As we continue on through our jaunt through the acts of Brewtown, we today look at a band that had another identity through the noughties, but have reformed in a more modest sense. Boop-boop-be-do, it’s The Red Monroes!
Philip Fitton (Lead vocals, Guitar), Sean Alexander (Lead Guitar, B Vox), Rob Dolman (Drums, B Vox), Damien Woods (Keys, Synth, B Vox) and David Holmes (Bass, B Vox) make up this five piece that go back longer than the small time they’ve been around as the Ruby Marilyns!
Although starting the RMs just last year, Fitton has led with another band called The Risks who made a big impact themselves in the scene since they formed nearly a decade ago. Let’s take a look at that history up till now shall we?
Just to clarify, this is still an article on The Red Monroes, so I’ll keep The Risks’ stuff as brief as I can, but to start, Fitton formed The Risks back in 2005 with Alexander, Holmes and a drummer by the name of Kev until eventually getting replaced by Dolman. Kev everybody!
Originally, they were a covers band under the pretense of securing gigs but after a couple of bookings, they started writing their own material and as Dolman came in, they were performed a Fantastik 4 hybrid set of covers and originals.
Their style of music was hard indie and punk from the main musicians and with an Elvis Costello-esque vocal performance tinged with some Bryan Ferry-like vibrato from Fitton.
Vibrating so hard he may as well have DualShock printed on his body! 2:07 onwards in particular!
Highlights for The Risks included a TV appearance on Sky Sports (Kitten Pyramid level fame here!), support slots for Little Man Tate, The Futureheads and The Rascals and a gig at the 2007 Glastonbudget. Also, they performed at Liverpool’s world famous venue The Cavern Club which Fitton and Dolman were hugely proud of being big Beatles fans.
Over a successful couple of years and some well-received gigs in Nottingham and Manchester’s O2 Academy, things fizzled out for The Risks and so they decided to call it quits in 2009.
However, in 2012, Fitton, Dolman and Holmes thought it would be nice to start performing again, but a new identity was needed. And this is where the story of The Red Monroes begins!
Though they would begin writing and rehearsals around about November 2012 and through the Winter/Spring of 2013, they wouldn’t get their first official gig until June where they started out in big style, at the Victoria Inn in Derby, a regular place for The Risks to perform.
Woods was added to the line-up on synth to further develop the sound of TRM as well as some new show slots, including a return to the Wetmore Whistle (Risks popular venue again) and performing at mini festival Hilton Party in the Park in July.
Ashby’s BUNKA venue was also on the cards for July, a venue where hip hop legend Grandmaster Flash played with Jacob ‘Jaws’ Wilshaw of Raptorial!
But on topic of the article, the Autumn saw more promotion of their debut EP and two more gigs at The Vic with the first being a headlining gig on top of solo local talent in October and the second supporting The Vibe and Get Cubs in November.
Before finishing their EP, they added one last lead guitar layer provided by Alexander who made the band a quintet in December. After a private demo amongst friends and family was given a thumbs up, they looked to release the EP in Spring 2014.
Sure enough, they did release their debut self titled EP on April 4th for release on iTunes, Google Play and physical release for gigs. To further promote the EP, they decided to reach further afield than Burton. Say…Canada…yeah that’ll do!
Yep, sure I’m not stereotyping here eh?
They were actually promoted twice on Canadian radio stations! One of them being 103.7FM CFBU Brock University Student Radio in Ontario (rolls right off the tongue eh?) in April and CISM 89.3 French Canadian radio in May!
With further gigs in the pipeline including one supporting Star From Ivy at the Whistle in mid-May, TRM will know doubt be looking to gain back that old attention-grabbing fire back from their days as The Risks. I’d say they’re on their way.
Still, regardless of this journey, what about the material? Well I’m glad you asked that. The evolution of the sound from Risks to Reds has been an interesting one and in some ways for the better so…
Their music from their Risks days did seem more raw in the sense it was more rooted in punk than anything else. Songs like Change Your Ways from their rough demos did sound like a heavier Elvis Costello number!
But with the Monroes, there’s power there, but it seems more heartfelt and romantic as well as the production being more slick and polished. Not to it’s detriment, it’s just an observation.
Songs like Don’t Waste Your Shadow and Take My Hand seem much more romantic, optimistic and catchy pop rock numbers than the punk sounds of previous times but…they are romantic, optimistic and catchy so there’s a big upside to the style change.
The first of two recommended tracks is Information was put up as a free download on their Soundcloud as a preview for their EP and it was a pretty good call.
It displays the upbeat Indie melodies that came with their style change including harmonic guitar riffs and the synth/piano featured on the whole EP that adds to the happy nature.
The lyrics are also a consistency with their new sound, with romantic themes such as a new woman coming into your life that was miserable before and the ‘Information’ being the facts needed to be heard by the singer to get him out of the slump he’s in. You can listen to it above.
The second of these tracks, Light of the Corner, is even more happy and joyous than the previous song! It’s quite the feat, but it will leave you with a bigger smile on your face!
The jangly guitars, the melodic piano, brisk drum beat and vivacious vibrato vocals (say that 5 times fast!) make it an essential gateway into the sound of TRM.
You say the words that make it all seem right
Can’t understand why I blame it on myself….
Where the light is a corner we found!
Fitton sings about that special place in private where you can just make out with your partner and not have to care about anyone around you looking. No smooth jazz needed, just happy Indie sing-alongs! If you care to check it out for yourself, by all means do so!
In conclusion, The Red Monroes/Fitton and co have definitely shifted in tone from what they were nearly ten years ago, but I’d say it’s a refreshing change. A much more upbeat approach to counter the anger in certain musical facets is always refreshing, at least to me. Either way, this has been Brewtown Music serving you a hearty brew of Midlands tunes!
The Reds’ stuff
The Risks’ Unsigned page: http://www.unsigned.com/therisks
The Risks’ Myspace: https://myspace.com/therisksderby