As the second segment of a doubleheader weekend of shows to celebrate their album release on Friday, Red Sun Radio played The Broadway in Brooklyn. The four piece band is made up of Sean O’Connor on guitar and lead vocals, Kenneth Iselhart on guitar and vocals, Sam Lazarev on bass, and Teddy Sidiropolos on drums. A small, standing room only loft provided for a loud, intense and utterly fantastic performance from the group.
The performance started with an acknowledgement to Leonardo Motel, Red Sun Radios latest project which they released on Friday, June 3. Starting off with Eden, a single off of Leonardo Motel – and quite frankly, the song introduced me to and got me hooked on Red Sun Radio – a gritty electric guitar mixed classic rock with country elements under harmonizing lead singers. Backed up by some incredible percussion work and a steady bass player, this punch-in-the-face of a first song leveled the room up from a small, divy stage to a full on punk show.
A second, unreleased song leaned further into the classic rock sound with rebellious ideals and declarations of a tiredness from the mundanities of everyday life. Themes of antagonism and feelings of being misunderstood are commonplace throughout the discography of Red Sun Radio and especially in a live environment, are communicated tenfold through their expressive lead singer. The rapidfire performance of “Sittin’ On a Dog,” another single off of Leonardo Motel, raised adrenaline levels even with its pessimistic attitude.
The highlight of listening to skillful artists to me is the proficiency across genres and styles of music that is so often present in talented musicians. Red Sun Radio certainly passes this test with instrumentals drawing inspiration spanning decades: punk and classic rock, country, and even a jazzy tune squeezed into their set. Lyrically, the storytelling aspect within their music – especially their newest project’s title track, Leonardo Motel which ended their set with a bang – makes listening even more enticing. Be sure to check out Red Sun Radio and listen to their newest album, Leonardo Motel now available on all streaming platforms!
Continue reading to view the interview that I had with Red Sun Radio!
After their set, I sat down with Sean, Kenneth, Sam and Teddy to chat with them about Red Sun Radio, including where they started, how they found their sound, and their thoughts on their newest project Leonardo Motel.
I would love for you guys to tell me a little bit more about Red Sun Radio and how you got started together.
So we all went to Fordham University together up in the Bronx. And [Sean, Sam and Ken] were all working at a radio station, we met there. We started drumming with kind of, someone who wasn’t great at drums, and Teddy, luckily saved us. And we’ve been playing together ever since. So this was like 2017 maybe, it’s been like seven years. [Ken] was an engineer at the radio station, so was [Sam]. Sean was a producer.
And is that where the band name came from?
Yeah, I guess so, kinda. It’s like working at that radio station, FUV has a lot to do with Red Sun Radio.
And how would you describe your sound as a band?
Eclectic. Everything that we want to make at a given time. I feel like if you listen to the new record it’s blues/rock mostly. Or like Americano, all in that vein, but then we have like Suicide Watch is more punk, it’s a little different. All of our new shit is punk as fuck. Yeah, our new shit is way different. So like, I would say blues/rock but it wouldn’t really do it justice.
I have to say listening to you guys, just listening to this album and then hearing your live performance – I really love the kind of genre bending that you do. There’s a little bit of everything in there. It’s got some country notes with that storytelling aspect, but there’s also that really like punk/classic rock kind of sound to it.
Yeah, for sure. I was at first kind of worried about, you hear you’re supposed to be able to like have a sound or something. So I was a little bit worried about, if this is all over the map, how do you even describe it? But then, it’s better to just lean into whatever we’re gonna be. I come to realize, whatever we’re gonna do, whatever we’re gonna play together, it’s gonna kinda sound like us anyway, whatever genre it is.
I want to talk a little bit more about the newest project, Leonardo Motel, which you released on Friday. How long have you been working on this album?
Too long. It shouldn’t have been that long. Yeah, we learned something from that one. When did we finish the last one, 2019? Yeah, 2019. So, we probably had songs kicking around in Leonardo Motel from 2019, or before even that. A lot of the blues stuff was a bit earlier. But yeah, we sat on this. It didn’t feel right to release it last year. We thought everything would open up again, and then it wasn’t. So we were kinda precious with it, and we were like, it’s gotta be perfect. Now we’re just like, get it the fuck out. And we also, I guess, turned the art into more of a product. We thought we could sell it to some sort of a record label and get picked up like, hey, we got a polished album that we did ourselves, would you want to buy this off of us? That was the wrong idea. We were like, we made this, why don’t you love it? But artists do that, they shop their record out for a deal. But we’re not really anybody at the moment, we don’t have a huge following. To assume that someone would just want our music that’s like, I don’t know, amature of us.
I see what you mean. But, at least now you have that polished record to show for it, and you can say, we’re just getting started. Look at what we already have in the bank.
We’re all talking about how cool it is to see now we have two albums on Spotify. It’s just a great feeling. Yeah, it feels a lot better than just the one. We’re not super proud of the first as much as this one. It felt like, just college indie music that we were trying to make.
Speaking of the new album, do you guys have a favorite section or song off of it?
I think I like Leonardo Motel the best. I was gonna say Leonardo Motel too. [Kenneth] allowed me [Sean] to sing it, but I [Sean] had nothing to do with the writing with that song. Yeah, well, it’s a hotel, I [Kenneth] grew up in Jersey, by the Jersey Shore. So there’s this one like, seedy hotel that you pass when you’re going to the beach. My parents used to pass it, it’s been there forever. And now it’s known for like, pedophiles and drug addicts mostly. Not to shit on it, I do like the motel. It’s got a cool vibe. We’ve been meaning to actually book it for a night, do a photoshoot. But honestly, we took the photo, and once we took the photo for the album, I was like, I need a song called Leonardo Motel. It’s such an iconic looking thing. It’s sort of the album theme. A motel placed somewhere in America, stopping at it on the road, where all sorts of characters and creatures come alive. It’s a way to kind of wrap up all these different sounds you might hear. I like that section of the album, like the back half.
Do you guys have any more upcoming shows? Any new music? Anything else you wanna plug?
No shows at the moment. There’s so much to do. We got, there’s a B-sides to come. So, another little EP of the stuff that didn’t make this album. We leaned hard country for a little bit. So yeah, more new music to come soon.