Band Interview: Redwood Ridge

Redwood Ridge Photo

Redwood Ridge are a 5 piece rock group from East Ayrshire made up of Jessica Hufton on Vocals/Acoustic, Darren McLelland on Lead Guitar, Adam McColl on Rhythm Guitar, Caroline McGregor on Bass and Stuart Robertson on Drums. I’ve reviewed Redwood Ridge’s music, and you can check that out here

So first off, how did you all meet?
Stuart (Drums), Jess (Vocals) and Adam (Rhythm) all went to school together at Loudoun Academy in Galston. From there we began going to the Thursday night Jam Session at The Eagle Tavern in Prestwick, where we met Darren (Lead Guitar). When we started the band, we didn’t have a bass player and knew no one locally that could play for us. So, through Facebook posts and “Band Members Wanted” ads, we found Caroline to be our new bass player.

Where are you all from?
We’re all from East Ayrshire. Stuart, Jess and Adam live in Darvel. Darren is from Ayr and Caroline is from Irvine.

How long have you been playing your respective instruments?
Pretty much all of us picked up our instruments in school. Either through music classes or just desire to be able to play something. But we all started roughly at the same time. I’d say each of us has been playing our instruments for at least 7 years.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
It’s difficult to put a label on what we do, our set list is really diverse. You could probably just say we’re a rock band, but there are hints of pop and country in there. With Jess at the front with her acoustic guitar you get a singer-songwriter vibe as well.

What are your influences?
Our collective influences seem to be the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, classic rock stuff. Each member has their own influences that they project into their playing. Some of the guys are into heavier stuff like Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, and you can hear odd hints of that in particular songs. But as a whole, we all seem to be on the same page about what sound we’re going for.

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
When we first started and we didn’t have very many songs, we used to add covers in to fill up the set length. Now that we have enough songs to fill an hour set, we don’t really bother adding any in. Jess does a really mean cover of “Feeling Good” in the style of Muse, but with her own twist on it. That would be our go to.

What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?
Naming the band was one of the biggest challenges we came across. Which sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. For weeks we couldn’t agree on anything. Anything we did agree on didn’t really suit the vibe of the band, so it was back to square one. Eventually we came up with “Redwood Ridge”. It doesn’t really mean anything, it doesn’t represent or carry a story. But when you hear our music and put “Redwood Ridge” on it, it just seems to make sense. It has that country-rock vibe behind it that seems to describe what we’re about. The only downside is that it becomes pretty difficult to say after a few beers.

Do you have a process for writing your songs? /Which of you writes the songs?
It’s fair to say that Jess does 90% of the songwriting. Usually she will pitch a chord progression/riff to us, we’ll then build that into an instrumental and Jess will add lyrics later. Occasionally she will come to us with a full song and we get to be a backing band for a while.

What are your rehearsals generally like?
We rehearse at Sound Magic in Ayr. It seems to be the most central point for all the band members. They are generally really laid back. We’ll practice what we need, have a laugh and chat, then head home again. Simple and effective.

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
Luckily, things have been pretty smooth and uneventful with Redwood Ridge. That being said, we have some stories of gigs with our previous bands. Like the time we went to a place in Ayr, set up all our gear, played halfway through “Sharp Dressed Man” as a sound check and got told to leave because it was too loud. Another time, Stuart was playing a gig in a pub in Newmilns. A guy walks in, buys a drink, and stands right in front of the singer, practically staring him down. Minutes later, about 8 police officers storm in, grab the man and take him outside while we are halfway through a song. Turns out he had just murdered someone in a flat down the road. Not something you see every day.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
We’ve just finished recording our debut album. We were aiming to have 10 songs completely finished in 5 days, however this didn’t quite go to plan. For the whole week, Jess had a throat infection, so vocals were impossible. We were being produced as well as recorded, so we were constantly getting given new parts to try out. Some were simple, easy changes that came quite naturally. Others were complete reworkings and took some serious work to get right. By the end of the week we were all knackered and broken, but an amazing experience nonetheless.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
You can find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram as well as our website. You can hear our music on YouTube and Soundcloud

Have you released anything yet/if they have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
No official releases as of yet. We’re still pretty new to the scene so we’re working on gigging as much as possible to gain a fanbase. Once the album is finished and we have a decent fanbase, we can start to plan promotions and an album launch. But everything is still very much in the early stages.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Our very first gig was King Tuts, which was just spectacular. We’ve also played Fanny By Gaslight in Kilmarnock and The Record Factory on Byres Road.

What do you think about downloading music online?
Downloading music is great if you’re paying for it. If everyone just download music illegally, no one would bother becoming a musician. There would be no new music to illegally download.

No matter how quick and effective downloading an album can be, you can never beat holding a physical album in your hand.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
As unsigned musicians new to the scene, we haven’t really had a chance to fully understand the industry. However, from the outside looking in, things are looking pretty grim. It’s not about the music, maybe it never has been, but now it just seems to be about money. How many tickets can you sell, how many people can you bring. Venues and promoters don’t care how good your music is, they care about how much money you can make them. There are still places out there that just want good music and want to give young/new musicians the chance to make a career. But, who knows how long they will last.


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