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INTERVIEW: CARLTON “BUBBA” McMICHAEL – May 2018

According to a recent press release: “Richmond, Virginia-based rockers Red Reign are ready to unveil a brand new video, for one of the standout tracks from their self-titled EP – “Red Reign.” Specializing in a sound that recalls vintage rock and metal acts of the mid to late 80’s, the striking video and rocking song are a perfect representation of this fast-rising band. “The song ‘Red Reign’ is about when a person is so pissed off and overwhelmed, that the anger is finally unleashed,” explains the band’s singer/guitarist, Carlton “Bubba” McMichael (who is also joined in the band by guitarist Stevie Shred, bassist Larry Moore, and drummer Sammy Lee). “It was really great working with Tim, Monica and the whole team at Aisthesis Productions on this video as they were able to capture the bands attitude and stage presence. We look forward to working with them again on future projects”.”  We got Carlton “Bubba” McMichael on the phone to discuss the bands latest video, EP, influences, and much more…

Toddstar: Well, let’s talk about Red Reign. It’s been a little while since the EP came out. So you guys just put a video out for the lead track, “Red Reign”.   Tell us about the video, how it came together. And the meaning behind the visuals and everything involved with the video itself.

Bubba: Okay. Well, we had put out the lyric video for “Not That Way”, and we were talking about another video to do. And this time I said, “This time, why don’t we do a real video?”  So, we went around with the idea and what song we were going to put on it. Actually, we were thinking about “Toxic at Birth”, then we decided on “Red Reign”. And we thought that would be a good one, easy to do and to get the thing out there and the point in the last show. So we just did a live setting. And the people that did the video, they wanted to get this location and it was by the river with the storm coming in and all that stuff. It was really cool. It came out really good, so we were real pleased with that. So we just wanted to do like a live video kind of thing.

Toddstar: As someone who creates music and when you’re putting the thought process together when you’re writing all these songs, what’s the difference for you as a performer to have live performance video versus a lyric video? Does it matter to you as long as the music is getting out there or do you like the visual?

Bubba: A little bit of both, I think. I really like getting the music out there. The visual’s important as well. Because we come out there, we have a lot of fun, we enjoy it, we get into what we do. I think that shows in the video. I hope I answered your question good.

Toddstar: Well, you mentioned that you had the “Not That Way” lyric video – that is one of my favorite songs on the EP.

Bubba: Mine too.

Toddstar: On that EP, what was the thought process, again, digging back a little bit? It’s been about a year and a half since you guys put that out independently, sometime around November 2016. Some of the tracks were kind of re-recordings or re-releases for you guys. Was there a reason for that? Or is it that you guys just wanted to tighten it up and freshen it up a little bit?

Bubba: You hit it on the head. We released our first album called Chasing Shadows. And when we did this, it was me, Larry and Sam. And we went in and we produced it ourselves, we took a lot of liberties ourselves in doing it.  And when we were writing these songs, I would come in with the ideas and these guys would form them together.  And we always ended up with a good foundation for the song.  And we had the verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus-type thing going on. And we put it out there and after we started to get a little bit of response from it, we decided “Hey, we need to get this thing heightened up a little bit.” More of a friendlier feel, because we were taking a lot of liberties with guitar. Because I was doing a lot of crazy solos and stuff like that. So, Chip (Ruggieri) took interest in us, so he led us to our producer David Ivory. And David is phenomenal with this stuff. And he rearranged some songs – he helped out with a lot of the writing, trying to bring the song more together, adding some parts to it, so it would be more of a complete song. So, they were re-recording, but we did it to give it more of a flair, more of a completeness. And now, they’re really songs. I’m not saying they weren’t before, but they were like a foundation and David helped fill the foundation. He built the house for us.

Toddstar: Gotcha.  Now on that EP, you closed it out with the lone new track “What is Love For?”  In my closing line of my review of the EP, was that it was a ‘nice indicator of the current sound and the trajectory of the band.’ Does that still stand true? I mean, do you guys have some new music coming? And in that same vein of “What is Love For?”

Bubba: We do have some new music coming. I’ve got a lot of new stuff coming out. Well, here we go again, I’m putting together the foundation so we’re still working through a lot of the arrangements. Hopefully we can get something out this year. I hope, but like I said, we’re still working through a lot of arrangements and stuff. Is it in the vein of “What is Love For?”, eeh, maybe one or two? That’s a good song. It was originally, from the first album it was called “Crystal Ball” and we went back and we changed the lyrics and we kind of kept some of the same on the music, but we emphasized a little on it.

Toddstar: Earlier we discussed “Not That Way”, and you mentioned that was one of your favorites. Is that more the vein that you like to stay in – the kind of back to 80’s L.A. rock with the riffs, pings, and squeals?

Bubba: Yes. I definitely want to do that. I’m a big fan of The Cult and bands like that. I love straight ahead bands like AC/DC and The Cult and stuff like that. Stuff that grabs you. And that’s kind of where I want to go. Not to mention Van Halen. I think everybody’s influenced by Van Halen. That straight ahead rock that grabs you right off the bat, that pulls you in. So, that vein. Even with Red Reign, it’s hard and heavy and right at ‘ya. You know?

Toddstar: Right. Well, you’ve mentioned a couple. You mentioned Van Halen, AC/DC, The Cult you threw in there a couple times. But if you had to call the list of five, Bubba, who would you say are your five main musical influences?

Bubba: I’ve got such a broad, broad list of influences because I’ve been influenced by so many different styles and types of music. But I’ll say the one band that really pushed me into playing guitar and really wanted me to go out and do it was KISS, of course. And then you’d have KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Foghat … gosh, so many!  I’m a big fan of R & B music too, Rick James, stuff like that. So, I’m way out there.

Toddstar: Gotcha. Looking back, again, you had some releases out there. You guys do some touring, you do some shows. In your mind, what’s the best thing about being a musician?

Bubba: The escape. Being a writer and playing guitar, it’s like an escape. It’s a way to bring out the inside. How you’re feeling through music, through your playing, through what you’re saying. That’s my love. Something that I love to do. For me, it makes me feel complete. To write a song, and to achieve writing a song and making it work with a bunch of great guys that I have.

Toddstar: If you weren’t a musician, what would your dream job be, Bubba?

Bubba: Wow, my dream job. That’s a hard one. I like what I’m doing now. I work in the graphics art field. I match colors all day, but I don’t know. My dream job would probably be… I don’t know. I don’t know, I like the outdoors, man. If I could be a fisherman all my life, that would be cool.

Toddstar: There you go. There’s a dream job, man. If you could pick any one album that influenced you to be where you are today that you could also be a part of, what would that album be and why?

Bubba: Just an album, one album. Man. Just to play the lead on a Kiss album would be awesome.

Toddstar: I’m a life long member of the Kiss Army, so you’re preaching to the choir.

Bubba: Awesome. When I first started to play, this is crazy. When I started playing an instrument to begin with, it was ukulele and I started to learn some of the Kiss leads on ukulele. I was like eight years old. And then I started playing acoustic guitar, then started taking lessons and then carried on from there. Started writing on my little songs and stuff.

Toddstar: So, do you prefer Ace Frehley or is there a different guitarist from Kiss that you emulate?

Bubba: Ace is not bad. He’s not. I love guitar players like that. He’s not real, real flashy, but some stuff he is. I like Vinnie Vincent, but I don’t know. It’s like they didn’t let Vinnie Vincent go if you listen to Vinnie Vincent on the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and then you listen to him playing with Kiss. It was like they were you could only do but so much, you know. But I’ll always love Kiss. Like I said, it was one of my biggest influences, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, the whole crew.

Toddstar: Well, listen, I know you’re busy. You guys have some dates coming up, you’re doing August seventeenth, you’re doing a bill with Jackyl.   You have a date in Ohio on Summer Bash, featuring some good 80’s rock with Every Mothers Nightmare,  Billy Morris, and his band, but beyond that, what’s next for Red Ring? What do you guys have? You’re working on music, you’re putting like you said, a foundation together for the next release. What’s next? What do you see as the next step for your guys?

Bubba: Completing a whole album and working out all these songs. So that’s probably at the end of the year, we’ll probably do shows here and there, but I know that we’re gonna be working on a lot of new stuff. We are currently doing that now and so just building the songs up, getting a good foundation laid, and then start to work towards getting in the studio and getting things put down. That’s one of our goals right now is to get this stuff put down and release some new stuff and get it out there.

Toddstar: Sure. I appreciate you taking the time out and we look forward to the next phase from Red Reign.

Bubba: Awesome, man, it was good speaking with you, Todd.

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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