A surging rock band formed in 2007, Red Sun Rising is comprised of Mike Protich (Vocals, Guitar), Ryan Williams (Guitar), Tyler Valendza (Guitar), Ricky Miller (Bass, Vocals) and Pat Gerasia (Drums). Their debut studio album “Making of Kings” was released in 2010, followed by “Into Forever” in 2013, with their latest album “Polyester Zeal” recently dropping this past August under Razor & Tie Records.
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Chris Remmers: Tell me a little bit about your hometown and describe the atmosphere a little bit.
Mike Protich: I’m from Akron, Ohio. I grew up in a suburb of Akron, pretty much spent my whole life there. Akron is a Midwestern city. It’s surrounded by farms, but the city itself is very industrial. Goodyear and Firestone rubber companies are based out of there and the factories are still there. So, it’s got that industrial feel to it. There’s a lot of old money there because of those factory workers and the pioneering of the rubber industry. I think that has influenced the music in the area, just having that kind of cold-weather, industrial vibe. There’s a lot of punk rock and metal dive bars and stuff like that in Akron. That’s what I grew up playing in.
CR: Would you say growing up in your area has definitely influenced your music to some degree?
MP: Yeah, 100 percent it has, even later years with Red Sun Rising. The musicians there are very supportive of each other. They’re always trying to help each other. I think that helps too, just always influencing each other.
CR: Of course, that’s the best way to go about it. Was music something you always wanted to do, or did one day you just get hit with an epiphany and say, “Damn this is what I want to do with the rest of my life?”
MP: From the first time I ever played on stage, I don’t really remember it, I think it was at a club called Voodoo in Akron, with my high school band, I knew I was addicted to the feeling of it. But, to think I was going to make it a career, I didn’t even know. I just knew that from that moment on I was always going to play music, whether it was for my career or what. Now, it is my career and it is real that I get to do it. It makes me work harder to stay here, because once you “make it” and get signed it’s not done there. You have to work harder to stay there, and that’s always been my mentality, to always be able to play music is the goal. So no, I never really thought that it would be my career. It just kind of happened that way.
CR: That’s awesome. That’s how the best things in life should happen. Is there any place that you haven’t played yet that, for you, would be like, “Wow, we made it. This is where we are playing right now?”
MP: I think if we played a show, which was our show, at Wembley Stadium I think that’d do it. I know that’s a very ambitious thing to say, but every time we play at a big festival or something you have that moment. But, it only makes you want it more at each level of success, at least for me. You just want that next thing, and I think that’s what always kept this band moving forward. We were always looking for what’s next instead of being content with where we were.
CR: Once you get content that’s kind of like a death sentence.
CR: Out of all the places you’ve seen since you’ve been playing music, what has stuck out to you?
MP: One of the biggest things is that it makes my time at home better, when I get to see my family. I used to be really bored at home and I would always try to get out of there. But now, when I come home it’s nice to see everybody. The one cool thing is, because I’m in such a passionate career, there are a lot of friends that I haven’t been able to keep in touch with over the years. I’ve had my head down and I was just doing this music thing. But now that I’m traveling, I get to see a lot of those friends that I lost touch with. I’ll be like, “Hey man, I’m in town for the night for a show and I’ll be there for a couple of days.” I get to see people and I think a lot of people don’t get that luxury to travel around for work and see people that they haven’t seen in years who live in that area. That’s one of the biggest things for me.
CR: What about when you guys are in vacation mode and want to go somewhere when you’re not doing shows and relax?
MP: My guitar player Ryan and I are definitely foodies. Actually, my drummer Pat is too. We like to check out the local breweries and the local food joints. We try not to go to any chains that are on the road which is hard because chains are usually cheaper. So we try to hit the local places and the local coffee shops. We really enjoy submerging ourselves in the culture of each area to get a better feel for it.
CR: Well, I would definitely call myself a foodie as well. Could you name your top food joints that you’ve been to and potentially, if you can take it that far, you’re favorite meal?
MP: I live in Chicago too, so even when I’m home me and my fiancé have a list of restaurants every time someone’s recommends one, so that’d be tough. Here in Chicago, there’s a place called Au Cheval. Every time someone comes here, or we’re coming through, we always stop and eat there. It’s one of the best burgers I think I’ve ever had in my life. I’d have to look at my list, but there are some seafood places that we’ve tried in Boston. Every time we go to Boston we try to get some New England clam chowder. I’m a huge fan of seafood, so I love being in the New England states for that very reason. But yeah, as far as restaurants, the actual names, I’d have to look at my list.
CR: Let’s talk about your top three bucket-list destinations. Where would you say those would be for you, either to play, or to just visit/vacation?
MP: I’ve always wanted to play somewhere in Europe, probably London, just to be able to do it. We’ve never got a chance to go over there. I know we’re talking about it for 2016, which we’re really excited about. London would be a cool place just because I’ve never seen it. I think it’d be cool just because the history of it. Also, another place would be somewhere in South America. I have some friends from Brazil that I know would come if I was there, which would be cool. They were foreign exchange students when I was growing up and since I moved back home I haven’t seen them since high school. That’d be cool if I could say, “Hey, we’re finally playing in Brazil.”
CR: That’d be awesome to have them come down and watch you perform!
MP: Yea, that’d be pretty awesome. And, I think Italy. I have a lot of family that was from there and my fiancé is from an Italian family. I’ve grown up in that culture and I’ve never been there so that’d be cool to go there and play.
CR: Is there anything specific that you’d like to venture out there to see or is it just for the cultural aspects of it all?
MP: I obviously want to do the touristy stuff, but I would definitely want to see the hills and the villages — the small places. Just live like a country kind of person for a day or two. That would be a cool thing for me.
CR: When you’re going on these tours, trips or vacations, what are some of the first things you like to do when you get to a new destination?
MP: Usually we’re starving, so find one of those food places. My drummer and I like cigars, and my manager likes cigars, so we like to find a local cigar shop. When we have a day off we’ll smoke a cigar and we like to talk about it and try each other’s. It’s a cool thing to do. We work out a lot. We try to stay fit on the road. We do some calisthenics body workout or something. We get to the venue and run. We do a lot of pre-running which is another good way to see a city that you’re in. I mean if it’s safe, run around a couple of blocks and really get a sense of the area you’re in. It’s not like getting out of your vehicle and going straight into the venue.
CR: So lastly, what would you say the next big trip is going to be for? You said in 2016 you’re talking of Europe, is there anything coming up before that?
MP: Before that, we got so many tours coming up which are going to take us everywhere. We’ve never really toured the West Coast. We’ve played Seattle before, but we’ve never done Vegas or California. We’re going to do that with the Godsmack tour, which is a great way to do it because it’s going to be a huge tour. So, our first West Coast tour is going to be an amazing venue. That will be really cool.