The first time I saw The Redwalls, they were The Pages (more about the name change later). All anyone would tell me was that these four young kids—some of them not even out of high school yet—were too talented for their own good. At a last minute, industry show at The Subterranean in Chicago, the boys broke into the opening strains of “Colorful Revolution” and my jaw dropped to the floor. My girlfriend next to me, laughing in sheer delight, turned to me at the first chorus and said, “This is my new favorite band!” This scenario would play itself out repeatedly over the next few months as I introduced The Redwalls to various friends and acquaintances.
On November 18, 2003, Undertow Records is scheduled to release The Redwalls’ debut album, Universal Blues. Featuring Logan Baren on guitar and vocals, his younger brother Justin Baren on bass and vocals, Andrew Langer on guitar and vocals and Jordan Kozer on drums, Universal Blues is an impressive first outing from four lads who attended Deerfield High School together. Recorded in a piecemeal fashion on nights and weekends in late 2002 and early 2003 at Columbia College Studios by Dan Dietrich (who has since taken over the space and christened it Wall To Wall Recordings), Universal Blues showcases some of the first songs the boys ever wrote. The earliest sessions were particularly ramshackle. “When we started recording the album, we were at Dan's apartment,” Logan recalls. “He drilled a hole through the wall for cables. We had no way to talk to him except that he would stick a broom handle through the hole to let us know that the tape was rolling.” The quartet attempted to embrace the “sounds of today” but found that they were more drawn to the sounds of their parents’ record collections. “If we could go back and visit certain sessions,” Justin and Logan offer, “‘Please Please Me,’ Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Etta James would be among them.” Calling to mind White Album and Let It Be era Beatles, mid ‘60s Dylan, and the soulful swagger of Stax R&B, Universal Blues is the sound of young songwriters learning from the past at the precise moment that they begin to find their own voice.
This past summer,The Redwalls were signed to a deal with Capitol Records. Meetings were scheduled in LA and the fellas were signed to the label just in time to make it back home in time for high school graduation. The signing brought two significant changes. Drummer Jordan Kozer, opting to pursue college over the time commitments necessary to tour, stepped down. In his stead, The Redwalls welcomed new drummer, Ben Greeno, into the fold. The other obstacle the band faced was finding a new name. Known up to this point as The Pages, the band needed a new name since there was already a ‘70s West Coast band on Capitol called Pages (who later became Mr. Mister). Throwing around various possibilities (too often finding an existing band with the same name), the guys settled on The Redwalls.
Ultimately, the name is less important than the sound. And the sound is amazing. Pop Universal Blues into your CD player and find out why The Redwalls are sure to be your “new favorite band.”
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