On a cold, rainy night, Red Light Saints rolled into The Bowery Electric and brought the thunder and lightning with them. Despite the crappy weather and poor turn out, frontman Travis Schinke led the charge with an energetic and in-your-face performance. The band unleashed a blistering set that included tracks off their new EP The Legend of Jasper Pipestone, a few unreleased songs and a couple of covers for good measure. It was hard to believe there were only twenty something people in the venue because the intensity that this band brought to the stage quickly turned this humdrum night into a bona fide rock concert.
After show, I caught up with the band backstage. And I had to ask, how did they summon such verve despite the small crowd. Schinke’s response was not only enlightening, but it also provided insight into the mindset of this band.
“I don’t care if there’s one person or ten thousand people in the room,” said Schinke. “I’m going to try and give that to that one person or those ten thousand people every fucking time. That’s it, man. Because that’s what music is all about.”
RLS opened their set with “On The Pavement.” The song begins with a grooving guitar riff, but during the verses the duel six string attack (Ben Kurowski and Lane Bashaw) take a step back and allow the bass player (Andy Nader) and drummer (Luke Heckel) to provide the foundation for Schinke’s vocals.
Power chords as heavy as concrete dominate the chorus, and the song features a tasty guitar solo that will bring any headbanger back to a time when wah wah pedals ruled the land.
By their fourth song, “The Plan” everyone in the venue had moved front and center. And that only seemed to fire Schinke up more. “I want to see your fucking hands in the air,” he commanded. From the floor monitor to the bass drum, Schinke used every object in his reach to mount his perch. He even pulled a Roger Daltrey and swung the microphone in tight circles at his side during the guitar solo.
Wisconsin is known primarily for football and cheese, but you can add one more accolade to that list with RLS. Matter of fact, it’s hard to find anything that I don’t like about this band. So it’s no surprise that people are starting to take notice. In less than four years, this band has not only toured with national acts, but last year they won the Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s People’s Choice Award. And this year they were nominated for the Hard Rock/Metal Artist of the Year WAMI Award.
That’s quite a list of accomplishments, but let’s not forget that they’re currently on tour with Faster Pussycat for the second time. And being the opening act for a veteran rock band comes with a host of learning experiences and surprises. Like what happened not too long ago in Georgia during Faster Pussycat’s set. Bass player, Danny Nordahl suddenly fell on stage and hit his head on the drum riser. Luckily, RLS’ bass player (Nader) knew their songs and the Pussycats didn’t have to cancel the show (watch the video).
RLS’s new EP, The Legend of Jasper Pipestone will be released on April 17th, and to celebrate the occasion, the band is set to open up for Faster Pussycat in Greenbay that night. It’s bound to be a spectacular homecoming that their fans in Wisconsin would be foolish to miss.
However, music aside, there was one question that was plaguing me all night long. Who the fuck is Jasper Pipestone? I kept picturing a tatted up dude with an unkept beard, in a Packers jersey with intense bloodshot eyes. You know the type, an intellectual stoner with a plethora of local lore. But as it turns out, I wasn’t even close. Schinke filled me in on who…or what Mr. Pipestone represents.
“Jasper Pipestone is the combined feelings and thoughts of five guys. Trying to do something different. We actually had his name before we realized what it was all about.”
Something to live by for sure, and it’s clear that this band has a good idea of what that’s all about. The plan gives them freedom to explore their creativity. It also gives them free range to let loose and interpret other people’s music as well.
As we all know, cover songs can be hit or miss depending on the popularity or obscurity of the track. But when bands pick a crowd pleaser, and deliver the goods, there’s no way things can go wrong. RLS treated the audience to “Man In The Box” by Alice In Chains and elevated the audience to yet another level. Schinke spent a good portion of the song singing with the crowd. He even shared the microphone with members of the metal band that opened for them, Usurp The King.
Their last official song was “Say What You Will”. The tune opens with some heavy bass guitar and then clears the way for the main riff. It features a catchy hook, and after a brief interlude, the song builds with intensity. Warning: This tune will get stuck in your head, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When their set was over, the band tried to leave the stage, but the crowd called them back for an encore. Not one to disappoint, they finished the night with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” It wasn’t on their set list, but as Schinke belted out the lyrics: “It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled.” I found myself thinking of the irony in ending such a hard rocking show with that song.
To hear a sample track or to download Red Light Saints’ new EP click here. All photos by Michelle Jesipaz. Cover art and design by Mark Engeldinger.