Their name means nothing at all, but is instantly memorable. Their sound mixes heavy metal guitar with danceable beats of pop punk, and is instantly recognizable. Florida rockers Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have seen their debut album Don't You Fake It rise on the charts, mostly on the strength of the catchy hooks from their Top Ten song, "Face Down." On the first day of their headlining national tour promoting awareness about teen suicide, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus stopped by the Voice of America studios, after visiting the U.S. Congress. VOA's Larry London has more.
Florida pop, punk, rockers Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is the "buzz" band of the moment. Their debut album, Don't You Fake It, released in July, rose to Number 25 on Billboard's album chart. Lead vocalist Ronnie Winter describes the band's music as a little bit of everything.
"We can do anything,” says Winter. “We have power ballads with piano on our CD. We have fast punk rock songs. We have acoustic songs. We have anything, because we listen to everything. We have strong punk rock roots, because we are young, and we like punk rock. At the same time, we like everything out there. So, there's something for everybody on our album. If you like music in general, there's at least one song you would be interested in listening to."
"Face Down," the band's current single, now number four on Billboard's Modern Rock chart, is based on real-life experiences of the band's members.
"'Face Down' particularly is about domestic violence. I grew up in an environment that was weird, I guess, to some people. But to some people, that is normal, you know, whatever. I guess that's America today, and that's the world actually, believe it or not. So, I guess, we are trying to be real with people, and trying to let people know that there are things they can do. We are hooked up [working] with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Education [and] information [are] always the key to saving lives, and stopping the violence in general."
The U.S. Department of Justice says last year alone, 600,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in the U.S. The band's work against domestic violence led the band members to take on another cause -- fighting teen suicide. To raise awareness, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus headlines the national "Take Action Tour," performing alongside Emery, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Kaddisfly and Static Lullaby, in more than 50 cities across America.
"Take Action Tour, if you don't know what it is, was started to raise awareness of suicide in this country, and all around the world,” explains Winter. “It is a problem, a real problem. I'm not a number cruncher [bookkeeper], and if no one has heard this, since 1970, five-million Americans have killed themselves. It is FIVE million! You should think about that. That's a lot of people. It is a problem, a real problem."
Adds Elias Reidy, guitarist for the group, "Basically it is nothing more than us realizing that we've been given a great opportunity, and we have to make a choice, either blend in like everyone else, or take a stand and make a difference -- and we're having a good time doing it, basically."
Elias Reidy and Ronnie Winter say later this year Red Jumpsuit Apparatus will, for the first time, appear on the main stage of the Vans Warped Tour with their idols, Under Oath, and 30 other punk and heavy metal bands. Meanwhile, the video of Face Down, which cleverly avoids showing the culprit, is being played heavily on music video network MTV and other music channels.
"[Our] mission statement is to continue making music, first and foremost, live or in the studio, and always be productive and musical. That's my goal, personally,” Winter says. “Stay real, have a good time and enjoy other's company, and live this experience for what it is. It is weird for us, because we are normal people. We're kind of blown away [overwhelmed] by how incredible everybody is to us because of our music."
"Rock stars were not born rock stars. They were born normal people. We're not afraid to talk about it," said Reidy.