a pleasant treat for fans and newcomers alike!”
3. “Trespasser” in particularly shows massive ambition for a band so early in your career. The guitar riffs are amazing, the drums are pounding, and the vocal performance is simply staggering, the song has a massive anthemic feel and could easily inspire stadium sized mosh pits. What is the craziest/ most unusual thing that you have seen at a Red Handed Denial mosh pit or gig in general?
Lauren: I think my favorite moment on tour was when we played in London, Ontario, and the entire green room bathroom flooded because the toilet overflowed. I opened the door to see Dom and Tyson throwing paper towels everywhere and then began to blame me about plugging the toilet (I was 100% innocent). It was just one of those moments where you can’t stop laughing.
Dominick: Craziest thing in the mosh pit...jeez that's tough. One that sticks out is at our CD release show for Wanderer. A crowd surfer dude was wearing a horse head (there's gotta be a picture somewhere floating around). Also, Chris jumping off stage and accidentally hitting someone firmly below the belt also has to count. (See below)
Tyson: In New Jersey, a cat fight broke out mid-set. Beers tossed, and hair pulled. Also, we once (twice) played at an Anime convention and it felt surreal to look around and realize we’re playing to all our favourite anime characters! At one show opening for Trivium, the fire department arrived because our band was just too hot to handle. Lastly, the strangest moment at a gig was when the elderly sound guy of the night stepped on stage during our set and was inspecting all our gear. Turns out he was looking for the vape he left on stage!
Aleksei: Chris doing a 360 air kick flip right into an audience members’ nuts. Easy. (See below)
4. Your drummer Tyson Dang is a brilliant person to follow on Twitter (also shout out to the RHD Tyson vest, it’s awesome). He recently tweeted “We have new stuff. Lots of new stuff. Please be patient. It’ll be a good year!” Does this mean that a new album/EP is on the way and we can expect it this year!?
Tyson: Thank you! I find twitter a quick way to set out tidbits and quips to lighten a day. There’s a lot of anger on the twitterverse, and I just want to contribute to the positivity this world deserves. That being said, yes we have a meaty release on the way! I’m not sure how much I’m able to reveal, but I’ll tell you anyway: Album! I can guarantee it will be worth the wait. For the fans of Wanderer, this will be a hefty step up in writing and a pleasant treat for fans and newcomers alike!
5. Coming up in August you guys have the 10 Years of Slaughter Tour with The Funeral Portrait, ANNISOKAY and I Set My Friends On Fire in your home country of Canada. How did this tour come about? Is playing in your home city of Toronto a special feeling for you as a band is it sort of like a homecoming?
Lauren: We were notified that a band had dropped off the 10 Years of Slaughter Tour and that the tour was looking for another band to join the bill for the Canadian dates, so we were lucky to be asked to hop on! I remember jamming to ISMFOF in high school, so I’m excited to relive those nostalgic moments for a week. Toronto is our home base and it’s always nice to see our friends at the shows. It’ll be cool to kick off this little run in our home town.
Tyson: The best part about playing Toronto shows is that each time there are less and less faces I recognize. I love seeing new faces every show! Lauren said it best: It’s a great way to start the tour. A nice send-off from our hometown. Super excited to join ISMFOF soon!
6. Speaking of tours, do you have any shows/tours that stay in your mind as your favourite? Do you have any favourite performances you can recall or any memorable venues you have played?
Lauren: I especially enjoyed our Eastern Canada tour run in 2017. The schedule was slower paced and we really got to enjoy our time in each city and see all the beautiful sights. We got to dive into the local food and eat tons of amazing seafood on the coast. One of my favourite venues I’ve ever played is a little place in Ottawa, Ontario called House of Targ. It’s basically a stage in the middle of a retro pinball gaming bar. The stage is on the floor and that night we packed the place out so people were right in our face. It was amazing!
Tyson: There’s always a certain charm with both Ottawa and Montreal, and honestly every show we’ve played there has been memorable for their own reasons. I think the show that stuck out the most for me was Rhode Island, NY where we played in a narrow bar with minimal setup. It was our last US date on that tour and the crowd was incredibly rowdy. It was a pleasant surprise considering the entire area was a ghost town. I forgot what holiday it was while we were in Rhode Island, but the streets were literally empty. It really felt like the entire population was contained in the bar that night. It was packed, and people stood ON the bar rails to watch us.
“It’s not too much screaming as to deter many casual listeners away, and it’s not too poppy to ward away the long-haired, bearded metal fans… It seems the best intro track to lead people with is Trespasser as it’s a healthy balance between the heavy and light.”
7. If people have never heard of Red Handed Denial before, how would you describe yourself a band? Is there a specific track which you feel best encapsulates the Red Handed Denial style?
Dominick: It really depends on whom I'm talking with. If it's someone who I'm aware has a relatively healthy understanding of heavy music and its subgenres, I'd say were a metal or progressive band with a very pop sensibility in the way we approach choruses and hooks. If the person is a complete muggle, I typically just tell them were a rock band and leave it up to them to search us out and see if they like how heavy we can be. I think the last track off our upcoming record best encapsulates our sound! You’ll be able to hear that in the near future.
Chris: I would describe us as a modern metal band, as vague as that is. It’s open to interpretation but still easy to understand. The song “Collector” is a good song to get the general idea of what we sound like.
Aleksei: I would just encourage people to any song and allow themselves to make their own impressions. We encourage people to judge our music through listening to it! We have a song on the new album that’s over 6 minutes long and it has all the musical elements that make up RHD.
Tyson: I always introduce our band as “Accessible Metal” to put things into an initial perspective. It’s not too much screaming as to deter many casual listeners away, and it’s not too poppy to ward away the long-haired, bearded metal fans. Once we get into depth I mention the bands that our fans say we sound like. It’s usually “Paramore meets Protest the Hero” or “Paramore meets Periphery”. It seems the best intro track to lead people with is Trespasser as it’s a healthy balance between the heavy and light.
“So far it’s worked pretty seamlessly and it’s been easier than I ever hoped it would be. Everyone involved in RHD and C88 are super understanding and accommodating. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. Now that both the new RHD and C88 albums are finished the recording process, I can jump into the solo album I’ve been wanting to do for a long time!”
9. The band’s vocalist Lauren Babic is a very busy person! She records solo cover tracks on her own YouTube channel and is the lead singer of not on Red Handed Denial but also CrazyEightyEight. Does Lauren’s mega busy schedule have any impact on Red Handed Denial? Have the experiences Lauren has gained from these other outlets altered the recording process or sound of Red Handed Denial?
Lauren: Red Handed Denial is and always will be my first musical endeavour, so that holds a huge weight for me. When I plan my year, I always try to plan around RHD first and foremost. So far it’s worked pretty seamlessly and it’s been easier than I ever hoped it would be. Everyone involved in RHD and C88 are super understanding and accommodating. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. Now that both the new RHD and C88 albums are finished the recording process, I can jump into the solo album I’ve been wanting to do for a long time!
10. Let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time until you hit the major major big time. However, if you had the choice now to headline any festival which would it be and why? Also when you are headlining what would the Red Handed Denial band rider consist of?
Dominick: If I had the choice and could also travel in time I'd be torn between two of my favourite festivals. Between (the now defunct) Warped Tour and Mayhem Fest, I think I'd have to stick with Mayhem. The idea of travelling around North America in the height of summer weather playing with some of the best in metal and hardcore is something of a dream to me. A dream rider though is a bit strange because none of us booze before shows (except Lauren). So the rider would probably be as follows: 12 pack of beer (we’re all pretty easy with brands), ice and water (lots of it), sushi (why not?), fresh veggies (because pizza riders are too mainstream), a TV (for Tyson and Chris to play PS4 and have zero social life) and a vape (for Aleksei to keep him occupied).
Tyson: I’ve fantasized headlining shows like Reading, Soundwave, Download, etc. Warped is out of the equation now that it’s ran its final year. I’d include towels and water. You have no idea how important those two items are. A power bar as well for the electronic devices to be charged. An unopened pack of Pokémon cards for Lauren’s collection, a can of Monster Energy for Chris. A fruit platter would be life-changing. A kijiji transaction for Dom, and a spin cycle for Aleksei.
11. Red Handed Denial have been described in many, many ways. You have been given the title of metal, Metalcore, hard rock and even pop-punk. What genre would you place yourself in if you had to choose just one?
Lauren: I think I would classify RHD under the general “metal” umbrella. We have so many different genres interlaced from song to song that I don’t think one genre name would ever completely define the band (which is one of my favorite things about the band). This enigmatic quality becomes a conversation piece for listeners and I love hearing about the different opinions people have about where we fit on the musical spectrum.
Tyson: Contemporary Pop-Thrash mixed with lo-fi chillwave with a Heavy influence of early High School trance that those Asians with frosted tips listen to. Beats to study to.
12. Finally, as we are a UK based site, are there any plans to come and tour on this side of the pond? Are there any places in the UK in particular that you would like to play a show? or simply visit?
Lauren: Yes! Touring in the UK is a personal bucket list item for me. Once we begin the new album roll-out, I can bet that we will tour in the UK. It’s just a matter of time!