RDGLDGRN (pronounced red gold green) have already distinguished themselves in the Washington, DC music scene. Their highly-stylized sound (that Go Go drum beat — a distinct DC rhythm) takes hip-hop infused punk and indie rock to create something refreshingly unique, is getting attention from fans stretching far beyond the DC niche scene.
Comprised of three members who identify as Red, Gold, and Green, the band began making music in their basement studio, drawing from a vast and almost ironically diverse pool of influences like Chuck Brown, Vampire Weekend, Outkast, The Neptunes and Bad Brains. What many might consider a wildly ambitious, even impossible task to pull off, RDGLDGRN managed to effortlessly combine genres of music to create something new, something all their own and something that has the music industry buzzing with excitement. The band is crowdfunding their second album, to help support RDGLDGN you can pre-order it here.
Red: Reston has a lot of lakes, and the south side especially has a lot of greenery. We [were just in] Portland, Maine, so all of the fall colors reminded us of where we’re from as far as driving down main roads and seeing trees. Also, we are a little bit more of a city vibe in Reston, compared to where we [just were]. The greenery is a huge part of Reston. Being 20 minutes from DC, we have a lot of that culture as well. [We know] the history of all the famous rock clubs. All that sort of stuff.
SR: I live in New Jersey, about 30-minutes outside of New York City. So, I’m assuming it’s the same kind of vibe in the suburbs, then being able to go to the city when you want?
R: Yeah, when you go home you have your own parking space.
SR: I hear that! Now, what would be one location for a first-time visitor?
R: Definitely go to Lake Anne Plaza. There’s a lake there and an actual museum of Reston. It’s got a couple of shops, food spots and a barber shop. They also have a farmers market during the season.
SR: To transition to music, how did you find your initial interest? Then, how did RDGLDGRN come about?
R: We’ve been around music since we were kids. I took piano lessons. We basically all met in high school. Green and I were neighbors, his house was two doors down around the corner from mine. Then Gold, we met through a friend of a friend.
SR: I have to ask, how did you guys get your nicknames?
R: It’s just what we call each other. Basically, I just like wearing red. For the better part of nine or ten years now I’ve just been wearing red predominately, if not exclusively. The nickname red just kind of sticks. It becomes not just a nickname, it’s who I am. It defines me and I define it. The same kind of goes with the others. I have my identity and it’s so strong. The others are complimenting it. They’re like, “Well, this is my identity in what we’re doing.” It wasn’t a big deal at first, but overtime it just grew from that and developed into bigger concepts. Then, when it came time to name the band we didn’t know what to call it. So, it was like, “I’m Red. You’re Gold. You’re Green. Let’s just call it that!”
SR: Sweet, it’s like the parts equal the sum of the whole band. So, back to traveling a bit, I know you’re traveling across the country in a van. Most bands that we talk to say that’s one of the best way to see the country, because you have such an intimate, continuous view of the land. How does music and travel really fit together as a whole for you?
R: Because of music we travel. But, we also get to experience all the people and differences in all the people that listen to our music. If you go to the east coast, the northeast or the southeast, everybody kind of has an east coast vibe. You go to the west coast, people still like your music, but they have a whole different culture and set of traditions. The people in [Southern California] are beach people and the people in New York City are not the people in SoCal. Traveling shows you that.
SR: When you’re looking for a personal getaway, are you more of a beach dude or are you looking for a city’s nightlife?
R: I’m definitely a warm weather dude. So, it can be warm weather anywhere. I do bang with the beach though for sure. Green is from Haiti, and so is our tour manager in fact. Being from an island they understand the island vibe. Gold’s from Romania, him coming to this country is like [recently moving and] living in New York. He has a whole different perspective, but we all enjoy the beach, that’s for sure.
SR: Is there one beach destination that stands out to you?
R: There’s so many. The beaches in SoCal are nice, all up and down Santa Monica and Venice. Being from the east coast we can appreciate that. Then there’s the beaches around Delaware like Rehoboth. Can’t forget the Outer Banks either. The ones on the east coast stand out for their own reasons. There’s the wild horses on some beaches out here, stuff like that.
SR: When I was doing some research on you guys I saw you had a new way you were going about releasing your new album — crowdfunding. Talk a little bit about that. What was your motivation behind it.
R: That’s exactly correct. Well our first introduction into the world was through the major-labels system. We were on Universal Records, and that was part of Republic Records. We had a mixed experience with that. Lots of great things came with it, but lots of things didn’t go according to plan. We started to realize what happened and that led us to taking control of the situation. We were going to do things our way going forward, and that’s basically what crowdfunding is about. It’ll get us the end result that we want, with the help of those who believe in us. We’ve had a great response. I mean the first three or four weeks of the campaign it was nearly 80-percent funded. That was incredible to see.
We’re really happy to see all these bundles going out, special prizes and one of a kind things. We’ve got a one-of-a-kind guitar that we’re giving out, special acoustic sessions at people’s houses, studio hangs and going to Six Flags with some of our fans. There’s a lot of different stuff that we’re trying to establish. One of which, most importantly, is the label that is going to make all this possible. We are starting Duece Day World, which will be the label that RDGLDGRN is on. That will be how all of the stuff gets done. That’s what we’re most excited about, really. The crowdfunding for the album is great, but it’s doubling as crowdfunding for the label itself. That’s what makes this whole album exciting to us, because it’s the first album that’s on our own label. It may be our second album, but it’s the first album on our label.
SR: I find that forward progressive thinking of how you don’t need a huge label to drop music really cool. You can still do it in-house by yourself if you have the right avenues and skills.
R: What’s most important about these fans is that it’s people who believe in us. It’s not just simply coming to a show and buying a $10 CD or $20 T-shirt. These people are saying, “We believe in you, here’s X amount of dollars,” for whatever bundle their getting. It’s people that are really, really on our side.
SR: I know that Pharell and Dave Grohl have a mentor relationship with RDGLDGRN. What does it mean for them to help influence you and your work?
R: It’s huge having someone so huge take any interest in you, and what you do already. We were clearly already influenced by those two. For them to circle back and be fans of what we do, it’s really humbling. To be in the room with them while we’re making music, while Dave’s tracking the drums, to just watch him play the drum beats that we programmed on the computer is so cool. For him to add his touch, something he does so naturally, it’s just mind blowing.
The same for Pharell. We worked in a different environment than we were working with Dave. He was working with Logic as opposed to ProTools. We were programming the beat with him as opposed to being inside the big studio recording with big guitars and drums. So, it’s just more like what we normally do. It was refreshing to see that he makes music the way we make music. To watch him talk to us about melodies, how the chorus should come in and what the feeling should be, you can’t put making a song with someone like that into words.
SR: Last question. What are three destinations that you haven’t been to yet, but still have to hit?
R: I want to go to the south of Spain. I’ve gone to Barcelona, but that was on the coast and it was in the winter. I really didn’t get the summer that they have down there, which I hear is pretty amazing. I’ve never been to Haiti or Dominican Republic, and these guys always talk about it. So, I definitely want to go down there and see what that’s all about. I guess the third destination would be something secluded or even Costa Rica. It doesn’t have to be that far away. I hear Costa Rica is good for surfing and all that. It’s a lot farther away from everything I know.
We’ve played shows in Australia and getting there took forever, so once you finally get there and walking around in Australia, it’s just mind blowing to think about the technicality of yourself in a spot on the map. Being thousands of miles away from where you normally are, where people are living their lives every day just like I am living mine, but they’re all the way over here is crazy. They have kangaroos! Traveling is just trippy.