Songwriter Interviews

Joe Rickard of Red

by Dan MacIntosh

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There are many motivations for creating music. For instance, some artists will tell you they're all about creating their art, and if people dig it, great. If they don't get it, well, it's no skin off their nose. Then there are artists or groups that are intensively in touch with their fans. The hard rock band Red is just such a group. As drummer Joe Rickard explains it, these musicians take what their fans tell them on Facebook seriously, and use these interactions to inspire songs. They sincerely want to know where their fans need emotional support, and then go about writing songs to address these needs.

Guitarist Anthony Armstrong was originally scheduled to do this interview, but an act of God (or more likely, a scheduling conflict) left him unavailable, so Rickard took his place.
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): Joe, how long have you been in the group?

Joe Rickard: Since '08. Four and a half years.

Songfacts: So you're been a part of the major songs that I wanted to talk about. Now, do you get involved in writing the songs?

Joe: I do. Actually, I write a lot. I'm pretty heavy into lyrics and stuff like that. I always wanted to, so I kind of got into it with this band. We all write together. We all get to say what we want to say, it's kind of nice.

Songfacts: Did you get involved in the Innocence and Instinct album?

Joe: Actually, I just played drums on that. I wrote some on Until We Have Faces, and I wrote a whole lot on our new album. Innocence and Instinct, that was kind of like my start with them. I was just basically hired to play drums on that record, and I ended up staying with them after that. But I was around through that whole process.

Songfacts: Did you contribute to "Lie to Me"?

Joe: I did.

Songfacts: Tell me a little bit about how that song was written. Do you recall the experience?

Joe: Yeah. That song started with a drum beat that I did just by myself at this little studio. I sent it over to my guitar player, Anthony Armstrong, and he just wrote this awesome riff and the song started building. Then he had this concept, he wanted to write a song called "Lie to Me" about being in some kind of relationship and you just don't want to be hurting anymore, and you want that person to basically say to you that they never did love you. You want them to do that so you can feel like this is what's right, instead of having that pain that you can't get rid of. That's kind of where that song originated.

Songfacts: It's interesting, because even though you as a band are pretty outspoken about your Christian faith, the whole idea of being lied to, it crosses spiritual boundaries. It's something that everybody knows the experience of. Do you find that even people that enjoy the band that may not share your religious beliefs can relate to a song like that?

Joe: I think that's a song that can relate to a lot of people - anybody that's been in any kind of relationship where they have been heartbroken or hurt. I guess we're just trying to find a positive out of something like that. That was the main goal of that song. It was something that was negative - the girl that broke your heart - that left you to find a positive, and just have faith in God.

We want to write stuff for our fans that can really mean something to them. We get on our Facebook page a lot and ask people what they want us to write about. We want to see what's hurting people, why they're calling out to us, what they need. We're there for our fans.

Songfacts: That's interesting that you say that you ask them on Facebook. What kinds of things have they been asking for you to write about recently?

Joe: This is pretty cool. We had this one girl, she wrote us and basically she had been bullied really heavily in school. She was bullied every day, she couldn't even do it anymore. She couldn't go to school - I mean, she was going to kill herself. She was just done with life. She was like 13 or something and kids were just being so mean. It's terrible, man. It's so terrible. And it can just ruin somebody's life. The fact that she would want to kill herself over that fueled some stuff for me as far as writing.

She said that we saved her life, that our music saved her life, gave her hope. Something like that is so powerful. That makes me feel like our band has succeeded. We saved some girl's life, that's intense. That was a really cool story that's always kind of stuck out to me.

Songfacts: Have you written a song concerning bullying yet?

Joe: We attempted it a little bit, but it didn't turn out. I still want to do that. It was for the new record. It's got to be perfect, man. It's got to be right, and the lyrics have got to be right. And I think we just need more time to sit on it. I think that would be something good and it could be positive, because I know there are so many thousands and thousands of kids out there that deal with that every day. And I would love to touch on a subject like that, something deep, and give them hope and let them know that school is not the end, that their life will be okay, that they can live on and be fine.

Songfacts: Do you think that your band is unique in that you are so responsive to what your fans ask for as far as songs?

Joe: I don't think it's very common. There are some bands out there that do it. But I feel like we're really in touch with our fans. Not every band is. If you're a bigger band, then I could see it getting harder. We're not like TobyMac or Casting Crowns or something.

But, at the same time, they're still great people that still reach out to their fans. But I can see it getting harder because you have more fans to respond to. That's something that we enjoy. We have Winter Jam coming up and we'll be going out every day after the show and signing autographs and meeting kids. We want all these people to come up and talk to us. I want somebody to come up, and if they're having a problem, whatever it is, just come up and ask me about it, and I will take as much time as they need to talk to them. That's our goal. We're there to help people, help kids. Inspire them.

Songfacts: Now, you were saying that you have a new album. Is it an album that is on its way out soon?

Joe: We have released the title and we have released the date. It comes out February 5th, so it will come out during Winter Jam. And it's called Release the Panic. And we literally just released the name of it last week.

Songfacts: And I know you're so close to it still, but can you give me a general idea of what some of the themes are that it covers?

Joe: Yeah. It's called Release the Panic, and it's kind of a double meaning. The first meaning is somebody that's not a Christian that doesn't have that security of it's okay to die. It's like that moment when you're laying in your death bed and you're like, 'Oh, crap, I'm not immortal. I'm going to die.' And you just panic, because you're like, 'What did I do with my life? Where am I going after this?' You just have this panic moment. And a lot of the songs on the record touch about life and death and things like that.

And then the other meaning is to release the panic and let it go. Because it says in the Bible to not worry. And that's what we want to encourage in all of our fans, to not worry about things, to not panic over silly things. Don't panic if you're out of money or if you're out of this or that, because if you just ask God, he'll always help you.

January 16, 2013. Get more at redmusiconline.com.
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Comments: 1

  • Juan Solares from St.george UtahJoe, I wanna become peofessional drummer. I started playing at 12 and I got my drumset. A year later after I learned I staryed to play at chrch. can you give me tips on how to get better? Heres my email. juansolares_1998@hotmail.com
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