Dig Baton Rouge

Learning to Fly

By Jeff O’Brien

While some people may say the punk-pop scene is losing steam in the United States, a group of Jacksonville natives are not willing to fall off that precipice any time soon. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has built a faithful fan base since they signed with Virgin Records in 2005. They look to expand on their success as they start their summer tour on June 19th.

The band’s premier album Don’t You Fake It has been their biggest hit thus far. The album quickly gained gold status in 2006 and featured popular hits such as “False Pretense,” the ever popular ballad “Face Down,” and the conjoined acoustic rock nocturne “Your Guardian Angel”.

The single “Face Down” fetters any listener, average or avid alike, to the touching message the band fortuitously portrays. Domestic violence cannot determine who you are. This inspirational message is seen through many of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ songs, a constant reminder to their fans that they are not alone in whatever cruelty they are facing. The inspirational messages that Red Jumpsuit Apparatus focuses on landed them a spot on a 2007 US Take Action tour to raise awareness about youth suicide prevention, domestic violence and animal cruelty.

This band is not only immersed in helping others deal with their problems, which may seem foreign to some, but they do so with musical vigor.

It is not only lead singer Ronnie Winters’ impressive vocal range that can entice fans. It is also RJA’s ability to morph from their pop influences, which gave the band commercial success, to a heavier dose of alternative rock that can be easily overlooked when a formula for success has been discovered. For example, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus masterfully intertwined these facets in their song “You Better Pray,” a high-octane stalwart rock ballad off the bands sophomore album Lonely Road.

Lonely Road was met with mixed reviews when it was released in 2009, mostly due to the band’s experimentation with their music. Exploring outside their comfort zone of pop influences seemed tantamount for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. But as seen with the Grateful Dead, experimentation can be a double edged sword.

Returning to the studio in 2010 to start their third album Am I the Enemy, the band had matured mightily. Realizing the necessity to explore instrumentally and vocally carries importance, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus did not want to overhaul their appearance completely. Their latest album brought them back to their roots of their first. Resurgence to a much more aggressive post-hardcore sound encompassed the album, and its harmonizing draws some comparisons to newer material from 30 Seconds to Mars.

According to Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ website they are following suit with bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead to release their entire musical catalog for free starting on July 4th of this year. That is also the day their highly touted fourth album 4 is being released.

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus fans should have plenty to look forward to when they step into the Varsity Theatre on June 20th. A refined band that’s been perfecting their sound over the years and giving back to their fans is something any music lover can appreciate. If that weren’t enough, the band’s new album release is only a few weeks after the show, so the possibility to hear some new material is probable. Ardent fans should be prepared, as well, to be left in nostalgia entranced awe, as the show should be peppered with fan favorites from all albums.

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Varsity Theatre
Friday, June 20th
Doors @ 8pm
$12

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